ARC Review: Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens


Pub. Date: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
336 pages
Hardcover


Synopsis from Goodreads:

Alexi Littrell hasn't told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in "the Kool-Aid Kid," who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.

A searing, poignant book, Faking Normal is the extraordinary debut novel from an exciting new author - Courtney C. Stevens.



I’ve done my best to remain spoiler free – for that reason, there’s a bit of vagueness, which I usually try to avoid.

I expected Faking Normal to be a heavy, serious read, and I honestly wasn’t sure I was in the mental space to handle it. While the subject matter is very serious, at it’s core Faking Normal is an uplifting and inspiring story about what being a friend, and being supportive, really means. In a novel where grief and trauma dominates, I found Alexi and Bodee’s slow growth of trust in each other, and the subsequent slow reveal of the traumas they’ve faced, to be a really powerful thing. I had such a strong emotional reaction to this novel. The story will stay with me for a longtime.

Faking Normal has one of the most interesting and heartbreaking opening chapters I’ve ever read. While we have no idea the depth of trauma Alexi has face, we are instantly introduced to a big part of the devastation Bodee is facing.

On My Wishlist: February 22, 2014




On My Wishlist is a weekly event highlighting a book that I really want to read. The book may be 20 years old, or the pub date may not be until next year, but either way I'm excited about it, and hopefully you will be too!

On My Wishlist: February 15, 2014




On My Wishlist is a weekly event highlighting a book that I really want to read. The book may be 20 years old, or the pub date may not be until next year, but either way I'm excited about it, and hopefully you will be too!

Cover Reveal: Cora Carmack's All Lined Up

Today I am extremely excited to be part of the cover and video cover reveal for Cora Carmack's new novel All Lined Up! Cora's books have quickly jumped all the way to the top of my 'must-read everything they write' list. Naturally, I can't wait to get my hands on All Lined Up, and I think once you check out the cover reveal video and the synopsis, you'll be waiting with as much anticipation as I am! Ink Slinger PR Blogger organized the cover reveal, and I received all of the following info from them. 

Happy Reading Everyone!
-Laura
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We're extremely excited to bring you the cover for ALL LINED UP, the first book in Cora Carmack's highly anticipated Rusk University Series! ALL LINED UP is a New Adult Contemporary Romance novel published by William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins). It is due to be released on May 13, 2014!!



ABOUT ALL LINED UP:

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.
But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.
Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.
Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.
And neither of them knows how to walk away from the attraction they feel.
“Laughter + heartache + hot sexual tension = the perfect Cora Carmack book.”
—Monica Murphy




Click inside for the Video Cover Reveal, and more info!

ARC Review: Believe by Erin McCarthy


Pub. Date: January 21st, 2014
Publisher: InterMix
232 pages
ebook (Trade Paperback publishing June 3rd, 2014 by Berkley Trade)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Robin used to be a party girl… until she got black out drunk and woke up in bed with her best friend's boyfriend. Now she's faced with being THAT girl, and couldn't be more disgusted with herself. She can't even tell her friends the reason for her sudden sobriety and she avoids everyone until she meets Phoenix—quiet, tattooed, and different in every way that's good and oh, so bad…



Phoenix is two days out of jail when he meets Robin at his cousin's house, and he knows that he has no business talking to her, but he's drawn to her quiet demeanor, sweet smile, and artistic talent. She doesn't care that he's done time, or that he only has five bucks to his name, and she supports his goal to be a tattoo artist.



But Phoenix knows Robin has a secret, and that it's a na├»ve dream to believe that his record won't catch up with them at some point. Though neither is prepared for the explosive result when the past collides with the present…

             _______________________________________

I absolutely loved True and Sweet, books 1 and 2 in the True Believers series. Naturally I was extraordinarily excited about Believe. One of the things I loved most about True and Sweet, was how naturally the relationships between Rory and Tyler, and Jessica and Riley, developed. The relationships weren’t rushed, or hurried, and they always felt genuine and realistic. I also really loved the wit and the humor of the dialogue – especially the banter between Jessica and Riley in Sweet ( check out my review of Sweet). Believe really switched things up stylistically, and the change threw me as a reader.  


I was initially kind of annoyed by how quickly Robin and Phoenix’s relationship progressed. By the time the couples in the other two novels got together, it felt like a reward for the reader, because we got to see the relationships grow, and we had the chance to root for them to be together. Robin and Phoenix’s relationship felt too insta-lovey for me because there was no waiting, or questioning if or when they would end up together. The relationship itself was still believable – you could clearly see that there were a lot of similarities between the two characters, bringing them together - but I was nowhere near as emotionally invested. I missed the build up and the will they/ won’t they tension that the other two novels had in spades.

Where True and Sweet had a lot of humor to balance out the serious parts, Believe is almost humorless. We met Robin in book one, and coming into this novel, we know a lot of the reasoning behind some of the choices she makes. Because we know so much, it’s easy to understand why the more lighthearted humor just wouldn’t have worked this time around. From the tone, to the events, Believe is a much more serious novel. The seriousness was necessarily, but the wit and humor of McCarthy’s writing is what really drew me into books one and two. Even though I understood why these elements were absent, I still seriously missed them.

If I’d read Believe as a standalone, or prior to the previous two novels, I’m sure I would have liked it more – and don’t get me wrong, I really did like it. But, given how much I loved the style of the previous two novels, I spent a great deal of time contrasting the differences. Believe simply didn’t work for me as well as for me as the previous two novels, but I know there are readers who will adore the more serious side of Robin’s story.  

Rating 3/5

*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated. 


On My Wishlist: February 8th, 2014




On My Wishlist is a weekly event highlighting a book that I really want to read. The book may be 20 years old, or the pub date may not be until next year, but either way I'm excited about it, and hopefully you will be too!

On My Wishlist: February 1, 2014




On My Wishlist is a weekly event highlighting a book that I really want to read. The book may be 20 years old, or the pub date may not be until next year, but either way I'm excited about it, and hopefully you will be too!

Cover Reveal: He Belongs With Me by Sarah Darlington

Pub. Date: March 4th, 2014
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

Synopsis:


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. 

Click inside for a chance to win a copy and for more info from Sarah!