Review Hodgepodge (#1)

Review Hodgepodge

Sometimes I get so caught up in the joy of reading, I forget I’m also supposed to (hopefully) be helpful and informative to other people when they’re choosing books or if they just want to compare notes. Today, I have some books I’ve read, but been so gung-ho to start my next read that I’ve blown straight past reviewing. May these reviews be helpful and maybe spark some note comparing!

Flair Divider 2

One More ShotOne More Shot by Victoria Denault
Book #1 in Hometown Players
Genre: Contemporary/Sports Romance
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2015
ARC provided by Netgalley and Grand Central Publishing

Synopsis from Goodreads: They say you only get one shot at making your dreams come true.

Jordan is determined to take two.

Drafted by the NHL at eighteen, Jordan Garrison was headed for fame, and there was only one person he wanted to share it with—Jessie Caplan. He was crazy in love with her, and had finally told her so. They shared an amazing night . . . and then everything fell apart.

Jessie tries not to think about the night she gave herself to Jordan—or how he broke her heart. She tries not to think about it, but she does. Especially now, when she’s staring into his sky-blue eyes for the first time in six years. After so much time and torment, she can’t tell if she loves him or hates him. But Jordan has learned enough to know a connection like theirs is rare. He was lucky to find Jessie once. No way will he lose her again.

Angie’s Review – 2.5 Skulls – C-

I’m not going to lie – it was the abs that first attracted me to this book. I’m a huge fan of cover abs. If you have abs on the cover of your book and it somehow appears on my screen, you can rest assured I’ll be reading the blurb.  The second thing was the setting. A large chunk of this book takes place in Maine, and I’m always interested to read a book that takes place in my home state.

Everything I loved about this book can be summed up in one word: Jordan. Jordan loved Jessie with everything inside him, and he didn’t play any games with her or sweep it under the rug. He loved her and wanted her to know how he felt. On the flip side, all my issues with this book can also be summed up in one word: Jessie. After years and years of friendship and not a lie ever told from Jordan, she jumped to conclusions, and then, subsequently on a plane, and out of Jordan’s life. This leads to years and years of misunderstanding, which could have been solved with a single conversation. If not between Jordan and Jessie, then between Jessie and someone from Jordan’s family, who she’d been extremely close to since she’d moved to town when she was a little girl. Somehow, despite the fact that Jordan’s family was close to all of the Caplan girls, a conversation never takes place discussing the big event that ended Jessie and Jordan? It was impossible for me to buy into that. It was too contrived to be believable, and in the end, Jessie’s immaturity and stubbornness made her so unlikable, it was hard to get past that and enjoy the story. I couldn’t understand why Jordan and another ‘love’ interest (who I’m not sure what his part in the story was since the book opens with him cheating on her in high school,) were in love with her.

The constant flashbacks made the book feel disjointed. I think the story would have been better served if it had been broken up into a really long prologue, and then skipped to present day. While I feel like all the scenes from the past were pertinent to the story, they weren’t well placed. But the sex scenes – those were well placed, and nice and steamy. The one place Jordan and Jessie had chemistry was the bedroom. I just wish it had carried to the rest of the book.

Despite my issues, I adored Jordan, and I feel like the author went out of her way to show just how different the three sisters are. Because of this, I’ll be checking out the next one in hopes that I’ll like the heroine this time around. One More Shot may have been more of a miss than a hit for me, but one thing it did do was get me interested in the secondary characters enough to want to read the rest of the series.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½

Series Reading Order:
1. One More Shot
2. Making a Play
3. The Final Move (Expected Publication: December 8th, 2015)

Thank you to GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: November 13th, 2012

Synopsis from Goodreads: I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

Angie’s Review – 5 Skulls – A+

AH reviewed The Sea of Tranquility back in 2013, and if you’re interested, you can read that here. I read the book not too long ago, and since it was such a moving story, I wanted to add my two cents.

The Sea of Tranquility is not the kind of book you consume – it’s the kind of book that consumes you. It is an exquisitely complicated beauty from ashes story that will leave the reader speechless. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to dash the bookstore and buy every single YA book they have on the shelf in hopes that the magic found between these pages can be captured once again. (DISCLAIMER: I’m not convinced it can.)

Nastya and Josh have both lived a life of hard knocks – Josh has lost everyone he loves, and Nastya can’t seem to help but push those who love her away. In each other, they find solace in the absence of probing questions and a seemingly superficial friendship. Ironically enough, it’s the very thing that pulls them together that tears them apart. We get everything about Josh up front, but Nastya’s story slowly unfolds as the book progresses, and the reader desperately awaits each new crumb of the event that changed the course of her life forever. The way Josh treated Nastya was so wonderfully written. He knew she was fragile, but at the same time he never doubted her strength. The characterization in this book is brilliant, and even the cast of secondary characters that don’t play into the stereotypes of the genre highlight that.

I listened to the audio of this book, and while the story was amazing, the audio made it even better. The narrators were superb with their presentation, and you could tell they really ‘got’ every nuance of these characters. Once I finished listening to this book, I went back to the beginning and started all over again. It’s been weeks since I read The Sea of Tranquility; it’s still haunting me. And I think it will for a long, long time.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

 

Return to ParadiseReturn to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Book #2 in Leaving Paradise
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 1st, 2010

Synopsis from Goodreads: Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

Angie’s Review – 1 Skull – F

This is going to be a short review since I don’t have much to say about this book. My first thought upon finishing Return to Paradise was that I am so glad I read this after both books in this duo were released. If I’d waited the amount of time Goodreads indicates was between these books, I would have been spitting mad with what I got. Writing a story and slapping names on them from characters in a previous book does not a sequel make. Where were the Maggie and Caleb from the first book in this series? The Maggie and Caleb, who, once they worked out their issues, actually took the time to talk about things and listened to each other? How did Caleb go from acting like a young man to acting like a sixth grader? It makes me wonder if the author had no idea how to wrap up the first book, so she cliffhanged it (yep, I said that) to return to at a later date and hopefully figure out how to end it. This book was full of needless drama that stripped the first book from any potential it had and decimated these characters.

I listened to the audio of this book, and while I enjoyed the male narrator, I wasn’t a huge fan of the female narrator’s voice. Her intonation was definitely in keeping with the character, but she was very hard to listen to.

I wish I’d left well enough alone and ignored the persuasive feeling to read this one.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

Series Reading Order:
1. Leaving Paradise
2. Return to Paradise

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