Review – The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year

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TITLE: The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year (Book #1)
AUTHOR: T.L Steffe
GENRE: Young Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 168
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

For eighteen-year-old Monroe Reid, life is full of change. Her long-time best friend, Lennon Walker, confessed his true feelings for her and she hasn’t spoken to him since. That was eight weeks ago. On top of that, she is about to leave her family, who is growing increasingly distant from her, and begin her journey of independence in her freshman year of college.

With Lennon headed in the opposite direction of the country, Monroe knows she needs to confront their situation ASAP. Lennon has a shaky history and has struggled with obstacles in his past, while Monroe has always been his constant rock. Now, she is struggling with the blurred lines of their friendship.

Once at college, Monroe quickly finds herself in a world filled with new friends, opportunities, and a potential love interest.

Bad boy Brayden Stryker knows there’s something special about Monroe the moment he lays his eyes on her. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him, especially when he confides his darkest secrets to her.

Can Monroe trust Brayden, or will he break her heart, leaving Lennon to pick up the pieces? Freshman Year is a tale of friendship full of love and laughter, and heartache and despair

REVIEW:

If you are drawn to college romance and love triangles genres you are going to love The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year!

The protagonist of this story is Monroe, who is about to set off and start her first year of collage away from her family and best friend, Lennon. Before she leaves, Lennon a.k.a “Infamous”, expresses his true feelings for Monroe, leaving her confused and conflicted about her true feelings. Once she gets to College she meets Brayden a.k.a “Dream boy”, she realizes her feelings for Lennon was nothing like what she feels for Brayden. Brayden and Monroe fall in love fast but Brayden has a dark past and secrets, can he overcome his past? Will he trust Monroe with his secrets? And will their relationship survive despite his demons?

The first thing I have to express is opposite sex best friends in my opinion never works – though always make an interesting fictional love story! There is always one that starts to feel more than friendship, leaving the other person: A – feeling the same and they develop a fantastic relationship and a love story forms, or B – the other person doesn’t feel the same, they try to remain best friends, which we all know just can’t work and results in the platonic person losing their best friend, which is very sad.

So now that I have expressed my feelings on that matter, I have to say that I was constantly juggling between being on team Lennon to team Brayden in this story. I would be rooting for one of them and then they would go and do something stupid and I change my backing – in the end I was left being on team Lennon but this could once again change in the future.

Both Lennon and Brayden’s characters are damaged with a hell of a lot of baggage, terrible childhoods and lots of dark secrets. The scary thing is they both kept expressing how they “needed” Monroe, to me they were showing clear signs of desperation rather than love, especially Brayden in the end for his character definitely has major issues that are yet to be revealed.

I liked Monroe’s character, I like her personality which was likeable and real for girls her age, but I do feel at times she plays Lennon as back up at times to console her feelings regarding Brayden but once again this is how opposite sex best friends become tricky.

The Dorm Room Diaries: Freshman Year is a quick, easy read with great flow and pace and a great college romance/love triangle plot.  The only negative I will point out is we still know nothing about Brayden’s character which is frustrating, and I only wished I could understand him more to be able to connect with his character. Also, Monroe’s family are hiding something or going through some sort of turmoil  which  we still don’t have a clue about either, but I guess this is the hook to bet the reader invested and wanting to find out these unanswered questions – well Steffe has piqued my interest and definitely has me hooked!

So I guess I will have to wait until Book Two: Sophomore Year to see what awaits in this installment which will be very interesting I must say…will it be Brayden or Lennon? Or a new damaged character in the mix?

 lips grey 4

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From the TBR Pile!!

Hello fellow bloggers, reviewers and book fanatics!

This week our feature from the To Be Read pile is….. Village Teacher by neihtn.

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We would love to hear your feedback on this historical love story set in Vietnam.

If you like it…please like the post!

If you loved it…please comment or add a link to your review!

Thank you for your valuable feedback!!!

Review – Bully by Penelope Douglas

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INTENSE  “FICTIONAL” LOVE STORY

Title: BULLY (Book #1 A Fall Away Novel)
Author: Penelope Douglas
Pages: 318
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult  – Contemporary Romance
Reviewer: Nicole
 

BLURB:

My name is Tate.

He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all. No, he’ll barely even speak to me.

But he still won’t leave me alone.

We were best friends once. Then he turned on me and made it his mission to ruin my life. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to stay out of his way. I even went to France for a year, just to avoid him.

But I’m done hiding from him now, and there’s no way in hell I’ll allow him to ruin my senior year. He might not have changed, but I have. It’s time to fight back.

I’m not going to let him bully me ANYMORE!

REVIEW:

Wow! Bully by Penelope Douglas had such intense chemistry and sexual tension from the first chapter, that I got so consumed in this story I couldn’t put the book down!

One thing I will say is that Bully is a fairy tale.  If only there was a happy ending to all bullying like this story, and the only reason someone was being mean to you was for the simple, although jaded, fact that they are in love with you. I know we tell our little girls that when a boy in the playground teases you it’s because he likes you and maybe once upon a time this could be true but in today’s society Bullying is not this fairytale, it is a very real and cruel and seems to be magnified with all the technology and multimedia available today, not to mention broken homes, drug and alcohol issues.  No matter your gender, age, sexual preference, religion or race, anyone and everyone is a potential target to be bullied and it’s a REAL problem.

Bully’s protagonist is Tate who used to be best friends with her neighbor Jared, until the summer holidays before they started high school.  Jared went to spend his holidays with his Dad but came back from his Dad’s a very different person. He not only didn’t want to know Tate anymore but he came back ‘hating’ Tate and has made her last four years of high school a misery to the point she even went to France for a year to avoid him. Now Tate is back for her final year of high school with new confidence and direction, with her sole goal to get through this year and get into Columbia University.  Of course Jared doesn’t make that an easy option and the more encounters they endure they realize that the love and attraction they share for each other has never really gone away, you could even say its magnified.  But can Tate trust Jared again and open up her heart? Or is this all another charade to break Tate completely?

The chemistry between Tate and Jared was off the charts! Even when Jared was in his bullying phase you could feel the intense attraction and chemistry between these two main characters. To the reader it was very obvious that Jared was in love with Tate even with his conflicting actions and words, but the reader was desperate, like Tate, to find out “why” he was treating her this way? What were his reasons? What did Tate do? And this is one of the reasons you consume the book desperate to seek answers.

Tate’s character was strong, dependant and likeable. I liked her sense of morals and the values she displayed and how she was honest and conflicted in listening to her head or following her heart with Jared. She didn’t want to make it easy for him to come back into her heart after all the hurt she endured and I could empathize with her reasons.

Jared character screams “Sex” and “Bad Boy”!! Wow! Even though I don’t advocate Bullies, being the fairy tale that this story was – I loved him! He was hot, dark, sexy, swoon worthy, I mean I could go on and on describing his character but I think you get the point!  His dark tortured side was a heart breaker and you begin to empathize with his character and get a glimpse of what he is thinking and feeling over the past four years of his forced separation from Tate.

Tate’s best friend was K.C and I have to say I wasn’t a fan. I disliked her the moment she betrayed Tate and I feel that Tate was way too easy on her and if you read this story I would be interested in your opinion of her – do you feel that K.C broke the girl code?

Jared’s best friend was Madoc, who also a bullied Tate and like I said about Jared’s character, I don’t advocate Bullies but being this fairy tale, I really liked his character. I liked how we witnessed him stand up to Jared and question his feelings about Tate and I really liked him when he apologized to Tate for all his hurt he has conflicted towards her was displayed with such sincerity. Unlike K.C’s character, I liked how he showed true loyalty and dedication to his best friend and once Tate was a part of Jared’s life he portrayed his true loyalty and dedication to Tate.

Bully was fantastic read, the pace and flow was perfect. I have to say that the plot twist at the end definitely caught me off guard! Quite clever I must say and could have ended with the reader blindsided but like I have said many times in this review already – this story is ultimately a fairy tale and with all fairytales they have happy endings!

I loved this book and my sole reason for the half lip deduction is the display of the falsehood on bullying, I know this book genre is Fiction but it’s not the reality of today and I feel it still could be quite insulting to people who have been bullied in their life less significant, making their torment not worthy and for that I couldn’t give it 5 lips….but as a fictional love story, I loved it and would highly recommend it!!

lips grey 4.5

Review – Brand Like a Rock Star by Steve Jones

brand like a rock star

Learn to tap your Rock Star potential!

Title: Brand Like a Rock Star
Author: Steve Jones
Genre: Marketing
Pages: 242
Reviewer: Debby

Blurb:
Brand Like a Rock Star takes you beyond the hype to reveal the core marketing strategies behind the success of the world’s greatest bands.

Author Steve Jones has earned his street cred as a savvy marketer in an outrageous business. He combines insider stories from AC/DC, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, KISS, and many other legendary bands with sound business advice, to deliver a rockin’ guide to building a breakthrough brand. Brand Like a Rock Star puts a new spin on the branding process.

From merchandising, to establishing a resonant core message, to developing an iconic logo, Steve Jones illustrates abstract concepts with actionable practices. How is Led Zeppelin like Nintendo’s Wii? How does U2 resemble Proctor & Gamble? What do Johnny Cash and Old Spice have in common? The answers may have a profound impact on your business.

Marketers in any business will pump their fists and boost their bottom line with Brand Like a Rock Star.

Review:
I admire nothing more than a book that makes you think without noticing and this is exactly what author Steve Jones has accomplished with Brand Like a Rock Star. Not only is this a fun and informative read, I think it is also transformational. Over and over again, Jones highlights bands, brands, groups and individuals who have discovered that some of the greatest successes come not only to those who work hard, but to those who work different. All it may take is that one switch in your mindset or one nudge to your perception and you can discover, uncover and smash through any obstacle in the way of your Rock Star path.

Brand Like a Rock Star is a perfect read for anyone in the Marketing field, as Jones reveals simple, yet crucial, ways your brand may be missing out on big opportunities. All the while entertaining his readers by demonstrating how incredibly successful bands and brands have illustrated the merit of his techniques. I also think this is a must read for anyone who admires the perseverance and thoughtfulness that goes into to promoting a product, a brand or even yourself. Furthermore, Brand Like a Rock Star is perfect for the music buff who is curious about their favourite band’s rise to fame.

Jones makes thought provoking connections between rock star bands and key marketing principles which grant the reader back stage access to pivotal moments in music history as well as instances of practical application for the practices he outlines. Any employee of any business can benefit from reading this book.

Really, though, this book is for everyone. In today’s society we are all consumers and as such what better way to get inside our own psychology to understand why we love, and hate, the brands we do, and what those brands have done to earn their valuable place in our overcrowded mental market place. No point is more spot on for me than Jones’ explanation of one of the most “vital” aspects of any brand, “No matter what you sell, it is all about the experience: the emotional reaction that your customers have when they use your brand. Rock star brands realize they don’t sell products or services, they sell experiences.” (pg. 69) I suggest you experience the rest of Jones’ Brand Like a Rock Star to further understand our growingly complicated consumer environment.

I give this book a crying and screaming groupie level of recommendation and if you enjoy reading Brand Like a Rock Star, you will be pleased to know a new release by Steve Jones, Start You Up, can be expected in May 2014 so watch this space!

lips grey 5

Review – Greed (Seven Deadly Sins Series) by Fisher Amelie

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EVERYONE “NEEDS” TO READ THIS BOOK!

TITLE: GREED (Book 2 # of The Seven Deadly Sins Series)
AUTHOR: Fisher Amelie
GENRE: Young Adult/New Adult – Contemporary Romance
PAGES: 342
REVIEWER: Nicole

BLURB:

SPENCER BLACKWELL IS GREED.

Gather ‘round, love, because I want you. I want what you have, I want what you don’t have, I want more of what I already have. I want. But if you so much as ask for something in return, go ahead and walk away. Know if you want to play in my world, its every man for themselves and the weak become mine. Leeches will be obliterated because I make it my job to destroy them. I protect what’s mine and I take what’s yours….because that’s what I do. I want.

My story will not endear me to you and, frankly, I could care less if it does because I’m in this for the money and nothing else. There’s nothing redeeming about me. I’m a corrupt, money hungry, immoral asshole from Los Angeles. I’m every man’s worst nightmare and every girl’s fantasy.

I’m Spencer Blackwell…And this is the story about how I went from the world’s most coveted guy to the guy no one wanted around and why I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

BREAK THE CYCLE

REVIEW:

Greed is the second installment to Fisher Amelie’s ingenious series focused around the seven deadly sins. As explained in my review of Vain, the first installment, this series showcases a deadly sin in each book wherein the respective protagonist bears a persona emulating that deadly sin.  The twist is found in the fact that the protagonist is given the opportunity to change their character and seek redemption.

While Vain inspired me and left an ever lasting impression on my soul, Greed opened my eyes up to this particularly evil and destructive sin in which someone can become so easily entrenched. Greed is an addiction and something so relevant and embedded in today’s society.  This story contains many valuable life lessons and for this reason alone, I believe Amelie has accomplished an amazing second installment to this series.

“Greed is a strange, strange sin.                                                                                                                                                All you want to do is acquire. Acquire money, acquire material, acquire time, acquire energy, acquire attention. The running mantra is “I want, I want, I want” but that quickly turns to “I need, I need, I need”.

The protagonist in Greed is Spencer Blackwell, who we originally met in Vain as Sophie Price’s friend.  Spencer, under his father’s control, is ordered to commit Illegal acts for his father’s business in exchange for large amounts money.

“I Can’t do that,” he said, exhaling sharply and staring out the glass into the street.

“Why Not?”                                                                                                                                                 His face softened. “I need his money”                                                                                                                Spencer looked at me, and I couldn’t help but stare back. We were all in the same boat, prisoners to greed.                                                                                                                                                                                        -VAIN – Sophie Price

But when his younger sister Bridge gets herself in a predicament their father makes it very clear that he will go to any means to look after his money and his reputation before his family.  In the best interest of Bridge, Spencer and Bridge run away from their life in L.A and their father’s hold and take refuge with the grandparents of Spencer’s college roommate August Hunt.   Emmett and Ellie Hunt own a ranch in Montana and it is at the Hunt ranch where Spencer and Bridge meet the most loving, caring, genuine, hardworking and down to earth people they have ever encountered.  Here, Spencer sees himself for who he really is and discovers “the want and the need” to change.  Spencer also meets Cricket Hunt who captures his whole heart from the moment he lays eyes on her.  Only problem is that Cricket has a boyfriend, Ethan – and a secret.  For the first time, Spencer is finding himself experiencing real emotions of love, happiness, sadness, anger and redemption.

Amelie’s writing style is impeccable.  Greed is extremely well written, full of depth and content with great flow and pace. Amelie also has the skill and knowledge to include symbolism in her story, regarding the inner demon taunting Spencer and I have to say the banishment of the demon once Spencer had finally sought his redemption was quite chilling.

Greed had the most powerful Prologue that stunned me with so much truth; it was the first of many of the life lessons shared in this book. The Epilogue was fantastic, jumping into the future by four years, revealing more insight not only into the characters in Greed also about our much loved characters from Vain, Sophie and Ian, which was a beautiful touch.

Amelie has the ability to really engage the reader and help us to develop an emotional connection with all the characters. I loved witnessing Spencer’s character transition and grow throughout the story from someone consumed with Greed to this,

“I lived by many things, but my top motto was “give”. Give, and you shall see the incredible rebound of it. The more you give, the more you get. It’s staggering notion, but the truth nonetheless”…Spencer

The chemistry between Spencer and Cricket was instant but frustrating at times to witness, as Cricket struggles to decide whether to follow her heart towards Spencer or remain loyal but not in love with her boyfriend Ethan. Though Bridge, Ellie and Emmett Hunt all contributed to bringing this story to life, I have to say that Jonah’s character really shone in this installment – he was such a humble, genuine, down to earth gentleman. Jonah was beautiful inside and out – pure lightness, some might say an angel in disguise, in contrast to Spencer’s father’s character who was the devil in disguise – pure evil had taken over his heart, with no redemption for this character.

Greed  is a book that makes you open your eyes to what our society is potentially becoming as so many of us are getting confused with the difference of “needing” and “wanting”. We are “wanting” more and fueling our greed to negative emotions and “giving” less and missing out on beautiful selfless emotions such and love, and this is a tragedy.

I really look forward to the next story to this series which focuses around the deadly sin of Fury.  This installment is focused around Cricket ex- boyfriend Ethan who shows his wrath throughout this story and promised Spencer his revenge, so I look forward to witnessing his redemption.

I would like to leave you with one of the many amazing quotes in this book that is so relevant and true;

“We’ll discover that our problem wasn’t genuinely a problem after all, not after we’ve seen it for what it actually is. In the light of day, when our adrenaline wears off, we’ll discover that all we truly feared was the unknown.”

lips grey 5

Review- Awakening (The Destined Series # 2) by Ashley Suzanne

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AMAZING AWAKENING!

Title: Awakening (The Destined Series # 2)
Author: Ashley Suzanne
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance
Release Date: 2013
Pages: 206
Reviewer: Kelly

***Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review***

Explanation:
Awakening is the third and final book in The Destined Series. It completes the story of four college friends Mira, Skylar, Danny and Kylee. Awakening begins with Mira waking from a coma in hospital. It explores her recovery, both physically and emotionally, as well as how each of her friends copes with the aftermath of her accident. The love triangle between the main protagonists, Mira, Skylar and Danny is the crux of this story. The use of multiple viewpoints within the novel helps to explain every detail of the story.

Opinion:
After getting over my initial shock that Inception was a prologue to Mirage, which took us back in the story, I finally got my hands on Awakening. I read this book within 24 hours as I was dying to know what happened! Awakening did not disappoint. It finally told the present day story of Mira and her friends, and oh and was it fantastic. It was a little predictable in some parts, but it was so satisfying in other parts that it all but made up for it!

Suzanne delivered Awakening using multiple viewpoints once again, changing between Mira, Skylar and Danny. The reader had access to how Mira was really coping after waking from her coma, as well as where her true feelings lay. The reader was also privy to Skylar and Danny’s thoughts and actions in this very unique situation. Suzanne also used clever dialogue and descriptions to explain each circumstance from every angle.
I loved how this book ended with so much closure. I hate it when books leave things very open ended. Suzanne did a marvellous job in closing up all major storylines without leaving the reader guessing. Every characters storyline was explained with great plotlines.

Summary:
Well done Ashley Suzanne, Awakening was a great conclusion to The Destined Series. If you cannot get enough of these characters Suzanne has created a spin-off series from Mira’s best friend Kylee’s point of view. Facade is out February 17, 2014.

lips grey 4.5

Review – Bold by Julia Swift and Andrew Landis

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Title: Bold
Author: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis
Genre: YA
Pages: 266
Reviewer: Debby

** Thanks to the authors for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review**

Learning to be BOLD

Blurb:
When Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash, she vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who moved to town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.

Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered world. Will they discover the difference between being bold and being reckless before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?

Review:

First off, I have to admit I was unknowingly already a fan of these two author’s prior to reading this book. I have followed T.V. shows that they have written for such as Smallville and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for years. So after learning that Swift and Landis had contributed to some of my favourite young adult television dramas, I could not wait to sink my teeth into their YA fiction offering. I was met with some definite similarities in themes and motifs which did not disappoint.

While I am not certain that Swift and Landis necessarily want their new written work compared to their previous work for television, I could not help but read this text with my previous knowledge in mind. In the past they have written about the underdog youths and beginnings of some of fantasy’s strongest, most unbreakable characters, such as Superman and Hercules. They are masters in narratives of building from the ashes, learning tough lessons from hard experiences, and overcoming obstacles to become who you are destined to be. All of these themes appear in one form or another in their YA novel, Bold.

Swift and Landis provide us with a very relatable story of two high school students, Sasha and Will, who have both experienced tragic life events which complicate the already rough terrain of young adulthood. Through Sasha’s point of view, the reader follows the story of a shy, socially awkward and unaccepted girl whose brush with death prompts her to shake off her wall flower roots and go out and get noticed. While her actions ultimately get her the wrong type of attention, the real draw to Sasha’s character is that there is something special, almost magical, about her character. With her character, I felt as though the authors were sending a message to all of today’s hyper-judgmental teens to say that behind every bullied, neglected teenager, there is something of value, some quality being taken for granted. Well high five to Swift and Landis for this, it is exactly the kind of message young society needs!! Everyone is valuable!

Will on the other hand, is a cool kid, although he is a cool kid at a new school. He plays basketball, makes friends easily, and wants to be part of the high school experience. So much so he becomes involved in the school newspaper. But there is more to his writing than just a desire to have a finger on the pulse, he is really writing to be close to his Dad, a high profile journalist who has disappeared. To try to sort through this difficult time, Will attempts to prove himself to his absent father. There is a scene in the book where Will is crying in public, another scene which speaks to the rigid stereotypes that exist in our youth’s culture, and this is where the unlikely couple meets for the first time.

What follows, part love story and part self-discovery story, is a fresh offering to the YA category in that it shows two separate characters as they develop and overcome their individual difficulties on their path to their love story. Neither one is dependent on the other for help with their issues, rather they admire one another and the different ways they have found to survive, grow and ultimately find each other. So do not look here for warm floating butterflies and consuming passionate kisses, though there are a couple, rather find an inspirational story of two young people who use the adversity life hands them to set them on the paths to their destiny.

lips grey 4.5