Drive

Drive by Kate Stewart

ALL THE STARS! 

“Music is the heart’s greatest librarian.” 

Top recommendation and one of the best books of the year for me! Drive made me fall in love with the romance genre again. I’m not exaggerating when I say this, since August I have only had one 5 star romance read, and it was MM not MF. I had given up hope on this genre and on the indie romance community but after reading Drive I’m back and ready for more!

Drive is the story of Stella, a music journalist gets some shocking news and decides to drive home instead of taking her flight. Along the way she remembers her past and the events that led to her present circumstances. That’s all I’m going to tell you, I went in blind and I think the experience of reading this book is more enjoyable this way.

“A gravitational pull lured me to him. I wanted inside his head. And that was just the start of what I wanted.” 

Kate Stewart is an author I find myself recommending all the time and wish more people would read. Her writing is very versatile, each book a unique and heartfelt experience. Drive follows in the same vein, at the heart of it is music. The songs mentioned at the beginning of the chapters (the ones I knew and didn’t have to pick up) I could hear in my mind as I was reading. I don’t listen to music when reading because I find it hard to focus on one or the other, but if you enjoy music while reading, I recommend the spotify playlist Kate made for this book.

This was the book that I wanted to read into the early hours of the morning, the one where I was cursing my job that I love because I wanted to stay up late reading this book but needed sleep instead. It didn’t take me long to realize while reading this book was something special, and I was only halfway through when I started sending book recommendations of it to other readers on Goodreads. This is the book that you know will stay with you forever, the one that when you hear certain songs you’ll remember how you felt when reading it.

Stella is a heroine that is flawed, emotional and beautiful. I loved her outlook on life, that even though bad things had happened to her she tried her hardest and kept going. We see her struggling as a college student, to working her way up the music world. And while this book is a love story, it’s also about how Stella found her way back to her true self. How she picked up the pieces and told the world to go screw itself and fought her way to the top.

Not sure what else to say, it’s obvious I loved this book. If you haven’t picked up a book by Kate yet I want to smack you. Just make sure you don’t end 2017 without reading this book. You won’t regret it.

“He was my song, my soul, my everything, and his love had propelled me forward into the woman I wanted to be.” 

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Maverick

Maverick by Karina Halle

3.75 stars! 

“Love is chaos.” 

Maverick is the story of Riley a young beautiful woman working in search and rescue. After a traumatic working experience where Riley lost a friend, she moves to Canada for a new job. John “Mav” Maverick is her new boss, and right off the bat they know there’s chemistry between them. But employees are forbidden from dating in search and rescue, so they must do what they can to keep away from each other.

“The feeling I have in my chest is completely unfamiliar. It’s like a combination of a warm bath and someone dropping a toaster in it. It’s both calming and electrifying and there’s no other way to explain it, but I have both feelings at once when I look at her.” 

This book was a fun and hot break from reality. Riley and Mav had some serious chemistry and waiting for them to get together was everything! It was nice to revisit the true north world and see characters we met in Wild Card. While this is “second” in a series, you can easily read this book as a standalone novel, you don’t need any backstory. That being said I am excited for Del and Fox’s story, I hope it will be super angsty!

ARC provided by the author. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu

4.25 stars! 

“Every locked door has a key. Every problem has a solution.” 

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would! I was attracted by the pretty cover and the recommendation from a friend, so I got this book from the library. When my copy arrived, I read the synopsis and my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. This book sounds like a total rip off of Ready Player One. And to be honest, it really kind of is. But somehow, knowing this, I still really enjoyed this.

Warcross is about an 18 year old bounty hunter Emika, a girl close to eviction. Out of desperation she takes a risk during the Warcross games and gets caught, resulting in her getting an offer she can’t resist. Now Emika is thrown into a new world where she wants for nothing, with a hot boss too. It’s up to her to discover a new threat and to help stop it.

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.” 

I thought this was a fantastic YA novel, like I said before I was surprised by how much I liked this one. I’ve only ever read The Young Elites and I couldn’t get through that book. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I think Lu did a great job with her main character Emika, she’s a spunky, hacker, bounty hunter with rainbow hair and tattoos. I mean, how cool is that? This book was also really easy to read, I fell into it and the pacing was totally on point. I found myself inching toward the book at times when I couldn’t read it, and that’s the mark of a good book.

Why not 5 stars? I felt the romance was really lackluster and underdeveloped, even the guy said himself “perhaps I’ve been too subtle” <— um, YEAH DUDE. I thought this girl just had a weird one sided fangirl crush on the main guy until he suddenly kissed her. There were also some gaps in the game world building and moments when I was confused about how things worked. I don’t think we need an extensive lesson in it, just maybe not so many conflicting statements about the game and how it worked.

Anyways if you like YA and scifi, this is the book for you! Take it from a girl who didn’t think she would enjoy it, take the leap and give it a chance! And I am so excited for the next book!!!

“Everyone has a different way of escaping the dark stillness of their mind.” 

Bountiful

Bountiful by Sarina Bowen

4 stars! 

“The truth was that men didn’t date people like me. I was the girl they “hung out with” as Dave had put it last night. The bartender was a good time and fun in bed, but not a forever girl.” 

Sarina Bowen always writes the best romance! Bountiful is about bartender Zara and a sexy ginger named Dave. One summer for an entire month the two had a steamy fling, but then he left and he left something behind. Two years later Zara is a single mother and hasn’t been able to find Dave to tell him he’s the father.

Then one day, Dave shows up and Zara tells him he’s a father. But Dave’s past makes him doubt his parenting abilities and Zara doesn’t trust that he will stick around. The two have to work together to see if they can reach common ground.

“Nobody could make me feel inferior without my permission. I’d made my peace with single motherhood, and it didn’t matter what anyone said behind my back.” 

From the moment I opened up the book I fell in love with Zara and Dave. I love prickly heroines and Zara was awesome. Dave was equally awesome, every barb Zara threw his way he shrugged off and smiled. I wouldn’t say baby romances are my favorite subgenre, but I enjoy them and the angst they deliver all the same. Plus I think Bowen did an amazing job writing the parent/child dynamic and Nicole was just beyond adorable.

This book starts off with a bang, and then slows down in pacing a little bit near the middle. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I am so glad Zara got her own story and it was worth the wait. I just want to stay forever in the True North world and never leave. I hope we get more books in this world.

Sarina Bowen is an author I always recommend, she never disappoints. This is the book this fall that you want to curl up with a blanket and enjoy a heartwarming story.

“The Milky Way and Zara. My favorite two things about Vermont.”

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley. All/any quotes in this review came from an advance unedited copy and may be subject to change in the final product. 

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

5 stars 

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.” 

Can you all believe I had never read this book until now? Yeah, neither can I. Because that is CRAZY! To be fair, I put it off a lot. In a weird way that doesn’t make sense, I didn’t want to ruin Fangirl. And this book didn’t, I still love Fangirl, I just have a different kind of love for Eleanor and Park.

This book is about two outcast teens who become friends when they are forced to sit next to each other on the bus to and from school. At first, they don’t really understand each other, but as time goes by, they want to get to know each other and develop an amazing friendship, and then romance.

“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.” 

This is going to be a shorter review because I think everyone has already said all the things about this book. But MY HEART. This book made me wish that men like Park existed in real life, because no man could measure up to this guy. And Eleanor, I bled for that girl. I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was beautiful and that someone cared.

Anyways, if you are stupid like me and haven’t read this book, you need to correct this giant mistake asap. You won’t regret this one!

“I don’t like you, Park,” she said, sounding for a second like she actually meant it. “I…” – her voice nearly disappeared – “think I live for you.”
He closed his eyes and pressed his head back into his pillow.
“I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,” she whispered. “Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath. That’s probably why I’m so crabby, and why I snap at you. All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”
He was quiet. He wanted everything she’d just said to be the last thing he heard. He wanted to fall asleep with ‘I want you’ in his ears.”

Without Merit

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

4 stars! 

Right off the bat I just want to say, there’s not much I can tell you about the plot of this book. I really want to, but it’s all just one giant spoiler, and I don’t want to be that person so please don’t put that on me. What I can say, is that from the very beginning of this book Colleen Hoover keeps you on your toes and you have no idea where she will go next with this story.

I also want to make one thing clear, this book is unlike anything else Hoover has written. She’s said so herself, but I think it merited reminding < —- see what I did there? And I love that about Hoover. She never delivers the same thing twice, she continues to evolve and grow as a writer. As a reader, I really appreciate this, because it means I never know what to expect. And in a way, when she brings us something new it’s her way of respecting the reader, knowing that we will grow with her.

Without Merit revolves around the life of a high school senior, and while this does deal with young adult characters, this book read more like an adult contemporary fiction novel. Not that anything was super graphic or inappropriate, but it’s all in the writing style. Honestly, I think if Oprah read this book she would put it in her book club. I really mean that. I think this book is an amazing conversation piece, bringing up and addressing family issues (and more but that’s spoilery) and a great book for book clubs. When this book releases, I foresee A LOT of discussion surrounding it.

Everyone at some point has thought their family was fucked up, believe me as an adult that has become abundantly more clear to me. But what if your family really was fucked up in some way? If I were to compare this novel to anything, it would be the movie August Osage County. By that I don’t mean every little single thing that happens, but more conceptually. I also compared November 9 and the old movie Same Time, Next Year, the concept is similar but the execution is different.

It also at times felt like I was reading a play in terms of how the scenes and dialogue were delivered between the characters. And we are the audience watching this play unfold. This book at its heart is a family trying to work out its issues, and come out the other side hopefully in a good way.

I devoured this book the second I got (giant shout out to Atria for giving me my first ever Colleen Hoover arc, that rocked my world). I stayed up until 3 am reading this baby, and it took me a long time to process my feelings on it. I think there’s going to be a lot of differing opinions on this book. I think the majority of Hoover’s fans will love this book, despite maybe not expecting what it’s about. But what I think is even better is that this specific novel will open up a new reader base to her work and hopefully we will gain a lot of Cohorts with it.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review