My Not So Super Sweet Life

My Not So Super Sweet LifeTitle: My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #3
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 190
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on 2014-04-21
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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From the back cover...

Cat Crawford just wants to be normal—or at least as normal as a daughter of Hollywood royalty can be. And it looks like fate is granting her wish: she’s got an amazing boyfriend, Lucas; her fabulous cousin, Alessandra, living with her; and her dad planning his second marriage to a great future stepmom. That is, until her prodigal mother reveals on national television that she has something important to tell her daughter…causing a media frenzy.

Lucas Capelli knows his fate is to be with Cat, and he’s worked hard to win her over once and for all. Unfortunately, Lucas has his own issues to deal with, including a scandal that could take him away from the first place he’s truly belonged.

As secrets are revealed, rumors explode, and the world watches, Cat and Lucas discover it’s not fate they have to fight if they want to stay together…this time, it’s their own insecurities.

Well, and the stalkerazzi.

My Review

My Not So Super Sweet Life is very different from the first two books in the series, but just as wonderful to read!  The first book, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, featured Cat as the narrator and center of the story.  The second, A Tale of Two Centuries, was told by Alessandra as she went on her own journey.  This third novel tells the story of Lucas and Cat through their alternating viewpoints.  There is also no time travelling in this one, although there just may be some Reyna gypsy magic going on!  This is one is more about finding one’s way through the kinds of struggles that we have all been through at one time or another in our lives.

This book was a bit deeper and more intense than the previous two.  Cat is still struggling with trust issues and she is learning to finally come out of her self-imposed  shell.  Learning to trust and to open up to others after years of neglect by her mothers is difficult for her.  She’s never really understood why her mother abandoned her and she feels that she needs that closure.  There were times during this arc that I just wanted to reach into my Kindle and slap some reality into her mother.  We also learn a lot more about Lucas.  He has his own story, his own struggles, separate and distinct from Cat.  There is a lot of heart ache, sadness, and frustration in his world.  His struggles, too, are those that I think a lot of us can understand.

There are new characters in this book… Cat’s mother and Ransom.  I won’t say much about him, for fear of spoilers, but I will say that I hope that there might me more about him in the future.  There is a story there that was just hinted at and I want to know more!

There is some swoon-worthy romance in this book, lots and lots of it.  Cat and Lucas.  Alessandra and Austin.  There is a bit of heat and a whole lot of sweetness in their romances, as well as the requisite moments of angst… perfect YA love.  But one of the things that I love most about these books is that the girl is not centered on her boyfriend.  There is all of the swoony love stuff that you could want, but the girls are their own people with their own thoughts and ideas and opinions.  Thank you, Rachel, for giving us that!

Some Quotastic Goodness

“This place has harbored many a scandalized politician, so you two miscreants should feel right at home (Loc. 307).

“Hey, Alessandra called me a dashing hero, which I am pretty sure is Shakespearean for awesome (Loc. 331).

The air around us is electric.  Humming, vibrating, and heated, weighted with  lust, desire, even love (Locc. 376).

My Recommendation

If I had to pick one of the three books in this series as my favorite… well, I couldn’t do it!  I have loved every one of these books.  While this could be read as a standalone novel, I would  recommend reading My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and A Tale of Two Centuries.

5Mugs

I received this book from NetGalley.  This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.  This is an honest review based on my own opinions.

About Rachel Harris

Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and losing herself in story. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

Second Star

Second StarTitle: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Fairy Tales, Folklore, Legends & Mythology, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Published by Straus and Giroux on 2014-05-13
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward his nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of J. M. Barrie's classic tale, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up—and the troubled beauty trapped between them.

My Review

Having recently read the classic Peter Pan, I was intrigued by the idea of a retelling of that story.  I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings and this is the first one I have come across that is based on that story.

Second Star is tells a very different story than that of the original Peter Pan, especially the Disney adaptation with which most of us are familiar.  There are themes that are much darker and more intense, very much a modern-day retelling.  Although it is set in California, much of it takes place on a hidden beach that gives the feeling of the fairy tale land far, far away.  It is definitely not the Neverland we remember, but it is still a place that is created to be somehow separate from the rest of the world.

Wendy is a great character, one I feel that many of us can relate to.  She is living in the sort of limbo that happens when you have lost someone close to you.  She is suffering and lost, but she puts that all aside to put on brave face for those around her.  She is unable to accept the loss and she is determined to learn the truth.  To that end, she goes on a journey that takes her to places she could not have imagined.

Pete and Jas, our Wendy’s potential love interests, are not the typical love-triangle boyfriends, the good guy versus the bad guy.  Each of them has elements of both.  Pete (our obvious Peter Pan) cares for the people in his “family” and is fiercely loyal to them, but he also has his secrets that seem to keep him a bit aloof.  Jas (our Hook) is more open about his bad boy ways, but he seems to have a more realistic and true idea of love and relationships.

There a lot of dark themes in this book.  Death, loss, disappointment, betrayal, distrust, drugs.  Most of these things are not the kinds of things we would normally expect in Neverland, but they are an integral part of the story.  The drug arc is a big part of the story, the “fairy dust” reworked.  This arc played into several of the story lines and there was no small amount of tragedy attached to it.  Some may not like the emphasis on this aspect, but I thought it played in well to not only the surf culture, but to some of the other things (no spoilers) that occurred towards the end.

While there was romance, the true story was found in Wendy’s journey.  There was a lot of mystery and not a lot of obvious clues.  However, once the story was resolved, I was able to look back and see some foreshadowing.

Some Quotastic Goodness

The air around him is bright, like the stars are following him, his very own spotlight (Loc. 62).

The water rises with a gentle touch, the sea wrapping its cool arms around me (Loc. 62).

It’s as if the ocean has swallowed my  memories whole (Loc. 2866).

My Recommendation

I enjoyed this book very much.  You will not find the Wendy Darling, Peter Pan, Captain Hook, or John and Michael of your childhood.  The story is much darker, more intense.

4Mugs

I received this book from NetGalley.  This does not affect my opinion or the content of my review.  This is an honest review based on my own opinions.

About Alyssa B. Sheinmel

I was born in Stanford, California, and even though I moved across the country to New York when I was six years old, I still think of myself as a California girl.

Like so many writers, I grew up loving books. I loved stories so much that when there was nothing to read, I wrote my own stories just to give myself something to read. And when there was no pen and paper to be had, I made up stories and acted them out by myself. I played all the parts, and I was never bored.

A Tale of Two Centuries

A Tale of  Two CenturiesTitle: A Tale of Two Centuries by Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #2
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on 2013-08-06
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase
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From the back cover...

Alessandra D’Angeli is in need of an adventure. Tired of her sixteenth-century life in Italy and homesick for her time-traveling cousin, Cat, who visited her for a magical week and dazzled her with tales of the future, Alessandra is lost. Until the stars hear her plea.

One mystical spell later, Alessandra appears on Cat’s Beverly Hills doorstep five hundred years in the future. Surrounded by confusing gadgets, scary transportation, and scandalous clothing, Less is hesitant to live the life of a twenty-first century teen…until she meets the infuriating—and infuriatingly handsome—surfer Austin Michaels. Austin challenges everything she believes in…and introduces her to a world filled with possibility.

With the clock ticking, Less knows she must live every moment of her modern life while she still can. But how will she return to the drab life of her past when the future is what holds everything she’s come to love?

My Review

As much as I enjoyed the first book in this series, My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, I think I loved this one even more!  This installment focused in Alessandra, Cat’s “cousin”  from 16th century Florence, Italy.  Less dreams of a life of less restriction and more freedom, something that is hard to come by in her own era.  Through a touch of gypsy magic, she skips forward to visit her cousin Cat and to find her own answers in the future.  A future that contains a swoon-worthy boyfriend in the form of bad-boy Austin.

In reality, we have not one, but  two, swoon-worthy Book Boyfriends in this book.  Lucas, whom we met in the first novel, hopes to become Cat’s modern-day Lorenzo and he is all that one could want in a romantic hero.  And then there is Austin, the epitome of the bad boy, but one with a lot more depth than most would give him credit for.  He has been hurt and it has damaged him.  In a lot of ways, this novel isn’t just the story of Alessandra, but Austin’s and Cat’s as well.

Less is thoroughly endearing and a lot more complex than we knew from the first book.  She has spent her entire life behaving as she was expected to, with little thought to her own dreams.  In her heart, she was a bit of a rebel in the 16th century and frustrated with that.  Her journey was about letting go and being strong, recognizing her own dreams and wishes and accepting that it is okay to pursue them.  That is a pretty universal journey, and one I related to as a reader.  I think that is the underlying thing about this series that draws me in… the universal themes and struggles that we all experience in some form or another in our own lives.  These characters are rather deep, something that I really love.  Less’ inner dialogue as she grows from the shy and prim Renaissance girl to the confident girl she becomes is often very wise.

I am not generally a “sweet romance” or “time travel” kind of girl, but these books are so engaging that is impossible for me not to love them.  The romance is there, sure, but the story itself is so engaging and the humor is hilarious.  One of my favorite book lines of all time came from the first book, and this one was no less hilarious.  As for the time travelling, it is done so well.  Placing a 16th century girl in contemporary Hollywood is a culture shock, to say the least, and the results are often hysterical!  She sees the world through 16th century eyes and that new perspective is fabulous for the reader.

Some Quotastic Goodness

On encountering a taxi for the first time…

Determined not to give way to feelings of desertion, I stare at the door and wait for the coachman to come around and help me in. When he merely settles deeper into his seat and a footman fails to appear, I realize he expects me to get in by myself (Loc. 401).

On trying to pay for a taxi…

I am certain that I do not have any bucks on my person as even one such animal would hardly fit in the carriage with us, but perhaps fate has left me with something (Loc. 435).

On discovering indoor plumbing…

Truly, out of all the modern inventions I have encountered thus far and wish I could bring back with me, the glass box shower is my favorite— even better than the marvelous toilet (Loc. 669).

On public displays of affection…

Several couples openly engage in scandalous embraces, and exposed skin is everywhere (Loc. 694).

On discovering the “bikini”…

I cautiously take down a pink bikini and hold it against me. Fear and an intense loathing for the man who created this form of clothing churn in my stomach (Loc. 1782).

A little bit of swoon…

My first kiss is not the slow, sweet build-up I witnessed between Cat and Lorenzo. This is aggressive. This is passionate (Loc. 2444).

Some wisdom…

I am not without fear, but courage is taking action despite the fear. Knowing what you want, what you are meant to do, and proceeding despite any knots in your stomach or rocks stuck in your throat. It is walking boldly into the unknown with your chin held high… even if it quivers (Loc. 3725.

True happiness is something we create ourselves with our own choices: whom we want to be with, whom we let into our worlds, and how we choose to spend what little time we are given in this world (Loc. 3916).

My Recommendation

This is a fabulous read!  The deep moments will pull you in and the humor will keep you there!

5Mugs

About Rachel Harris

Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and losing herself in story. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

My Super Sweet Sixteenth CenturyTitle: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
Series: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1
Genre(s): Fantasy & Magic, Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 260
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on 2012-09-01
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase
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From the back cover...

On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits . . . right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

My Review

This was my first read from author Rachel Harris and it was fantastic!  There was a little  bit of everything in this book… swoon-worthy romance, fabulous characters, humor, and conflict.  There is a little bit of the contemporary right alongside the historical and the blend of both creates a mystical story that I truly fell into.

Cat is a perfect protagonist who really grows over the course of the novel.  She is a daughter of Hollywood, but she is far from the “mean girl/rich girl” stereotype.  Instead, she was a bit socially awkward, a bit of a loner.  This made her instantly sympathetic and I loved that she was, at heart, every girl.  But as her life changes, we get to see so much more depth.  We see the hurt and the pain, but we also see the passion, the intelligence, and the humor.  Her “cousin” Alessandra was very different from Cat, the epitome of a proper 16th century young girl.  She was also a perfect friend for Cat and the two of them together were as sisters or best friends should be.  And Lorenzo… oh, Lorenzo.  The perfect Book Boyfriend!  Gorgeous, smart, creative, funny… what more could you want?

Some Quotastic Goodness

Throughout history, while day-to-day life has changed, humanity hasn’t (Loc. 217).

I live my life by the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: no one can make you feel inferior without your consent (Loc. 677).

If looks could kill, I’d be a barbecued pineapple (Loc. 888).

The first is that if beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder , I want the world to see me the way he does. Every flaw, every imperfection that I hate about myself has been made beautiful through his eyes and with his hand (Loc. 1454).

At least I can look like a Kardashian while hyperventilating all over the dance floor (Loc. 2164).

Our second kiss is gentle and passionate , tentative and hungry, all at once (Loc. 2419).

At certain times of the month, I’ve considered chocolate consumption an urgent matter (Loc. 2529).

“There we go, rule number three. Caloric consumption. Thou must not thinketh or worry about the circumference of one’s thighs while at a sleepover (Loc. 2785).”

“And I’ve learned that letting people get close to you doesn’t always lead to pain. Some people are actually worth the risk (Loc. 3127).”

My Recommendation

This was a fun read with great characters and an interesting story.  One thing I really appreciated was the author’s attention to detail.  It kept the experience believable and I applaud that!

5Mugs

About Rachel Harris

Rachel Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls-next-door and the hot guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong families are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

A Cajun cowgirl now living in Houston, she firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations. She homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches way too much Food Network with her amazing husband.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict, she gets through each day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and losing herself in story. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romances, and LOVES talking with readers!

Fractured Innocence

Fractured  InnocenceTitle: Fractured Innocence by Julia Crane
Series: IFICS #2
Genre(s): Dystopias, Military Fiction, New Adult, Science Fiction
Pages: 298
Published by Valknut Press on 2014-01-14
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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From the back cover...

Kaitlyn and Erik are sent on a mission to track down Vance Dasvoik, a ruthless monster. His latest thrill—abducting and selling young women.

Vance's current victim: Aaliyah, a seventeen-year-old who never imagined walking her brother home from school one evening would change her life forever.

The mission quickly turns personal for Kaitlyn when she finds Aaliyah beaten, her mind and soul fractured from abuse of the worst kind. Kaitlyn knows firsthand what it's like to be haunted by the past and resolves to bring justice to the elusive Dasvoik.

My Review

Fractured Innocence is the fantastic sequel in the IFICS series.  It is is sci-fi, dystopia, romance, and thriller all wrapped up in one cyborg package.  It is also a far darker and more intense read than was the first, Freak of Nature.  In this book, Kaitlyn has come into her own and living her new life in the best way that she can.  Her humanity and her creation to be a weapon have come together to make her what she is today… a black ops-style soldier on a mission of good.

The villain in this book is a bad guy of the worst kind.  He is the leader of a human sex trafficking ring who also dabbles in drugs and illegal weapons.  As much as the story is about Kaitlyn, it is also about Aaliyah, a girl stolen with her little brother off the streets of Detroit.  What this girl goes through in this book, and her fellow captives, fractures her soul and changes her irrevocably.  It is the mission of Kaitlyn and her partner Erik to take this leader down, and everyone with him so that the captive boys and girls can be rescued.

There was such depth of emotion in this book, something that is surprising when you  take into account the main character is a cyborg who had lost much of her humanity.  But we feel her pain and, more than that, we feel the pain of Aaliyah as she suffers through hell.  It is undeniably dark and intense and there are parts that truly touch the heart and shake you to the core.

Some Quotastic Goodness

There’d been a time in the not so distant past when she was lonely and ached for any human connection (Loc. 45).

Kaitlyn wanted Dasvoik to see exactly what was  coming for him. To see the fear in his eyes when he saw a half human raining hell down on him (Loc. 94).

The room seemed to grow smaller as the fear began to swallow her. She was not naive; she knew what he meant by breaking her in (Loc. 595).

And I am probably one of the weakest. She kept that thought to herself. Maybe if she continued to work with Kaitlyn, she, too, would one day be brave (Loc. 2888).

My Recommendation & Rating

Dark and intense,with a heart wrenching story!  FANTASTIC sequel!

5Mugs

About Julia Crane

Julia Crane is the author of the Coexist: Keegan’s Chronicles. She has a bachelors degree in criminal justice. Julia has believed in magical creatures since the day her grandmother first told her an Irish tale. Growing up her mother greatly encouraged reading and using your imagination. Although she’s spent most of her life on the US east coast, she currently lives in Dubai with her husband and three children.