Tag Archive | YA Contemporary Romance

Spotlight Tour: BUSTED by Gina Ciocca + GIVEAWAY

Busted Book Cover Busted
Gina Ciocca
YA Contemporary Romance
Sourcebooks Fire
January 2, 2018
E-ARC
352
NetGalley
December 13 - 16, 2017

Catching cheaters and liars is a lucrative hobby—until you fall for one of the suspects. Perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, this new novel from the author of Last Year’s Mistake will steal your heart!

Marisa never planned to be a snoop for hire. It wasn’t like she wanted to catch her best friend’s boyfriend making out with another girl. But as her reputation for sniffing out cheaters spreads all over school, Marisa finds herself the reluctant queen of busting two-timing boys.

And her next case? It’s for ex-frenemy Kendall. She’s convinced her boyfriend, TJ, has feelings for someone else and persuades Marissa to start spying on him. But the more Marisa gets to know sincere and artistic TJ, the more she starts to fall for him. Worse yet, the feelings seem to be mutual. Marisa knows she needs to give up her investigation—and the spoken-for guy who may just be the love of her life. Then she uncovers new secrets about Kendall and TJ, secrets that take “cheater” to a whole new level…

Review

I loved this book! It’s been far too many books since I’ve had a YA in front of my eyes, and I’m so glad this was the one I picked up at this time.

Marisa, Charlie, TJ and even Nick were all great characters to read about. They all had their negative character traits and their positives, which made them feel very real. By the time I finished the book I was glad to have gone on this journey with them, but also sad to be saying goodbye. I want a sequel to read more about Marisa, but I don’t want any more bad to come to her, so… I guess I don’t want a sequel?

I loved how there were so many layers in this book. Anything could be a clue as to what the hell is ACTUALLY going on, and you just don’t know until you get to the end and realize the significance something you read earlier has.

I even loved Marisa’s parents. They were very cool and trusting parents.

It’s been… a few years… since I was in high school, and I just hope that not all high schools are full of such shitty boys like the two schools in this book! The good guys in this book certainly seemed to be the exception to the rule.

I would absolutely recommend this to teens and adults alike who are looking for a fun contemporary with a touch of romance and mystery. Nice work Ms. Ciocca, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!


Quotes

If I hadn’t been in line behind—what the hell was his name? Greg? George?—my double order of Sexual Chocolate (yes, really) and I would be on our way to Charlie’s house for a Saturday movie, gossip, and anti-nutrition night like so many other Saturday’s before.

 

Outing a scumbag felt more badass than anything I’d ever done—especially when I told her how I’d gotten the picture, and she looked at me like I’d parted the Red Sea.

 

And that’s when the bubble of positivity I’d been floating in since reconnecting with Kendall Keene in the parking lot bust like a microwaved marshmallow all over the room.

 

“I don’t know, Kendall,” I sighed into my cell phone. “This is different from what I’ve done before. You’re not asking me to follow him for a night or two. You’re basically asking me to stalk him. This feels… sneaky.”

“How is it any sneakier than trespassing on private property and aiming a camera inside someone’s living room?”

She had a point.

 

The word okay came out of my mouth, but in my mind it sounded a hell of a lot more like oh shit.

 

“When you care about someone, you don’t sneak around and do things that would hurt her if you did them o her face. You care about how your actions affect her.” I took a step toward him. “You don’t worry that the grass is greener in every goddamn yard but our own. You put her first once in a while instead of think about yourself all. The. Fucking. Time.”

 

He’d been rubbing his chin—which he still hadn’t shaved, and I wondered if i was specifically to drive me crazy.


Marisa’s Top 5 Tips For Sleuthing:

Hey there. Marisa Palmera, Private Eye here. Okay, so I don’t actually call myself that, and neither does anyone else. In fact, I never meant to become a sleuth-for-hire. But spend one night scaling your best-friend’s boyfriend’s house to take incriminating pictures, and suddenly everyone wants you to be something you’re not…and when they’re willing to line your sadly lacking pockets for it, it doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

So, should you find yourself an unwitting Girl Friday (or even a witting one… Is “witting” a thing?) like I did, here are some tips that just may save your butt:

  1. Always have a camera handy. Whether it’s your cell phone, or the fancy camera you borrowed from your school’s yearbook club, you never know when you’ll need to snap an evidence shot. Just, um, make sure you turn off the flash if said camera is aimed through a window into a dark living room. I may have learned this the hard way.
  2. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. Sounds ominous and dramatic, I know. But if someone gives you the vibe that they shouldn’t be let out of your sight? GO WITH IT.
  3. Think fast. Suck at lying? Me too. Get over it, because you’ll be fudging the truth a lot.
  4. But know when to say no. Weave enough white lies, and suddenly they’re a sticky, tangled web with you trapped inside. Know when it’s time to run, and do it like the flames of hell are licking your feet.
  5. Don’t fall for the person you’re investigating. You’re just gonna have to do as I say and not as I do on this one. Oops.

Excerpt

My eyes darted from TJ’s dark, furrowed eyebrows to the logo on the left breast of his shirt and I sat up straighter.

“Um, where’d you get the Maple Acres shirt?”

His expression didn’t change. “Maple Acres.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. “Right. I meant, do you work there?”

“Yup.” He sat back in his chair and pulled at the logo, stretching the white cotton away from his chest before turning his attention back to the computer screen. “Long time now.”

As soon as he said it, my memory was triggered. I’d always thought he looked familiar but could never quite place where I’d seen him. As I thought back to every trip I’d taken to Maple Acres, twice a year since I was two years old, the image of a boy with dark curls stuffed beneath a knit cap and a heavy flannel coat that made him look like Paul Bunyan clicked into place. The farm stretched over two hundred and fifty acres, selling pumpkins and cider and offering hayrides and a corn maze in a fall, then Christmas trees that you cut down yourself in the winter. The place had a storybook quality to it that I loved, and I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to figure out TJ was a part of it.

“We go there for our tree every year. I think I’ve seen you.”

TJ kept his eyes on the screen. “Probably. I’m usually bundling the trees or in the checkout area. Sometimes I drive the tractor for the hayrides.” He glanced over long enough to shoot me a half smile. “Maybe you’ve seen the back of my head.”

That would’ve been an occasion I definitely hadn’t noticed him. The one and only time I’d taken a hayride had been the lone trip I’d made without Charlie or my dad, both of whom are allergic to hay. I’d gone with Jordan. Superman himself could’ve been driving the tractor and I would’ve been too busy drooling over Jordan in his plaid button-down with the sleeves rolled up around his gorgeous forearms to notice.

Vom, vom, vom. I pushed the chunks down and forged ahead. “So, that thing you didn’t want to do the last time we talked, is that… still an issue?”

“Uh, no. That fell through, so my article should be good to go on Monday.”

He’s not making this easy for me, that’s for sure.

“Take your time, really. I hope you didn’t cancel your plans because of me.”

He glanced over and gave me a wry smile. “No.”

“So, um, the tree farm. I go all the time.” I mentally slapped myself. Twice a year is all the time? “Do you live nearby?”

“You know the green colonial across the street behind the barn?”

“Uh huh.”

He smiled again. “That’s my house.”

“Wait, I thought the owners lived there.”

“They do. We have for my whole life.”

“Your family owns Maple Acres?” I blinked a few times, dumbfounded by my own dumbness.

“Well, co-owns. Have you seen the guy with the white hair who sneaks free gourds to all the little kids at Halloween? That’s my Uncle Roger. He’s there all the time, but my dad does more of the financial stuff.”

My face lit up. “That’s awesome! I love that place! I took a picture of the white barn from the top of the hill once and tried to sketch it. All the trees had snow on them, the sky was this amazing gray color and the pond was reflecting it” – I remembered mid-babble that I’d veered off course and reigned myself back in – “anyway, let’s just say it was magical, but drawing isn’t my strong suit. So, um, if you didn’t move, then why did you switch schools?”

TJ’s eyes slid back to the computer screen and his shoulder tensed ever so slightly, as if I’d brought up something he didn’t really want to talk about. Now I was getting somewhere.

“Our property is right at the intersection of three town lines. Technically, I could’ve gone to any one of the high schools.” He stabbed a few keys with his pointer finger, eliciting three clipped clicks. Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me, but I swore his jaw tightened. “I left Templeton because it was time for a change of scenery.”

“It must’ve been hard, though, transferring for your senior year.” And pretty odd, in my opinion. “I’m sure you had a lot of ties there.”

TJ’s fingers paused in mid-air over the keyboard and he looked at me. “Not that many.”

This time when he turned his attention back to the screen, I knew our conversation had ended. He ran a hand through his hair in a gesture that had a definite undertone of irritation. Whether it related to my question or some memory pertaining to the school, I couldn’t tell. But when I caught sight of the leather bracelet on his wrist, my desire to exclaim OMG THAT’S GORGEOUS WHERE DID YOU GET IT almost overruled my desire to ask what the hell his comment was supposed to mean. I’d been baiting him to say, “Yeah, my girlfriend goes there.” He hadn’t. What did that mean?

Maybe nothing.

But damn it all to hell, I suddenly had to know for sure.


The Author

Gina Ciocca graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English, but in her mind, she never left high school. She relocated from Connecticut to Georgia, where she lives with her husband and son. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her taking long walks around the lake in her neighborhood. Gina can also be found online at writersblog-gina.blogspot.com, on Instagram as gmciocca, and Twitter as gmc511.


Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


My (Writing) Life

First things first….. PEACE IN FLAMES is available for preorder! I’m totally psyched about this because it’s my first solo release and the first completed project I’ve been proud of! Now I just need to finish my read through of the follow up novella, SUMMER OF PEACE, and send it off to my editor. That one will be available for public consumption in April.

Otherwise I’m working on a NA PNR, but I’ve hit a bit of a wall, so I may flip over to my YA contemporary romance instead. We’ll see. I’ve got a lot to ponder plot wise on both. (I’m still working on mastering that whole “outlining” thing. LOL)

In other news, I’m working on catching up on writing my last couple reviews from 2017. I’m hoping to post them ALL before the months end. I’m also at least halfway through two separate backlist titles for 2018 and the #BeatTheBacklist reading challenge, then I’ll jump into my NetGalley pile.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

REVIEW: Pucked by Rachel Walter

Pucked Book Cover Pucked
Rachel Walter
Contemporary YA Romance / Sports Romance
February 10, 2015
Kindle
328
The Author
Beat The Backlist
August 15, 2017

Does life get in the way of love or does love get in the way of life?

Riley Silk, captain of the Warriors Ice Hockey team at Dalesburg High, doesn’t think life can be lived if love is present. If there’s two things in life he knows to be true, it’s that love causes pain and hockey is his ticket to a better life. He’s worked hard to maintain his Frozen Silk reputation in order to stay focused on his duties and goals.

Audrey Jacobs, the Warriors’ number one fan, believes life can’t be lived without love. She can find love and beauty in the muddiest of situations. Her best friend, Riley, is under a lot of stress at home, so she does her best to brighten his mood whenever she can.

When lines cross and blur, they struggle to keep control of the simplicity their friendship once held. With Audrey’s outlook on life usually surrounded by light, the growing darkness of her doubts and insecurities threaten to deflect her toward the wrong path.

Can she find her true self before her world burns around her? When truths become lies, can Riley find the strength to fight his way through his own personal darkness that clings to his mind and soul? Can he win this face-off that life has dropped in his zone, or will fate take him out of the game completely?

Who keeps the puck?

**Warning- Several abuse topics are discussed in this story, which includes parental alienation, physical abuse, alcohol abuse, and mild drug abuse.**

Review

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

Let me start by saying I hate sports. I don’t “get” them and don’t follow them. I always work during the Superbowl because I could care less about the game. That said, I loved this YA sports romance! This book made me want to be a hockey fan. I mean, sports still bore me, but Rachel Walter made me feel like maybe I’m missing out on something.

This book is very deep, especially for a YA novel. Riley has a very shitty home life. His mom is a real piece of work and he has basically raised his little sister since his dad left 5 years ago. When his dad left he shut down. He turned to hockey as his only outlet, his way of making something of himself and getting out of his crappy situation.

Audrey is his best friend. She’s the only one who really gets him. She’s the only one he doesn’t ice out. Their friendship is perfect. And then he kisses her and things get weird.

Told in dual POV (Riley and Audrey) this book takes place over a long period of time. It’s not a quick romance, and I loved it that way. So much happens over a long period of time that I really got to know these characters. I was rooting for them. When Riley proclaimed time and time again that love gets in the way, my heart broke. I kept waiting for Audrey to fix him. But his issues ran so deep it wasn’t a quick fix and I think the author did the subject matter justice by not making it seem like one girl could fix a boy so broken. All she could do was help.

So yeah, I loved this story. I loved these characters. And this book made me want to love hockey as much as the Mighty Ducks movies did when I was 12! A+

So, should you read it? YA contemporary fans will eat this one up. And I can attest to the fact that you can hate sports and still love this story!


Quotes

The pissed off, Frozen Silk look comes back. The look that turns his iceberg blue eyes into sheets of steel. The same look that my dad says is rage turned to stone. But it doesn’t scare me on Riley.


I can’t hear anymore. Not everyone has a happily ever after. And not every couple stays together.


“Why do you keep apologizing?”
I sit back on my knees and help her up.
“Lots of reasons. First, I just pucked you.”


He doesn’t get to kiss me and then give me away to his best friend. Not me. Not him. I turn away from my locker, fully preparing to lay into Riley.


“I was beginning to think you wanted me to be the next crazy, cat lady.”
He smiles gently. “Never, you deserve more than cats. Maybe a ferret, they’d keep you on your toes by hiding your keys.”


Love gets in the way of everything. If I could kick my heart to the curb, I bet I could get through life easy.


“Wear the yellow dress, and he’ll do anything you say.”
“You’re trying to thaw him out, not heat him to a boil. Do not ever wear that dress around Riley again!” Candy argues.


Love is pain.
Love is empty.
Love hurts.
Love isn’t in my house. My house is a hellhole.


In my head, this is a play. It’s a one on one with interference, I feel like the puck. I’m passed, I’m sliced, I’m shot, I’m backhanded, and I’m blocked from both nets. The net minders are in control.


Ice is relatable. It’s unforgiving but freeing.


“I wasn’t sure if we would ever give our relationship a name-,”
“A name? It’s not a pet, Audrey.”


There’s ice in my head, ice in my lungs, and ice in my heart.


“Louise was right about you,” he says softly. “You’re too young to be this old.”


My (Writing) Life

I just got done with the loooongest weekend in a while. 7 hour shift on Friday, 12 on Saturday, and 8 on Sunday. Whew! It feels good to just stay home today!

Of course, my work at home is never one either. I’ve spent my morning so far setting up Amazon ads for some the books at my pub house. I’ve still got a few more to set up, not to mention covers to design, files to format, and so on.

I got word this weekend that the Peace group is planning some fun writing projects for October. So stay tuned and I’ll post more details about that soon. (Or you can just follow our Facebook page!) All I know for sure is that I’ll be writing a short flash fiction Halloween tale involving JoJo (Summer of Peace – Feb 2018) and Valerie (Peace in Flames – April 2018) which takes place before the events of both novellas. It should be fun!

I finished my proof reading job last night (woohoo!) and will have a review for that book in the future. Seriously, getting paid to read is the best. And now that I’m done with that project I can really focus on finishing the editing on Peace in Flames and the re-writing of Summer of Peace. THEN I can dive into my YA contemporary romance series, hopefully just in time for NaNoWriMo!

But enough about this. I’ve got work to do!

Did you have a long, busy weekend like I did? Or were you able to sit back and relax?

REVIEW: Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Kissing Max Holden by Katy Upperman

Read: July 24, 2017

Format: NetGalley E-ARC

My Book Rating: 5 Stars

Publisher: Swoon Reads

Release Date: August 1, 2017

Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Pages: 304 Pages

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kissing Max Holden was a terrible idea…

After his father has a life-altering stroke, Max Holden isn’t himself. As his long-time friend, Jillian Eldridge only wants to help him, but she doesn’t know how. When Max climbs through her window one night, Jill knows that she shouldn’t let him kiss her. But she can’t resist, and when they’re caught in the act by her dad, Jill swears it’ll never happen again. Because kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

With a new baby sibling on the way, her parents fighting all the time, and her dream of culinary school up in the air, Jill starts spending more and more time with Max. And even though her father disapproves and Max still has a girlfriend, not kissing Max is easier said than done. Will Jill follow her heart and allow their friendship to blossom into something more, or will she listen to her head and stop kissing Max Holden once and for all?


REVIEW

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

BE STILL MY HEART!

This book grabbed me from page 1. There’s so much I love about this story. On the surface it’s a friends to lovers romance, but it’s deeper than that.

First of all, there may be some spoilers here. I’m trying to keep them VERY mild so they won’t spoil your enjoyment of the story.

The characters in this book are amazing.

Jillian is the good girl. She’s an only child, a straight A student, and an excellent baker with dreams of going to a prestigious cooking school in New York City.

Max is the bad boy. He was Jillian’s best friend growing up, but after his father had a stroke, he took it really hard. He started acting out, getting drunk, and partying.

But these characters are so much more than that. When Jillian’s family life gets rocky, we see her struggle to cope. Meanwhile, we see that Max is more than a party boy. He’s really broken up, wracked with guilt over his father’s stroke, convinced it’s his fault. He’s in a rocky relationship with his sisters best friend, and though she treats him like garbage, he knows that part of that is because of how he’s treating her. But being a teenager under so much stress, he doesn’t have the maturity to handle things properly.

When Jill and Max fall into a physical (kissing/making out) relationship this sparks new feelings and emotions in both. They both know it’s wrong, because Max has a girlfriend, but they both want it.

If you hate cheating under any condition, this might not be the book for you. I personally feel it was handled well. There are actually multiple cheating storylines going on here, and I felt like the author tackled them nicely. Because here’s the thing. We’re all human. People make mistakes. Is cheating right? No. It’s selfish and disrespectful. But what makes this story so beautiful is how the characters deal with their actions. The consequences they suffer. I really don’t want to say too much because it would really spoil the book. I’ll just say this, Jillian feels 100% guilty for having ever kissed Max while he was still seeing his girlfriend, even if he instigated it. She even puts an end to things because even though she does want to be with him, she doesn’t want to be the other woman.

So should you read this? If you have zero tolerance for cheating story lines under any condition, run far away. However, if you want a steamy/funny/sweet romance with a good message – despite the cheating – dive into this one.


Get the Book here:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks

~ Add to Goodreads ~

 


QUOTES

– From an advanced release copy, subject to changing in the final copy

 

Max is little more than a peripheral figure in my life these days, but Dad’ll be pissed if he finds the neighbor boy lurking outside my window like a creeper.

 

I have the briefest, most inappropriate thought ever: I wonder what he tastes like?, before I remember how damaged he is.

 

Just like that, I forget all the reasons why kissing Max Holden is an awful idea.

 

He’s probably nursing a hangover, and he’s sporting his semipermanent scowl, but still. He looks good.

 

I want to go to him because, more than anything in the world, I want him to tell me he’s willing to try to get his life back on track. But I don’t think he is, and I won’t enable him—not like Becky.

 

How on God’s green earth did I think this was a good idea? How can Max and I be friends when I’m hyperaware of the energy crackling between us? When I know how his kisses make my skin sing.

 

“I don’t understand why, but you’ve stayed with Becky through thick and thin and all the bullshit in between. Even though you cheated on her, she still wants to be with you. Honestly, I think you guys are terrible for each other, but for whatever reason, you’re hanging on. At the risk of sounding like a shrink, I feel like you need to do some serious thinking about what you want from her. It’s not fair otherwise.”

 

Break the rules blatantly and people rarely question you—a lesson I learned from Max.

 

“Thank you, Nostradamus. Consider your prediction noted and ignored.”

 

“Maybe you haven’t noticed, but my happiness relates directly to yours. I never want to see you cry again.”

 

“What’d you do this morning?”
“Made fondant.”
“What the hell is fondant?”

 

“Even though I knew cheating was fundamentally wrong, I still took part…. Does genuine emotion pardon unfaithfulness?