Saturday, November 11, 2017

Saving It by Monica Murphy


Eden
Josh Evans and I have been best friends forever. He knows all my secrets, and I know all of his. So when he randomly asks me to help him lose his virginity, I sort of flip out. That’s a question that sends your mind to places you’ve seriously never considered before. Like, you know. Having sex. With your best friend. Except Josh doesn’t want to have sex with me—he wants me to help him find a girl. A nice girl who’s funny and smart and cute. Except he already knows a girl just like that...

Josh
Eden Sumner is my best friend. So of course she’d be the person to help me find my perfect match, so I can drop my V card before I head off to college. Except the more we search, the more I realize that maybe the right girl has been by my side all along. I don’t need Eden’s help in finding me a girl to love. I’m pretty sure I’m already in love with Eden. But now she thinks I’m only after one thing... with anyone but her.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book is what happens when American Pie meets Friends with Benefits. It contains two best friends, plenty of angst, and lots and lots of sex talk. Reading this might have you looking at your best friend in a different light!

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Entangled Teen





Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆☆
4 Stars overall.
5 Stars for actual young adult readers
3 stars for adult readers.

As a sucker for a page-turning young adult book, I won't lie by saying I didn't sit down and devour Saving It from page one until the end. However, I need to state I read it quickly for two reasons. One, I wanted to know where the novel was going to go, even knowing the ending destination. Two, I knew I better read feverishly so the plot itself didn't sway my overall enjoyment – meaning, if I paused, the novel would have given me pause. I will explain in the bulk of my review.

Best friends all through high school, Eden and Josh have had quite a few relationships, never once contemplating getting together. Josh is a virgin, never successfully sealing the deal in his past relationships, so he asks the one person who knows him better than anyone to help him pick the right girl. As you can guess, the plot pretty much goes on the path you'd expect, so I won't dive too deeply into the plot, as a way to avoid spoilers.

From the teen perspective, young adults will devour this book due to the content. From the adult perspective, adults will become frustrated, especially from a feminist standpoint. As a feminist, wincing at the list of girls, I read it from a perspective other than my own. At the same time, I wanted an adult voice in the book to offer advice these children so badly needed.

Authentic, Eden and Josh and the rest of the cast of characters do, in fact, act like actual teenagers. So I kept an open mind, remembering how I operated eons ago. Hormones fluctuating, irrational as the sector in the brain dealing with sound decision-making won't mature until the age of 25, peer pressure, and emotionally unsure why they feel as they do. So I applaud the author for writing characters who act/react/behave/sound as actual teenagers, instead of the adult voice of the writer.

In a nutshell, there isn't a whole lot going on with the plot that isn't in the blurb. The angst is a 'will-they, won't-they' tension, with added miscommunication, and a bunch of just waiting around until Eden and Josh decide to give it a try. It's not truly an evolution for the character development, but just the indecisive nature of teenagers (and their older counterparts).

If you're an adult like me, who adores the young adult genre, I'd suggest a sample. I enjoyed it, writing this review immediately, knowing if I took a few minutes, I'd spiral down the critique path and I refuse to go there. Do you know what I mean? In the now, it's awesome. Given five minutes of contemplation, the responsible adult in me wants to go round-up a roomful of teenagers and engage in a real chat.

FYI: I'm not a prudish adult against 'losing it/saving it' – it's the emotional impact of having an agenda and not caring 'who' you lose it to. On the flip side, feeling bad for the person chosen to fulfill an agenda. Virginity isn't a physical thing – it's a social construct with emotional impact.

If you're reading this review as a parent, I would highly recommend this to teenagers who need a dose of escapism/romance – not learning experience, but a naughty yet innocent read that accurately portrays exactly what teens are experiencing on a daily basis when it comes to acting on their sexual urges.

Young Adult age-range: 14+ due to swearing and sexual content.





Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is a traditionally published author with Bantam/Random House and Harper Collins/Avon, as well as an independently published author. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance. She is also USA Today bestselling romance author Karen Erickson. She is a wife and a mother of three who lives with her family in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere, along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through many angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Connect with Monica

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http://www.entangledpublishing.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Saving It by Monica Murphy to read and review.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski


Nora Reid believes scientific laws control everything, even love. With her grandparents’ epic first kiss story cemented in her brain, Nora develops a hypothesis she’s determined to prove:for each person in the world, there is exactly one other person, and at first kiss, they’ll experience an immediate and intense reaction.

But after four years of zero-reaction kisses, she comes up with a new theory: maybe that pesky crush on her stunningly hot best friend Eli Costas is skewing her results.

She needs to get rid of him, and fast.

Eli Costas is an injury-prone lacrosse star with a problem—the one chance he had at winning over the girl next door resulted in the most epically sucktastic first kiss ever. And now she’s...trying to get rid of him? Hell no. It’s time to disprove her theory and show her exactly what she’s missing.

Game. On.

Disclaimer: This book contains a stunningly hot lacrosse player who isn’t above playing dirty to win over the stubborn girl-next-door of his dreams.

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Entangled Teen





Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆☆☆
Nora's grandparents met and shared an earth-shattering kiss, and they spent the next 40+ years living happily ever after. As the child of divorce, Nora is holding onto her dementia-addled grandmother's inspiring story of love, wanting a lifetime of what her grandparents had, never what her parents did/have with other people. This has skewed Nora, missing what is being offered by her next door neighbor best friend, even if she's always had a crush on the boy.

At age thirteen, Nora and Eli shared a gross kiss, where no sparks flew, and she's held it against him ever since. The scientist-in-the-making doesn't realize sexual chemistry and romantic connection aren't scientific experiments. There's also the fact that at thirteen, you can't expect sparks to fly when your hormones have just started to do their business in the developing body.

Eli has always had a crush on Nora, but she won't give him a chance after that horrendous kiss where he just pounded a Coke and needed to burp. The poor guy spends the entirety of the novel chasing after Nora, trying to get her to see the truth.

To be honest, Nora's quest for kisses becomes a bit tedious and frustrating, for Eli but also the reader. The character development is where this novel shined. The characters speak and act as their age group, they have fears and worries that match their ages as well. Nora and Eli are both concerned with Nora's grandmother, with leaving/staying behind with their families when it comes to college. Where to go to college and what to study...

Nora and her driver's license: I feel as if the author plucked that out of my head. I struggled with anxiety, perfectly able to drive, and never got my license. I'm 39, and the thought of driving gives me a visceral reaction, so I connected with Nora's character on this front. Eli stating he'd drive Nora around for the rest of her life had me laughing out loud for real.

Recommended to adults and young adults alike, something for everyone to connect with emotionally.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to language. Kissing.





Christina Mandelski was born in South Florida, where her love of reading was cultivated in a house full of books. Stories like The Little House series, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Island of the Blue Dolphins and The Secret Garden, filled her imagination and fueled her dreams to be a writer. That dream came true when her first young adult novel, The Sweetest Thing, was published in 2011, and she’s beyond thrilled about her upcoming series for Entangled Crush.

Chris lives in Houston with one handsome husband, two beautiful daughters, and two freakshow cats. She has a fondness for the beach, her family and friends, and she still loves to read (especially curled up with a good cup of coffee!). She also enjoys shopping, traveling and eating, especially cake. Always cake. When she’s not doing these things, you can find her holed in a cozy spot with her laptop, writing.

Connect with Christina

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http://www.entangledpublishing.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The First Kiss Hypothesis by Christina Mandelski to read and review.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tracker Hacker by Jeff Adams


Theo Reese is just an average high school student with a passion for hockey and an uncanny talent when it comes to computers… at least on the surface.

What his teammates, fellow students, and even his boyfriend don’t realize is that Theo leads a double life. When he’s not putting up his facade of normal, Theo is working as an agent for Tactical Operational Support, where his technical genius is more than just a hobby. At sixteen he is responsible for helping agents in the field and keeping the TOS network secure.

It’s a secret he has to keep—from everyone.

But secrecy becomes even harder when a hacker compromises the system TOS uses to track its agents and Theo’s dad goes missing. Theo must find him and stop the hacker, which means leaving the comfort of his computer screen and venturing into a very real and very deadly world.

And if that’s not enough to deal with, all the secrecy is really putting a strain on Theo’s love life.

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Book 1
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Harmony Ink



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆☆
4.5 stars
M/M Thriller/Romance
Triggers: Click HERE to see Avid Reader’s review on Goodreads for trigger warnings.

This is a great young adult story that really delivers on the mystery/thriller aspect. You have Winger (I love the hockey theme in this too), who is a young high school student with an aptitude for computers and code. I loved his character. Despite the tough life that already follows high school kids around, he takes on much more and wants to be part of the larger, better, bigger picture.

I really enjoyed the dynamic between all of the agency characters and felt that this aspect of the story was the most successful one. They all were developed well and I thought that they interacted in a very good way. These characters made the story.

What I felt lacked the most was the romance/relationship aspect of this story. I didn't really understand why Winger was with his boyfriend, who seemed clingy and whiny at times. I think this would have been much more successful as just a mystery/thriller without the romantic aspect, but I really liked the story and can't wait to see what Winger does next!



JEFF ADAMS has written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published. Since then he’s written several shorts and novels and he plans to keep writing as long as wonderful readers keeping picking up his books.

Jeff lives in rural northern California with his husband of twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. If forced to pick his favorite book, it would be a tie between Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and David Levithan’s Every Day.

Jeff is the co-host of Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to m/m romance as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at biggayfictionpodcast.com.

Connect with Jeff

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https://www.harmonyinkpress.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Tracker Hacker (Codename: Winger #1) by Jeff Adams to read and review.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finding Home by Garrett Leigh


How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?

With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.

Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.

Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him — except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

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Riptide Publishing



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆☆
15-year-old Charlie meets Leo when his parents foster Leo and his little sister, Lila. The story is told from both Charlie and Leo's points of view but it is very much Leo's story. Leo has been left traumatised after his father murdered his mother and burned their house down. He is slow to warm up to life in the Poulton house and is very distrustful of his foster father, Reg. Over time, Charlie and Leo develop a friendship that leads to more, providing them both with some happiness.

While I liked Charlie right from the get go, I didn't find Leo a particularly easy character to like at first, but the longer we spent with Leo the more fond of him I became. In the end I was so wrapped up in his story that when Leo got in trouble and things started to go pear shaped, I was in tears.

Finding Home is a very well done story with difficult subject matter and, even though it is bleak at times, it is an engrossing story. I feel richer having spent time with Leo and Charlie.


Sarah☆☆☆☆☆
This book pretty much ripped my heart out. It was a little bit too close to home. I read it while we were trying to settle a new teenage foster child into our family. Sadly, Leo and Lila’s situation hit me hard because it was so horribly ordinary.

Garrett Leigh captures the experience of kids in care with detailed accuracy. Leo’s bluster. His defensiveness. His fear of men. His protectiveness of his sister. His need for control. She captures the minute triggers (like Lila’s cereal box) that can send children into a rage that is bewildering for carers.

If I have any criticism about the story it would be that the Poultons are maybe a little bit too perfect. The kids are a bit too well adjusted and the parents are a little bit saintly at times. But this is told from Leo and Charlie’s perspectives and Leo’s fears and his behaviours are terribly familiar.

As a romance, this is low steam young adult. The boys are young and the connection between them is a friendship with a heavy dose of sexual attraction. This is more the story of Leo finding a place for himself in the Poulton family. Charlie is a very special character and I can only hope that there is a teenage boy like him out there somewhere.

As an adult foster carer, the child’s perspective here was a refreshing but heartbreaking reminder of the many thoughts, feelings, and memories our own new teenager is struggling to manage and unable to communicate.

I really appreciate the research Garrett Leigh has done for this book. I feel like a difficult topic has been handled with respect and sensitivity. I love the strand of hope that has been woven through the book and I would love to read more young adult from this author.



Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always be tortured, crippled, broken, and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring true love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you’ve got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artist for various publishing houses and independent authors. For cover art info, please visit blackjazzdesign.com.

Connect with Garrett

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http://riptidepublishing.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Finding Home by Garrett Leigh to read and review.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Border by Steve Schafer


One moment changed their lives forever.

A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.

Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆☆☆
From the moment they hear gun shots, the lives of Pato, his cousin Arbo, popular fellow student Marcos, and Marcos' sister Gladys, are changed forever. From the minute they discover the blood bath where their parents and families have been killed, which ultimately leads to them crossing the desert from Mexico to the US, unprepared and with no clear idea of where they are headed.

The author does not hold back in showing us the horror of what Pato and his friends are going through, which is part of what makes The Border such a gripping story. I was on the edge of my seat watching these teens go from one dangerous situation to another, with only each other to lean on. The problem is, they are teens with the usual teen angst and fighting among themselves, which sometimes makes the situation worse.

This is one of those stories where I had no idea where the story was going and I love that. Would they survive the desert? Would they make it to the US? I had no idea and I was just along for, what is at times, a harrowing ride. But you know what? Every now and then little glimpses of hope and love appear in the story and those moments are more meaningful given what Pato and the group are going through. I fell in love with Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys and I just wanted them to survive. To live. The Border is a fantastic story that I think teens and adults will enjoy it.



Steve Schafer is an avid cultural explorer, animal lover, bucket-list filler, and fan of the great outdoors. He has a master’s degree in international studies from the Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, with his wife and two children. The Border is his first novel.

Connect with Steve

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http://www.sourcebooks.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Border by Steve Schafer to read and review.