Saturday, September 24, 2016

Chasing Truth by Julie Cross


At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

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

This was a great YA story. It was complex, developed twists and turns, and great characters.

Ellie, Harper, Aiden, and Miles are all well developed and have complex relationships. They all feed off each other, support each other, and love each other.

It was a hard thing for me to get around, the fact that Miles has this image of how the world should work. However, from where I don't really understand how he's come to be that way, especially given his parents' careers. So, while I enjoyed the dialogue between him and Ellie, he was the character I had the hardest time believing.

Ellie and Harper have had a difficult childhood. I do wish that we had known more about Harper, but hopefully, she'll get her own story. The relationship that they have, the connection they share is something only siblings can truly share. I love how they support each other, even when Harper knows that Ellie is hiding something.

Ellie is struggling to find her place. I felt her hurt when she recalls her friend Simon. The guilt over surviving. She knows in her heart that Simon would not have left her. When she begins her quest, she knows that she'll have to draw upon her skills – but she's apprehensive about this, because she has worked hard to hide those abilities.

The internal struggle that both main characters go through is interesting. One is trying to find the right side of the ethical dilemma while the other is trying to decide where the line is – good versus bad.

The story takes a lot of twists and turns – the secondary characters help Ellie and Miles seem a little more "normal," but I think that they were somewhat distracting because you knew how they belonged together – their relationships, you were able to see how they wove together to create this community of people – their click.

Overall, this was a great mystery. Despite guessing the who did it – before the big reveal – I still found that the story was great. I can't wait to see what this series has in store.


Erica☆☆☆☆☆
Chasing Truth is the debut in the Eleanor Ames series. Truth be told, I have no idea how to review this book without it being a massive spoiler, so I think it best if I avoid the plot altogether, and just state the writing style and the way it made me feel...

Fast-paced, with a good withholding of information, which was delivered in healthy doses along the way to keep the reader fully engaged and eager for more. Chasing Truth is the mystery surrounding Ellie's friend, Simon.

Ellie's a teenage girl, but she's so much more than that. As the daughter born into a crime family of grifters, con-artists, her view of the world is tainted. She has no roots, no identity, not even a birth certificate or social security number. Ellie is a ghost living a lie until she's able to obtain documentation. There is an edge to Ellie that removes the usual vapid, TSTL (too stupid to live) mentality 'some' YA heroine's personalities are written. Ellie has depth, a great backstory, insecurities, and confidence in her skills. She tends to use her wit and intelligence more so than her feminine wiles. Ellie's #1 in life is survival, not clothing, and trends, and being popular, and boys. Ellie may be morally bankrupt by society's standards, but she does have loyalty and ethics she lives by.

In walks Miles into Eleanor's life, which is the start to a push-pull, love-hate, slow-burn romance as the two justice-seekers chase clues about what happened to Simon. Miles is Ellie's complete and total opposite, Mr. Black & White with no shades of gray. You're either right or wrong, with no room for redemption.

Eleanor learns to drop her emotional shields while Miles evolves through humility while shedding his self-righteousness.

Chasing Truth is a who-done-it style read that had me clicking the pages all through the night. When I got to the very last page, my Kindle battery died. No joke, talk about perfect timing. I read the book from page one until the end in one sitting, when I should have been sleeping. It's now 7 in the morning, and I'm starting the day with a book-hangover.

As an adult reading a Young Adult novel, I believe this book will appeal to all ages (13+) and genders, as long as they like a thrilling mystery with a thread of romance riding the surface – something for everyone.

I look forward to reading more by Julie Cross, and more from this series.




Julie Cross is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press).

She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Connect with Julie

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


http://www.entangledpublishing.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross to read and review.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Do-Gooder by J. Leigh Bailey


Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin knows what they say about good intentions, and he finds out it’s all true. After all, he had the best of intentions when he stepped in to stop a friend from making a terrible mistake, but when he’s caught with his friend’s gun, no one believes him. As punishment, Isaiah is forced to pack his bags and join his missionary father in politically unstable Cameroon, Africa.

Isaiah’s father also has good intentions, and he devotes all his time to them, so he sends Henry, a mysterious and attractive do-gooder, to act as Isaiah’s chaperone—and hopefully keep him out of trouble. But once again, the best-laid plans quickly go awry and Isaiah and Henry are abducted by enemy soldiers. If they want to live through their ordeal, they’ll have to work together and learn to trust each other until they’re rescued—or come up with a plan to save themselves and hope, for once, nothing goes wrong.

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Harmony Ink



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Angela☆☆☆☆
Having read a couple of Bailey’s M/M new adult romances, I was excited about the prospect of discovering how well she could write a young adult story. As it turns out, the author’s writing style lends itself well to the young adult genre as this and the other books I’ve read demonstrate a clear focus on the characters as the driving force behind the story. Because I don’t know where else to mention it in my review, I want to give a nod to the author about how Isaiah’s diabetes is dealt with in the book – it is presented as a part of who he is and not as a barrier to him living his life, yet the author makes it clear that Isaiah’s diligence to his health is paramount without making his diabetes a character of its own (if that makes sense).

No good deed goes unpunished. That’s the premise of Do-Gooder, or at least that’s how Isaiah sees it as his butt is on its way to Africa for part of the summer as a form of intensive community service. Yeah, getting caught with a gun within 200 yards of a school was no laughing matter, but his mother’s legal prowess kept him out of jail, even if the alternative isn’t much better in Isaiah’s opinion. Isaiah’s outlook on the situation gets a little brighter upon meeting Henry, but that feeling is short-lived when the young men are waylaid by mercenaries on their trip back to the medical center. At first glance, this may seem a bit fantastical of a storyline, yet it’s the kind of incident that triggers tourist warnings for Americans throughout the world – no one is truly safe. While the direction the story takes revs up the action and adventure that will hold many a teen’s attention, it is Isaiah and Henry’s time as hostages that allows the author’s talent to shine because it’s when we see the characters develop. I don’t want to say much about their time as hostages because I don’t want to ruin the book for potential readers, but it’s not pretty; it’s no worse than many action movies I’ve watched, except that when they are subjected to violence, it’s not overly graphic in my opinion.

I should point out that an adult reader, and an astute young adult reader, will easily see the set-up for the action and adventure portion of Do-Gooder. However, Bailey writes it in such a way that the reader is meant to see what Isaiah and Henry do not, and understand why they don’t see it. Yet even knowing that something was coming, I was still taken aback by events as they unfolded. So while there is a certain level of predictability for the adult reader, it didn’t keep me from getting sucked into the story because of how Bailey writes Isaiah and Henry – they are what matters, they are why I’m reading the story, and it is their responses to the situation and their behaviors that moved the story forward. The bond that forms between the young men as they are faced with a situation right out of a movie or novel (*wink, wink*) is palpable, not only because of the danger they face together, but because they anchor one another to reality. As this is a young adult novel, there is no sexual content, with only a kiss being exchanged – and considering that the storyline is heavy on the action and adventure, it made sense that there was no more than that. While I do not pretend to know what, if anything, teens are reading these days, I suspect that Do-Gooder will appeal more to males than females because of the action and adventure aspects, particularly gay teens who may find themselves identifying with Isaiah and/or Henry. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and hope that Bailey continues to contribute to the LGBT young adult genre.

Young Adult Recommendation: I’m going to say 14 and up as there is only a kiss shared between Isaiah and Henry, and the violence isn’t too graphic. Initially, I was going to say 12 and up, but there are a couple of discussions regarding Henry’s time as a rentboy and, while it happens off-page, it is clear that Henry trades his “services” for Isaiah’s insulin, hence the change in age recommendation.



J. LEIGH BAILEY is an office drone by day and romance author by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything… but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships, and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation, or paranormal affiliation, deserves a happy ending.

She wrote her first story at seven which was, unbeknownst to her at the time, a charming piece of fanfiction in which Superman battled (and defeated, of course) the nefarious X Luther. (She was quite put out to be told later that the character’s name was supposed to be Lex.) Her second masterpiece should have been a bestseller, but the action-packed tale of rescuing her little brother from an alligator attack in the marshes of Florida collected dust for years under the bed instead of gaining critical acclaim.

Now she writes about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships, and acceptance.

Connect with J. Leigh

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


https://www.harmonyinkpress.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Do-Gooder by J. Leigh Bailey to read and review.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry


The struggle is real.

Nick Stahlnecker is eighteen and not ready to grow up yet. He has a summer job, a case of existential panic, and a hopeless crush on the unattainable Jai Hazenbrook. Except how do you know that your coworker’s unattainable unless you ask to blow him in the porta-potty?

That’s probably not what Dad meant when he said Nick should act more like an adult.

Twenty-five-year-old Jai is back in his hometown of Franklin, Ohio, just long enough to earn the money to get the hell out again. His long-term goal of seeing more of the world is worth the short-term pain of living in his mother’s basement, but only barely.

Meeting Nick doesn’t fit in with Jai’s plans at all, but, as Jai soon learns, you don’t have to travel halfway around the world to have the adventure of a lifetime.

This is not a summer romance. This is a summer friendship-with-benefits. It’s got pizza with disgusting toppings, Netflix and chill, and accidental exhibitionism. That’s all. There are no feelings here. None. Shut up.

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Riptide Publishing



Note to Readers

We debated whether or not to publish the post for Adulting 101 on our Young Adult blog. While we strive to provide reading recommendations that are appropriate for most young adult readers 12 and older and keeping the blog free of adult content in order to achieve this, there are times when we discover a book that walks that fine line between young adult and new adult.

Adulting 101 is one such book – we consider it neither truly young adult, nor truly new adult, but rather a coming of age story. It is because of this that we ultimately decided to share it on our YA blog, despite the sexual content. We feel the challenges that Nick faces will resonate with older teens as they are expected to begin making the choices for their future, especially for those in their junior and senior years of high school. Because of sexual content, we recommend Adulting 101 for teens 16 and older, but strongly encourage parents of mature younger teens to read the book to assess for themselves if it’s appropriate for your child. We feel that there is much in Nick’s and Jai’s story that teens will relate to irrespective of the characters’ sexual orientation – issues the supersede sexuality and are common to most young adults as they transition from high school to… and that’s the crux of the issue, deciding what you want to do with your life when you’re expected to begin Adulting.

And parents, we think many of you could probably benefit from reading Adulting 101 as well. It’s not always easy to remember what it was like when we faced that transition ourselves, and Lisa Henry has done an impressive job of reminding us of the pressure and feelings we experienced through this wonderfully awkward coming of age tale.



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Veronica☆☆☆☆☆
Adulting 101 is hilarious! 18-year-old Nick is completely believable and it was great to read such a realistic character – he has no idea what he wants to do with this life and only enrolled in college because that is what is expected.

The story is a snapshot of the months of Nick's life between high school and college, but it isn't just Nick's story, it is Jai's as well. Jai is 25 years old and comes home every summer to work and earn enough money to travel all over the world. His life starts to change after Nick offers to blow him in the port-a-loo at work.

Nick and Jai form a friends with benefits arrangement that grows over the summer. I love the way this story depicts the life of young adults, some who don't know what they want, others that do, but everyone living their lives, having fun, making mistakes, and learning. This is such an uplifting story that shows there is more than one way to happiness.


Erica☆☆☆☆☆
Let me preface this review by stating I was warned prior to starting by Wicked Read's mistress, worried I may struggle in the beginning of Adulting 101, for the simple fact I'm one of the most serious people you'll meet (stick up the bum), and also the hardest to please (recommendation-wise). But she said it was geeky awkwardness, and I told her the book and I would get along just fine. Geek: check. Awkward: check. So with slight trepidation, I dived in.

From word-one, I spent the entirety of the novel with my palm covering my face. See, I was reading it in the presence of others, and I blush as easily and as red as Nick does. My face was emoting, and I'm happy the sound of the TV was covering my random outbursts of laughter. The book is not over the top, but if you get Nick, you'll find it awkwardly endearing and hilarious if you have an ounce of Nick's personality in you.

Adulting 101 is without a doubt a coming-of-age story. Nick is set to go to college in the fall, all by himself. His mother is nesting by getting him packed and making sure he has all the necessary supplies. His father is distancing himself because he doesn't know his son. Nick is leaving behind his codependent BFF, Devon, and embarking on a future he chose at random because he thought it what he was supposed to do.

But is it the right path for Nick? Yeah, that's what he'd like to know too.

Nick's dad forces him to get a job answering phones for a contractor, and Nick falls in love with the stapler and the hot guy doing all the manual labor. Jai.

Port-a-Potty: I sat with my hands over my face, shaking my head left and right, and laughing while reading that. Nick reminded me of me at that age, to tell the truth. Daughter of a contractor who had no idea what she wanted to do with her life (I chose the wrong path because I felt it was the right thing to do, FYI. Took until my 30s to escape and find the right path for me), but I had the joy of doing the manual labor instead of the cushy desk job, because my dad got sick of me sitting on my butt all summer long. Nick and I bonded in that moment, and I was taken for a train wreck of a journey for the rest of the novel.

Train wreck, our Nick. I seriously couldn't look away, finding it the most hilarious and precious thing ever. For realz.

Jai is worldly, both in the sense that he is 25 to Nick's newly minted 18, and has been to over 40 countries in his quest to run away. Jai's family is hilarious and warm and inviting in the opposite of the way Nick's family behaves. I liked the balance. Not that there was anything wrong with Nick's family – they were learning how to shift into being the parents of an adult child and didn't know how to stop parenting.

That moment when Nick comes home to find his mother going through his closet to pack his clothing... I just about lost my S**T. Been there, done that, same feeling of betrayal, invasion, and powerlessness – the need to lash out to get them out of your territory. Yeah, Nick and I *crosses fingers*.

The novel itself was at a swift pace, with supportive, loving side characters who were a blast to read and enjoy. Nick and Jai were total opposites, and I enjoyed their banterific dialogue and inner monologues. It felt real and fresh, and I didn't want it to end.

Me *points at self* stick up the bum girl that I am, who doesn't 5 star books often, actually put this gem on her favorites shelf. I did.

Lisa Henry, are you going to write another awkward boy working at the pizza parlor for next summer? That would freakin' rock!

Recommended for those who love a novel straddling the fine line between Young Adult and New Adult, with some lusty awkwardness and sexy time, realistic humor that makes you laugh at yourself, and takes you back to a time when you struggled with your place in the world. Heck, I'm 38 and still have no clue.

Footnote: So I got to the end of the book and continued on to find out what else Lisa Henry has published. The very last book had my jaw hitting the floor. For serious. Another book which I've reviewed. A very, very DARK book. An anthology where I gave 4&5 stars depending on the short story. A disturbingly dark book not for everyone but felt yet again tailor-made for me. Bravo *claps* on writing two amazing books on the opposite of the spectrum. Wow. My mind immediately veered to Nick being sucked into the Stealing Innocents universe and I had a mini-panic attack. *pets Nick's hair*



Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn't know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she's too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Connect with Lisa

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https://www.netgalley.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Adulting 101 by Lisa Henry to read and review.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Shifting Tides by Caitlin Ricci & A.M. Burns


Angela always knew there was something different about herself. When she realizes she’s really Adam, his whole life changes in ways he never expected.

Adam comes out to his family during a vacation to Assateague Island. While he’s trying to explain to his parents that he’s not Angela anymore, they leave him there with the rest of his family. His aunt and uncle take him in to live with them and his cousin, Seth.

Over the course of that summer, he also begins a relationship with his cousin’s best friend, Blaine, a boy he’s had a crush on for years. With the support of his extended family and Blaine, Adam embarks on the drastic changes he must undergo to be the person he always felt he was inside.

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Finch Books



Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica☆☆☆
3 Stars overall
3-4 Stars for the young adult reader
2 Stars for the adult reader.

With this tough subject matter, a reader is torn between rating the subject matter or the story itself and the way it was written. I have to be honest about my feelings and thoughts, and express my opinion. It's my duty to my followers not to hand out 5 stars just because an author chooses transgender as a platform in their storytelling.

I believe using fiction to comfort and educate our youth is an admirable thing, and was hoping for an exploration into the depths of emotion a FtM transgender youth goes through on their journey.

If a child is going through a major change and struggling, only to read a character going through the same thing, they can say to themselves, "They got through it, and so can I."

That's not what I felt I received – instead, it was a syrupy romance.

If there was one word I'd use to describe Shifting Tides, it would be shallow, and I mean this by the very definition of the word. When dealing with difficult subject matter, there is a gray area, or sweet spot, that is nearly impossible to achieve. Either it's on one end, where the author ends up sounding preachy, with too much information, or it's too light, making a mockery of the issue.

At the start of Shifting Tides, I could relate. When I was growing up, all through my teenage years, I only wanted to wear jeans, a hoodie, and flip-flops, while pulling my hair out of my face. My sister and mother loved to shop, loved girly things. I couldn't relate to them, so I could relate to Angela. The opening scene felt straight out of my past, to a certain extent. Even today, knowing it's a necessary evil, I do not enjoy a pedicure.

Those were the only reasons showing why Angela decided to become Adam.

Am I transgender? No.

Are men who enjoy manicures and the color pink trans? No.

In the past, I've been told I have a 'male' signature to my mind and emotions, and that is at the core of my issues with Shifting Tides. No, my mind is neither male nor female, it is only me. I think like 'me'.

I thought we were past gender stereotypes.

I also need to point out, one of the characters is pansexual, with a better understanding of it than I have, when he is 15 to my 38. It wasn't until a year or so ago that I made the decision to label myself as pansexual, after struggling with the label bi, not feeling as if it 'fit'. My decision was after a lifetime of experience, while Blaine's was just added in without emotion, as if it solved the issue of Blaine being in a relationship with a FtM transgender.

Angela, not enjoying how her mother uses her as a dress-up doll and girly companion, watches a video in sex-ed about transgender, and immediately jumps to that she is actually a guy because she wants to wear jeans and her feet are ticklish during a pedicure. While what I've written above makes it sound as if I'm lessening the major impact this has on a person, but that is not what I'm doing. I felt the book made light, levity, of such a major impact on a human's identity.

Angela chooses the name Adam, and then decides she is now a he, without any true depth or emotion. Shallow. Instead of a sense of empowerment, Angela/Adam is now worried about shopping, buying clothing, and preening, exactly what she was complaining about with her/his mother earlier in the book.

"How do guys dress?" "How do they walk and talk?" "I'll have to learn to talk like a guy – walk like a guy." "I'll have to learn to stand up to pee." "Maybe I'll take up soccer." "Learn to dress like a guy."

NO! You don't have to learn anything, Angela/Adam. You have to be YOU. That's the point. You be YOU!

Angela's mother had her wearing a girly mask, while Adam chose to wear a masculine mask, but neither truly expressed who the soul represented.

I must be a gay guy! Adam said a few times over the course of the book.

What was missing was an existential crisis as Angela transitioned into Adam. Obviously the first steps are the name and clothing for the outside appearance, as a comfort to finally be who you truly are (not put on another mask you believe is required of you to be a 'boy'). But within a week or so, Adam already knew he was getting sexual reassignment surgery, as if that wasn't a major decision to be discussed with other post-surgery FtM, doctors, family and friends, a therapist – as if all transgenders alter their bodies. Some education for both the reader and Angela/Adam would have added some depth. How not all transgender choose surgery, but see their bodies as an extension of themselves and not a part of their gender. How sexual reassignment is costly, requires long recovery rates and many surgeries, and removes all chance of having children. Hormone therapy would be the next logical step, after talking with a doctor. But Adam was speaking as if it was a quick 'fix' to go from female to male sexually.

I won't go into detail about the lack of support from the parents, as the book has not one, but TWO, sets of parents abandoning their children. Yes, this is a sad reality for LGBTQ youth, but two was overkill as it lessened the emotional impact.

I do need to note the last conversation between the aunt and the mother, as I felt it highly inappropriate in a young adult novel. As a woman, seeing a woman call another woman the 'c' word, while her daughter/son overhears, that's unforgivable, no matter the context.

The following is said by Angela/Adam's aunt – his advocate.

If you want a real daughter, then go ask your preacher to put one into your shriveled-up cunt, and hope that it wasn't your genes that made the mistake in making Adam a girl in the first place.

That passage made me sick on many levels. Women-shaming, as if the state of her vagina is a reflection of her person. Religion-shaming 'your preacher'. Women-shaming, as if a parent is to blame for having a transgender child, which also highlights how the aunt believes Angela/Adam is abnormal. Nothing is wrong with Adam. Angela's mother did nothing wrong, her genes weren't tainted to create Angela into Adam. Ageism with the shriveled-up c-word.

This is not standing up for Adam – Adam is already struggling with the fact that he has female sex parts – he doesn't need to feel shame about that fact, like the rest of the women being shamed, while hearing his aunt and advocate trash both of his parents. Bringing genetics into it, when the aunt trashed the parents, Adam would feel shame on a cellular level, as he is his parents' child.

I won't comment on the romance in the book, as I felt the transgender issue should have been the focus of the story. But I will say, young adults will probably swoon for the romance, especially with Blaine as the perfect boyfriend without flaws.

What I wanted in the novel, I will deliver to those reading my review instead.

You be you! There is no such thing as society's opinion on your state of being. You are you, and that's all you can be if you want to be happy.

Young adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing and profanity. The 'C' word.


Dawn☆☆
Sadly, a 2-star review from me.
When I read the blurb for this book, I thought “great this is something different and it's a great topic to shed some light on.”
Sadly, this book did not hit the mark for me.

Angela/Adam's transformation was far too sudden and made light of. “ I don't like pink and girly things so I am a boy.”

I felt Blaine was far too old for his years, at his age.
I just felt it was all a little too unbelievable.
This could have been a fantastic book shedding light on Transgender, but for me it really missed the mark.



Caitlin Ricci

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. If she isn’t writing, she can usually be found studying as she works toward her counseling degree. She comes from a military family and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart.

She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful fiance, their dog and Blue Tongue Skink. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

Caitlin Ricci loves to hear from readers.

Connect with Caitlin

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A.M. Burns

A.M. Burns lives in the Colorado Rockies with his partner, several dogs, cats, horses, and birds. When he’s not writing, he’s often fixing fences, splitting wood, hiking in the mountains, or flying his hawks. He’s enjoyed writing since he was in high school, but it wasn’t until the past few years that’s he’s begun truly honing his craft. He is the president of the Colorado Springs Fiction Writers Group. Having lived both in Colorado and Texas, rugged frontier types and independent attitudes often show up in his work.

Connect with A.M.

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Google+  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads


https://www.finch-books.com


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Shifting Tides by Caitlin Ricci & A.M. Burns to read and review.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Daring the Bad Boy by Monica Murphy


Truth or Dare was never this much fun...

Annie McFarland is sick of being a shy nobody. A session at summer camp seems like the perfect opportunity to reinvent herself—gain some confidence, kiss a boy, be whoever she wants to be. A few days in, she’s already set her sights on ├╝ber-hottie Kyle. Too bad her fear of water keeps her away from the lake, where Kyle is always hanging out.

Jacob Fazio is at Camp Pine Ridge after one too many screw-ups. Junior counseling seems like punishment enough, but the rigid no-fraternizing-with-campers rules harsh his chill. When a night of Truth or Dare gets him roped into teaching Annie how to swim, she begs him to also teach her how to snag Kyle.

Late-night swim sessions turn into late-night kissing sessions...but there’s more on the line than just their hearts. If they get caught, Jake’s headed straight to juvie, but Annie’s more than ready to dare him to reveal the truth.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains references to drinking, sexual situations, adult language, and an intense bad boy hero who will melt your heart.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Jordan☆☆☆☆
This felt like a perfect book for Monica Murphy's YA debut and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future. Daring the Bad Boy was such a sweet young adult romance and I really enjoyed the fact that we got both Annie and Jake's points of view. I think young readers will have no trouble relating to Annie and falling in love with Jake.

Annie, is a shy 16-year-old that decides to go to summer camp in hopes of gaining some confidence and maybe overcoming her fear of water. Jacob (Jake) has gotten into trouble one too many times and his father convinces the judge to let him do community service as a counselor at Summer camp. It's here that he somehow finds himself blackmailed into teaching camper Annie to swim. Now, as long as nobody finds out that he's breaking the one rule he was given about fraternizing with the campers, everything should be fine, right?

Occasionally, young adult romances can be such a hit or miss for those of us in our twenties, and as an older reader, this one just made me feel really OLD. I personally only ever went to summer school like once and I'm pretty sure I was 13 or younger, but maybe high schoolers do these days? Does this mean I'm getting old? Regardless, it's not that I didn't like Daring the Bad Boy, because I did, but as an older reader, it just seemed more suited for a younger audience. I loved seeing how much both Annie and Jake's characters grew, but Annie's character just seemed so young at first. All in all, it was a sweet story and I'd give it a 3.5-star rating.


Jacki☆☆☆
This was a great read for the summer. The camp setting definitely kept it just right. I absolutely enjoyed the story and had no problem right through to the end.

As an adult reader, I found the story to be refreshing. It was sweet and realistically innocent. The characters' thoughts and emotions were nicely done and age appropriate in comparison with some I've read lately.

Annie has suffered through a tragedy in the past that formed the person that she is in the present, but she's determined to change that. She's ready to step out of her comfort zone and push herself towards her goals. The only problem, she's complicating everything herself.

Jacob also has had a rough past. Some bad decisions have landed him in trouble that he didn't want in the first place. He's now got the reputation of a bad boy, but he's just a wounded boy underneath.

They both have a lot of soul searching to do this summer and just maybe, they could help one another out.

I enjoyed this book. It was sweet, entertaining, and a nicely balanced mix of teenage fun and emotions. I'd definitely recommend it.


Erica☆☆☆☆
4 Stars from the adult perspective
5 Stars from the teen perspective
4.5 in total

Monica Murphy is a new-to-me author, and right from the first page I knew I'd love this book. I was immediately hooked. As soon as I was finished, I checked out the author's backlist for my future reading enjoyment.

Daring the Bad Boy is a perfect summer read, especially for young adults who want to feel the warm and fuzzies of budding love. But also perfect for those young at heart who wish to be transported back to a more innocent time, where they can relive the angst and anticipation of having a crush, and getting that first kiss was the only thing on your mind.

Annie was quintessentially a teenage girl. She was scared, insecure, yet very brave. She made mistakes, but apologized and learned a lesson. She was crushing on a boy who she didn't know just because everyone else thought he was hot and wanted him, but she admitted it to herself how that was shallow. I appreciated the author for pointing it out, as I felt it a good moral for young adult readers. Why are you crushing on the guy? If it's looks, or because everyone else wants him, that says a lot about how shallow you are. Like him for him, and expect the same in return.

Annie is terrified of water after losing her baby brother. At 16, she decides to no longer live in fear, choosing to go to summer camp... summer camp that involves swimming. Annie's scared yet brave attitude brought me back to how I was terrified of my own shadow but would still just 'do it' to get it over with.

Daring the Bad Boy has two narrators: Annie and Jacob. Jacob is the classic wounded, brooding boy every girl wants to tame, but at his core, he's a really genuine person. But there is also a hottie named Kyle, who blinds Annie with his looks. Obviously it's no surprise who Annie chooses, seeing as how we only have two narrators. That aside, I did like Kyle, even if he was written as dumb as a box of rocks, and it was frustrating that Annie was forcing her crush when it wasn't organic. I got the vibe (but it wasn't shown) that Kyle actually had a thing for the Australian lifeguard, as he mentioned the guy's hotness and wanted to pull a prank to get the guy's underwear. But that's neither here nor there – just an observation.

Instead of going on and on about how Daring the Bad Boy brought me back to the overpowering sensation of being a 16-year-old girl in full-blown infatuation-mode, I'll post my favorite quote.

...My father told me when I was around thirteen that I should watch out for the quiet girls. "They'll sneak up on you and blow your mind. Not only are they smart and won't put up with any of your shit, but they're usually beautiful, too. You just don't realize how perfect they are because they're so damn quiet all the time. They'll sneak their way right into your heart. Once that happens, you're done for," he'd said.

At the time, I thought he was full of crap. What did he know about the quiet ones? They were boring.

But now, staring at Annie, thinking about how she was sneaking up on me and she didn't even know it, I realize that maybe he was right. Which meant I was totally done for...
– Jake.

Young Adult age-range: 13+ due to kissing and a handful of f-bombs.





New York Times, USA Today, and number one international best-selling author Monica Murphy is a native Californian who lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and children. A workaholic who loves her job, when she’s not busy writing, she also loves to read and travel with her family. She writes new adult and young adult romance and is a firm believer in happily ever after. She also writes contemporary romance as USA Today best-selling author Karen Erickson.

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http://www.entangledpublishing.com/


Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Daring the Bad Boy (Endless Summer) by Monica Murphy to read and review.