Friday, June 29, 2018

One Small Thing by Erin Watt

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author duo of The Royals and When It’s Real comes a sensational new novel about a girl falling for the one boy she should never have met…

Beth’s life hasn’t been the same since her sister died. Her parents try to lock her down, believing they can keep her safe by monitoring her every move. When Beth sneaks out to a party one night and meets the new guy in town, Chase, she’s thrilled to make a secret friend. It seems a small thing, just for her.

Only Beth doesn’t know how big her secret really is…

Fresh out of juvie and determined to start his life over, Chase has demons to face and much to atone for, including his part in the night Beth’s sister died. Beth, who has more reason than anyone to despise him, is willing to give him a second chance. A forbidden romance is the last thing either of them planned for senior year, but the more time they spend together, the deeper their feelings get.

Now Beth has a choice to make—follow the rules, or risk tearing everything apart… again.

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Harlequin Teen

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Following the death of her big sister, Beth meets Chase at a party and they have a one-night stand. When senior year begins and Chase is at her school, Beth learns his secret and things between them become complicated as does Beth’s life. Beth and Chase have a strong connection in a way they shouldn’t have given their circumstances. I haven’t read a forbidden romance like this before and I really didn’t know where it was going.

Chase’s ability to keep calm while he is harassed and bullied by pretty much everyone shows amazing strength. He is a guy who, at times, has wisdom beyond his years and he helps Beth see some things in a different light, helping her grow up. I loved their relationship and I think that fact that it is difficult made it that much sweeter.

Beth struggles with her ridiculously controlling parents. They are weighed down by grief, and Beth’s fight to have her voice heard, either by her peers, her parents, or her teachers, is an immense source of frustration for Beth. I was right there with her, feeling everything she felt, angry and frustrated on her behalf.

There is plenty of teenage drama in this story coming from Beth’s friends, classmates, and her sister’s ex, Jeff, who quickly shows Beth he isn’t who she thought he was.

I started reading One Small Thing on a cold and rainy Sunday morning and I didn’t get out of bed until the book was finished four hours later, happy and a little emotional. One Small Thing is an excellent young adult novel about grief, forgiveness, love, and growing up.

I really enjoyed this book, it had the perfect amount of drama and teenage angst to keep it easy to read without wanting to scream at the characters too much for being idiots.

Beth is going through a major change in her life, she's acting out and trying to find herself after her sister’s unfortunate accidental death. Beth's parents keep holding tighter and tighter every time Beth tries to break free, they're worried about losing their other daughter. Understandable from a parent’s perspective, but it was almost over the top what this mother and father were doing to their remaining child. I got angry at them numerous times! I have no idea how I might react to losing a child and can’t really say for sure I wouldn't put alarms on all the doors and windows, but… maybe? Chase is also going through a major life change, having just been released from juvie for an accidental death charge, he's at a party and hooks up with a girl who's looking to have some fun. Sure didn't know it'd be the sister of the girl he hit with his car three long years ago. I think Chase was written perfectly with just the right amount of self-loathing but wanting to be a better person. I fell in love with his character quickly!

The mean kids at school added a good dynamic of "us against the world" to the fledgling relationship between Chase and Beth and I was quite invested in the entire story. I felt the ending was a good way to pull the story together and help Beth's parents understand that accidents happen, and maybe forgiveness is the key to moving on in life after a tragedy.

I first read Erin Watt’s The Royals series, which immediately had me hooked. Now, I never pass up the opportunity to read a book by Erin Watt. This writing duo knows exactly how to grab my attention and keep it from start to finish, which is how I always seem to find myself reading until the sun comes up.

One Small Thing follows the story of Beth, who is just starting her senior year in high school, which should be an exciting milestone for her, but nothing has been the same in her life since her sister died. Her parents can’t stop hovering over her every move, but Beth can’t handle being smothered by their fear of losing another daughter. After sneaking out one night to a party, she meets Chase, who is finally out of juvie and ready to start fresh. When Beth learns about the role Chase played the night of her sister’s death, she knows she shouldn’t have anything to do with him, but she can’t seem to stay away.

One Small Thing wasn’t exactly my favorite by Erin Watt, but it still has that perfect addictive quality that I have always found in this writing duo’s books. Plus, let’s not forget their ability to make the most swoon worthy book boyfriends. However, it just felt like some characters’ reactions to certain scenarios seemed so extreme and the only level-headed character was Chase. This doesn’t change the fact that I still found it to be an enticing read and can’t wait to see what Erin Watt has in store for us next!

4 STARS for Erin Watt’s One Small Thing

OMG – the DRAMA!!! This angst-fuelled young adult romance takes the tired good girl/bad boy trope to another level when Beth accidentally sleeps with the boy who killed her sister.

Beth and Chase’s attempts to reconcile their attraction with the pain Chase inflicted on Beth’s family are deliciously gritty, but I didn’t completely love either Beth or Chase. Beth gets increasingly whiny and miserable and I found her more childish behaviour difficult to connect with. Chase takes the strong, silent self-loathing thing a little bit too far. He is monosyllabic for most of the book and is never quite worthy of Beth’s starry-eyed adoration

While Beth and Chase were both interesting enough to hold my attention, the other characters are predictable stock YA clich├ęs. The bland, generic ensemble cast includes super strict parents, spiteful mean girls, misfits from the wrong side of town, and a rich kid who isn’t quite as nice as he seems. The characters are neither convincing or interesting.

I was intrigued by the premise of this story, but the concept is better than the execution. The plot circles around tediously normal high school life and Beth’s endless emotionally incontinent cycles of rebellion/rage/lust/heartbreak/isolation. Chase’s whole story doesn’t quite make sense to me and without more dynamic characters, the book doesn’t deliver the emotional impact promised in the blurb.


One Small Thing is a standalone.

Even with a few major discrepancies, I was hooked from the start and read feverishly in one sitting to the very end. I was eager to know what happened next, finding the novel to hit most of the notes that draw me in and resonate. A side of angsty deliciousness with the entree being frustration.

Beth lost her elder sister three years ago when she was hit by a car, losing not only her sister but the way of life she was used to living. Her big sister and her boyfriend, her parents seeing her as a human being, and her autonomy.

Chase is the brooding bad boy, who beneath all the black and monosyllabic grunts is a self-sacrificing martyr.

Other than Beth and Chase, every other character in the novel was 'off', written in a bizarre fashion outside of how people act/react/behave.

The frustration begins with Beth's parents lost in their grief, stifling her to the point she feels imprisoned in their 'love' and need to constantly keep her safe. While I understood this from an emotional level, it was hard to swallow from an intellectual level, because Beth's parents were the extreme of irrational, creating what they feared the most. In fact, I felt every adult in the novel irrational and acting outside of how human nature dictates to create this almost Twilight Zone level of voicelessness.

Parents. Teachers. Guidance Counselors. Principle. School Board. Students. Friends. Police. All pod people.

While frustrated, I ate up the voicelessness and powerlessness as the angsty deliciousness it was meant to be. In fact, I felt Beth and Chase the only sane individuals in the novel. Perhaps the authors planned it in such a way, but the only characters who acted within the bounds of human nature were Beth and Chase.

Beth lashes out, doing things most teenagers do to test the limits of her tether to her parents, while flexing her wings and demanding independence. Some of the things she did were dangerous, but she is seventeen, lacking the emotional maturity and actual brain development to fully predict the consequences of her actions. Beth wasn't being treated like a human being, rather a placeholder with zero connection to her parents, standing in for the lost sister.

Beth has an instant connection to a boy at a party and a hookup changes the course of her life.

The side cast of characters drove me batshit with how irrational they all behaved – brainwashed or grief-stricken to all act like pod people. Every friend you have had since kindergarten would NOT call your parents and tell them every move you make. While I enjoyed white-knuckling my Kindle in frustration, the major dependencies took away from the overall experience.

Beth's big sister's boyfriend took off to England to live with his grandparents to deal with his grief. Rachel and her boyfriend were the same age, in the same grade, their next school year would have been senior year... .... .... Beth kept mentioning how they were in high school when she was in middle school and she looked up to them because they were older and wiser and she was still a little girl... .... THREE+ years later, Beth has her first day of senior year, and Rachel's boyfriend is in the same grade as her. No one takes three years off of school and is allowed to come back. THREE YEARS. He is a grown man, turning 20 while in a school with 14-18 year-olds, and I also think his age was off by a year, judging by the timeline. He would have turned 21 that year, no one able to legally buy their classmates alcohol would attend class beside them. As Scarlet voices, Jeff easily influences them because he's older and wiser than they are, which is why no school district would allow this. I had brand-new teachers his age when I was a freshman in high school. Yes, there are older kids in high schools everywhere, those who failed a grade or several and never left for three years – they have continually attended school, always enrolled as a student. The molestation and statutory issues that could arise from Jeff dating his classmates, depending on the age of consent laws in that state. He would have been at least a sophomore or junior in college, not a senior in high school.

Another point of contention: juvenile detention = / = prison. Not the same thing. Prison is used 99% of the time. Mayor or not, Chase was an adult, a felon, gone for three years. He would have attended classes in the detention center, as he was a school-aged minor. Unless he is emancipated, it's required by law that he get an education. He would have had a GED, not went back to high school after spending the entirety of his high school career in a detention center. He would have missed three school years and would not have been advanced to a grade when he didn't earn credits to be in that specific grade.

That's not how ANY of that works.

The ages and timeline were off for Chase and Rachel's boyfriend, Jeff, and I watched as the authors slowly made them younger than they would have been to rationalize them being in the same grade with Beth, after hammering home how Rachel died THREE years ago when Beth was still in middle school and Rachel acted so very adult. Suddenly, more than 25% into the novel, the age-gap shrunk to only 2 years, but that contradicted everything shown prior to that, since ages weren't given for driving-age high school juniors three years ago when Rachel died.

How are both grown men, who were 16/17 year-old high schoolers THREE+ years ago, who would have attended their senior year years ago, suddenly sharing the same grade with Beth?

A gap-year is for college kids, not high school kids who attended juvie for three years. Abroad or not, Jeff would have never taken three years off of school and then did a do-over as a grown man attending class alongside minors.

No matter how far I fell into the story, into the angst, into the yummy drama deliciousness, I couldn't let that go. It was the foundation of the story. Beth, Chase, and the rest of the cast were in Advanced Calculus, but the math never added up.

I loved every second of the novel but the major discrepancies, and I highly recommend to those who love angsty young adult, provided these issues aren't hard limits for their reading enjoyment.

Erin Watt is the brainchild of two bestselling authors linked together through their love of great books and an addiction to writing. They share one creative imagination. Their greatest love (after their families and pets, of course)? Coming up with fun–and sometimes crazy–ideas. Their greatest fear? Breaking up.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of One Small Thing by Erin Watt to read and review.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Turning 16 by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering Audiobook Review

Sam never liked his birthdays because not a single one of them was happy... When he turned 1, he fell face-down into his birthday cake; when he turned 5, he broke his left arm and when he turned 7, he broke his right arm and his left leg; when he turned 12, his house caught fire. Now Sam is about to turn 16 and he is dreading the day. The only birthday wish he has is for Jake who is the Mr. Popular of Arcadia High to even acknowledge his existence, or better yet give him a happy-birthday kiss. But Sam knows that it’s not gonna happen. Or is it?

Inspired by the 1985's classic film Sixteen Candles, this book is a dose of light and heartwarming comedy, that's going to put a smile on your face and make you giggle all the way through. It's also a touching love story, so get those tissues ready!

Audiobook Details
Length: 3 hrs, 8 mins
Narrator: Michael Pauley

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Book 1
Audiobook Buy Links

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Ebook** Buy Links

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~  Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

**Note: This book has been re-released as Sam Dorsey and His Sixteen Candles.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Tooooooo cute! In preparation for audiobook month, I was perusing the young adult titles in the Romance Package for a final title to round out our blog’s Saturday posts. I was actually looking for a standalone title, preferably M/M, when I stumbled on Turning 16. As someone who grew up on John Hughes’ movies, I was all over the Sixteen Candles reference that occurs in the audio sample; that it was narrated by Michael Pauley was a bonus. So when I sat down to write my review, you can imagine my surprise to learn that this is not only the first book in the series, but that it’s also undergone some changes since originally released and is now titled Sam Dorsey and His Sixteen Candles, which is an even better name. With that said, it doesn’t appear as though the overall story itself has changed, just some rebranding with a new title and cover, and as nice as the new look is, I’m not sure that it calls to the child of the 80s in me as much as the former cover does with its nod to the iconic scene in the movie, when Jake is leaning against his car. But as I’m not the target audience, the new covers are probably better suited for today’s teens who aren’t reminiscing for the 80s. Sorry for the word vomit but trying to suss out what book was what on Goodreads made this a bit of nightmare.

As for actual story, Turning 16 spans about a week, beginning the day of Sam’s 16th birthday in 1985. While most teens look forward to their sweet sixteen because it’s a milestone birthday, birthdays tend to bring nothing but bad luck for Sam, and this year it seems that Sam’s misery is going to be dragged about a bit as his birthday party must be postponed due to extended family issues. As we navigate the hazards that arise on Sam Dorsey’s birthday, it’s easy to see why he feels as though his birthdays are cursed. And yet… it appears that the universe might have a little bit of good in store for Sam when his crush begins to show some interest in him. Add to that, there’s also a budding new friendship with Mitch. And not only is Sam beginning to fantasize about him, but Mitch is rather persistent in them spending time together and in keeping Jake away from Sam. But as Sam thinks Jake and Mitch are both straight (maybe a little bi on Jake’s part), this sudden interest from two fronts makes it hard for him to figure out if he wants the guy he’s been crushing on for years, or does he want the guy who seems to be genuinely interested in him? And Sam’s biggest dilemma… When did everyone figure out he was gay when he worked so hard to keep it a secret!?!?!

As for the narration, I really enjoyed Michael Pauley’s performance in this one. I will admit that there was a couple of times when I got confused as to who was speaking because the level of vocal distinction I’m used to from Pauley’s performance wasn’t present in this audiobook, but this appears to be one of his early works. I was impressed by Pauley’s crooning… I so did not see that coming and I may have fangirled a little bit during those scenes – OHMIGOD!!! I also have to commend Pauley being spot-on with the teenage angst. Honestly, it’s hard to believe that this is same guy whose voice is so full of tension that it pulls me to the edge of my seat during romantic suspense and thrillers. But Pauley did an excellent job of making Turning 16 a delightful treat to listen to, complete with all of Sam’s awkwardness that I think Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering intended.

Perie Wolford

Perie Wolford is an optioned and produced screenwriter, author of the bestselling gay series Sam Dorsey & Gay Popcorn.

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Michelle Doering

Hey... Hey you... Yes you! You Sir/Ma'am, are awesome. I myself, also enjoy dabbling in the fine art of awesomery, so why not join me on my vast literary adventures?

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Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children's book.

Authors that Michael has worked with include JA Sanchez, Chris Adkins, Chris McMullen, Julie Harper, Matt Larkin, Jamie Sheffield, Shelly K Wall, Stacy Lynn Carroll, Michelle Howard, Delaney Diamond, Devan Sagliani, Kennedy Layne, and many, many more.

Fans of Michael's narration are welcome to follow him on social media.

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Brought to you by

Angela utilized her Audible Romance Package subscription to access an audiobook copy of Turning 16 (Sam Dorsey and Gay Popcorn #1) by Perie Wolford & Michelle Doering, narrated by Michael Pauley to listen to and review for this post.

Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

1920, England

And the three teenage Clarke sisters thought what they’d wear to dinner was their biggest problem…

Lady Kate, the entitled eldest.
Lady Grace, lost in the middle and wishing she were braver.
Lady Lizzy, so endlessly sunny, it’s easy to underestimate her.

Then there’s Will Harvey, the proud, to-die-for—and possibly die with!—stable boy; Daniel Murray, the resourceful second footman with a secret; Raymond Allen, the unfortunate-looking young duke; and Fanny Rogers, the unsinkable kitchen maid.

Upstairs! Downstairs! Toss in some farmers and villagers!

None of them ever expected to work together for any reason.

But none of them had ever seen anything like this.

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B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Entangled Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

I'm trying to be careful to create a spoiler-free review.

To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect when I began Zombie Abbey – zombies have never been of interest to me, but young adult and historical surely is. With a paranormal take on Downton Abbey and Pride & Prejudice, I had to see where this would go.

The story takes place during the 1920s, featuring an upper-crust, wealthy family in England. The narration was a bit of an issue with me – with so many narrators, it was difficult to form an emotional connection with specific characters, where you're rooting for/against them. However, this did help set the scene, offering multiple perspectives to create a well-rounded story.

The Clarke sisters showed the perspective of girls in the era, while the staff showed a view historical novels don't necessarily showcase. So, in a way, the many points-of-view did paint an entire picture, even at the expense of an emotional attachment.

The pacing starts slow, not truly hooking me. But I soldiered forth, mostly because this era intrigues me, and I was curious to see where this would lead. The pacing shifts to hyper-fast with action, making the last portion a page-turner.

I found unexpected humor in the actions/reaction of the narrators in regards to the 'zombie' situation. Maybe because I'm a jaded adult, but the horror portions, while gruesome, were horror-lite. This isn't necessarily a bad thing in my opinion, and this is where I found humor where some might not.

Overall, I'm still not a zombie fan, but I found enjoyment via the cast of characters and their interactions with one another. Oddly, I will say this was a fast yet fun book to read.

While I believe this to be a standalone, the ending does leave wiggle room for a future installment. However, if this truly is a standalone novel, the ending could have been tightened up a bit.

Young Adult age-range: 14+ due to the gruesome nature of zombies.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for adults, teens and children, which have been published in 15 countries. Before becoming a writer, she was an independent bookseller (11 years), a Publishers Weekly reviewer (292 titles); a freelance editor, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer. She lives in CT with her husband, daughter and cat. Lauren prefers the nobility to zombies, as a rule, and so long as you’re not the latter, you’re welcome to visit her website.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Zombie Abbey by Lauren Baratz-Logsted to read and review.