Review: THE FIVE STAGES OF FALLING IN LOVE by Rachel Higginson

by Rachel Higginson

Elizabeth Carlson is living in the pits of hell- also known as grief. 

Her husband of eight years, the father of her four children and the love of her life, died from cancer. Grady's prognosis was grim, even from the start, but Liz never gave up hope he would survive. How could she, when he was everything to her? 

Six months later, she is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life and get the kids to school on time. Both seem impossible. Everything seems impossible these days. 

When Ben Tyler moves in next door, she is drowning in sorrow and pain, her children are acting out, and the house is falling apart. She has no time for curious new friends or unwanted help, but Ben gives her both. And he doesn't just want to help her with yard work or cleaning the gutters. Ben wants more from Liz. More than she's capable of ever giving again. 

As Liz mourns her dead husband and works her way through the five stages of grief, she finds there's more of her heart to give than she thought possible. And as new love takes hold, she peels away the guilt and heartache, and discovers there's more to life than death. - Goodreads

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Rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you're looking for a contemporary read that will make you cry, smile, swoon and fall in love then this book is IT. I didn't expect to love the book as much as I did which is crazy of me because hello, it's by Rachel Higginson so of course I'll end up loving it! I'm not usually a big fan of books that deal with grief and death. I avoid them like the plague because I easily get overwhelmed with my emotions and I end up bawling like a baby. But this book, I cannot not read it. 

Liz Carlson is a mess. The love of her life has just died and now she's struggling to get on with her life and trying to maintain a normal semblance of life for their four young kids. I really liked Liz. She felt real. She's a mom of four and I admire her for being strong. I'm not a mom but I could just imagine how hard it must be to lose your husband and be left to take care of four kids when all you want to do is cry in a corner and let someone else take the reins. I love her determination and resilience. But mostly I love her love of Grady. Theirs is the kind of love that you don't doubt. It's passionate and burns with the kind of intensity that everyone would be lucky to feel. 

I am freakin' amazed with this book. It's heartbreaking and evocative. I don't think I've ever read a book that made me equally sad and ecstatic. The Five Stages of Falling in Love would make you want to fall in love and make you remember what it felt like to fall in love the first time. It's beautiful!

"You were like fireworks. That's how I think of falling in love with you. One beautiful explosion after another."

'Sometimes love didn't make sense. And that was okay. It was far better to know love and accept love than try to understand it.'

ARC Review: CONFESSIONS OF A QUEEN B* by Crista McHugh

by Crista McHugh

Alexis Wyndham is the other type of Queen B—the Queen Bitch. 

After years of being the subject of ridicule, she revels in her ability to make the in-crowd cower via the exposés on her blog, The Eastline Spy. Now that she's carved out her place in the high school hierarchy, she uses her position to help the unpopular kids walking the hallways. 

Saving a freshman from bullies? Check. 
Swapping insults with the head cheerleader? Check. 
Falling for the star quarterback? So not a part of her plan. 

But when Brett offers to help her solve the mystery of who’s posting X-rated videos from the girls’ locker room, she’ll have to swallow her pride and learn to see past the high school stereotypes she’s never questioned—until now. 

Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Seriously?! That's it?! I was so frustrated with the ending I literally screamed and I think I just broke my kindle from shaking it too much. Thankfully, I found out this is part of a series (or at least according to Goodreads) so that means there's going to be more Alexis and Brett, right? I mean this isn't going to be one of those companion series I really love but frustrates me sometimes. Right?

Anyway, back to the real issue at hand. I'm really torn on rating this book a five or giving it a one. I'm having a headache just thinking about what to write on my review. On the one hand, I really LOVE the writing. It's engaging and addictive. I didn't want to put my kindle down because I was hooked from the start. The pacing is perfect and the dialogues are humorous. I especially love the banter between Alexis and Brett. The chemistry between these two was off the charts. These two complement each other so perfectly I wanted to see Alexis-and-Brett babies already. Brett is the perfect guy to fall in love with. He's the kind of guy you would want to fall in love with you. Everyone looks at Alexis and sees a bitch. Not Brett. I love how he can rattle Alexis, push her buttons, make her furious and yet he manages to bring out the real her. 
Alexis is sassy, headstrong and an independent heroine. I admire her for being the kind of girl who doesn't take crap from anyone. I found her character a bit too cynic though. She sees only the horrible parts of a person and although I can understand why since she had once been the subject of torment and bullying, this made her seem a bit too proud. As if everyone's beneath her and they're not worth a second of her time. She has put everyone in these little boxes in her mind categorized and labeled (dumb testosterone-filled jocks, slutty cheerleaders, nerds etc.) Which brings me to one of the things I didn't like about the book. This is stereotyping and cliche highschool cliques at its finest everyone. I actually almost DNF-ed this because of that. Secondly, there was a lack of depth and development to the minor characters. I hate it when an author introduces a character and just brushes him/her aside. Summer and Taylor had me huffing and rolling my eyes. They're two of the most shallow characters I've ever met! I didn't feel an ounce of anything for these two except maybe a lot of annoyance. Taylor especially was too self-centered and extremely vain. 

Overall, CONFESSIONS OF A QUEEN B* is a highly entertaining read. I love the humor, the romance and the engrossing storytelling. I would definitely read the sequel just so I'd see where the author would take the story and the characters. Also, there were so many questions left unanswered (I'm dying of curiosity). But mostly I just have to see Brett and Lexi finally get together! 

I received an e-arc via NetGalley to read and review.

Review: SCARRED BY VENGEANCE (Titanium series #2) by Valia Lind plus Giveaway

Book #1 in the Titanium Series

A weapon. A broken life. A humanity lost. 

That is all Anastasia knows, that is all that she is. As an eleven-year-old, she witnessed her family's brutal murder and she's been on the run ever since. She's spent her life training and planning for the day when she can take her revenge.

Kallos Enterprises is a well respected corporation, set on improving the genetic structure of an individual. Or so they say. Anastasia knows, first hand, what kind of monsters lurk behind the pretty walls of those skyscrapers. Armed with combat skills and a beyond perfect memory, she heads to Chicago to uncover the answers to questions that plagued her for years. 

After arriving in the city, she meets Logan, a boy from her past who changes all the rules. She doesn't remember him, but he remembers her. His position at Kallos Enterprises is useful, his presence is unnerving, and he makes her question everything she knows about herself to be true. If her perfect memory can't remember Logan, what else about her past is wrong? 

Time is running out. Anastasia has nowhere to turn, but to trust the one person who's a memory she should have, but doesn't. With a madman threatening their every step, Anastasia and Logan must uncover the truths behind Kallos experiments and hope that the answers they find won't destroy the world forever.

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Book #2 in the Titanium Series

This is the mission: Save. Protect. Destroy. 

Everything in Anastasia’s world came crashing down when the one person she decided to trust failed her. On the run, now more than ever, she’s trying to piece together the life she doesn’t remember. With Blake still missing, she sends the rest of the family away, hoping to keep them out of danger. But being alone is a lot harder than it used to be and she blames herself for allowing Logan into her heart. He’s gone now and she must let him go. Even though her perfect memory continues to play out the time they’ve spent together, much like a broken record. 

But Anastasia has no time to dwell on the mistakes of yesterday; her mission isn’t over. Kallos Enterprises continue their experiments, as the death rate goes up, and Anastasia has no choice but to fight. However, she’s not as cold blooded as she used to be and that proves to be a problem when the people she cares about are once again put in danger. With her strength—and memory—failing and Blake’s time running out, Anastasia must tap into parts of herself she never knew existed, hoping that in the end, it will be enough to save them all.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read and loved Pieces of Revenge (see my review here). So it isn't surprising that I feel no different with Scarred by Vengeance. Only now I feel a lot more in love with Logan.

SCARRED BY VENGEANCE is everything you could ask for in a young adult sci-fi thriller. It's full of thrilling action, unexpected twists, dynamic characters and melt-in-your-bones romance.
I love how this book totally caught me off guard. Just when you think you know everything, the author would throw another surprise your way that would keep you on edge. I'm so glad that this didn't turn out to be one of those series with a really great first book and a terrible sequel. (I just hate it when that happens.)

Anastasia is as kickass as the first time I met her. She's still the sassy, independent and reckless person I grew to love in the first book. Although now I have to say she became a better version of herself. I love watching her character grow. She had always been the type of person who chooses not to get close to anyone and was always in control of her emotions but in this book we see her more vulnerable side. And I think this made her character more real and relatable. I love her interactions with Logan the best though. Anastasia may not admit it but Logan is the one person who rattles her and pushes her to be the person she keeps hidden. 
Ah, Logan (sigh). There were times that I really wanted to jump in the book and punch him. But my feeling of wanting to jump in the book and just hug him overshadows that. I still don't see the whole picture here but after reading the last few chapters of the book I could understand better why Logan had to do some of the things he did. He's still quite a mystery to me and I have a feeling there's more to the whole story but at least now I know where he's coming from. I'm being vague here so I wouldn't spoil anything but it must be really hard to have to choose between your heart and your duty.

I LOVE everything about Scarred by Vengeance. As far as sequels go, this book definitely didn't disappoint. I was hooked from start to finish. I couldn't put the book down for long because every time I try to do some chore I end up thinking about what's gonna happen with Anastasia, Logan and gang. 
I was screaming internally after reading this so I'm really very excited to read the next book and find out what happens next. I have a feeling Valia Lind has a lot more in store for us. (I just hope she doesn't kill off any of my favorite characters.) Must-read!

I received a copy of the book to read and review as part of the tour.


Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction. Falling by Design is her debut young adult novel. You can visit her online at or follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.


MIA AND THE BAD BOY (Backstage Pass #2) by Lisa Burstein ARC Review and Giveaway

MIA AND THE BAD BOY (Backstage Pass #2)
Release Date: 05/19/15
Entangled Crush

Summary from Goodreads:
This good girl’s about to meet her match…

Ryder Brooks is living the dream—he’s famous, loved by millions of girls, and miserable. All he really wants is to write his own music, not Seconds to Juliet’s sugary sweet pop. In order to do that, though, the “bad boy” of the band will have to play by the rules. And that includes behaving with his new—and super cute—über-good-girl tutor. 

Mia Reyes is in fangirl heaven. Tutoring her favorite member of her favorite band? It’s a dream come true…until it turns into a complete nightmare. Ryder is nothing like she thought. He’s crude, arrogant, and pretty much a total jerk. And the worst part? She’s roped into pretending to be his girlfriend so that no one finds out he’s being tutored. Fake kisses, plenty of PDA, and even sharing his hotel room… 

But sometimes even the baddest of bad boys needs a little redemption. Add to Goodreads

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His hand framed her chin, tipped it up toward his lips. Just that small touch made it hard for her to breathe.She could feel the pulse in her neck ticking up, her heart rate matching her excitement in a way it never had before.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since our date in St. Louis,” he said with a throaty whisper.

“I’ve been wanting to do this since I taped your poster on my wall,” Mia managed to say.

Ryder’s hand was still on her chin. He nudged in tighter, so she could feel his breath on the skin of her cheeks. She didn’t know what to do with her hands. They were tight at her sides, like she was paralyzed.

“You’re not going to kiss me just because I’m Ryder Brooks, though, right?” he asked with a sly smile.

“No,” Mia said, the words coming easier. She slipped her arms around his waist. His skin was so warm, and his jeans were damp. She felt the muscles of his waist yield to her touch. “When I met you, I kind of hated you, and kissing was not the word with a K that came to mind.”


Mia laughed, ripples of heat dripping down her abdomen as Ryder inched his lips closer. “You’re really using your vocabulary.”

“Flash cards,” Ryder bantered back.

“But now,” Mia said, her hands clasped tightly around Ryder’s bare back, “I want to kiss you in a different way. Not because you’re Ryder Brooks, but because you’re you.”

“That’s why I want to kiss you, too.. His lips brushed against her nose first, each cheek, sending bursts of pleasure into every soft part of her.

Mia closed her eyes and puckered her lips, puckered them so hard she thought her face might crack.

She heard Ryder suppress a giggle.

Mia’s eyes popped open. “What?”Her organs turned to ice. She wanted to crawl under the bed.

Ryder ran his finger along her cheek. His other hand slipped up her arm, bringing her closer. “Let me teach you for a change.”

Mia swallowed, afraid if she spoke, this might turn to dust.

Ryder opened his lips and brought them to hers slowly, hovering there, his breath fanning her face. “Don’t pucker. Just do what I do, what I cannot wait to do.”

He pressed her lips open slightly, driving his tongue against them and gliding it against hers until it was in her mouth, sliding against her tongue. Tongue! She’d known this was how people kissed but had never understood the reasoning. Tongues were for tasting, for talking. But now she knew that really they were for this.

Having their mouths connected, Mia mirroring each move Ryder made, created a chemical reaction, flipped a switch. She suddenly knew exactly what to do. Her hands were on his broad chest, running down his tight stomach, his covetable abs. His hands were in her hair, curving against her side. His tongue dipped with hers; his mouth was warm and firm and perfect.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
I have been a huge fan of Lisa Burstein ever since I've read Dear Cassie. So when I heard about her newest book that is sure to make anyone swoon, who am I not to jump on the chance to read it?
I've always been a softie when it comes to ya contemporary. Especially so when it comes with a bad boy, big time rockstar who falls for the ordinary, small town good girl. So just imagine my excitement when I got accepted as part of the book's tour.

One of the things I really loved about MIA AND THE BAD BOY is the writing style. It was so easy to get lost in and from the very first chapter, I was hooked. I actually started the book late in the night thinking I'd just read a few chapters just to help me fall asleep. I should have known how wrong I was. 
Also, I love that the chapters were told in alternating POVs. Ryder's was my favorite. I have a soft spot for bad boys. Especially bad boys who could sing and play a guitar and I was just swooning over Ryder from the start. Reading his thoughts was never boring and I grew to love him more. He seemed a bit of a jerk when Mia first met him but underneath he's truly a guy with a big heart. He's hilarious and sweet and I just love it when he opens up to Mia and bares himself. I just enjoyed seeing him grow.

One thing I didn't love about the book though is Mia. It's not that I dislike her character or got annoyed with her. It's more because I couldn't relate with her. I have mentioned that Ryder's POV was my favorite and this actually had a lot to do with me not finding Mia to be a relatable character. Also, for someone who is supposed to be "shy", Mia didn't have any problems whatsoever to be snarky from the start. She was supposed to be a sheltered, quiet girl but she seemed way too sassy for a sheltered, quiet girl.
Second thing I didn't like - the romance. Although I am in love with Ryder and Mia dynamic, the romance just seemed to move a bit too fast for me. I will always be a sucker for swoony, slow burn romance so I was a bit disappointed.

The ending though! It was perfection! And that scene between Miles and Ryder? I love it when guys pretend they don't care about their friends but they actually really do. It was totally a bromance moment and I loved it.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed this newest addition to the Backstage Pass series. I would definitely check out the rest of the books!

I received a copy of the book to read and review.


Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University and is glad to finally have it be worth more than the paper it was printed on. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.

She wrote her first story when she was in second grade. It was a Thanksgiving tale from the point of view of the turkey from freezer to oven to plate. It was scandalous.


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LIFE UNAWARE by Cole Gibsen Review plus Giveaway


Regan Flay has been talking about you. 

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother's "plan" for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she's ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school. 

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah. 
The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend's hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan's going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn't really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she's barely holding it together under her mom's pressure. But the consequences of Regan's fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched... 

Especially Regan Flay.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
When I started reading Life Unaware I actually thought that it was a huge mistake and I'd end up not liking it. It seemed cliche and stereotypical for one but mostly it had to do with the fact that Regan Flay isn't your typical likable heroine. I've read books about bullying and all of them is told from the point of view of the one being bullied. This book however is told from the perspective of the bully.

Regan isn't exactly easy to sympathize with. At the start of the book you could see how she thinks and does things in a way that is only beneficial to herself. What she wants, she gets. And it doesn't matter how, all that matters is that she gets them. I had a huge dislike of her at the beginning of the book. And ironically this is what made Life Unaware a hit for me. I LOVE seeing Regan's transformation. I like how real it felt. I was afraid it's going to turn into one of those overly fake character growth. But no, it was believable and genuine. I don't think bullying could ever be justified. But being in Regan's head felt refreshing and very much an eye opener. I got why she did the things she did. She's far from the perfect girl everyone believes her to be. She had too much pressure on her and she didn't know how else to stay on top. She was afraid of failing and disappointing the people around her. So she did the one easiest thing she knows would get her almost anywhere - she became a bully. 

I think bullies need as much help, if not more so, as the ones being bullied. And I love that the author was able to tell this story truthfully and brutally in a way that would impact readers. 
I love going through the journey with Regan. It was emotional and every bit as hard but Regan's a strong and resilient character. She went from the bitchy, popular girl to someone who isn't afraid to show everyone who she really is and does the right thing. It was one of the best character growth I've read in a long time.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. Aside from Regan's growth another thing I love was Nolan. It was so easy to fall in love with him. I liked how he pushed and helped Regan to not be afraid to be who she is. The romance started out slow and the build up was sweet and swoony. I admit I did guess what or rather who the big mystery was. I was kinda disappointed when I found out I was right though. I didn't want this book to seem predictable so I was really hoping the author would do something totally unexpected. But this is such a small thing compared to how great of a book this is so I let it go.

Life Unaware is an intense, heartbreaking and thought provoking novel about acceptance, forgiveness and growth. Must-read!

Cole Gibsen first realized she's different when, in high school, she was still reading comic books while the other girls were reading fashion magazines.
It was her love of superheroes that first inspired her to pick up a pen. Her favorite things to write about are ordinary girls who find themselves in extraordinary situations.

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