Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: South of Sunshine

Title South of Sunshine
Author Dana Elmendorf
Release Date April 1, 2016

What is Kaycee willing to risk for the sake of love?
And what will she risk for acceptance?

In Sunshine, Tennessee, the main event in town is Friday night football, the biggest party of the year is held in a field filled with pickup trucks, and church attendance is mandatory. For Kaycee Jean McCoy, life in Sunshine means dating guys she has no interest in, saying only “yes, ma’am” when the local bigots gossip at her mom’s cosmetics salon, and avoiding certain girls at all costs. Girls like Bren Dawson.

Unlike Kaycee, Bren doesn’t really conceal who she is. But as the cool, worldly new girl, nobody at school seems to give her any trouble. Maybe there’s no harm if Kaycee gets closer to her too, as long as she can keep that part of her life a secret, especially from her family and her best friend. But the more serious things get with Bren, the harder it is to hide from everyone else. Kaycee knows Sunshine has a darker side for people like her, and she’s risking everything for the chance to truly be herself.

South of Sunshine was an okay book.

The pacing was a bit too slow for my liking. It did pick up more towards the end, but the beginning felt like it was dragging on and on with very little actually happening.

The relationship between Kaycee and Bren wasn't developed at all. It was definitely a case of instalove and that's just boring. I was hoping for a solid and well built relationship between the two, not something so shallow.

There were plenty of Southernisms that made me smile and appealed to me as someone from the South. The book does win a few points there.

Overall, South of Sunshine was a decent book, but wasn't as awesome as I had hoped.


3 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Albert Whitman & Company via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Clingstone

Title Clingstone
Author Marti Ziegler
Release Date February 5, 2016

What if you were counted among hundreds of civilians wrongly charged with treason?

Creighton Branagan is one of the few men still residing in the mill village of Roswell, Georgia, at the closing stages of the American Civil War. His deafness excludes him from military service and condemns him as an outcast.

Mae Parrish’s dissatisfaction extends to a life of too much work and too little joy. She forms a wary alliance with Creighton when they are included among hundreds of southern textile workers arrested for treason and deported to northern prisons under Federal guard. Their crime: manufacturing Confederate uniforms.

Clingstone chronicles their arduous journey by wagon and train, followed by an emotional internment rife with privations and disease. It is during the course of these hardships that their resilience is repeatedly tested, and their pact of survival deepens into a steadfast love that withstands even the deepest self-inflicted wounds of war.

Lovers of historical romance will adore Clingstone.

It took me a few chapters to really fall into the story. The beginning dialect did give me a bit of trouble (dang Coralie and her trash talk), but it smoothed out rather quickly. Once I was hooked, that was it. I couldn't possibly get enough of this book.

Marti Ziegler's writing was brilliant and she brought the story to life right before my very eyes. I fell in love with both the story and the characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Clingstone and look forward to seeing what else the author writes in the future.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Book Review: Sam's Story: Book Three

Title Sam's Story: Book Three
Series Sklyar Trilogy, book three
Author Amy D. Crusan-Kramer
Release Date April 28, 2014

Book Three opens with Sam struggling to adjust to a new life in a new city. She is grieving the loss of her friends, while tentatively exploring a new relationship with the Vice President of the United States. Not quite a year into this new life, Sam finds herself back in Atlanta, once again trying to heal. Complications arise as she works to repair relationships with the people she loves most.

After her successful reentry into her life in Atlanta, Sam discovers a love stronger than any romantic love she'd ever experienced: the love of a mother for her child. But after one more devastating loss, she ponders the wisdom of ever letting herself love or be loved again.

Reviews for the previous books: one and two.

This entire trilogy has been an emotional roller coaster. I laughed, I cried, I felt my heart breaking, but in the end, it was put put together. This is one emotional roller coaster that I'm thrilled to say I've experienced. Amy is such a talented author and I'm so glad she contacted me about reading her books.

Sam is such a powerful character. She's been through so many tragedies in her life, but she always comes out stronger. Her determination to have a happy life after all the adversity she's experienced is commendable. Watching Sam grow and mature throughout this series has been wonderful. Sam is definitely one of my favorite characters. As much as I love Sam, I'm also very fond of the other numerous characters. While this is (quite literally) Sam's Story, this story also belongs to all the other people in her life.

This was a wonderful end to the trilogy. I'm so very happy that it ended the way it did. I couldn't have asked for anything better. If you're looking for an epic trilogy of tragedy and triumph, I certainly recommend this one.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#11)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Stacking the Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks.

Here's some of the awesome books I've added to my Kindle recently...

For Review - Netgalley

- One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf
- Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood


- Sweet Thing by Renée Carlino
- We Won't Feel a Thing by J. C. Lillis
- The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
- One Day Soon by A. Meredith Walters
- A Song for Josh by Susan Rodgers
- How to Repair a Mechanical Heart by J. C. Lillis
- The Death of Lila Jane by Teresa Mummert

- Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park
- Flat Out Celeste by Jessica Park
- Polarity in Motion by Brenda Vicars
- The Far End of Happy by Kathryn Craft
- The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
- We Were Here by Daisy Prescott
- Ink & Lies by S. L. Jennings

What have you added to your shelves recently? Leave your Stacking the Shelves link in the comments and I'll be sure to visit!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: Flat-Out Love

Title Flat-Out Love
Series Flat-Out Love, book one
Author Jessica Park
Release Date April 11, 2011

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

It's not what you know—or when you see—that matters. It's about a journey.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Okay, so I may skimmed the blurb for this when I bought it. I apparently missed the part that says there's a bit of mystery because I spent part of the book going... "Uh huh, something is not adding up here. I bet I know the deal." (I totally did know.) Be that as it may, I still really enjoyed Flat-Out Love.

This book was incredibly hard to put down for me. With a title like Flat-Out Love, I was expecting a fun and light romance. While it is that, there's also a bit more to it. There's some raw emotional stuff going on (though it's not too deeply explored). Like I said previously, there's also a bit a mystery to the story, but I'm not sure I'd really count that. It was so glaringly obvious that counting it seems silly. Anyway, it was a great mix that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Even though I'm happy overall with the book, I did feel the ending was a bit rushed. Things just came together too quickly for it to seem very genuine to me. I guess I could understand it, but I think a few more chapters could have given a better, more fleshed out ending than what was there.

Though I'm going to read the short companion piece, Flat-Out Matt, I'm more excited to read Flat-Out Celeste as she was certainly my favorite character in the entire book.


4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Book Review: Sam's Story: Book Two

Title Sam's Story: Book Two
Series Skylar Trilogy, book two
Author Amy D. Crusan-Kramer
Release Date October 30, 2013

Book Two opens in 1987, eight years after the events of Book One. Sam is living the life she had only dreamed of as a young girl in poverty-stricken West Virginia. She has a best friend, her own apartment and a good job. Sam fancies herself the epitome of the modern independent woman. Due to the debilitating losses Sam suffered as a young girl, she is understandably hesitant to make herself vulnerable to another person, and struggles with emotional intimacy. When she finally allows herself to love again, she suffers a heartbreak that takes years to heal.

1992 is a pivotal year for Sam. She spends two months on the campaign trail as the personal assistant to the Democratic candidate for the Vice Presidency of the United States. During her time away from Georgia, Sam realizes what, and who, is important in her life and she is confident of the direction the rest of her life will take. But the fates can be cruel … and a visitor from her past changes everything.

My review of the first book can be found here.

It's been a few months since I spent time with Sam in the first book, but I'm happy to say that I easily fell back into her world. Much like the first book, I couldn't get enough. There's certainly no second book lull in this trilogy. In fact, I may have enjoyed this book even more than the first one.

While this book is even longer than the first (over 800 pages of solid, good story here folks), the book spans multiple years (as did the first). There's no need to fear any excessive details or boring parts. Sam's story is full of triumph, tragedy, and so much love. Her story is an emotional roller coaster that is easy to relate to.

I'm thrilled that there's a third book. I cannot wait to see how Sam's life continues to play out. I feel so heavily invested in her story after everything she's been through. I can only hope that Sam gets the ending she deserves in the final book.


5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from the author in exchange for an honest review. *

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: You Were Here

Title You Were Here
Author Cori McCarthy
Release Date March 1, 2016

Grief turned Jaycee into a daredevil, but can she dare to deal with her past?

On the anniversary of her daredevil brother's death, Jaycee attempts to break into Jake's favorite hideout—the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum. Joined by four classmates, each with their own brand of dysfunction, Jaycee discovers a map detailing her brother's exploration and the unfinished dares he left behind.

As a tribute to Jake, Jaycee vows to complete the dares, no matter how terrifying or dangerous. What she doesn't bargain on is her eccentric band of friends who challenge her to do the unthinkable: reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

I debated back and forth with myself for a bit on whether or not I even wanted to read this book.

You Were Here was an interesting story. The pacing was slow in some parts (more so in the first half of the book than the second half). I felt like I spent a good chunk of time waiting for something to happen rather than really enjoying the story.

I've seen a few early reviews on Goodreads in which people talk about the characters and how they didn't find them relatable or they felt disconnected from them. A few reviews didn't like the characters at all. While I can understand the disconnect (surprisingly, this didn't lessen my enjoyment of the story like it normally might have), I enjoyed the characters. Their issues and brokenness felt real to me. They were all learning to deal with their own crap while still being a friend.

You Were Here was an enjoyable book for me. It was pretty well written with an interesting story line and characters that felt realistic and unique.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Friday, March 11, 2016

Book Review: Did I Mention I Need You?

Title Did I Mention I Need You?
Series The DIMILY Trilogy, book 2
Author Estelle Maskame
Release Date March 1, 2016

Love has no rules.

It's been a year since Eden Munro last saw Tyler Bruce: her stepbrother...and secret love. Although they swore to ignore their feelings and put their family first, Eden can't help but feel excited when Tyler invites her to join him in New York City for the summer.

But it's not like anything is going to happen. Eden is happy with her boyfriend Dean, and she knows gorgeous, green-eyed Tyler must have moved on as well. But as they spend the long, hot summer in the city that never sleeps, it becomes obvious that those old feelings are still there...simmering beneath the surface. Will Tyler and Eden be able to resist temptation?

Did I Mention I Need You? is book two in Wattpad sensation Estelle Maskame's DIMILY trilogy: three unforgettable summers of secrets, heartbreak and forbidden romance.

My review of the first book can be found here.

In my review for the first book, I mentioned that the characters flat out ruined the story for me. I just couldn't get past the characters and enjoy the book. Luckily, I don't have those same feelings this time around. While I don't agree with the decisions the characters make most of the time, I didn't find them insufferable this time around.

I want to take a minute and talk about the drama in this book. There's lots of it and that's fine. There was just as much in the first book, so it didn't come as a surprise to me. However, it's so clear to me how much drama could be avoided if the characters would just COMMUNICATE. Seriously, it's a bit maddening. It really makes me wonder if lack of communication could be purposefully included character flaw or if it's just a way to exaggerate the drama and spice up the story.

I'm truly looking forward to the final book in the series, Did I Mention I Miss You?. I'm also really looking forward to reading more from Estelle in the future. I really enjoy her writing.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: Somewhere Out There

Title Somewhere Out There
Author Amy Hatvany
Release Date March 1, 2016

What happens when two sisters who were torn apart when their young mother abandoned them—and grew up in tragically different circumstances—reunite thirty-five years later to find her? For readers who love Jodi Picoult, acclaimed author Amy Hatvany fearlessly explores complex family issues in her gripping, provocative new novel.

Natalie Clark knew never to ask her sensitive adoptive mother questions about her past. She doesn’t even know her birth mother’s name—only that the young woman signed parental rights over to the state when Natalie was a baby. Now Natalie’s own daughter must complete a family tree project for school, and Natalie is determined to unearth the truth about her roots.

Brooke Walker doesn’t have a family. At least, that’s what she tells herself after being separated from her mother and her little sister at age four. Having grown up in a state facility and countless foster homes, Brooke survives the only way she knows how, by relying on herself. So when she discovers she’s pregnant, Brooke faces a heart-wrenching decision: give up her baby or raise the child completely on her own. Scared and confused, she feels lost until a surprise encounter gives her hope for the future.

How do our early experiences—the subtle and the traumatic—define us as adults? How do we build relationships when we’ve been deprived of real connection? Critically acclaimed author Amy Hatvany considers controversial and complicated questions about childhood through the lens of her finely crafted characters in this astute novel about mending wounds by diving into the truth of what first tore us apart.

The main thing I want to say about Somewhere Out There may be spoiler-y (honestly, I'm not sure if it is or not, so better safe than sorry), so other than that I'll be brief.

This was a wonderful book that I found incredibly hard to put down. I loved the multiple POVs and felt that each of the women had a truly unique voice. The writing was superb and full of emotion. I certainly recommend this book.

I appreciated the ending to Somewhere Out There. While I enjoy "everything is rainbows and sunshine" endings just as much as the next person, I also really love the endings that aren't so perfect. It's not that I don't think this book doesn't have a happy ending (it absolutely does in its very own way), it's not the gloriously happy reunion that a person may wish for. The ending truly felt authentic for the story and the characters. The alternative wouldn't have felt as realistic and would have been disappointing for me.


5 out 5 stars

* This book was received from Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#12)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title Did I Mention I Miss You?
Series DIMILY? Trilogy, book 3
Author Estelle Maskame
Release Date September 6, 2016

Eden’s on her way back to Santa Monica for the summer, and she hasn't seen Tyler since the devastating fallout of their forbidden relationship. Eden claims to have moved on—but Tyler wants to rekindle the flame.

He convinces Eden to visit his new home in Portland, Oregon, where he has set up a center for troubled teens. Eden’s proud of what he’s built, but the last time they were together, it nearly destroyed Eden and their family. Then a tragedy draws them together, and Eden must search her heart and decide if Tyler is worth the risk once and for all.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your WoW and I'll be sure to check it out!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: You Were Here

Title You Were Here
Author Cori McCarthy
Release Date March 1, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492617044

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable—reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

An Excerpt

“What do I see?” I asked, turning back to the halo effect created by Margaret’s splayed hair. “It was a game. She died because she was playing a game.”
“Just like Jake,” Natalie said.
“Right,” I quipped, trying to mask not only my annoyance at Natalie’s psychoanalyst tone but also a flare of grief. My chest grew tight. Why wouldn’t it go away? Why did all this still buckle me to the ground? Tears burned my eyes, and I took my hair out of my ponytail. This never happened when I came here with Mik. Mik didn’t talk or prod. Mik let me be while we walked around Jake’s old haunt, wondering if he was actually haunting it.
“My dad said that OU will raze the TB ward.” Bishop pointed out the window toward the building on the very top of the hill, by far the spookiest and most unkempt in The Ridges compound. “It’s the only fully abandoned building.”
“Raze?” I asked, suddenly angry. “When?”
“End of the summer, I think. My dad said it was going to cost a ton but that leaving the old building there while it was falling in is just asking for lawsuits.”
“Jake loved the TB ward,” I said. “They haven’t stripped it down like this building.”
“TB?” Zach asked.
“Tuberculosis,” Natalie said.
Bishop squinted at his friend. “TB has been one of the leading terminal diseases in society since the dawn of civilization, Zach.”
“But it doesn’t exist anymore,” Zach said. “Like leprosy.”
“It totally exists,” Natalie said. “And so does leprosy. Where do you learn these things?”
“TB is still the leading cause of death for all people with HIV,” Bishop said. “But don’t worry, Zach. You won’t get it.”
I was surprised to find Zach looking at me. “What kind of things are in there?”
I shrugged. “I’ve never been, but I know it’s more dangerous. All the windows and doors are boarded up to keep drunk undergrads out.”
“So there’s no way in?” Bishop asked.
I shook my head. “Didn’t say that. Every building in The Ridges compound is connected by basement tunnels. If we get into the basement, we can get into any building.”
We all shuffled to our feet and stood around the last portrait of Margaret Schilling.
“I’m in,” Bishop said, and I nodded. Bishop was cool; we’d been partners for two semesters straight in woodshop. He said odd, grandiose things sometimes, but I liked him for it. Plus there was a pretty good chance that Mik would show himself with only Bishop around.
“I’ll take you two to the exit,” I told Natalie and Zach.
“Well, hey,” Zach said. “What if I want to come?”
Natalie looked at him, stunned. “You want to go? What about Kolenski’s three kegs?”
“Kolenski gets kegs every couple of weeks.” Zach shoved his hands in his pockets. He had sobered up since they’d entered The Ridges, and now he just looked worn down. Even his hair had flattened. I’d written him off years ago, but the way he’d helped me find Jake’s footprint and waylaid Natalie…maybe he wasn’t such a garden-variety “dude.”
“Who else can say that they did this the night after graduation?” he added with a shrug.
“So Natalie’s the loose end?” I said. “Big surprise.”
“Wait a second. It was my idea to follow you in the first place. And I…I want to see it.”
“Really?” Zach asked her. “Even if it’s dangerous?”
“I’m going to minor in history. It’ll be like walking around inside of history.”
I knew Natalie well enough to know that she was deluding herself, but when I opened my mouth to point it out, I saw something instead. Bishop did too.
“Apple.” He pointed to the ground. “Guys. There’s an apple.”
A shiny, green Granny Smith apple sat in the doorway. I picked it up.
“Where the hell did that come from?” Zach asked, fear trilling his voice. “Is someone else here? That wasn’t there a few minutes ago, right? Right?”
They all looked up and down the hall. Nothing.
“Maybe Jake’s ghost put it there. Or Margaret’s,” I said. A thump of what could only be described as happiness resounded through my chest. It was foreign and weird, and yet welcome.
“You’re smiling,” Natalie said. “Why are you smiling? You never smile.”
I rubbed the apple on my shirt and took a huge crunching bite. Natalie looked like she was going to pass out. I winked. “This way to the basement.”

Click to enlarge pictures.

Buy Links

Praise for You Were Here

“The mix of forms as well as the insights each character gleans through their urban explorations render this book both readable and teachable on multiple levels.” –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, STARRED Review

“Readers who appreciate stories of searching for personal truths will be happy to join this meaningful quest for identity and independence.” –Booklist

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us--and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.” -Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“Through razor-sharp wit, no-holds-barred momentum, and heart-wrenching twists, Cori McCarthy dares you to climb through the broken, abandoned wreckage of the past, stand on the edge of the world, and face something even scarier: the truth.” -K.A. Barson, author of 45 Pounds (More or Less) and Charlotte Cuts it Out

"The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them--and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters' stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!" --Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

About the Author

Cori McCarthy studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at




Open to US & Canada Residents Only

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Did I Mention I Need You?

Title Did I Mention I Need You?
Author Estelle Maskame
Release Date March 1, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492632184

Love has no rules.

It’s been a year since Eden Munro last saw Tyler Bruce: her stepbrother…and secret love. Although they swore to ignore their feelings and put their family first, Eden can’t help but feel excited when Tyler invites her to join him in New York City for the summer.

But it’s not like anything is going to happen. Eden is happy with her boyfriend Dean, and she knows gorgeous, green-eyed Tyler must have moved on as well. But as they spend the long, hot summer in the city that never sleeps, it becomes obvious that those old feelings are still there…simmering beneath the surface. Will Tyler and Eden be able to resist temptation?

Did I Mention I Need You? Is book two in Wattpad sensation Estelle Maskame’s DIMILY trilogy: three unforgettable summers of secrets, heartbreak and forbidden romance.

An Excerpt

My heart skips a beat as my eyes scan the information signs above me. I should stop and figure out where I’m supposed to go, but there’s no way I can delay this any longer. I just want to see him already, so I sling my backpack over my shoulder and follow the people who have gotten off the same flight as me. But with each step, the more nauseous I feel. The more I realize I shouldn’t have come here. The more I believe this is a bad idea.

Of course it’s a bad idea, I think.

As if I’ll get over him by spending time alone with him. If anything, this is going to make it worse, harder. It’s easy for him. He’s probably long over me, and he’s most likely dating some cute girl with a New York accent. And then there’s me, the idiot who’s spent an entire year still thinking about him. I know that when I see him, everything I felt will come rushing back at once. I can feel it already. I can feel that same nervous feeling in my stomach that I always did whenever he smiled at me, and I can feel my pulse racing at the same speed it always did whenever his eyes met mine.

I wonder if it’s too late to turn around.

The group I’ve been following heads down an escalator, but I hesitate at the top and step to the side, lingering for a moment. Maybe this won’t be so bad. I am excited to see him, even if my nerves are outweighing my excitement, and I’ve been waiting so long for this that it’s stupid to be having second thoughts.

I’m just confused and my head’s a mess, but I’m here now. It’s time to see him for the first time in a year.

My grip tightens around the strap of my backpack as I step onto the escalator, and my heart is quite literally thumping against my rib cage. I wonder if the people around me can hear it. It feels like I’m having a heart attack, like I’ll collapse any moment now from an anxiety overload. My legs feel stiff, but somehow I manage to keep moving, somehow manage to get off the escalator and advance across the arrivals level.

I’m half looking for the baggage carousels and half looking for a pair of green eyes. Around me, I can see people hesitating, looking. People in suits holding signs. Families searching the crowds flowing off the escalator. I know exactly who I’m looking for. For a moment, I think I see him. Black hair, tall. But just as my heart’s about to stop, he draws a woman into his arms and I realize that it isn’t him at all.

My eyes return to roaming the concourse as I make my way toward baggage claim, still forcing my feet to move, however numb my legs feel. I’m stealing glances at the line of placards as I pass, taking in the last names and wondering why all those people are traveling to New York. My thoughts don’t last long though, because suddenly one placard in particular catches my eye. It draws my attention, of course, because I see my name scrawled on it in black Sharpie, each letter slightly out of alignment with the next one.

And that’s when I see him.


He’s slowly lowered the placard to reveal his face, and his grin and his jaw and the color of his eyes and the way one eyebrow slowly arches reminds me of some of the many things I used to adore about him. Perhaps I still do love these things, because now my feet are moving again. And fast. I make my way straight over to him, gaining speed with each step, my eyes locked on him and nothing else. My beeline forces the people around me to move out of my way, and now I’m running. The moment I reach him, I throw myself into his arms.

Buy Links:

Praise for Did I Mention I Love You? Series

“[A] juicy romance…the star-crossed love affair of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce is a global sensation!” –Justine Magazine on the DIMILY series

“Maskame pays close attention to detail and, as a teen herself, clearly understands her audience… Many teens will relate to the emotional turmoil of blended families, child abuse, addiction, first love, jealousy, messy breakups, and generally, growing up.” –School Library Journal on Did I Mention I Need You?

“Readers will root for them, like they would with Edward and Bella—the mutual attraction and need for one another is palpable. It rings of passion, excitement, and first love.” –VOYA Magazine on Did I Mention I Love You?

“An edgy young adult romance with dark layers” –The Examiner on Did I Mention I Love You?

“A believable coming-of-age story and an unconventional romance, set against a present-day California summer... . The fallout of divorce, the insidiousness of substance abuse and family secrets, and especially the pangs of first love drive this emotionally resonant tale.” – Publishers Weekly on Did I Mention I Love You?

“Written in first person, Maskame’s trilogy opener is an excellent portrayal of a teenage girl’s life in the 21st century. Eden has to adjust to her blended family, try to feel pretty, be body conscious, and make friends, all while falling in love for the first time. She is someone all young people can relate to...Romance fans will be captivated by Eden and her journey to finding herself and true love.” –School Library Journal on Did I Mention I Love You?

About the Author

Estelle Maskame started writing at the age of thirteen and completed the Did I Mention I Love You? trilogy when she was sixteen. She has built an extensive fan-base for her writing by serializing her work on Wattpad. Fitting book writing between work, Estelle has amassed followers from all over the world. She lives in Scotland. For more visit



Companion Novels

Did I Mention I Love You? - Available NOW!
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Did I Mention I Miss You? - Available September 2016!
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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Book Review: In Real Life

Title In Real Life
Author Jessica Love
Release Date March 1, 2016

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick's girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn't the only thing he's been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

I enjoyed this book just as much as I thought I would. I was a bit worried after seeing some negative reviews on Goodreads, but this was a Waiting on Wednesday pick for me, so when I was approved on Netgalley I was super excited.

In Real Life feels so relatable to me. I've had numerous online friendships (and a romance or two). A few have even lead to real life meetings. This just feels so normal for me, so I was glad to see a book like this.

My only issue, really, is a few of the characters. It's not that these characters are unlikable. I just didn't like their actions, I guess. Hannah felt too indecisive and kind of whiny. She got on my nerves more than I would have liked. Grace and Lo were pretty disappointing, too. They start out wanting to support Hannah, but end up abandoning her. While I suppose Lo's explanation makes things *slightly* better, it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Nick was slightly better, but I don't really understand his reasoning for lying.

In Real Life wasn't perfect, but it was an enjoyable read for me.


4 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from St. Martin's Griffin via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *