Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











17571742From Goodreads: Kacey Cleary’s whole life imploded four years ago in a drunk-driving accident. Now she’s working hard to bury the pieces left behind—all but one. Her little sister, Livie. Kacey can swallow the constant disapproval from her born-again aunt Darla over her self-destructive lifestyle; she can stop herself from going kick-boxer crazy on Uncle Raymond when he loses the girls’ college funds at a blackjack table. She just needs to keep it together until Livie is no longer a minor, and then they can get the hell out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

But when Uncle Raymond slides into bed next to Livie one night, Kacey decides it’s time to run. Armed with two bus tickets and dreams of living near the coast, Kacey and Livie start their new lives in a Miami apartment complex, complete with a grumpy landlord, a pervert upstairs, and a neighbor with a stage name perfectly matched to her chosen “profession.” But Kacey’s not worried. She can handle all of them. What she can’t handle is Trent Emerson in apartment 1D.

Kacey doesn’t want to feel. She doesn’t. It’s safer that way. For everyone. But sexy Trent finds a way into her numb heart, reigniting her ability to love again. She starts to believe that maybe she can leave the past where it belongs and start over. Maybe she’s not beyond repair.

But Kacey isn’t the only one who’s broken. Seemingly perfect Trent has an unforgiveable past of his own; one that, when discovered, will shatter Kacey’s newly constructed life and send her back into suffocating darkness.

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It’s been four years since the accident that irrevocably changed Kasey Cleary’s life, sending her on a downward spiral, unable to connect with others, let alone shake their hands. Insistent on doing right for her younger sister, the novel really begins with Kasey and Livie arriving in Miami via bus, side-stepping the catastrophic event that sends them on the run, their uncle’s attempt to sleep with Livie. This was a godsend; I am always nervous when a synopsis hints at sexual abuse being a part of the story, and it was this that actually stopped me from picking up the novel for such a long time. But there is no sex abuse in this story. Uncle Raymond laid down and Livie took flight to Kasey’s room directly, as Tucker tells her readers fairly early on, which was an extreme relief for me. So, if that’s what’s keeping you on the fence about reading this story, don’t let it stop you. In fact, the entire first paragraph and a half of the synopsis has already happened when the story begins, and readers learn very limited things about Kasey’s aunt and uncle as the main focus is on the now, on the arrival in Miami and the girls’ attempt to create a normal existence.

I have to admire Kasey. She works hard to protect her sister and keep her own emotions in check, however, she is extremely damaged inside, pushing everyone away, exuding extreme hatred for the drunk driver and the boys in the car that crashed into her and her family that fatal night. Consumed by her fear of touch and her hatred of for the boy who livid, she runs the gauntlet of emotions, never realizing just how much she is hurting the one she loves most: Livie.

Of course, Trent was a very swoon-worthy character and I loved the interactions and angst between him and Kasey. They are great for each other, and watching him wear down her barrier was amazing. I was thankful, as well, that Tucker utilizes the “fade to black” style when dealing with most of the sexual interactions, and that she didn’t linger on the ones that provided more details. Less is more, and I’m more interested in the plotline in my stories than in the sexual deviances. Tucker totes this line very well, and I give her kudos for keeping the focus on the emotional upheaval of Kasey.

Tucker sets up the story so that readers will very quickly realize what Trent’s secret is, and though I would have liked to be more surprised, I enjoyed the focus on healing from past wounds of the soul. This book is really about healing and less about the secret and sexual angst between the characters, and I enjoyed how well Tucker fleshed out all her characters throughout the novel.

While the ending of the novel was very tidy and quite nice, I was sort of hoping it would end differently as, for me, it would have seemed a little more realistic. However, I think that’s my jaded sense of life coming through, pessimism, really, so don’t mind me. Three stars.

3 stars

Atria Books has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.

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13494086From Goodreads: Two months after dying, seventeen-year-old witch Graylee Perez wakes up in her twin sister Charlene’s body.

Until Gray finds a way back inside her own body, she’s stuck being Charlene every twenty-hour hours. Her sister has left precise instructions on how Gray should dress and behave. Looking like a prep isn’t half as bad as hanging out with Charlene’s snotty friends and gropey boyfriend.

The “normals” of McKinley High might be quick to write her behavior off as post-traumatic stress, but warlock Raj McKenna is the only person who suspects Gray has returned from the dead.

Now Gray has to solve the mystery of her death and resurrection and disentangle herself from Charlene’s body before she disappears for good.

***Entangled is a young adult paranormal fantasy romance suitable for ages 15 and up.**

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The idea of witches and warlocks has always been fascinating to me, so I jumped at the chance to read this one when I saw it on Netgalley. The fact that it deals with a resurrection spell that doesn’t go as planned, mashing twins Gray and Charlene together in one body, alternating between 24 hour shifts, was an added bonus and I read through this novel fairly quickly. The novel speeds by, giving readers insight into the major differences between the twins prior to Grays death, an event that is heavily foreshadowed, and all fingers point in one direction. Yet, Gray is unawares, and her plight upon resurrection, pared with the angst and sleuthing done on each end by the girls, was fascinating as they each tried to piece together what the other was doing on their “on” days. I liked how they fought, writing in notebooks to each other and destroying each other’s things, and it really made me think about who was at fault. Technically, it’s Charlene’s body, so Gray needs to adhere to Char’s rules about food, boys, and social interactions. However, Gray died and lost two months, now only glimpsing every other day, and it’s not fair to ask her to run around as the school harlot and not be able to eat her fill of food… and then there’s the whole fact that Charlene has never truly been nice to Gray, so. It’s mind-boggling, really, and it would be a great discussion for book club.

Discussion topics aside, though, I would have liked to have more fleshing out of the plotline and side-characters. The novel moves very quickly once Gray dies, and at times I felt like I was missing things because it goes from 0 to 60 so quickly. For instance, Raj and Gray’s attraction was non-existent and then the next minute she began making out with him, which makes sense in a way, but I would have liked the romance aspect to slow way down. I would have also enjoyed more information about Ryan, Nolan, and even Raj for that matter, to slow it all down and give me time to process it all with the choppy nature of switching between twins (which I actually really liked). And as I said earlier, the foreshadowing pointed fingers to clue readers in concerning what really happened, giving it away a little too early for my liking, but it was good nonetheless.

I also would have liked a stronger parental presence. Gray’s and Charlene’s mother is a pushover, giving in to Charlene’s every whim and not acting when Charlene does things that are obviously wrong. Instead, she tells Gray that she needs to be patient, to forgive Charlene repeatedly, when I’d scratch the girls eye’s out, sister or not. And Charlene seems to have everyone wrapped around her finger, but I don’t really understand why because she’s such a horrible person–thus some insight into her friendships and the side-characters would have been nice. However, this is just the first novel in the series, and though we’re left with a cliffhanger in which we don’t know what happened to Adrien, Ryan, or Charlene, I’m hoping for more answers in the next installment.  Three stars.

3 stars

Nikki Jefford has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.



11385485From Goodreads: It takes more than a school trip to Washington, D.C. to change fifteen-year-old Christy’s life. It takes murder.

A witness to the brutal slaying of a Senator’s aide, Christy finds herself watched not only by the killers and the FBI, but also by two hot boys.

She discovers that if she can’t help the FBI, who want to protect her, it will cost her and her new friends their lives.

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This is an interesting novel that deals with real life drama, politics, terrorist attacks, and love triangles. It’s an easy read, though I can’t attest how accurate it is as I’ve, thankfully, never been in any situation quite like Christy’s, with witnessing a murder, being tailed by terrorists, and dealing with the FBI. Part of me thinks that as a minor her parents would have needed to be contacted at some point during all of this, but then again, this is the FBI we’re talking about, so those rules for minors probably don’t apply.

Regardless, though, this was a good read that had just enough romance for those of us looking for that triangle, and just enough pacing to keep reader interest. Parts of it sped up, parts slowed down, but the pacing worked very well and I enjoyed it, especially the paranoia of it all because neither Christy nor her seven mates on the D.C. trip ever really knew who to trust or who was after them. While some of the events were foreshadowed enough that I knew they were coming, other portions were a complete surprise, and I liked it.

I did feel some type of way about the fact that the terrorists in this novel are middle-eastern. I understand the USA has dealt with terrorist threats and attacks from the middle-east a lot in the past 15 years, and that this is a “real-life” drama, but part of me really wanted the terrorist group to be from a made-up part of the world or something because the text deals in politics and I felt a little like there was an underlying commentary here, but perhaps that just me.

While this novel doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, per say, it does leave readers wondering what will happen next because there isn’t a real conclusion. The novel just sort of stops, and it’s a great place to stop, but I would have liked to be either on the edge of my seat in anticipation, or peaceful about the ending, but I didn’t feel either.

I think this would be a great MG or YA books. It’s clean and insightful into the teenage mind, and I love that Christy is so smart, and in this case, it isn’t really looked down upon by others. While her peers back home don’t like her, Christy is able to make friends and be herself in D.C. despite her “geekyness,” and I liked this. However, she seems to get a complete make-over in regards to her appearance, which was a tiny turnoff as I’m an advocate of inner beauty, not the outer beauty mantra, but… it’s really no biggie in the grand scheme of things.  Three stars.

3 stars

All Night Reads has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read this novel via Netgalley.



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