Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











Unlikely FamilyFrom Goodreads: When Joshua Anthony finds himself homeless at fourteen, he is determined to survive on his own. With the help of motel owner Curt, Josh is doing just that when he encounters three other homeless teens; Charles, Elise and Leah. They decide to band together, pool their resources, and form their very own unlikely family. Along the way, they encounter Liz, a 27 year old woman who is down on her luck and needs a break. Will these teens be just what she needs to get her life back on track?

This is the story of four resilient teenagers, determined to thrive in spite of their circumstances. They encounter many hardships on their road to adulthood, but also learn to love, hope, and find success.

Join this unlikely family on their journey of discovery. Laugh with them, cry with them, fall in love with them as they do with each other.

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This story is indeed amazing. Told from five different first-person perspectives, readers get to know five homeless people, four teens and one adult, as they make an unlikely family. Though the story sometimes reads a bit clipped, it drew me in as a reader and captivated me. These kids are amazing, and as the story unfolded, I found myself drawn to them and their plight, rejoicing with their triumphs, and crying with their failures. Adams has written a clean read–though homeless, there is no sex or prostitution, an aspect that generally is prevalent in stories I’ve read about homeless teens. While not every situation in the novel struck home with me, I connected very much with the characters, and by the end Adams had me ugly crying so hard that I had to set the book aside–it tour my heart out, and yet it was a most beautiful scene… be ready to have your world rocked as you fall in love with the five main characters.

Honestly, this is a beautiful, poignant story that is definitely a must read. Yes, it made me cry, but overall it’s a story of triumphs, and there is a believable happy ending. In my opinion, the only aspect that needs work is the cover. Unfortunately, the cover is one I would definitely pass up in a bookstore or anywhere I saw it, truth be told, because it looks too fake and it just isn’t interesting to me. A new cover, sleek cover would grab readers’ attention, which needs to happen because this is an amazing, poignant read. And you really do need to read it. Five stars.

5 stars

I purchased this novel from the author at a book festival.

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The Things You Kiss GoodbyeFrom Goodreads: Bettina Vasilis can hardly believe it when basketball star Brady Cullen asks her out, and she just about faints when her strict father actually approves of him.

But when school starts up again, Brady changes. What happened to the sweet boy she fell in love with? Then she meets a smoldering guy in his twenties, and this “cowboy” is everything Brady is not—gentle, caring, and interested in getting to know the real Bettina.

Bettina knows that breaking up with Brady would mean giving up her freedom—and that it would be inappropriate for anything to happen between her and Cowboy. Still, she can’t help that she longs for the scent of his auto shop whenever she’s anywhere else.

When tragedy strikes, Bettina must tell her family the truth—and kiss goodbye the things she thought she knew about herself and the men in her life.

Leslie Connor has written a lyrical, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about family, romance, and the immense power of love.

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Connor captures the essence of a low self-esteemed, smitten teenaged girl traversing her first-ever relationship in this novel, and as we all know, love is “blind.” Thus, Bettina makes excuse after excuse for her abusive, sexually aggressive boyfriend, and she continually goes back to him time and time again, even after her hurts her in ways that no person should never allow. On the outside looking in, it’s easy to judge. I judged Bettina, and I’m sure any and all readers are going to do the same. We don’t understand her choices; we are screaming at her to wake up, to break up with Brady, to listen to Cowboy and pull it together. But sometimes it isn’t as easy for the person actually in the relationship to do that. If it were, I feel like there wouldn’t be as many domestic violence cases in the news—that no woman/man would allow it to happen to them, but think about it. There are many, many women in Bettina’s place right now. Why?

This novel is very realistic, and it’s not a happy story. There certainly is no happy ending, Bettina’s home life isn’t the best, her psyche is damaged, and she’s looking for love in all the wrong places. And though we may not want to acknowledge it, this is true for many teens out there in the world. It’s also true that there are teens out there with great families, great high schools, great relationships, and happy endings. This story isn’t one of them, though, and that’s okay. Even though it’s depressing and really not necessarily enjoyable for me as a reader, it’s real, and that’s why it’s so powerful. Perhaps that’s also why we don’t like it? No, I didn’t love this story. But I didn’t hate it, either. It’s somewhat eye opening for me as a reader, and makes me want to be even more vigilant and less condemning of others who are in situations that I just can’t understand. It also makes me want to help—to keep my eyes open and intervene when I can. Perhaps that’s the point of the story? Three and a half stars.

3.5 stars

I received this novel from the publisher, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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The Break Up ArtistFrom Goodreads: Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 



After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

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Admit it. There has always been that one relationship (or two) that you were dying to break-up. Whether it was because your best friend turned into someone different, or the couple was in so deep they couldn’t see how wrong they were for each other, or perhaps just because you were jealous—you’ve wished that someone would come along and break them up. Meet Becca. She’s your person.

I have to admit that I nearly didn’t pick up this novel. Readers just know going in that Becca is going to get caught, that the people in her school are going to make an example of her, and that it’s just not going to end well for her. And because that sounds very much like a bunch of teen movies I’ve seen, I nearly stopped myself before I even began reading. And I’m so glad that I didn’t listen to my inner monologue. The Break-Up Artist is actually a hilarious tale and, though we know how it’s going to end from the very beginning, Siegel makes this novel stand apart from all the teen angst movies and books out there, and I highly enjoyed nearly every minute of it.

Becca has seen how relationships can ruin a person, so she’s made it her job to break up relationships before they get to the stage where they ruin lives. Amazingly enough, well, perhaps not knowing human nature, there are tons of clients willing to pay the masked break-up artist if she can successfully break up the couple in question. And in the beginning, it seems harmless enough. She really is doing some people a favor by breaking them up, as seen by how self-absorbed and forgetful they become around their significant other. It’s true, people change around their beau, especially teens in relationships, and so it makes sense that Becca has found a calling in “helping” her peers return to their right sense of mind.

When Becca is asked to break up Huxley and Steve, she takes on the challenge, and hilarity ensues along the way, but so do some very real life lessons, like fate, friendship, and right from wrong. Becca has a lot to learn in the love department, and at one point even she is duped into the “relationship” throng, going against everything she’s ever preached, and learning that perhaps what she’s doing isn’t right at all. Constantly battling against herself and her desire for friendship, especially as she see’s her true friend, Huxley, return to her, Becca has a lot of growing up to do, and this is the perfect tale to tell it all. Though I didn’t agree with her when it came to her best-friend’s boyfriend—in fact I found her to be quite silly in her antics here—I get what she’s going through, and I just adored how the entire story unfolded. And there’s going to be a sequel of sorts—I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for Becca! Four stars.

4 stars

In exchange for an honest review, Harlequin Teen has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release today!

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Do AnythingFrom Goodreads: A broken heart is only the beginning for her.

Bookworm Annabelle Hart thinks she’s found the love of her life. But when her fiancé’s philandering ways shatter their happy future, she decides she’s through playing the victim. Now, rather than read about life, she wants to live it—starting with a sabbatical from her editing job in Chicago to travel the world. But the past refuses to let her go so easily.

He thinks he has his life figured out.

After watching the woman he thought he loved walk away from him, Holden Blackburn is still picking up the pieces. Content with his life as the owner of an English Inn, just outside the sleepy town of Alton, he’s living his new and peaceful normal. That is, at least, until Annabelle stumbles into his life, and he’s overwhelmed by a desire to learn all he can about her. Now if only he can get her to stay in one place long enough.
Will they risk their hearts on a new chance at love?

When her past returns in a way she can’t ignore, Anna panics, running from any possible future with Holden. She’s determined to keep her life from falling apart again, but she soon discovers the only place she feels safe is in Holden’s arms.

But some things even he can’t protect her from.

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Annabelle Hart doesn’t have the greatest self-esteem. She tends to settle more often than she should, and she very rarely fights back when someone wrongs her. But when her world comes crumbling down—her fiancé’s true colors coming forth—Annabelle finally speaks up and begins to live for herself. Caught in a whirl-wind romance she wasn’t expecting, Annabelle begins to find herself, only to have a bomb shell dropped on her that changes everything.

This is a beautifully written story of heart-ache, new beginnings, and the fierceness of a mother’s love. Truth be told, I thought this NA novel was lovely from the very beginning, but it wasn’t necessarily setting itself apart from the many others I’ve read before it. That is, until Owens threw a kink into the story that I never expected; a kink that set this novel apart from all the rest, placing it in its own category of love and protection. And I loved it!

The characterization is superb—all the characters, even the despicable fiancé, are extremely real and easy to relate to, given the shifting circumstances throughout the novel. Annabelle has some extremely difficult choices to make throughout the novel, and I must say, I don’t envy her at all. And while I might not have made all the same choices in the end, she is an extremely strong character that came into herself as the novel unfolded, and I really enjoyed her.

Holden is, of course, extremely swoon-worthy, and I want him all to myself… Owens has indeed drafted the perfect man, and as he too picks up the pieces of his life, both his and Annabelle’s happily ever after dream is realized. Four stars.

4 stars

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Available now for just 99 cents!!

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