Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy











A Secret lifeFrom Goodreads: “I think you and I were meant to meet. I think all of this was supposed to happen. You are my destiny.”

She never thought that her life would be this complicated. Or this dangerous. Running from her past, Kat and her mom end up in a small Colorado town when Kat run’s directly into her future. She changes everything about herself to try and blend into the background, to go unnoticed. She pushes everyone away and erects walls around herself and her heart. As hard as she tries, though, Kat can’t seem to escape the pull that Cam has on her.

Cam has never been so intrigued by anyone. Not only is Kat the most gorgeous girl he’s ever seen but also the most mysterious. She’s hiding something and he’s hell-bent on finding out what it is. The only problem is that she’s trying to shut him out which only furthers his determination to get close to her.

When Kat learns that her past is catching up with her again she has to run, leaving Cam, and her broken heart, behind.

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I read this novel a few weeks back, and it’s stuck with me ever since. While I did find the insta-attraction portion of the novel just a tad cheesy in the beginning, as the novel progressed and the characters grew up, going from high school to college, I found myself rooting for the lovebirds, Cam and Kat, enjoying their antics and so happy that their attraction to one another lead to a much deeper relationship. Brownell tells their story in two parts, glossing over a few years in between in order to take her YA novel into the NA world while keeping it clean, and it works very well.

This novel has many different layers; many stories to tell. It’s about a mother and daughter in witness protection. It’s about first love. About danger. Crime. Grief. Protection. The FBI. Doing what’s right. Outrunning your past, and looking to the future. And I enjoyed this aspect of the novel very much. There is so much going on and Brownell slowly peels back the layers, providing a fun, easy, engaging read, though I will admit that I have many more questions than I have answers, and I think that’s one of the reasons this novel has stuck with me long after I finished it. I find myself trying to figure it out at random times during my days, and that’s a rarity for me as I read so many books and move from one to the next quite rapidly.

I am intrigued by Cam and his love for Kat. I love Kat’s tenacity and her yearning for a simple life. Together, they are perfect, insta-love aside, and I’m glad they found one another. What I don’t necessarily get is what happened during the climax of the novel–we’re led up to it, but as we’re looking through Kat’s eyes, and she’s not watching events unfold, we seem to miss everything as it unfolds, and as no one clarifies the event for Kat, we are left in the dark. All we know is that some very bad things went down, and I’m dying to know what happened to everyone. I need to know. And I also need to know how some of the people mixed up in it all got mixed up in it all. I’m not giving names nor explanations, because that’d be a spoiler, but I keep wracking my brain trying to figure it out. I need to know, and Brownell’s next novel in the series, Secrets and Lies, releases tomorrow… so here’s hoping for more. Four stars.

4 stars

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

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The Rules for BreakingFrom Goodreads: Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he’s using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it’s time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

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Somehow I keep missing the fact that the books I’m picking up are indeed sequels and not the first in a series. Luckily, like Elston’s novel, I didn’t need to read the first novel in order to understand the second from the get go. While I do wish I’d read the first, mainly because Elston does such a great job writing this intense heart-pounding story, you don’t need to (though I eventually will because this one was so awesome).

Elston introduces readers to her characters and paints the entire background for readers without even letting on that she’s doing it. I actually read 25% of the novel before I began to wonder if maybe it was a sequel, and that right there is a testament to Elston’s sheer writing capabilities.

When Anna, Ethan, and Teensy are abducted by Thomas, a trained assassin that’s been on their tale for far too long, the plot thickens immensely, and it isn’t obvious who should be trusted. While a serious jerk, Thomas has qualities that make Anna question whether or not he really intends to harm them, and I have to admit, I was on his side for a while, too. Someone is not telling the truth, though, and it could be any number of people, from Thomas, to Tyler, to any of the FBI agents… someone is not to be trusted, and Elston takes readers on a ride while it all comes to a head.

I really enjoyed the characterization, and while I certainly didn’t agree with half the decisions Anna makes in the novel, I have to admit that I probably would have been in the same boat had it been me. I found that all the characters reacted in a real way throughout the novel, and that really made it even more scary. Imagine being kidnapped and knowing you were most likely going to die. Yikes.  I highly recommend this one to any and all YA readers out there looking for a heart-pounding adventure.  Four stars.

4 starsI received an ARC of this novel from the publisher during NCTE 2013 in exchange for an honest review prior to its release tomorrow, May 20, 2014.

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