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It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Renita Pizzitola’s books. I loved Just a Little Crush, the first book in the Crush series, which followed Brinley and Ryder. I equally loved Just a Little Flirt, the second book, which featured Brinley’s roommate, Fallon. And I have to admit, when Just a Little Kiss showed up on Netgalley, I may have squealed a bit (just a bit) with delight that it was all about Brinley’s best friend, Mason. I always liked Mason. And after reading this book, I like him so much more.

Mason’s always been a bit in love with Brinley. It’s no secret. But Brinley is with Ryder, and they’re happy. Mason doesn’t think he’ll ever get over her without some space, so he agrees to help out his uncle by doing manual labor – on a fishing boat, no less – all summer. Mason soon finds that the ocean doesn’t agree with him, but his cute new neighbor, Felicity, sure does. It doesn’t hurt that she gives him some of her family’s super-secret seasickness remedy, either. It’s not long before Mason is head-over-heels for Felicity, and while Felicity sure likes him, he’s not sure he’ll ever break through the walls she’s built around her heart.

Just a Little Kiss was a contender for my favorite book in the series until, near the end, Felicity and Mason had yet another unnecessary misunderstanding. You see, their relationship is really cute and really great until one of them does something that the other misconstrues, and then they have a huge fight and refuse to speak to each other. Which, honestly, is probably realistic. But it was so frustrating, because they’re clearly meant for each other, they’re just really stubborn and proud. The angst was a little over-the-top for me at the end, but I have a pretty low tolerance for it anyway. Someone who’s really into angsty romances would probably love it. The ending, though, was really cute, and probably the best ending so far in the series.

Just a Little Kiss is a very cute, very fluffy, very quick read that I would highly recommend – just as I would highly recommend all the books in this series. I’m not sure if there will be another book coming up, but if there is, I really hope it follows Felicity’s best friend, Isla. I loved her character and hope to see more of her!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the free copy!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I usually try not to be judgey when it comes to a book, because I know that the author put a lot of time and effort into it.  But sometimes, there are things that just can’t be forgiven.  For me, those are:

  • Grammatical mistakes.  I’m more strict about this in a finished copy than I am in a review copy.  If you expect me to spend my hard-earned money on your book, I expect it to be thoroughly edited.
  • Excessive angst.  You know when the couple has every reason in the world to be happy, and then something minor from like eighteen years ago comes along and they break up for the eleventh time?  I can’t handle that.  Stop it.
  • Misogynistic attitudes.  It’s okay for a character to be misogynistic, but not the author.  There are a lot of facets to this one, but it usually comes down to slut-shaming the MC.
  • Entirely unrealistic situations.  I can suspend my disbelief to a certain degree, but sometimes it gets out of hand.
  • Plot holes, continuity errors, inconsistency.  It was snowing five minutes ago and now they’re tanning on the beach?  How and when exactly did the MC transform from a bumbling fool to the sexiest guy on the planet?  She’s taken his shirt off how many times?
  • Plagiarism.  This should go without saying.  I once read a book that was clearly just Mean Girls set in England, down to every last scene.  Stop it; you’re better than that.

These are the things I can’t put up with.  Do you have anything on your list, or do you just go with the flow?

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Pretending to Dance was my second book by Diane Chamberlain, and I was not disappointed.  It’s told in the alternating voices of Molly as a teenager and Molly as an adult, and the plot twists and mysteries seem neverending.

In the present, Molly and her husband are working to adopt a child, knowing that Molly cannot conceive.  They undergo interviews, background checks, and home visits, all of which put them one step closer to their future child, and all of which send Molly’s thoughts back to her adolescence.

In the past, Molly as a fourteen-year-old girl adores her father, a therapist with a particularly quick-progressing form of multiple sclerosis.  Her mother, on the other hand, is cold and distant.  As Molly spends the summer helping her father, she also experiences her first love and learns about family secrets that she might not have expected.

Pretending to Dance is an easy, fast-paced book.  The characters feel alive, the story never drags, and the writing is wonderful.  For fear of spoilers, and since the book’s release date is so far off, I don’t want to go into too much detail in this review.

Let me just say that this book is not to be missed, and I would highly recommend pre-ordering it.

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC!

Final rating: ★★★★☆

The Bibliophagist is flying away!

I’m headed out to Scotland for a week!  I have a few things queued up, but I’m not sure how steady my internet access will be to post new reviews and updates.  I will, however, be reading up a storm while I’m away.  I have five paper books and eight ebooks that I’m taking with me.

Have you ever been to Scotland?  What should I do while I’m there?  Do you have any favorite books that take place in Scotland?

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Frenchie Garcia is struggling.

She’s just finished high school, and nothing is going as planned. She didn’t get into art school. Her best friend constantly blows her off to be with his new girlfriend. Their plans to move to Chicago have imploded. And the cherry on top of this disastrous year? The guy she’s had a crush on for as long as she can remember committed suicide after spending the night adventuring with her.

She’s withdrawn, depressed, antisocial. Her friends don’t understand what her problem is, but then again, they don’t know what happened with Andy. Frenchie pushes everyone away with her snippy, snarky attitude. And here lies my biggest problem with this book: instead of reaching out for help, Frenchie pushes her friends away with well-timed, sometimes vicious jabs. And it didn’t feel necessary to me.

You know, sometimes when you’re reading about a character like Frenchie, you understand that they need to act out. You feel bad for them. You forgive their indiscretions. But that was really hard with Frenchie, because more than feeling her pain, I just felt like she was trying too hard to be edgy and mysterious.

I didn’t feel much better about her friends. Joel keeps secrets from Frenchie. He tosses his long time best friend aside for his new girlfriend. Her other friends aren’t much better, insisting that she drown her sorrows in the bar’s cute bouncer, Colin, without even asking her what’s wrong. (Not that she probably would have answered truthfully.)

Strangely, the only character I felt a semblance of connection with was Colin – the one character who doesn’t back away from the barbed wire fence that Frenchie has constructed around herself.

As for the topic of suicide, I felt that it could have been dealt with a lot better. I remember reading 13 Reasons Why while I was working a college job and struggling to hold in the tears as students and their parents swirled around me. That is a book that properly deals with suicide. It’s more of a plot point here than anything else. “This guy died; how is Frenchie going to handle it?”

I can’t fault the writing style, but I had trouble getting into the book, and most of the characters fell flat for me. Honestly, I’m really disappointed, because this book has been on my list since it came out and I didn’t win a free copy. This book could have been so much better than it was. 

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

For my 2015 reading challenge, I’m crossing off #28: a book with antonyms in the title.