Friday, April 20, 2018

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program specifically geared toward young adults. And starting next Thursday, SYNC will give you free access to two complete audiobook downloads a week - a current young adult title along with a thematically paired classic or required summer reading title. The offerings change each week and are only available for download until the next offering is announced a week later. I've included a list below of all of the scheduled downloads for this summer. SYNC will have all the details on how to download, so be sure to check back over there next week!

Here are some of the titles I'm most looking forward to:

And I've already listened to these and highly recommend:

SYNC also has samples of the audiobooks on offer, if you care to check those out prior to downloading the whole audiobook.

I'm just thrilled to pieces every year that this program continues. It's actually the reason I'm such an audiophile today! I am seriously so excited for some of these titles and also to experience some favorites again. Every year I am just so impressed with the offerings from SYNC!

In years past, I've done a weekly post showcasing which titles will be featured so you know when to go grab them. I don't know if I'll get around to doing that this year, but I'll try my best to tweet updates about which titles are available each week.

Which titles are you most excited about?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Title: Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Let's get this out of the way before I delve into all the reasons you're going to want this book. Sure, this book appears to be named after me, but that's not why I loved it so. (It doesn't hurt, though!) And, yeah, Jenn Bennett is my new favorite young adult contemporary novelist, though I love all of her books, including the adult-themed Roaring Twenties series. (I haven't read the Arcadia Bell series yet because my library doesn't have it on audio and I do all my backlist reading via audio. Someone get on that, please.) Of course, Jenn also gets some of the best YA contemporary covers, too. Like, this book is set at the end of summer, but that cover just screams lovely fall camping weather to me. Which was kinda perfect at the time I was reading this.

But those aren't the reasons I enjoyed the hell outta this book. Allow me to enumerate why this is now my favorite Jenn Bennett book of all time:

1. The Maps - Have you ever read a story and continually had to flip back to a description to understand where places were in relation to one another? Not so with Starry Eyes because Jenn -- yes the author -- has created maps for each section of the book. (It's one of the character's hobbies, so it's totally relevant and completely adorable.)

2. The Awkward - So, in this story, the awful has already happened -- we don't have to read about the communication breakdown that led to friends who were becoming more suddenly becoming bitter enemies. BUT, we do get to see all the awkward as they find their way back to becoming friends on one ill-fated camping trip. And it is so incredibly awkward at times that I wanted to reach into the book and give everyone involved a big ole hug.

3. The Genuine - Zorie and Lennon talk. Like, a lot. And it's real and it's weird and totally inevitable but also totally adorable. And then that fight out in the woods? That is amazingly accurate, the way it went down and the aftermath. Jenn doesn't write down to her readers; she writes on their level. So much so that while I'm reading, I feel a resurgence of all those emotions and I have to tell myself to calm down. But she captures it beautifully.

4. The Sex Positivity - Gawd, I think Jenn Bennett probably writes the best, most sex-positive stories in YA. Her characters always talk about it before jumping into bed...or wherever they happen to be. ;) They're always careful. And there's no fade-to-black to escape the awkwardness. It's the same here. But these characters have known each other for ages and I think it felt even more meaningful because of that. Basically, I just adore the overall message Bennett is dropping.

5. The Family - The familial situation in this book is beyond different. It's diverse but it's also full of drama. And yet, the parents remain involved in their kids' lives. Regardless of what happened between Zorie and Lennon, they're all still friends on a deeper level. (Well, most of them.) And the love is obvious. Even when the biological link isn't.

I read this back in November and I've been waiting for it to release so I could immediately download a copy of the audiobook and re-read that way. I just loved this story so much! It was lovely and profound but also left me feeling content and cozy in the knowledge that I made it past young adulthood and all this awkwardness. :P I can't wait to read it again!


GIF it to me straight:

About the Author:

Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of several young adult books, including ALEX, APPROXIMATELY and STARRY EYES. She also writes romance and fantasy for adults. Her books have earned multiple starred reviews, won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs.

Find Jenn:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | FacebookInstagram | Tumblr

Monday, April 2, 2018

March was kinda crazy for me. For one thing, I now have a ten-year-old in my house. I can't believe Katie's in the double-digits! I thought I had more time! Waaaaaahh. It was also my older sister's birthday, as well as my bestie', yeah, just a month full of birthdays is enough. But it was also Spring Break and there's that project for work I've been dealing with, plus Katie had a mega-intensive project for school that she waited until last minute to get to, so I've been busy.

Definitely not spending a lot of time physically reading lately, though I listen as often as I can. I'm still reading/listening to almost a book a day, so I guess I can't really complain. :P

And without further ado, here's what I've been reading lately...

(More on why I've gone to this format here in lieu of traditional reviews for each.)

Y O U N G   A D U L T

Daughter of the Siren Queen* - This was a fun and exciting conclusion to the story that began in Daughter of the Pirate King, but I also kind of didn't like it quite as much? I tried to read my ARC, but I didn't get very far before I put it aside. And then I had to wait what felt like ages for the audiobook to release. (Which was worth the wait because it had the same narrator as the previous book, which I'd re-listened to right before attempting to read the ARC of this book and which made me more excited for the sequel, thereby maybe resulting in unusually high expectations?) I liked seeing Alosa come to terms with her abilities, and I appreciated that we got more background on the characters in this book. But I missed the banter and give-and-take of the previous book. It was still there to some degree with this book, but it just didn't feel complete, if that makes any sense. Maybe when I have time for a re-read, it'll feel more so... 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Obsidio* - What a fucking AMAZING ending to this series! The gang is up to their old tricks as they try to take down Bei Tech for good while also trying to save the survivors of this ordeal -- both on the remaining ships and planet-side on Kerenza -- and I am fucking here for it. I laughed because this shit is funny at times. I cried because AIDAN [is terrifying]...and a hundred other reasons...and because we all knew the authors wouldn't let it end without us all in tears, right? And I stared into space in open-mouthed shock as it all came down to this one moment of truth. God, the intricacies of this story are astounding. I am literally in awe of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and the whole team behind this series, including the full cast narrating the audiobooks. I mean, the print books are just BEYOND, but the audio version is a thing of beauty, with every singular voice, every explosion, the alarms...just the pure chaos of it all. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Finding Felicity* - Felicity was one of my favorite shows growing up. It was on around the time I was preparing to graduate and go to college, so it was kind of serendipitous. I adored the heavy Felicity influence in this book. If you loved that show, too, I think you'll enjoy this novel because the characters and stories are similar, with the cringe-worthy situations, the awkward attempts at making new friends in a new place, and just the overall being away from home for the first time scenario. (And if you haven't seen Felicity, I highly, highly recommend.) Stacey Kade perfectly portrays how difficult that transition from high school to college is for everyone, not just us awkward kids but even those who always seemed like they had it all together. High school was hard, but I think setting off on your own at college is even harder, and I'm glad to see more YA books geared toward that time period. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Valiant - So, once again, Jen checks out a book from the library without consulting the order in the series. D'oh. However, after reading some reviews on GR, I determined that it wouldn't be detrimental to read this book before Tithe, as it centers on a different group of characters. For such a short book, though, it took entirely too long to get to the grit of the faerie world, and even then, it remained more urban fantasy than I expected. I don't honestly know what I was expecting, though, since I thought I was requesting the first book when I grabbed this one. (Why does my library only have the second book on audio?!?) Either way, the vibe of this was very on par for Holly Black but I guess I was hoping for more, having recently read The Cruel Prince? Are either/both of the other books better than this one? Should I bother with them, or just wait impatiently for the next book in her new series? 🌟🌟🌟

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side - This wasn't the best vampire novel I've ever read, but it also wasn't the worst. It was clever and funny at times but also full of angst and teenage drama in equal measure. The love interest also did that whole I'm pushing you away to keep you safe thing that I loathe, so there's that, as well. But I did enjoy that while the narrative was from Jessica's perspective, we got to see a different side of Lucius through his letters back home to his uncle reporting on his progress. I had planned on reading the sequel, but I downloaded it right after finishing this book, and it's told from several different points of views -- most of which I don't care about -- and I just can't. 🌟🌟🌟

Why I Loathe Sterling Lane - I remembered really enjoying Ingrid Paulson's debut back when I first started blogging, so when I saw that she'd written a contemporary YA, I knew I had to read it. Especially since it had the promise of a good hate-to-love romance with the potential for some great banter, i.e. my reading kryptonite. Why I Loathe Sterling Lane was a fun read, with Harper's reasons why she loathes one Sterling Lane preceding each chapter, her 537 rules to live by peppered in to the story, and over-the-top pranks keeping the pair on their toes. And while I did find Harper a tad annoying at times -- I'm a type A, uptight, control-freak, too, but even I draw the line somewhere -- I think what I enjoyed most about this story was that while Harper and Sterling made each other better versions of themselves as they constantly tried to one-up the other, the end result was that they were still essentially the same people they'd been before, just less afraid to show others who they were. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Love Me Never - I saw this recommended for readers who enjoyed Why I Loathe Sterling Lane, ostensibly because of the practical jokes and the hate-to-love factor. But this series goes so far beyond that. First of all, leave your disbelief suspended firmly at the door because this book will surely test your limits. Also, it's depressing AF once you remove the banter and snark. But it's also by the author of the upcoming fantasy Bring Me Their Hearts, which just sounds amazing, and so naturally I wanted to try out her backlist. And I liked this one for the most part, but I think I'm going to reserve full judgment until I've read the whole series because if the secrets that are being unearthed add up to a ridiculous pile of crap, it could skew the whole experience for me. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Forget Me Always & Remember Me Forever - I'm reviewing the last two books in this series together because I didn't even take a breath after the second before diving into the third after THAT ending, and so it all kinda blurs together for me. My husband asked me last night when I was halfway through the audio for Remember Me Forever what I was reading and then before I could respond, he said, "What's that look for? You don't want to tell me the name of it?" But it wasn't that. It's just that I had no idea how to put into words what I was reading. I wasn't even sure if I liked it, but I was compelled to keep reading. It vaguely reminded me of the Never Never series by Colleen Hoover and Taryn Fisher, the way the story unfolded, how it was told from two perspectives, and how abruptly each book ended. As a whole, I really liked the story, however unbelievable certain aspects remained. I appreciated how blatantly real Isis was, how she'd just blurt anything out or realize she'd been talking to herself out loud with no shame. I liked how Jack thawed his Ice Prince persona when she was around. I love that after everything, that banter and dry wit was still there, despite how broken these two characters were in the beginning and how far they've come. I think this is the kind of story you have to be in the right frame of mind for because on surface level, it's quite ridiculous. But it does cover some serious ground and make some very important points along the way. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

*ARC received from publisher for review purposes. This does not affect my review in any way.

T H E   C L A S S I C S

None this month. :*(

R E - R E A D S

Reign the Earth - I read this while on vacation last summer and then kinda forgot about it, despite loving the story. So, when Hoopla added it recently, I decided to re-read via audio. The novel was still fantastic, but I think I enjoyed it slightly less this time around. It had a solid narrator and it's not like anything changed from the last time I read it, but I think the heavy subject matter took a bigger toll on me, especially knowing what to expect. This is when re-reading can really back-fire on you, I suppose. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Storm Born - I felt myself yearning to re-read The Cruel Prince, though I just listened to it, so since I was craving evil faeries who like to toy with humans, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this series. And was it ever! I forgot how much I'd loved these books when I first got into audiobooks years ago. 🌟🌟🌟🌟


The Wedding Date - This was admittedly cute but not the utterly adorable story I'd been led to believe it was. And I really could have used that this week. I did appreciate the frank talks about race and how genuine the relationship was as it evolved. But I found the "sex scenes" very meh. They weren't terribly graphic, but when something was mentioned in more explicit detail, it was more like, "that thing she liked that he did with her nipple," which I felt was overused, as well. Less can definitely be more, but not like that. And the lack of communication as a plot device is one of my pet peeves while reading. I'm sure it's an issue in a lot of relationships, but it drives me up the wall to read about it. 🌟🌟🌟

The Arrangement - Decided to try a new-to-me historical romance author after my last couple of reads had been disappointments. This one was very sweet but not a whole lot happens? Still, the writing was quite good and what I've come to hope for when I try any new author in this genre, so I'll definitely be picking up more of her books. 🌟🌟🌟

Mine Till Midnight - After reading The Wallflowers and re-reading The Ravenels, I thought it time I finally read The Hathaways. But I didn't have a lot of reading time to get to the copy I borrowed from the library, so I used an Audible credit and listened instead. Though, sometimes I listened while I read, as I am wont to do. And this is how I discovered that they relegated the Christopher Frost character to a minor acquaintance in the audiobook version instead of the former beau of Miss Amelia Hathaway that he is in the actual book. How dare they?!? I think what most upsets me about this is how vile Leo's character had to be in the audio to make up for the lack of villainy on Frost's part. Inexcusable! I mean, Cam Rohan is finally, finally in the spotlight, where he belongs, but still. (If you'll remember, I was hoping to see him earlier, but I like this storyline much better, I think.) I'm excited to read more of The Hathaways, but I'll be sure to read them, lest I get anything but the story the way it was meant to be told. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Servant of the Crown - I've heard that some women can really hold grudges, but wowwwwwwwww! The main characters are in their early to mid-twenties and therefore still of an age to make bad choices with little consequence...except that they're nobility and royalty in some cases. So, I can see why it would be difficult to forget an indiscretion or two, but this heroine refused to forgive and let bygones be bygones, despite what it might mean for her eventual happiness. I really began to question if she'd even relent by the end of the book, considering this is the first in a series. But then there were more important things to worry about like evil librarians -- WHO DON'T TAKE CARE OF THE BOOKS! -- and I realized the romance really wasn't my favorite aspect of this story, anyway. My library doesn't have the next book available, so who knows if/when I'll pick it up. It does appear to be about a different heroine, though, so that's a plus. (Which isn't to say I didn't like Alison, but damn, girl, let it go.) 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Seduce Me at Sunrise - I am loving the zany Hathaways and their trials and tribulations as they fall in love and face the challenges of their entrance into the aristocracy. I didn't love Kev and Win's story the way I did Cam and Amelia's, but c'mon...I've loved Cam since I met him in Evie and Sebastian's book, and I've been waiting to find out more of his story. Which is exactly what happens in Seduce Me at Sunrise. I hated the I'm pushing you away for your own good thing that Kev was doing for most of the book, but I enjoyed finding out more about Kev and Cam, their gypsy heritage, and the fascinating story behind that pooka tattoo. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

The Shattered Court - I've had this title on my shelf for awhile, but on vacation, I was at a loss for what to read, and I remembered seeing an author recommend this on Twitter awhile back. And lo and behold, it was available through the Audible Romance Package. It was quite intriguing -- enough so that I was dying to get my hands on the second book, only to realize that there was no audio available for it and that my library doesn't own the ebook -- but I had hoped for a fiercer heroine. However, I think that may change in forthcoming books. Guess I'll have to pony up the $4 on Amazon to see for myself. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine - This is not a book you want to read while on Spring Break. I don't remember what I read that made me think this was going to be cutesy, but it was anything but. In fact, besides a slightly hopeful ending, the rest of the book was rather depressing. It left me in a funk for two days. I shouldn't have finished the book. I kept considering just stopping, but I had a theory and I just had to see if it panned out. It did. And I'm done. And I want that part of my vacation back. :*( 🌟🌟

Sugar Daddy - I love Lisa Kleypas' historical romance novels. So much so that I tend to binge them once I get started. While waiting for the third book in the Hathaways series to become available at my library, I decided on a whim to try one of her contemporary novels. And I shouldn't be surprised by how much I loved it because it is Lisa Kleypas, but I am because adult contemporary novels are usually a miss for me. With a few exceptions...and Lisa Kleypas-penned adult contemporary novels apparently being one of them. It's get soooo much background on the characters because the novel starts in the heroine's formative teenage years and brings you to present, and it was just witty and fun and charming. And it doesn't hurt that it's set in Texas and the descriptions of life in a small, red dirt town are spot-on. I'm kind of in love with the Travises now and will be fighting internally as to whether to keep reading their story or go back to the Hathaways now. :D 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bittersweet - So, I'm kind of addicted to the Audible Romance Package, if for no other reason that it serves as a sort of library when my real library fails to add any new books on Overdrive or Hoopla for weeks at a time. :( It also helps me to explore more than the usual historical romance novels I tend to go for. So, when Audible announced their first ever Romance Listening Club, I thought I'd check out their first pick. I've never read Sarina Bowen before, though I know tons of readers love her books, and now I can see why. It wasn't the most amazing book I've ever read, but it was well-written and relatable and just an overall fun read. It had heart and it made me laugh and I loved that it was both a second-chance romance as well as a quasi-enemies-to-lovers scenario. Also, Star Wars references always win me over. I loved the narration on this one, and I definitely intend to check out more from this author now. 🌟🌟🌟

The Rise of Miss Notley - This author's books seem to be squeaky-clean and super sweet, which means I'm likely to forget them easily, despite enjoying the story at the time. I listened to the first book in this series several months ago -- which could also be attributed to my forgetfulness when deciding whether to read the second book -- but didn't want to spend another credit on the subsequent novel. Lo and behold, they're available through the Audible Romance Package, so I thought, why not? However, I think these books would best serve me when I'm already in a really good mood and want to just kick it up a notch. While there were troubling moments in Miss Notley's story, I just never felt compelled to care all that much because I was already 100% positive how the story would conclude. In other words, I was kind of bored. 🌟🌟

The Likeness - I picked this one up on a recommendation from the bestie. She knows I don't enjoy most thrillers because I find them predictable or the twist to be ridiculous, so for her to still recommend this book meant it must really be something. And it was. I quite enjoyed it. Especially the undercover aspect and keeping separate from the role you're playing. I am kinda bitter that I didn't read the first book first, though, because I can only assume what happened with her partner and the impact it's had up to this point. But I just put it on hold at the library so I'll understand soon. And then I assume I'll continue with the rest of the series because I AM INTRIGUED. Yes, I still found it mildly predictable, but it was just so well-written and well-narrated that I don't even care. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

In the Woods - After loving The Likeness, I couldn't wait on my library hold in order to read this book -- especially with all the pressure from my bestie who was ecstatic that I loved it so much -- so I purchased a copy from Audible. I just had to meet the infamous Rob Ryan and get an idea of Cassie before she left the Dublin Murder Squad. What I got left me feeling cold and alone and unbearably sad. I wanted Rob to get the answers he needed, and I wanted justice for little Katie, but I also just needed Rob to pull his head out of his ass and be a damn friend, too. This story was so frustrating at times because the author is so good at making you care for her characters. But that's also why I think I may be addicted to these books. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Find any new titles to check out? ;0)

Until next time! Happy reading!

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