June 18, 2018

Living Out Loud by Staci Hart ~ #BookReview

June 18, 2018 

Title: Living Out Loud
Series: Austen #3
Author: Staci Hart
Publication Date: February 1, 2018 
Source: ARC for an honest review 

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

My Rating:  


Bestselling author Staci Hart brings you another installment of the Austen Series, inspired by the works of Jane Austen, with a heartfelt contemporary retelling of Sense and Sensibility.

When Annie Daschle arrives in New York City, the only thing she can control is her list. 

Not her father’s death or the loss of her home. Not the hole in her heart or the defective valve that’s dictated so much of her life. But she can put pen to paper to make a list of all the ways she can live out loud, just like her dad would have wanted.

See the city from the top of the Empire State Building: Check.
Eat hot dogs on the steps of The Met: Check.
Get a job at Wasted Words: Check.

What wasn’t on her list: Greg Brandon. And just when she thinks she’s figured out where to put him, everything changes. In the span of a few staggering heartbeats, she finds herself her caught in the middle of something she can’t find her way out of, with no clear answers and no rules.

List or no list, she realizes she can’t control anything at all, not even her heart. 

Not the decisions it makes, and not the moment it stops.

Living Out Loud is an emotionally stirring and well written novel. I loved Annie so much! I liked her sisters and the close relationship they have with their mom. They're working through their loss together as a family, and I appreciated that. Also, Annie gets a job at a bookstore, so score! That automatically guarantees I'll read the story.

Greg was amazing!! I couldn't have been happier with his character. He isn't 100% perfect, which makes him authentic, and he just made the book for me. Loved him! 

I wasn't happy 60% into the story with the introduction of Will, which ends up creating a lukewarm love triangle between Greg, Annie and Will. I didn't think his character was needed, and he was an unwelcome addition, hence one of the reasons I took a star away in my rating. The story began to lag. 

Another reason I rated this book four stars rather than five is due to Annie's naivety. I get that New York City would be an overwhelming place for someone her age to navigate and feel at home there, but she seemed to have NO qualms when it came to trusting complete strangers. You still have to have your wits about you to keep yourself safe. While I appreciated her positive outlook, I also thought she needed a small dose of reality. 

I wanted more scenes where Greg and Annie are together. Whenever they were talking or near each other, I wanted more. Greg is truly a great love interest to root for.   

Living Out Loud inspired me to begin to truly live rather than to simply drag myself along to exist. The novel tackles grief, family, love and figuring out how to go on after the death of a loved one. I recommend it!    

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl! 

June 15, 2018

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke ~ #BookReview @NetGalley

June 15, 2018

Title: Nice Try, Jane Sinner
Author: Lianne Oelke  
Publisher: Clarion Books 
Publication Date: January 9, 2018 
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Purchase: Amazon | B&N  

My Rating: 


Recently expelled from high school, Jane Sinner grudgingly enrolls in community college, a situation made slightly more bearable when she joins a student-run reality show. House of Orange is her chance to start over—and maybe even win a car (used, but whatever)—and no one there knows what she did in high school. What more could she want?

Okay, maybe a family that gets why she’d rather turn to Freud than to Jesus. But she’ll settle for using HOO’s growing fanbase, and whatever Intro to Psych can teach her, to prove to the world—or at least viewers of substandard TV—that she has what it takes to win.

Before I get into my review, I want to share a cool thing that happened. For some reason my NetGalley ARC of Nice Try, Jane Sinner wouldn't download. I checked to see if the book was available to borrow through my Overdrive app, but it wasn't! There was an option to recommend they buy it, however, so I clicked the box. A few days later I received an email that the Ohio Digital Library purchased the book and would notify me when I could borrow it. 

Anyway, I wanted to share this experience with you because this is the first time I've received concrete evidence that a library bought a book I recommended, and I'm really happy about it!     

Now on to the review. I loved this book! Nice Try, Jane Sinner takes place in Canada, and it's always a nice change of pace when books are set outside the U.S. 

 After her expulsion from high school, Jane enrolls in community college and finds out a student-run reality show, House of Orange, is going to be filmed there. The show is still looking for participants, so she signs up while fudging a few facts about herself. She doesn't think ahead and by doing this, sets herself up for the possibility that the people around her will find out she lied about her identity. 

I did my best to read Nice Try, Jane Sinner from the POV of a teenager, but here and there my mind would drift to see Jane as I see my own teenage daughter. For instance, Jane has ultra conservative religious parents, and at first it annoyed me that she referred to them as simply "the parents," but I got over it when I remembered that's how I referred to my own parents. 

It was for Jane and her parents to have fundamental misunderstandings of each other. Her parents didn't "get" her intentions and behaviors when, as the reader, I could see where she was coming from thought I didn't always agree with her decisions. They were disappointed she wasn't doing exactly what they expected of her. I was dying to step in and mediate between her and her parents! On the other hand, she has an amazing and close relationship with her younger sister that made me happy to see.    

This is one of the best books I've read tackling teenage depression. As a former teen who suffered from depression, I could relate to Jane and was impressed by how accurately Oelke treated the subject matter. I can't recommend Nice Try, Jane Sinner enough whether you're a teen or an adult.   

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!   

June 14, 2018

Love Spell by Mia Kerick ~ #BookReview

June 14, 2018

Title: Love Spell
Author: Mia Kerick
Publisher: Cool Dudes Publishing 
Release Date: June 1, 2015 
Source: Copy for an honest review via Lola's Blog Tours  

Purchase: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository 

My Rating:  


Strutting his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug orange tuxedo as this year's Miss(ter) Harvest Moon feels so very right to Chance Cesar, and yet he knows it should feel so very wrong. 

As far back as he can remember, Chance has been "caught between genders." (It's quite a touchy subject; so don't ask him about it.) However, he does not question his sexual orientation. Chance has no doubt about his gayness - he is very much out of the closet at his rural New Hampshire high school, where the other students avoid the kid they refer to as "girl-boy."

But at the local Harvest Moon Festival, when Chance, the Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper Donahue, the Pumpkin Carving King, sparks fly. So Chance sets out, with the help of his BFF, Emily, to make "Jazz" Donahue his man. 

An article in an online women's magazine, "Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love with You" (with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure), becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz's heart. 

Quirky, comical, definitely flamboyant, and with an inner core of poignancy, Love Spell celebrates the diversity of a gender-fluid teen. 

When I started reading Love Spell, I wasn't a fan of Chance's lingo; however, his manner of speech grew on me. To be fair, I'm not a fan of some of the slang used today though I suspect adults felt the same way about it when I was a teenager. 

I really liked that Chance was the main character and not relegated to being somebody's sidekick. He had a lot of exploration ahead of him because not only was he a teenager searching for his identity but also figuring out whether he feels he's male or female. That's a lot to work out, especially during the teenage years which aren't easy to begin with!  

I often wondered about the friendship between Chance and his BFF Emily because it seemed to be a one-way street. He didn't always treat her like a best friend should. Sometimes he mentioned things she said that hurt him without her realizing it. I wish he had addressed that more thoroughly with her, but he never did. 

Chance had an exceptionally difficult time in high school going through emotional changes and though he made a lot of mistakes, I reminded myself he's a teenager and everyone makes mistakes. That's how you grow and learn.

I was rooting for him to just take the direct approach and ask if Jasper (Jazz) was interested in him. I can completely understand why he wouldn't do that with the risk of getting hurt. Seeing how sharp witted and clever Chance is, I couldn't see why he'd be turned down by Jazz unless Jazz wasn't gay. That's where the internet and love spell come into play.  

I took off a star from my rating because I think Chance's parents' lack of concern for him should have been addressed. It's pretty serious if your parents don't care about you, but there wasn't much of a resolution of this by the end of the book. This is what likely makes it a more realistic ending, but I wanted more explanation as to how he felt about it and how he would deal with it.

Overall, Love Spell was a fun story and also included important issues teens face, especially the complicated relationships Chance had with his parents, his friends, and his potential love interest. He's a character you won't forget anytime soon. I read this book a couple of years ago, but I still think of him and his story to this day. Highly recommended! 

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!   

June 12, 2018

The Girl Who Called the Stars by Heather Hildenbrand ~ Cover Reveal

June 12, 2018

Check out this gorgeous cover reveal from Heather Hildenbrand! I'm so in love with it, I can't stop staring at it.

Title: The Girl Who Called The Stars
Author: Heather Hildenbrand
Release Date: 7/18/18


Be very afraid of the Shadows.
I know what I'm not. Human.
I can't remember my life before Earth, but I've grown up hearing the stories of a planet ravaged by war and a people in need of a leader who will bring them out of the darkness. I'm supposed to be their light.
My future terrifies me.
But I'm done waiting to have a real life. If I ever want a chance to live free of the Shadows, I'll need to fight for it because freedom is never free. No matter what galaxy you call home.

Preorder Link: Amazon

Thanks for visiting Donnie Darko Girl!