Book: Golden by Jessi Kirby, Simon & Schuster, On Sale Now
Book Info: Young Adult Contemporary, Purchased copy, Available in HC 277 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I just loved Jessi Kirby’s In Honor, and looked forward to reading her latest book Golden. Kirby’s book covers are so pretty and full of sunshine and have started to signal the arrival of summer for me. Golden is a lovely read about how delving into a town mystery helps a girl find her true path. Like In Honor, Golden is an emotional and satisfying read.
In Golden, Parker Frost is an over-achiever with a bright academic future ahead. She was accepted into a top university and is in the running for a full scholarship, a scholarship named for two teens that died in mysterious circumstances ten years ago. In a class project, Parker gets a hold of the journal of one of the deceased teens, Julianna Farnetti, coincidentally. The journal becomes an obsession for Parker and her best friend Kat, and leads them on the path to unravel the mystery of Julianna’s death. At the same time, the mystery gets her closer to her long-time crush, Trevor. It all comes together in a fateful road trip that alters Parker’s life in unexpected ways.
The author says the book’s setting was inspired by her hometown Mammoth Lakes, California. The descriptions of the lake, coffeehouse, and school are vivid and made me feel like I was there as well. The setting is important to the mystery of Julianna and Shane’s death and becomes a character itself in the book.
The journal project is something very cool in Golden. A writing teacher has his students keep a journal all year to capture themselves in words. The students turn in the journal at the end of the year, and the instructor promises to mail the journal back to the students in ten years time so they can get a glimpse of the past. Parker can’t help but be curious about the legendary Julianna’s journal, and finds her words to be quite eye-opening.
I liked the story within a story in Golden, and I was just as interested in the mystery of Shane and Julianna as I was in Parker’s life. Poetry is another nice aspect to the storytelling, as Parker may be a distant relative of none other than Robert Frost. It’s fun to see the parallels in Parker’s/Julianna’s stories.
Golden is a short, sweet, and inspiring read to get lost in this summer. If you like Sarah Ockler’s and Morgan Matson’s books you should give Jessi Kirby a try. I’m glad I still have Kirby’s Moonglass to read this summer- Kirby has become one of my favorite contemporary authors.
Barnes & Noble shoppers- there is some dispute going on between Simon & Schuster and B&N (Sarah Ockler explains it here) and so you may have to search a little harder to find Golden in stores. You can order it online or at an indie bookstore, or request that B&N order it for you. If you can, pick up the hardcover because it is so gorgeous in person, with lovely floral accents in the chapter breaks and the shimmery cover.
Also, the author put together a book playlist of the songs that inspired Golden. Check it out:
Book: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker, Simon & Schuster Audio, May 14, 2013
Book Info: Contemporary Romance / NA, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 8 hrs, 58 mins. Read by: Elizabeth Louise. Also available in e-book format from Atria Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker is an emotional and addictive story about learning to breathe again when your world falls apart. I’ve read my share of angsty New Adult books so I could anticipate the twists and turns in TTB, but I still listened with rapt attention. I rooted for the physically and emotionally scarred main character to heal and to hopefully get her HEA.
Kacey is reeling from a traumatic car accident that turned her world upside down. All she has left is her sister Livie, and she’ll protect her with her last breath. The two sisters relocate from Grand Rapids to Miami to get out of a dangerous situation and try to make it on their own. Kacie has demons to overcome, and new friends and a handsome stranger are more than willing to help.
This New Adult book tackles the issue of PTSD. Kacey numbs her pain with one-night stands, kickboxing and alcohol. But now she has a chance at a fresh start and to find healthier coping methods. She has her fifteen-year-old sister relying on her so she gets a job to keep a roof over their head.
In the Melrose Place style apartment building, Kacey makes fast friends with Storm and Trent. Storm is the mother of a young daughter, and she gets Kacey a job bartending at the strip club she works at. Storm, aka Nora, is a sweet and supportive friend in Kacey’s corner and helps her to open up. Trent is the hot neighbor Kacey meets in the laundry room and they both have dirty laundry to air so to speak. Trent’s always around right when Kacey needs him, and literally and figuratively breaks down her door.
I liked the theme of healing and forgiveness and remembering to breathe in TTB. Each section of the book is titled with a stage in Kacey’s healing journey. Kacey’s progress is hard earned and realistic- nothing comes easy. The PTSD story is intriguing and handled well.
In Kacey we see a different New Adult character; Kacey’s not in college, but just trying to survive and provide a better life for her sister. Kacey is tough yet vulnerable and is a hard shell to crack. We see her at work, putting food on the table, and blowing off steam at the gym. Kacey’s sister Livie is a ray of sunshine and is working towards college. She also helps out with babysitting Storm’s daughter. It’s nice seeing the new family/friendship bonds that form for the sisters.
The romantic relationship in the story is an important part of Kacey’s journey, but it’s refreshing that the story is not entirely all about that. There are many issues that Kacey face on her own before tackling a relationship, and I like the way Tucker handles that aspect.
Elizabeth Louise reads the audiobook. I was pleasantly surprised to find I recognized this narrator’s voice. It took me a second to figure it out but she also narrates the Thoughtless series under the name Rebekkah Ross. If you’re an S.C. Stephens audiobook fan, you’ll be happy to hear Kellan and Kiera’s narrator again. Louise has an age appropriate sounding voice for New Adult age characters, and she captures the damaged voice of Kacey well. I really like Louise’s voice for the male characters too- they sound very natural. I got through this 12-hour audiobook in no time at all.
Ten Tiny Breaths is engaging with good, well-rounded supporting characters and relationships that take the story to another level. Tucker weaves a good story and I’m eager to read more about Livie in One Tiny Lie.
The author has an audiobook giveaway going on now if you’d like to give the Ten Tiny Breaths audiobook a try.
In honor of the paperback release of First Comes Love (out today!) I have a review of the book and the sequel Second Chance. First Comes Love came out a year ago with a very different smoldering-looking cover. The cover re-design sells a whole new image that I personally think match the tone of the story very well. Making up for lost time, I read the first two books in the series back to back.
First Comes Love is the story of Dylan and Gray, opposites in every way. Gray is drifting after suffering a loss; he’s depressed and lost focus, even giving up his college baseball scholarship. Dylan is a free spirit who loves to travel and live life to the fullest. She does not want to get tied down and is just into having experiences. Gray gets sucked into the bright light that is Dylan and against the odds the pair fall in love. But are they just too different to go the distance?
This is Katie Kacvinsky’s first contemporary series- she also writes the dystopian Awaken series. I think this is a seamless transition for Kacvinsky and I like that she wrote a New Adult book without even knowing it was a thing. After high school, life is not always easy for everyone with the perfect college and life, and this book addresses the messiness of it all.
I wanted Dylan to save Gray from his funk, and for Gray to help Dylan to settle down, but in this book there’s no easy answers or tidy ending. The way the two see each other kind of reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. Gray is drawn to Dylan, but also a little embarrassed of her too. She marches to the beat of her own drummer with ill-fitting mismatched clothes, messy hair and impulsive behavior.
We get inside both Dylan and Gray’s heads with alternating POV. Gray’s character is a little easier to warm up to than Dylan’s MPDG type. Still, I kind of loved that the two got together- they balance each other out. Writing slow-burn romance is Kacvinsky’s forte and that’s my favorite kind to read. There’s emotion and romance along with some light, heart-warming moments.
The summer in Arizona setting is a nice backdrop to the story, and Kacvinsky makes you feel like you are there with Gray and Dylan on their hikes and adventures. They also take a little road trip to Los Angeles and that just sets a vacation like mood.
First Comes Love was written as a standalone, but Kacvinsky decided to extend the book to a trilogy. She self-published book two Second Chance. After reading First Comes Love, I felt satisfied by the ending as is, but was attached to the characters and glad to see Gray and Dylan’s story continue.
In Second Chance, there’s been a little distance between Gray and Dylan. Dylan is traveling around the world and doing her thing, while Gray is trying to go back to normal and reconnect with his college baseball goals. Where do the two fit in each other’s lives?
I like the angst and the opposites attract story- the two have chemistry, but they are such different people. I root for this pair and hope they make it work. In this book, there’s a new setting and new characters and stumbling blocks in the way of the couple’s HEA. Both Gray and Dylan still have some growing up to do and need to figure out what they want and if compromises can be made.
There’s one song Gray mentions listening to in the book (Missed the Boat by Modest Mouse) that kind of sums up the mood:
The laid back pace, setting and romance in this series makes for an ideal summer read to tuck in your beach bag. Dylan and Gray’s love story will leave you eager for the next book. (Write faster, Katie!)
I had the chance to interview Katie Kacvinsky recently about all her books, and you can check it out here and also enter the giveaway for your chance to win First Comes Love and Second Chance. I’m jealous of whoever wins! I borrowed First Comes Love from the library and bought a kindle edition of Second Chance but think I’ll have to pick up the paperbacks for my own library.
Find out more about the series here:
Book: Reckless (Thoughtless book 3) by S.C. Stephens, Simon & Schuster Audio, March 5, 2013
Book Info: Contemporary Romance, purchased Audiobook. Running time: 21 hrs, 5 mins. Read by: Rebekkah Ross. Also available in paperback, 544 pages from Gallery Books.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars Loyal fans will be very satisfied with the series conclusion.
Reckless is the third and final book in S.C. Stephens’ Thoughtless trilogy. I discovered this series when I first got into New Adult books, and despite finding the book covers a little embarrassing I’ve really enjoyed the series. And for such long books they sure are fast reads. This is the first trilogy I’ve read in awhile where the writing improves with each book and the ending left me totally satisfied. I’ll miss the characters but I’m pleased with the series outcome.
This series centers on a regular girl in love with a budding rock star. Where we left off in the last book, Kiera graduated college and is now free to go on tour with Kellan and the D-Bags, and the band is on the verge of hitting it big. With fame comes new problems, and not everyone is on Team KK. Fans, record executives, the media, and other celebrity types all want a piece of the red-hot Kellan Kyle. Do Kiera and Kellan have what it takes to go the distance or will their relationship become a rock and roll casualty?
The Thoughtless series has drama and steam aplenty. And Stephens has a knack for hard-hitting emotional scenes. I was plenty nervous about what crisis our couple would face in the final chapter, and I even had to read spoilers because I didn’t trust that a HEA was a done deal. Let’s face it; Stephens likes to put her characters through the ringer. And in Reckless, there are some scary moments and surprises that kept me guessing throughout. The pacing is good, and Stephens balances the romance, music career, and other character’s storylines well, tying up loose ends.
One thing that made me pleasantly surprised in this installment was the character development. In the first two books Kiera shows poor judgment to say the least and makes the same mistakes over and over. In Reckless, Kiera shows a lot of growth and maturity and I liked her so much more. But it’s not just Kiera that rises to the challenge. Griffin and Anna’s progress stands out, Denny evolves, and Kellan is as swoon worthy as ever.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Rebekkah Ross. Ross’s narration is very consistent and easy to listen to. With these long books the time flies in part because of the addictive story but also because of the smooth narration. Ross will always be the voice of Kiera to me, and her voice is more confident as Kiera learns to have faith in herself. She gives distinct voices to varying age ranges, different accents, and male and female voices with ease. I never had trouble differentiating the characters. It’s one of those audiobooks that you make up chores to complete so you can keep listening.
If you like stories with romance and angst, and rock stars, give the Thoughtless series a try. I’ll miss this series, but I’m glad I can at least re-read it sometime. Can’t wait to see what S.C. Stephens has in store for us next.
Start the trilogy from the beginning:
Book: Effortless (Thoughtless book 2) by S.C. Stephens, Simon & Schuster Audio, Dec. 4, 2012
Book Info: Contemporary Romance, purchased Audiobook. Running time: 19 hrs, 35 mins. Read by: Rebekkah Ross. Also available in paperback, 496 pages from Gallery Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Thoughtless series is one I picked up when I started my New Adult reading spree. Once I read Easy and Beautiful Disaster it wasn’t long before the NA path led me to this trilogy. If you haven’t started this series, be aware there are light spoilers ahead for Book 1 Thoughtless, so start there if you’d like to remain completely spoiler free.
Like Tina Reber’s Love series, these are long and angsty books. While the Love series is about an actor/regular girl romance, the love interest in the Thoughtless series is a Seattle musician on the road to being a full-fledged rock star. The story begins with a tortuous love triangle in Thoughtless, with the pair trying to make it work as a couple in Effortless. But when your relationship begins with lies and betrayal, it’s hard to trust your partner under the best of circumstances, and outside forces make it even more difficult for Kellan and Kiera. This series is new to paperback and audiobook formats through Simon & Schuster, after being a self-publishing success.
I have to say I liked Effortless even more than the first book. Thoughtless was all about getting to know the characters and through the love triangle. You’d think Effortless would be a cakewalk in comparison, though in fact there are still some rough waters ahead. S.C. Stephens seems to revel in torturing her characters, and she has a knack for angsty, emotional scenes that you feel in the pit of your stomach.
Though the vibe of this series is more contemporary romance, there is definitely a case for calling it New Adult. Kiera attends Univ. of Washington, and we do see her attending class and thinking about careers, when she’s not stressing over Kellan that is. There is a big romance element to the story though, so the focus is more on relationships than a “what do I do with my life” college book. Kiera has a lot of insecurities, and infuriates me in this series by making some of the same mistakes over and over.
Kellan is a breath of fresh air, and charming and sweet. He makes some errors in judgment just like Kiera though and they both have a lot to learn about communication. I liked seeing the development with his band and the challenges his career success brings to his relationship with Kiera. I’d love to see chapters written from Kellan’s POV for a change of pace. Sometimes I need a little break from Kiera.
After listening to book one Thoughtless, I read the print version of Effortless. I was addicted to the characters at that point and the audiobook was not available yet to listen to. Later on though I did pick up the audiobook for a reread/listen to brush up for Reckless, the third book in the trilogy. I don’t usually get to compare the reading vs. listening experience but there were positives to both formats. At first I did miss the audio narrator because she is so good with the voices, but reading the book actually was quicker and still enjoyable. I think it did take less time to actually read the book and I could read at my pace rather than relying on the narrator’s pace. Reader Rebekkah Ross conveys all of Kiera’s changing moods with ease, while at the same time delivering a convincing Kellan, and even delivers a an authentic sounding womanizing Griffin. Ross has become one of my favorite narrators, and when you are listening to a long book like this it’s nice to have a capable narrator like her behind the wheel. I don’t think you can go wrong with the print or audio versions.
This series won me over, even though it’s a little more dramatic than I usually prefer. The author makes some bold choices so that I never know what she’s going to do to her poor characters. She makes me nervous but she does do angst very well. I don’t know where she’s going to take the story in the final book, but I know I’ll be along for the ride.
Reckless, the final book in the Thoughtless trilogy, will hit stores March 5th. You can read the first two chapters and some fun bonus scenes now on author S.C. Stephens’ FB page. And if you like New Adult books like the Thoughtless series, check out Maryse’s What to Read After Thoughtless book suggestions.
And, there’s an awesome New Adult audiobook giveaway going on now from Simon & Schuster audio, where you could win the Thoughtless trilogy and a bunch of other great titles pictured below.
Book Info: Contemporary Romance, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 20 hrs, 52 mins. Read by: Rebekkah Ross. Also available in paperback, 544 pages from Gallery Books.
Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars
Thoughtless started out as a self-publishing smash hit and now the trilogy is being introduced to a wider audience with the backing of Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. Thoughtless is at heart about a love triangle. It’s tricky because both of the guys the heroine cares for are root-worthy so it’s heart wrenching knowing that one or both will get hurt. It’s full of angst but I was hooked from the start and couldn’t put it down. It does get melodramatic at times, and the protagonist is a little infuriating, but I couldn’t stop myself from jumping directly into the sequel.
In Thoughtless, Kiera planned to stay with her long term and devoted boyfriend Denny forever. She relocated from Ohio to Seattle to be with him when he accepts a new job, and now must start classes at a new university. But when Denny’s career takes him away, Kiera bonds with their roommate Kellan, a local up and coming rock star, and one of Denny’s best friends. Things get very messy for the trio…
The story is addictive but the cheating and the lies are hard to swallow at times. Kiera strings along both Kellan and Denny for ages and there are some very uncomfortable scenes. She is very naïve about her relationship with Kellan and is generally thoughtless as the title suggests. Just when you think she’s finally made a decision between the two, she backtracks. She’s a frustrating heroine- weak and needy, but surprisingly she didn’t break the book for me. I guess Kellan and Denny pull up the slack and make Kiera a little more tolerable. The damaged Kellan is especially charismatic and likable, and his scenes with Kiera sizzle.
I felt so torn and conflicted reading this book, and the sneaking around and the web of lies were giving me an ulcer. But the author does a great job making you feel a character connection and bringing the passion to life. The characters have really stayed with me. I also like that music is tied in with the book through Kellan’s rock band, and that adds a lot of interesting scenarios.
Rebekkah Ross (Collateral) reads the audiobook and I have to say I’m a fan. Her voice is age appropriate for Kiera and is true to the page. Denny’s Australian accent comes across well, and his quiet, sweet personality comes through. Her Kellan is also confident and believable. Ross did a commendable job overall making me care about the characters and I would happily listen to more books read by her. The audiobook is lengthy- almost 21 hours- and some of the back and forth does go on too long, but I still made good time with the audiobook, considering.
If you like passionate and angsty romance, this is the book for you. Thoughtless is a good crossover book for New Adult fans (especially if you liked Beautiful Disaster) as well as contemporary romance readers. I’ve already read the second book in the trilogy, Effortless, and liked it even more than Thoughtless. I’m eager to read Reckless in March and hope my heart can stand it.