Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book Review

Posted September 19, 2018 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 9 Comments

Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown | Book ReviewLies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Series: Lies Beneath #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 303
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4.5 Stars

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans and absorb their positive energy. Usually, they select their victims at random, but this time around, the underwater clan chooses its target for a reason: revenge. They want to kill Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother's death.

It's going to take a concerted effort to lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the water. Calder's job is to gain Hancock's trust by getting close to his family. Relying on his irresistible good looks and charm, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter Lily. Easy enough, but Calder screws everything up by falling in love--just as Lily starts to suspect there's more to the monster-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined, and just as the mermaids threaten to take matters into their own hands, forcing Calder to choose between them and the girl he loves.

One thing's for sure: whatever Calder decides, the outcome won't be pretty.

I’d been really worried about Lies Beneath, as a lot of the reviews have been mixed, but I really, really enjoyed this book. I loved so much about it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. We have a male narrator! YES! This was so refreshing. Calder is a merman from a family of human-killing mermaids. He was not born this way, but was changed to a merman after falling off a boat and drowning as a young child. Maybe that’s why he’s a bit reformed, and hopes to escape the “school of fish” loyalty and just be his own person. I loved reading his thoughts as he struggled between being who he wanted to be and being who he was created to be. I think Brown did an amazing job writing a male’s thoughts. I’ve always thought that would be a tricky thing to do.

2. This story takes place in an awesome location: Lake Superior. That lake is so mysterious and deep and freezing, and I LOVE that the story took place here rather than in the cliche tropical location. Rather than hearing about rainbow fish and sea turtles, you get to read about sunken ships and the unexplored depths of the lake. We even get a mention of an ancient road down there.

3. I really liked the evil mermaid spin. I was getting tired of the “I wish I were human, but I have this tail, so I’m going to swim around and hope I can fake being human well enough to make you love me” storyline. These mermaids love being who they are. Even Calder does not want to quit being a merman, he just does not want to suck the life out of humans. They all have their own personalities, and don’t sit around suppressing what they are. And the evil thing? It was awesome! Mermaids are made out to be monsters and not humans. It created some suspense and intrigue. I dunno, I guess I’ve always been a bit rebellious myself, so I enjoyed the more gritty and dangerous spin.

4. I really enjoyed the need for revenge that the mermaids had. It consumed their thoughts as they tried to seek revenge on the man they blamed their mother’s death on. Even though these mermaids are considered evil, you have to give them credit for never breaking a promise, and for being extremely loyal to each other. I mean, even though Calder began to change his mind regarding this revenge, his mind was so linked with his sisters’ that he really struggled with an inner turmoil that pulled him in two very different directions.

5. I appreciated Lily’s common sense and vivaciousness. I can’t stand a dumb, quivering-in-her-boots kind of heroine. Lily has a sharp mind and she knows things without having someone beat it into her head with a hammer. And I loved her little sister, Sophie. She is adorable.

6. The Hancock family’s past is vast and dynamic. I loved getting more insight into what happened to make these mermaids so mad, and what mysteries are hidden beneath the surface.

7. The romance was sweet. It was not obsessive or silly. It seemed legit to me. Calder and Lily look out for one another, and have a healthy give and take relationship. Calder is not controlling or stalkery. I mean yes, he lurks in the water outside her home to protect her, but he’s not sneaking in her room to watch her sleep. Lily is not helpless and naive. She can hold her own, and does not frighten easily. I believed this one.

8. I wish the book had spent a little more time on Calder’s sisters. Those girls were so much fun to read about, and they were really what made the book so unique. Hopefully the rest of the trilogy will give us more information on them. They could have their own spin-off series.

All in all, this book is now one of my new favorite mermaid romances. I loved the unique spin, the believable romance, and the interesting characters. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of mermaid books, and it’s also a great one to start on if you’re just dipping your toe into the genre.

4.5 Stars

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted August 13, 2015 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 5 Comments

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewThe Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on December 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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0.5 Stars

It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

*sigh* I’m sorry, but this was a bit of a train wreck for me. I loved Lauren’s other books so very much, so I’m really sad to feel this way. Aside from the cheesiness, which could have been cute under other circumstances, this book is riddled with inaccuracies. Maybe I should not have read it while I was on a cruise… So here are my problems:

1. No school band in the entire world would be able to go on a cruise for free for any reason, much less for less than $25,000. If this band can afford to go on a cruise, but they MUST win $25,000 or the band program is discontinued… isn’t that contradictory? Sure, they won a contest that got them on a ship. But no cruise line would ever hold a contest with this kind of prize, much less have the space to allow for a marching band (or multiple marching bands).

2. The Destiny, a luxury cruise liner, weighs only 50,000 tons but has six sun decks, three pools, a casino, an atrium, “many buffets”, multiple lounges, a spa, and a bowling alley. This is pretty much impossible. Pretty much all of today’s large cruise ships with these features weigh 2-3 times this amount. I was on the Carnival Dream when I read this. That ship weighs 130,000 tons, has three pools, an atrium, one buffet, two lounges, a spa, and a few bars. No bowling alley. I mean, an author can squish anything into anything, so perhaps this ship is really tiny, with really tiny amenities and can hold very few passengers. But it just did not feel realistic to me.

3. There was no lifeboat drill! This is required by international maritime law, and happens before or during the ship’s departure from the original port. But when the ship pulled away, nobody had done the lifeboat drill and there was not even mention of it. Sure, maybe the author just chose to not mention it… but everything else was mentioned!

4. There are so many problems with the ship. It is constantly not working properly. This does not happen. And if it does, it’s a huge deal. It’s very dangerous. It makes the news.

5. A kid threw a drink overboard. Glass and all. You can get in so much trouble! Depending on the deck, that drink most likely blew back into the ship and landed on someone’s balcony or an open deck.

6. Seasickness patches (Scopolamine patches) are not applied to the arm like the book says they are. They are placed behind the ear. And you can’t use more than one like Liza did during the storm. That’d be an overdose, and you’d get pretty sick. One lasts an entire week on a cruise.

7. You are NOT allowed to sleep on deck. Cruise ship workers circle the decks all night and wake people up and make them go to their cabins. It’s a liability.

8. Drum majors (Liza) do not have that much power. And seriously? Where was the band director? Did he throw some empty margarita glass overboard and get confined to quarters? Oh wait…

9. Liza made me want to strangle something. She’s awful! I’m not used to such an unlikeable main character, but she is high strung and annoying and judgmental and a major slut shamer.

10. I was bored. The people are boring. The story is boring. I would have died if I had been on this ship. I would have jumper overboard.

11. THE ANIMAL SIMILES made me want to die. Here are a few:
–  “…shiver like a drowned chihuahua.”
– “…parrot caught in a hairdryer.”
– “…cat caught in a washing machine.”
– “Like cats tap dancing on a chalkboard.”
– Someone was compared to a “coked-up gorilla”.
I could go on.

The premise sounded like so much fun… I love books that take place on cruises, but this one just did not work for me. It did not feel realistic and the romance was nothing to get excited about. Seriously, it was just so silly (in an annoying way) and meh. If you can get past the fact that this story is not at all realistic, maybe you’ll enjoy the silly little teen drama and cattiness. I just felt way too old for this book. I liked the idea, but that was it.

0.5 Stars

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill | Book Review

Posted January 15, 2014 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 10 Comments

Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill | Book ReviewBeing Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on January 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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4 Stars

Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

I really loved Lauren Morrill’s first book, Meant to Be (my review), and was very excited to learn of her next book about a figure skater and a hockey player who switch places for the summer! I knew I was in for a very fun read. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. I feel like ice sports rarely show up in young adult books, which is sad. I’m not a hockey fan by any means, but I love figure skating. I even took lessons when I was little! I loved reading all about figure skating, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I was even interested in hockey! Lauren did a great job bringing both sports to life for me.

2. I was very attracted to the Parent Trap-esque storyline. Sloane and Sloane bump into each other randomly and, each having their own baggage, decide it would be really nice to escape from their lives and try something new. The girls learn to be each other over a bunch of really expensive junk food one night, and then head off to each other’s summer camps. Sloane Emily, a figure skater, gets to try her hand at hockey while Sloane Devon learns how to fly through the air in a tiny, sparkly spandex leotard. I loved this unique idea, and smiled when The Parent Trap reference showed up in the story itself. I love that movie!

3. It was difficult at times to keep the Sloanes straight in my head, so I feel like I did not connect with either one of them as much as I could have. Sloane is already a pretty rare name, so to have two of them in the same book really messed with my mind! I eventually got used to it and was able to keep them somewhat straight by their middle names. To me, Emily is a more girly name… so Sloane Emily is the figure skater. BUT she’s playing hockey right now. Whoa. Devon seems more tomboyish to me, so Sloane Devon is the hockey player… but OH, she’s figure skating right now. See? It’s a bit confusing. You can’t read this when you’re sleepy or sick like I was when I read it!

4. Confusion aside, I really enjoyed reading about everything the Sloanes went through in their new lives. They were always exhausted, trying to learn their sport well enough to convince their peers that they were good at it already. Both girls went into things thinking they were going to be living an easier life than the one before. I like that they each got a dose of humble pie, and had to learn that they are not all that. I loved that they began to give each other (and their sport) more credit.

5. You have to suspend belief in order to enjoy this story. I seriously think that this could never happen. These Sloanes are not twins, and only kind of look alike. Why would people not recognize immediately that they were not who they said they were? Furthermore, both girls were considered to be very good at their prospective sports. Their reputations are well known. How can they switch lives and be convincing enough that nobody wonders what’s going on? Really, you have to just go with the flow and not question things.

6. I was hoping for a little romance in the beginning, but ended up enjoying the focus on the girls and their lives and how they get through their challenges. They both grew a lot through their experiences over the summer, and they do get a little romancy stuff going on, too.

7. The supporting characters added a lot to the story. I liked both love interests, Matt and Nando. My favorite character in the whole book, though, had to be Sloane Devon’s confidant and sassy figure skating guru, Alex (I think?). He was hilarious, and I loved his friendship with Sloane. I would love it if he got his own book.

Overall, Being Sloane Jacobs is a cute, shallow story.  I like Meant to Be much better, but am very glad I had the opportunity to read Lauren’s sophomore novel. I loved the skating bits, and I really enjoyed watching the Sloanes grow and work through their challenges.

4 Stars

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Book Review)

Posted May 22, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 15 Comments

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (Book Review)Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on November 13, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It's one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she's queen of following rules and being prepared. That's why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that's also why she's chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB ("meant to be").

But this spring break, Julia's rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she's partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

First of all, look at that cover! I love it, and it’s actually what prompted me to investigate the book. Then I read the synopsis, and I was sold all over again! A heroine who sounds quirky like me, London, breaking rules, and mysterious suitors? Yessssssss! I’m only sorry it took me so long to read it. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. Lauren Morrill paints an absolutely lovely picture of London for us. I’ve never been, but I could still picture the quaint streets and the exciting buzz of such an amazing city.

2. I always wanted to go on a class trip to a far off place and make amazing memories with my friends, fall in love, and look back on it fondly forever. This book was my class trip. Well, it’s as close as I can get to one now. I felt like I was there, wandering the museums, running in the rain, and soaking in an old fashioned bath tub after a long day of walking.

3. Book Licker. Oh my. This is Julia’s nickname (given to her by Jason), and I just adore her for her bookishness, her nerdiness, her obsessive compulsiveness, and her hilarious personality. She’s always reading, spouting off random factoids about everything, tripping over her words, following the rules to a tee, struggling to be perfect at everything, and failing at flirting. And she is deathly afraid of geese. I identified so much with her… and I’m not sure what that says about me! Haha.

4. And then we have Jason, her partner (buddy) on this class trip. He is her polar opposite, her arch nemesis, and the thorn in her side. But he’s funny and suave and cute, and he’s getting her to do all these new things and experience London in a way that she never predicted. And he can be so sweet and concerned sometimes. And boy, does he pick on her! I loved watching him burrow his way into the little soft spot she formed for him.

5. Meant to Be is charmingly hilarious. Jason gets drunk, and I could not contain my laughter during this scene. And remember when I said Julia is scared of geese? You have NO idea. And then there’s a street performer… and a pond incident, not to mention the witty dialogue.

6. It’s SO romantic. There’s mud kissing, sightseeing off the beaten path, deep conversations, and a slow burn. I love this kind of romance. It’s a 180 from insta-love. It’s so realistic and believable.

7. Even though these are high-schoolers, I never felt like they were! Julia and Jason are so mature, smart, and well-spoken. They make some very teen-like decisions, but their outlook on the world, and their insights on those decisions make them relatable. Honestly, these two are any age you want them to be. I loved that this is a YA book that adults and kids can enjoy and pull different things from. I just know I will be reading this with my future daughter someday.

8. I loved the smattering of Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Winston Churchill quotes. They just added a little something special!

9. The ending was really something special, and I could not have seen that coming. This is definitely not a predictable book.

I think I might have found my new favorite YA contemporary romance, and that’s really saying something! I love Julia and Jason, and am quite sad that my time with them is over. I’m also sad I had to leave London and fly back to the USA with them. Meant to Be is such a fun journey, and I loved every single word. Finally, I love that the cover matches the content! Both are absolutely beautiful. If you loved Anna and the French Kiss, Just One Day, and Instructions for a Broken Heart, you will love this! And if you’ve never read any of these, you’ll still love it. It’s full of heart, travel, young love, and humor.

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson (Mini Book Review)

Posted July 17, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 9 Comments

Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson (Mini Book Review)Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson
Series: Flirting in Italian #1
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on June 12, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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0 Stars

Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!

Ok, guys… This just might be the biggest disappointment of the summer. I was SO excited when I found out about this book, and even more excited when I found out I was approved for it on Netgalley. Seriously. I was in a local creperie, and I might have made a smallish scene when I checked my e-mail and saw that I could download it. At that time, I was about to leave for Italy myself, and I love themed reads! I never got around to it while on my trip, though, but I still thought it would be fun to read it as I reminisced.

The summary on the back of the book tells very little about what happens in the story. Violet is our main girl, and she finds out about a centuries old painting that looks just like her. It’s in Italy, so she figures out a way to get herself there as part of a program that is basically finishing school for Italian girls. Her neurotic, overbearing, and borderline insane mother about has a flip-out session, but lets her go. She gets to spend the summer at a house in Tuscany with 3 really stuck up girls (another English person, and two Americans) and some rude Italian girls… and gets in too deep with a playboy, all while searching to find out whether or not she was adopted, and who this doppelganger was.

So… within the first 50 pages of the book, I almost gave up. I love art history so much, so I was really excited with the mystery posed at the beginning of the book, about the heroine’s doppelganger in a centuries old painting. And I love Italy, and was enjoying reading all about the scenery, and the Tuscan countryside. I’ve been to Pisa, so I know what it looks like in that area. It was fun to reminisce. And then the girls showed up. First off, the American girls are made out to be materialistic valley girls, and I was embarrassed. They act so dumb, snobby, rich, and entitled. I hope the author does not believe we’re really like that.

And then the high school mentality set in. These four girls are terrible (well, one of them was not so bad, but it was only because she was so insecure that she couldn’t be cocky)! They constantly think about how someone is fat, or that shade of green makes her skin look putrid, or “thank goodness I have been self tanning for a while”, or how the blonde has nothing between her ears, etc. The bullying and rude thoughts are so annoying! And Violet, our main character is exactly the person who made my life miserable in school. She’s rude, cocky, gossipy, and downright mean! I mean, come ON. I thought we were supposed to like the main character. Why should we stick with the book if we don’t? I had no interest in reading such rude thoughts and mindless gossip and backbiting. The mystery at the beginning of the book fades away, and it turns into one big mess of rude, unintelligent girls partying and hanging out with the guys you’re, as a general rule of thumb, supposed to avoid. The main love interest, Luca, looks down his nose at Violet, and comes off as being a bit of a lunatic. Violet realizes this, but goes back and forth from loving him and hating him. It was just weird. There’s no real character development, and I cared about nobody.

The book is all partying. It’s like spring break in Cancun in book form. Violet’s mission to go to Italy to find out about herself is completely forgotten. Towards the end of the book, another mystery (which ends up being very unrealistic) surfaces, but honestly, it’s too little too late. The book was already unsalvageable at that point, so trying to make up for that by adding in a mystery that is seriously hard to believe, does more harm than good.

AND… there’s a companion novel. So… crud! Haha. The ending was just a mess! I suffered through it only to be told that I have to read another book if I want to know what happens. I put the book down wondering why I wasted the time on it, and I have no interest to read the next book.

I loved the idea. LOVED it. And I know that it could have been done so much better. I’m so disappointed in it! I’d heard it was in the vein of Anna in the French Kiss. Heck. No. To be honest, I feel a little deceived with that marketing statement. I’m going to tell you right now to not bother with this one. There are many better choices out there.

0 Stars

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Book Review)

Posted February 24, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult Fiction / 12 Comments

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Book Review)Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 13, 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 338
Source: Publisher (Netgalley)
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5 Stars

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

I love traveling. When I read the blurb for this book on Netgalley, I was sold before I even finished! This book changed my outlook on life. I feel like there was a little bit of me laced within the text. I felt like I was discovering the same things about myself as Bria did–like she was living the story I was supposed to be living. I’m kind of jealous she got to go on the trip, and I just read about it! There is not one thing about this book that I didn’t adore, so let’s begin the fangirl review right here. This is going to be really hard! I always have a really hard time writing a review for a book I love, so we’ll see how this goes!

1. Bria did something I would LOVE to do. She just picked up and went on this crazy adventure through Central America. Along the way, she learned so much about herself and gained a lot of life experience. Plus, she saw amazing places, experienced new things, met cool people, and fell in love. I envy her tenacity, and the fact that she had the guts to fly off on her own like that!

2. This book is artsy! Bria is an artist, and a traveler. Do you know who Bria really is? Bria is ME! Her love of art shone through everything she did, and everything she said. I totally identified with her for these reasons. Kirsten Hubbard is also artsy, thus one of the reasons I love her! She illustrated parts of this book with amazing little pictures! They added so much to the story. I’m totally buying a finished copy of this when it comes out. How can I not support a fellow artist? I can’t wait to see what this looks like when it’s all put together (and not on a Kindle screen).

3. Part of this book takes place in Belize! I love Belize! I was there two summers ago, and it was pretty amazing. It was extremely hot and humid and I was drenched and exhausted, but I loved it! Funny side story: I was held at gunpoint in a tiny little tour boat in the middle of the ocean by several men in the Belizean Coast Guard. The driver of the boat was in some trouble, apparently, and tried to jump out. At one point the tour guide mumbled under her breath, “This is where they kill us.” I’m pretty sure I was not supposed to hear that. Luckily, things got ironed out and we were sent on our way. But OH MAN. What a story, huh? Haha.

4. I loved Rowan. He’s this reformed bad-boy with a travel bug who hops around from destination to destination teaching diving courses and backpacking to hole-in-the-wall hostels where everyone already knows him. He just sounds pretty darn amazing. He’s really mysterious and hardened, but a softy when his walls are torn down. And he’s bookish. Yes please! Some of the banter between him and Bria was hilarious, and the tension between those two had me itching to read more and more about them.

5. The scenery. OH MAN. You can tell Kirsten Hubbard is a travel writer, because the scenery she wrote about was so perfectly described that I could feel the hot sun bearing down on me, the sand between my toes, and the humidity trying to suffocate me. The rainforests and waterfalls and mangroves and Mayan ruins and scenic lakes… I was totally there. This book felt so authentic and realistic. I do think it’s the most well done of all the books I’ve read with a travel element. I could not get enough of these descriptions, and I REALLY hope that Kirsten writes another travel book soon.

6. I loved the slow burn we experience with Bria and Rowan. There is no insta-love here, thank goodness. They start out tolerating one another and gradually move towards a friendship that you can tell is totally going places. It was so sweet and wonderful to read about. They fit so well together, but it takes them a while to fix themselves enough to notice. I loved seeing how they worked through their own problems, and helped each other when they could. They encouraged the best out of each other, which I loved. They were better together than they were apart.

7. Finally, this book brings good things out in me. I’ve got all these amazing goals now, to travel more, to practice my art more, to be spontaneous, to let my hair down and not worry what other people think, to look to the future, to develop other talents, to conquer fears, and to enjoy my life more.

I loved this book. I can’t say enough good things about it, and I feel like my review is extremely inadequate. This is the kind of book that everyone should read. It’s the kind of book that encourages you to take the bull by the horns and go with it. I just felt so refreshed by the end, like I had been the one to go on a whirlwind trip that changed my life. To me, books have always been an escape and this one did the best job at taking me somewhere. I would recommend this to anyone, but read with caution! You’ll end up catching Wanderlove, which I hear takes a whole lot of adventure and self-discovery to find the cure for.

5 Stars