Posted in New Adult

Bully (#1) – Penelope Douglas

18090508Synopsis

My name is Tate. He doesn’t call me that, though. He would never refer to me so informally, if he referred to me at all.

We’re neighbors, and once, we were best friends. But then, one summer, he turned on me and has made it his mission to screw up my life at every opportunity. I’ve been humiliated, shut out, and gossiped about all through high school. His pranks and rumors got more sadistic as time wore on, and I made myself sick trying to hide from him. I worried about what was around every corner and behind every door.

So I left.

I spent a year studying abroad and bathed in the freedom of life without Jared. Now I’m back to finish up high school and get the hell out of here forever. I’m hoping that after a year of breathing room, he’s moved on and forgotten all about me.

But even if he hasn’t changed, I have. I’m not interested in avoiding him or turning the other cheek anymore. We’re going to go head to head, because neither of us wants to back down

3.5 / 4 out of 5

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My Review

I’m a sucker for hate-to-love stories, childhood sweethearts and characters redeeming themselves throughout the book and this is all entwined within Bully. I am on a reading spree with authors who are attending the Edinburgh Book Event and have had Bully on my kindle for a while now, so when I found out Penelope was attending, I quickly got to reading Bully and despite myself finding it a bit slow starting, I really got into it when Tate grew some balls and fought back against Jared.

Penelope has written a great debut. She made feels all sorts of feelings throughout the book. She made me hate Jared, made me feel many of the emotions that Tate went through, from the timidness of the bullying to getting back from Europe and fighting back. Every little feeling she has, I felt it and when you can connect like that, it makes me love your book a hell of a lot.

Despite not experiencing full-on bullying (no idea why as most gingers seem to get bullied eye roll), I have had snide comments aimed towards me and I know the feeling of asking myself why I’m being aimed and that is exactly what Tate asks herself. Many people will be able to relate to Tate’s character and I think that is what makes this book a bit more real in my eyes. Most people being bullied don’t retaliate, but I enjoyed it when Tate did. When she fought back and wouldn’t let Jared hurt her anymore. I felt proud of her for that.

They always say there is a fine line between love and hate and Tate and Jared simply exhume this. They have a shared history – they were childhood friends and despite the hatred that Jared has towards Tate, inside she still felt something for Jared and it was plan to see that Jared did too – when you kind of read between the lines from what he tells Tate and especially from Madoc when he tells Tate the rumours they spread – the ones she didn’t know about and the stupid reason he went along with Jared.

I felt that Tate was weak in the beginning. With the prologue we learn a little about her bullying and how she is basically the laughing stock of her school with being pranked and embarrassed almost daily by her old best friend Jared. We see her afriad of him, afraid of the unknown, afraid of what prank is next. I could totally understand her panic at seeing Jared and her panic of needing to get away from him.

But then she comes back a year later from Europe and its like shes a new person. The year has been good to her, she seems confident, different, happier yet you know inside, she is shitting herself at seeing Jared and the final year ahead of her. Will Jared leave her alone? Will he go back to tormenting her? After a talk with her best friend K.C, she decides to grow some balls and fight back if Jared does anything.

Although I felt Bully began a little slow, I carried through and felt the pace pick up in the second half. I liked the strength that Tate had –even if sometimes she was still feeling timid, she never showed it and always fought back against Jared. I liked that she manned up to not take his shit anymore and yes, sometimes the way she handled things weren’t at best but she did what she had to in certain circumstances and although my heart pounded in some scenes, I was like Tate, slowly coming to terms with not actually hating Jared, but liking him, learning to love him again.

Jared was a complete dick. Not just a dick but a massive douchebag motherfucker for the things he did to Tate, the things he put her through. But, god help me, I learned to love him too. I could see underneath all that anger and hate there was still the young boy who loved his best friend, who still wanted her in his life, hence why he made hers miserable It was like he couldn’t let her go, and so instead of having her be his best friend, he needed to act like a royal bully towards her. We know he changed ever since that one summer and we do found out what happened…in bits. I still couldn’t understand his need to hurt Tate after that summer, but then I could see why he felt he needed to hurt her….

We do see Jared grow up. We see him conflicted over Tate, over his love/hate for her but when he gets his shit together, you do really like him. You like how he has loved Tate since forever and how he needs her. To him, she has always been his, even if he’s had a funny way of showing it and yes, it may seem a bit weird that he bullied her and now they are together but they just fit. You’ll understand when you read it.

The little things Jared does to Tate made me swoon. His way with words, the way he shred his soul to her, how he told her about his summer three years ago, to his pain, but he had one constant thing in his life – Tate. If not the way he wanted her, she was still there. I adored these two together, through the bullying, the fighting back to the change of events when actually yes, there is still that chemistry, that bond between them and thank god Tate did something to change it. That one part not only tore Jared apart, but me too and I’m glad it was kind of the changing dynamic in their relationship to where they are now!

I cannot wait to read Madoc’s book because he is a bloody hoot and I cannot wait to see more of Tate and Jared’s relationship too!

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Posted in Music, Romance

Sound Bites: A Rock & Roll Love Story – Rachel K. Burke

13452847Synopsis

Renee Evans has a knack for trouble. After walking in on her best friend and boyfriend in bed together, twenty-five year-old Renee flees sunny Los Angeles and her dream job as a music journalist and returns to her hometown of Boston – only to meet Dylan Cavallari, the mysterious, aspiring musician who lives in her apartment building. Dylan’s piercing gaze and womanizing demeanor make him exactly the type of guy that Renee should steer clear of – which is most likely the reason she falls for him. But when Renee’s troublesome ex comes back and threatens to drive her and Dylan apart, Renee is forced to face her past and save her relationship with Dylan before it’s too late.

Sound Bites dramatizes what happens when Renee finds herself caught between a painful past and an uncertain future. Happiness turns out to be within her grasp, but it all depends on whether she can trust herself enough to make the right decisions. Sound Bites is a novel about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness, and the power of music to help you find your way

4 / 5 Stars

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My Review

*I’d like to thank Rachel K. Burke for sending me a review copy in return for an honest opinion*

After walking in on her best friend and boyfriend betraying her, Renee Evans flees LA and her dream job as a music journalist and returns back home to Boston.

Upon her return home and moving into her new flat, she meets her neighbour Dylan Cavallari. Dylan is mysterious, he’s gorgeous and an aspiring musician who lives in the flat above Renee. To Renee he is the typical womanizer and someone who she shouldn’t get involved with but she can’t help it. Despite a misunderstanding when they first meet, Renee and Dylan become friends fast, and over due course, they fall for each other.

But when all seems great for the pair, Renee’s ex comes back; begging for her back and his appearance threatens to drive her and Dylan apart. Can they figure it out or is it too late for them? In order to move on, Renee must face her past to save her relationship with Dylan.

Rachel K. Burke emailed me asking me if I would like a review copy of Sound Bites and after reading the synopsis, I emailed back, jumping at the chance. It sounded like a great book and one that I especially love reading. Hot musicians? Oh hells yes, give me some of that.

Ms. Burke’s writing style made the book flow from scene to scene. It was hard to put it down once I started, engrossed with every scene and every word on the page. She makes you care for the characters as they develop throughout the book, watching them grow up, go through their own problems and insecurities and watching them all care for one another throughout the different scenes that occurred.

As you all should know by now, my emotions tend to range when reading great books. It’s much the same with this one, I was smiling, frustration, panicky, laughing but I didn’t kindle throw as I was reading on my phone. I might have thrown my phone down though haha and shook my head over what was happening but that’s the sign that a book gets to me!

To briefly outline the book, 24 year old Renee went to LA with her best friend for college, but after walking in on her best friend Justine and her boyfriend, David getting down and dirty, she leaves sunny LA and heads back home to Boston to escape the pain of what she just saw.

Moving into a small building complex, one day she crashes into a hottie, quite literally crashes as she reverses into his car. Hes a bit of a douche with an attitude but she gets over it as she knows she probably won’t see him again. Oh uh, she does. Apparently he lives in the building complex.

As a diehard music fan, one night she hears someone playing an acoustic version of her favourite Jeff Buckley song so she goes out to investigate who the culprit is. What she doesn’t count on is the guy behind the door being the douche from outside.

Over time, the two of them become friends over their shared interest in music. Despite Dylan being confident and cocky, he sure is shy and nervous to play his music in front of people, preferring to confine his talent to his flat. But Renee knows awesomeness when she hears it and so she tries to persuade Dylan to join her friend’s band and after weeks of rehearsals, Dylan pushes through his nervousness and performs…in front of people…for the first time. This makes Renee so proud of him and her feelings for him become even stronger.

Throughout the weeks between hanging out and Dylan gigging, a big gig in New York arrives and Dylan asks Renee to go with him. Sharing a room, Renee tries to gauge a reaction from Dylan but nothing is working. She doesn’t know his feelings until she meets a guy and spends the night talking to him, which pisses Dylan off whom in turns storms off. When returning to the hotel, Dylan spills his guts about wanting to be with Renee, whom reciprocates the feelings, and they end up together.

Spending the days and nights together, their little love nest progresses to love and they decided to rent a house and have put a deposit down when Renee’s lease on her apartment is up but one night screws up everything they had going and their relationship is broken. It’s now up to Renee to face her past and look into her future before even attempting to try and win back Dylan’s heart. Can she do this or is it too late for them?

I think at some point in our life we can all relate to Renee’s character. She’s been heartbroken, had to give up her dream job, had to move back to her home town and then end up in a job she doesn’t want to be in. Renee could be deemed as stuck-up, strong, a music whore and although she was heartbroken, she just got up and dealt with it which takes courage to not let it stew in your mind. Despite her hot-headedness, she was a great character apart from when she began to get insecurities about her relationship with Dylan. I felt so sad for her to go from this strong woman to this woman who was questioning everything.

Dylan even picked up on that, and it tore me about how she was feeling as he did nothing to make her feel this way. But I suppose there is a point in ones relationship where it all gets to you and the love you feel for that person is so consuming that you wonder if it’s just you? Even though it’s obvious they love you too.

She could be immature and childish in parts and I got frustrated but then I thought about it and to be completely honest with you, I would be acting this way too if it was me. I got frustrated because she was pushing Dylan too far but in the end, I reckon that would be me too. Pushing him to succeed in something that he obviously loves and pushing him to get over his fear and become something amazing. She does grow up, she faces so much in this book from finding love to finding forgiveness and its all thanks to the power of music.

When we are first introduced to Dylan, he is a bit of a douche – but to be fair to him, you would be giving attitude if someone reversed into your van. But there is something about Dylan that you just cant help but love. It’s the mystery about him, the way he loves music (much like Renee) but doesn’t show anyone due to his intense bout of stage fright. He is confidence and cocky and attidtudy in his ‘real life’ but throw him on stage in front of people and make him sing? No way, he would pass out before he played the first chord.

I loved his growth of confidence throughout the book. Thanks to a massive push from Renee, he grow as a character comfortable enough to stand on stage and sing; relish in the audiences reaction to his songs and voice. I was so proud of him for building up the courage to do this as I knew that it took a lot for him to broadcast his talent. He finally got over his stage fright and began to love singing to the audiences, even if he still was petrified each time the crowd got bigger, he carried on. I think Renee was his rock, that he kind of needed her there at the beginning to push him into singing and calm him down, make him know she was proud of him.

Despite the mystery, we get to see a loveable side to Dylan, a side which is cute and sweet. You really do see the connection between the two of them and you can see just how much they love each other. When Renee suggests going back to her own flat to sleep, Dylan is having none of it and after Renee hints at moving in together, Dylan asks her and its all flowers and hearts for them. The perfect couple. I loved this side of Dylan. The confident, in love guy who would do anything for Renee.

When the shit hits the fan and there is a massive misunderstanding, we never really see Dylan’s side but we know he is hurting. He’s been betrayed – or so he thinks – by the one person he loved and trusted the most and he doesn’t know what to do. Music is now his therapy while he heals.

Music is basically what brings Renee and Dylan and will it bring them back together? You will have to wait and see what happens. Renee needs to forgive before getting to her present and when a surprise happens, she now needs to see Dylan and let him know exactly what is going on.

I reallllly loved the ending; it was a great way to end Sound Bites. You see both characters grow-up and go through a journey, together and alone. You see the characters forgive, characters love, characters bond, and characters get their happily ever after.

My favourite scene has to be when they tell each other their feelings. I’m a sucker for a sappy love spillage and you could see just how much Dylan was hurting over Renee going out with that guy after his show. You could see that he felt the same way and it hurt him to think of Renee with anyone other than him. The way he acted just tore my heart open and it was so great to see him – someone who is closed up – express himself and tell her his feelings. I loved it!

All in all thank you for sending me your book Rachel, I really enjoyed every second of it and hello Dylan, you can be a new book boyfriend for me. Everyone grab your copy of Sound Bites and be like me in turning the pages at lightning speed because you cannot put it down!