July Recap

Hello!

Uneventful July over here at Joyousreads. Even the book reviewing seemed to have taken a lull. I’ve been on vacation for a couple of weeks and I thought for sure I’d be able to catch up on reading but sadly, it’s not working out. Being in the cabin should’ve been conducive to reading but apparently, the fresh air and the quietness of the surroundings just makes me want to nap, nap, nap. Lol. I did bring a whole slew of books to read and had planned on finishing one a day but the kiddies and the husband has other plans as they drag me outside to walk and enjoy nature [scoffs].
Anyway here are the books that were reviewed on the blog for the month of July:
  1. Giving Chase [Chase Brothers #1] by Lauren Dane
  2. So Close to You by Rachel Carter
  3. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
  4. Tess of D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  5. Fan Girl by Angel Lawson (Review to Come)
  6. Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie (Review to be posted in September)
  7. Here by Denise Grover Swank
  8. Taking Chase [Chase Brothers #2] by Lauren Dane
  9. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
  10. Heaven and Hell by Kristen Ashley
  11. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins
  12. Morningstar by Darcy Town
  13. Try Me by Olivia Cunning (Brief review on Goodreads)
  14. Infamous [Chronicles of Nick #3] by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  15. On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves
  16. What Happens After Dark [DeKnight #2] by Jasmine Haynes
  17. The Prinicipal’s Office [DeKnight #3] by Jasmine Haynes
  18. The Syndicate by Shelena Shorts
  19. Breathe by Kristen Ashley (Review to be posted in August)
Links are available in my 2012 Reviewed Page.
Average Rating for July: 3.63 out of 5 
Recommended Reads from July: On the Island by Tracy Garvis Graves and DeKnight series by Jasmine Haynes.

Looking ahead in August, the blog anniversary is coming up in FIVE freaking days! I’m kind of going nuts because I still haven’t figured out what to do. I waffled between going all out to NOT doing anything at all, that’s how extreme I’ve been feeling about this anniversary. Lol!
Anyway, thanks for sticking around. I love you all. 

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The Principal’s Office [DeKnight #3] by Jasmine Haynes

Publication Date: February 7th, 2012
HEAT
Format: Paperback, 308 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
Rachel Delaney, a divorced mother with two boys, isn’t complaining. Her life is fine. Really. There is one thing that could make it better, though: a strong, warm male body to help her make it through the occasional lonely night. No strings, and no relationship, thanks. Just a little fun with a perfect stranger. And there’s no more perfect stranger than Rand.
He’s tall, blond, unattached, smokin’ hot, and looking for the same thing Rachel is: wild, abandoned sex with no limits, no last names, and no complications – until Rachel’s eldest son gets in trouble in class.
Only then does Rachel discover that her down-and-dirty, dangerously sexy mystery lover is also the new school principal. They’re not exactly the ideal role models for a troubled student acting out his own frustrations. With Rachel’s life turned upside down, Rand is the only one who can make it right – by taking their hot-bodied hookups in a warm new direction…

This is book number three of a series I’ve not heard of. I don’t know about you but I love reading random serial books that enables me to follow the story without ever having read the rest of the series. In all honesty, after reading this one, I’m dying to read the rest of the series and probably even more from this author. Her books are steamy, to say the least. But in The Principal’s Office’s case, I also found some substance in it.

This follows the story of Rachel, newly-divorced and looking for some much-needed stress outlet. Colour her happy when she meets a tall, handsome, sexy Viking in Rand. But she’s also not looking for a relationship; the woman just wants someone to show her a good time. Lucky for her, Rand is game to do her bidding. Everything was hunky-dory right up until the part when she gets called in the principal’s office of her eldest son. It turns out that the man who tutors her on the wicked sins of the flesh is the same person who seems to have it out for her son.

Oh boy. If you’re not ready to indulge in some unbridled, unadulterated erotica read, this book may not be for you. I, on the other hand, embraced Ms. Haynes wicked tales of consenting adults discovering the joys of forbidden lust.

I did mention some substance, didn’t I? Well, don’t fret. This book is not all about sex. The story also shows how Rand helped Rachel find her place in her sons’ lives and how to fight for the things she cares about. I love the give-and-take relationship between these two; it’s quite refreshing to read a romance where the man isn’t bulldozing his way into his woman’s life. The best thing about this book (besides the copious amounts of smexy times), is the much-needed lesson Rand taught Rachel’s son. It was a touching story about standing up to bullies and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. This was also a lesson that Rachel learned while standing up to her ex.

Though the book’s cover will deceive you into believing that this is just another Dom/sub play which involves the principal and the unsuspecting single mom, it was way more than that. And this is why I thoroughly enjoyed this book; the author simply didn’t write erotica, she wrote about self-discovery and  showing courage when it counts.

VERDICT: A hot and steamy read with valuable life lessons to boot. Jasmine Haynes gave dimensions to characters when some erotica authors would not. I believe this is the beginning of yet another addiction. 🙂

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Infamous (The Chronicles of Nick 3) by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publication Date: March 13th, 2012
St. Martin’s Griffin
Format: Hardcover, 480 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
Go to school. Get good grades. Stay out of trouble. That’s the mandate for most kids. But Nick Gautier isn’t the average teenager. He’s a boy with a destiny not even he fully understands. And his first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him.
He’s learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive and keep a girlfriend so dang hard? But that isn’t the primary skill he has to master. Survival is.
And in order to survive, his next lesson makes all the others pale in comparison. He is on the brink of becoming either the greatest hero mankind has ever known, or he’ll be the one who ends the world. With enemies new and old gathering forces, he will have to call on every part of himself to fight or he’ll lose everyone he cares about. Even himself.

I think I finally have a better understanding of what this series is all about. I also think that I’ve misjudged just how far I needed to get into Sherrilyn Kenyon’s PNR series Dark Hunters in order to fully appreciate this series. There are some characters that may or may not have been introduced that I’m not familiar with and situations that may have happened in that world that I’d have known if I’d read further into them. Regardless, I think that I have a better grasp of Nick’s world and have come to finally enjoy Kenyon’s YA offering.

*May contain spoilers*


At the end of Invincible, the cliff hanger was that Nick finally figured out who ‘Uncle’ Ambrosius truly was; and I’m not going to lie, up until the beginning of Infamous, I was convinced that he was legit. I did have an inkling at some point and I think may have tweeted this very question: “Is Ambrosius and Nick one in the same?” But then again, I also thought that Ambrosius was Adarian’s brother and that he  harboured feelings toward Cherise, Nick’s mother. Well, colour me disturbed when I found out the real truth.

The future Nick is trying to prevent whatever disaster he’d caused by changing the past; and I think this is where reading further into the DH series would’ve been essential. I have no idea how far back I needed to get into those books to find out what happened. On the last book that I’ve read, I know that Nick was set on destroying Acheron but I’m not going to spill why. I wondered if the next few books after that revealed if Nick was able to do just that.

Anyway, like I’ve mentioned previously, I have a brand new appreciation for this series. Other than the fact that I should really read more into the DH series, I felt that this book has a better direction than the previous two books. However, I still didn’t get the whole nasty online rumour mill that was the subplot in here. It seems that Ms. Kenyon was trying her best to insinuate some situations that would be worth the YA stamp on this series and in my opinion, this series could do without them. The demon that have possessed one of the students to start this on-line gossip mongering wasn’t really necessary and to me, truthfully unnecessary.

I’m very interested to find out how Adarian and Cherise got together. This sum of all evil incarnate seemed to have a good side in him that he’s hiding but his need to kill his heir (Nick) was so severe that he couldn’t get past it.

VERDICT: Over all, I have enjoyed this book the most. Although there were some instances when there’s not a seamless transition between Nick’s dreams and reality and therefore confusing, Sherrilyn Kenyon was very adept in distracting you from that fact.

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In My Mailbox #38

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Sirenwhich showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the 38th episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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Net Galley.

 At Last by Jill Shalvis
Forever and a Day by Jill Shalvis
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Thanks to Net Galley, Grand Central Publishing and Harlequin Teen for these ARCs! I un-banned myself from Net Galley because we all know I have no self control to speak of whatsoever. I’ve read these books and have written reviews for them as well. I’ve been studiously writing reviews soon after reading because I find that this method works really well for me. 
Bargain Books!


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
Take Me There by Susan Colasanti
The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
The Twelve by William Gladstone
Non-YA.


Into the Dreaming by Karen Marie Moning
Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb
Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
Snow White and the Huntsman by Lily Blake (I think,)
Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller (This book will be featured on next week’s Throwback Thursday)
The Rest.


A Long Way From You by Gwendolyn Heasley
Dead Reckoning by M Lackey & R Edghill
Blood Moon by Alyxandra Harvey
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead
Transcendence by CJ Omololu
Serpent’s Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
Rapture by Lauren Kate
Trafficked by Kim Purcell
Timepiece by Myra McEntire
Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

What’s in your mailbox?
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Winners Announcement

Good evening all!
I just want to announce the winners for the recent giveaways on the blog.
WINNER: Tal Rejwan (City of Lost Souls)

WINNER: Tiffany Mahaffy (Unraveling)

WINNER: Elanor Lawrence (Fear)

WINNER: Farrah Hanani (Wanted)


WINNER: Tiffany Mahaffy (Whisper)

Everyone has been notified and have responded to my emails. And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Tiffany really did win twice this month. Lucky girl!
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Hot Off the Press!

New releases this week! 
June 12th, 2012 

 Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown
Crazy by Amy Reed
Serpent’s Kiss by Melissa de la Cruz

 Timepiece by Myra McEntire
Laugh with the Moon by Shana Burg
Flirting in Italian by Lauren Henderson

 Rapture by Lauren Kate
Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt
Awry by Chelsea Fine

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
June 14th, 2012
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS. Want. Need. Must have. NOW. 

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In My Mailbox #37

 
In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Sirenwhich showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the 37th episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.
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Hello!

A very wet afternoon over where I am. Best time to read, cuddle and waste the afternoon away! 🙂

Anyway, I didn’t find any good bargains this week but my book haul is still fab, if I may so myself. 🙂 A couple of books that I’m absolutely looking forward to reading are: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Slated by Teri Terry. The first one has been garnering some fantastic reviews and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m going with the flow on this one. I’m not a book snob; so if the book is popular, there’s probably a reason why. But I’ve also been burned by popular books before so I hope this one keeps up to the hype. 
For some odd reason, I got two copies of Slated by Teri Terry. I haven’t checked my order yet whether or not I accidentally ordered two or TBD sent the second one by mistake. I’ve been looking forward to reading this one so I hope it will not disappoint as well. 
The rest of my books this week:
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
Devine Intervention by Martha Brockenbrough
Grimm by Anna Waggener
Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
The Haunting of Thabitha Grey by Vanessa Curtis
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
Slated by Teri Terry
Glamorous Illusion by Lisa T. Bergren
The Break by Nelsa Roberto
Keep Holding On by Susan Colasanti
A Midsummer’s Nightmare by Kody Keplinger
Blazing the Trail by Deborah Cooke
Surrender by Elana Johnson
Miracle by Elizabeth Scott
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Tempest Unleashed by Tracy Deebs
Mirage by Kristi Cook
All These Lives by Sarah Wylie
Shadows Cast by Stars by Catherine Knutsson
Arise by Tara Hudson

KINDLE

The Sweetest Thing by Jill Shalvis
Simply Irrisistible by Jill Shalvis
Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis
What’s in your mailbox?


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In My Mailbox #36

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Sirenwhich showcases the books we’ve purchased, borrowed and received in the mail this week. This is the 36th episode of HOARDERS, Books Edition.

I won a finished copy of Changeling by Philippa Gregory from Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I’ve read an ARC of this book and was absolutely taken by Ms. Gregory’s writing. I was a fan to begin with anyway; but the fact that it’s YA was a bonus. 🙂
Me and my bargain hunts!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Blood Promise by Richelle Mead
(Great addition to my shelves since my first copies of these books are paperback.)


Indie Love!
Open Heart by Emlyn Chand
What a Boy Wants by Nyrae Dawn
(More Indie love on my Kindle!)
Bought some age-appropriate books this week. Lol! 
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Juliet by Anne Fortier
One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
The rest of my madness. Please remember that I didn’t post my IMM last week, hence the incredible amount of books this week. But then again, none of my hauls have always been…er, normal so I guess it doesn’t matter. :/
First Comes Love by Kate Kacvinsky (Absolutely loved this book!)
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Taken by Storm (Raised by Wolves #3) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Fated by Alyson Noël
Eve of Destruction (Dark Eden #2) by Patrick Carman
Betrayed by Ednah Walters
Lost Code by Kevin Emerson
The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Córdova
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
Dreamless by Josephine Angelini
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore
Dark Kiss by Michelle Rowen
Skin Deep by Lara Jarratt
A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont
Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard
Life: An Exploded Diagram by Mal Peet
Fury (Mercy #4) by Rebecca Lim
Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Shift by Em Bailey
No Safety in Numbers by Dayna Lorentz

KINDLE!

Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas (Travises #1)
Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas (Travises #2)
Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (Travises #3)
Atticus for the Undead by John Abramowitz
The Boy Who Sneaks in My Bedroom Window by Kirsty Moseley
Her Forbidden Hero by Laura Kaye

Forever Freed by Laura Kaye
Grasping at Eternity by Karen Amanda Hooper
What’s in your mailbox?


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Review and G!veway: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Publication Date: April 24th, 2012
Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover, 445 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

GOODREADS SUMMARY

Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, Janelle knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her reincarnation, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI-agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the one boy she never saw coming.

The heroine got hit by a truck and died within the first two pages of the book.
Seriously.
Then in a span of approximately two minutes, she woke up staring up at the eyes of the school’s resident stoner.
At this point, I was the figurative fish; hook imbedded deep inside my cheek, and hopelessly flailing at the end of the reel.
I can cite two complaints among the number of gratuitous gushing I have done over this book:
One, the author was relentless in jacking your emotions.  She never once let up; not even to recover. As if the thought of the end of the world wasn’t enough to put the fear of God in the character’s eyes, she also tortured the heroine with other rather, emotionally scarring events in her personal life. And as much as you want to cry with Janelle, Norris will not let you do that. Just when you thought that you can just sit back and contemplate about Janelle’s emotional upheavals, the author pulls her up by the hair on her head, slaps some sense into her and tells her to “suck it up, princess! You have a world to save.” I think this is also the reason why it’s taking me a while to post a review. I had a choice between a shot of tequila or just to step back – way back from the book.  Besides, this complaint may be a good thing to some readers but not to me. I needed time to process, decompress – before I tackle the next round of drama and angst. I’ll tell ya one thing, you’ll never be bored while you’re in the grips of this book.
Two, Nick (brief boyfriend) was a victim of being the unfortunate, irrelevant character (pet peeve of mine). I seriously haven’t a clue why he was there to begin with. Unless he’s got a bigger part in the remaining books of the series, Janelle’s relationship with Nick was the proverbial fat in need of trimming. The same goes with her poor mother. Or maybe it’s just me. I feel like her mother’s mental health was a ploy to add angst in an otherwise, already complicated family dynamics. Her father is a workaholic; living and breathing his FBI life. But he was doing his very best. He’s mostly absent but the little time he spent with his kids was precious, nonetheless. His partner, Struz acted as the big brother who, oddly enough, spent more time with Janelle and her brother than their father did.
There were a myriad of things that happened in the book but Norris managed to bind them all in one cohesive awesomeness. Her writing was clear and concise. I found her very descriptive without being wordy, and at 445 pages, being wordy just spells boredom and imminent flouncing. I’m glad she got her point across; otherwise, this book would at least be double its size.
The way she wrote of Janelle’s emotional state after a loved one’s death was consistent of how she handled her mother’s illness. At times, I found her cold and calculating but if you look at the other things that was going on her life, you’ll find that she’s very adept in compartmentalizing her emotions. She’s always got her head on and she never let anything get in the way of her priorities.
I love the suspenseful element of the barbequed humans and the mysterious countdown. I remember wracking my simple brain for how those two would be related and coming up empty. When I eventually found out toward the end, I wasn’t even close.
Ben, the love interest: This is where I’m supposed to gush and swoon, but I’m opting to skip this part. The impossible romance: Damn it. It hurts like a mofo.  You need to read this book; you need to immerse yourself in a world where parallel universes exist. You need to meet the secondary characters that made this book that much more compelling. You need to meet Ben; the angsty, rebellious, typical bad boy who’d loved Janelle since she was probably ten years old. You just need to read this book, period.
VERDICT: Unraveling did what science fiction had somewhat failed as far as capturing this reader’s interest. And though I’ve never been one to go out of my way to acquire books in this genre, the ones I have in my bookshelf seem characteristically lacking in emotional pull. Well, Unraveling is the exact opposite; it was bursting in human elements. Though I was a bit wary of the blurb “24 meets X-Files”, I can honestly say that all my hesitations were all for naught. This high octane novel exceeded all my expectations and then some. 2013 can’t come soon enough.
Who wants a copy of this awesome book? Say, I! Actually, don’t do that, just enter below. 🙂

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Review and G!veaway: Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe

Publication Date: May 1st, 2012
Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardback, 400 pages
RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars
GOODREADS SUMMARY
Sanctuary.

A one-word text message: That’s all Michal “Mike” Garcia needs to gather a crowd. Mike is a seventeen-year-old bookie, and Sanctuary is where she takes bets for anyone at Carson High with enough cash. Her only rule: Never participate, never place a bet for herself.

Then Josh Ellison moves to town. He pushes Mike to live her life, to feel a rush of something—play the game, he urgest, stop being a spectator.

So Mike breaks her one rule. She places a bet, feels the rush.

And loses.

In an act of desperation, she and Josh—who has a sordid past of his own—concoct a plan: The pair will steal from Carson City’s elite to pay back Mike’s debt. Then they’ll give the rest of their haul to those who need it most. How can burglary be wrong if they are making things right?

Wanted will thrust readers into the gritty underbelly of Carson City, where worth is determined by a score, power is derived from threat, and the greatest feat is surviving it all.

Bonnie and Clyde meets Robinhood – the premise couldn’t have sound any more interesting and unique as that. Come to think of it, there have been books written within the parameters of either work but never both. Such an ambitious undertaking, if I may say so myself.
Seventeen year-old Michal is a bookie who had never known what it’s like to live the life of a person of her occupation.  And although the temptation to gamble was severe, she’d never once given in…until Josh Ellison moved to town and dared her to step away from the sidelines. She’s always been careful – a bystander. But with Josh’s appearance in her life, she was suddenly craving for a thrilling life. She soon found the high of gambling addictive. But when she starts to lose, she felt little choice but to bet money she never had and on occasions, was never hers. As bad ideas go, Josh and Mike decided to steal to pay off her debts. It soon becomes a challenge, a mission. At first, the stealing was justified by giving them to those in need and stealing from the rich vindicated the act of thievery. Desperation sets in as authorities’ clue in on the Babylonia duo.  Mike makes the biggest gamble of her life in an attempt to right all the wrongs. One bad decision led to another and at the end of it all, she would come to a delayed conclusion that it was all worth it.
This was my first Heidi Ayarbe work and I have a hunch that it won’t be the last. I’ve read some of the blurbs for her books and they just give you a hint that the themes veer toward social consciousness. The same could be said for Wanted. It was so much more than just bored, rich kids gambling their money away. Here, the topic of social and racial divide between Mexican-Americans and Americans was highlighted by the lack of respect between the two. Like it or not and whether you agree or disagree, this issue is still relevant.
Wanted is also about a girl finding herself in a world where she felt she didn’t belong and where her existence wasn’t wanted. But if you’re anticipating a girl who’d cry a river about her shortcomings, and, or whine about her social inadequacies, Mike isn’t that girl. I thought that she was TOO accepting of her place in the world that when she was speaking about her failures, physical or otherwise, it felt too matter-of-fact. I have a lot of admiration for this girl; she commands attention with a single word; she’s strong when she wants to be and weak when she can’t help it. In other words, she’s pretty freaking normal.
The romance was subtle through practically the entirety of the novel. Finding her challenger in Josh, the boy showed her all the things she’s been missing while she was busy watching life pass her by. The subtlety however, added to the culminating build-up when these two finally happened. It was sad, unfair and ultimately just…tragic.
VERDICT: Powerful, heart-wrenching, eye-opening novel. Wanted goes to the very heart of a girl who would learn who she is through some questionable decisions she would make in life. The Bonnie and Clyde part gives you an inkling of how this book ends; the Robinhood, gives you some insight on what our two main characters are about. But this book turned out to be so much more. Heidi Ayarbe’s writing is very real and compelling. She stripped away all the high school drama and replaced it with a very mature reality. I can’t wait to read the rest of her work.

Psst! Want a copy of this fantastic book? Enter below. 

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