Author of the Month

Hey everyone! Welcome to another Author of the Month post! I’m so sorry I haven’t been around lately! I mentioned reasons why in my previous post and finally had a moment to post tonight! 

But for those that are new to my blog, Author of the Month is where I feature and Author and post some info and maybe a review if I haven’t done one already about a book of theirs I read. 

So for this Author of the Month I chose Janet B Taylor! Her newest book Sparks of Light just released on the 1st and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of it and I binge read both books one after the other and I’m officially obsessed. I loved her series so much! 

So her books Into the Dim and Sparks of Light are part of a trilogy or series I believe. Not sure which yet but I’m hoping for more books! I’ll leave the summary for the first book below: 

Into the Dim

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. 

Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.

My review for Into the Dim is here: Into the Dim Review


And here is the cover for th second book! And my review for it is here: Sparks of Light Review

I highly suggest checking out this book because this series is one of my favorites ever! I love it so much! So much history and action, and I just think it’s so amazing! 

If you’re a fan of Outlander I really think you’ll like this, but if you’re a fan of history as well, again you’ll love this! It’s perfect for many different interests!

Plus the romance is so cute. 

I’m living for it!

I’ll leave links for Janet’s pages below so you can follow her and be aware of future books by her! 

Website: Website

Twitter: Janet’s Twitter

Let me know in the comments below your thoughts and if you’ve read this series before as I would love to know! 

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Author of the Month/Paintbrush Review

Hey everyone it’s time for my Author of the Month post for my blog! I recently read Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin and I loved it so so much that I felt Hannah definitely was my author of the month!

This novel was her debut novel and I am so blown away and I honestly cannot wait for whatever else Hannah offers us in the book world! I’ll leave links to her website and Instagram here:

Website: Hannah Bucchin Website

Instagram: Hannah Bucchin Instagram

I honestly just suggest giving her book Paintbrush a try because you’ll definitely fall in love with it! I’m leaving my review for you all down below!

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Paintbrush by Hannah Bucchin

Publisher: Blaze Publishing LLC

Published: July 11, 2017

Rating: 5/5

Summary: Mitchell Morrison and Josie Sedgwick have spent their whole lives at the Indian Paintbrush Community Village, a commune full of colorful characters tucked in the mountains of North Carolina, and they aren’t particularly close–at least, not anymore. Josie wishes she could spend all of her time at Paintbrush planting tomatoes, hiking the trails, or throwing giant communal birthday parties, while Mitchell can’t wait to escape the bizarre spiritual sharing and noisy community dinners. Luckily for both of them, high school graduation is just around the corner.

But when Mitchell’s mother makes a scandalous announcement that rocks the close-knit Paintbrush community, and Josie’s younger sister starts to make some dangerously bad decisions, the two find themselves leaning on each other for support – and looking at each other in a whole new light. Their childhood friendship blossoms in to something more as they deal with their insane families, but as graduation approaches, so does life in the real world, forcing Josie and Mitchell to figure out what, exactly, their relationship is – and if it can survive their very different plans for the future. 

So as mentioned above I love this book. It’s so good and you can really relate to the characters. It’s a dual perspective novel told from Mitchell and Josie’s perspectives. You follow them as their senior year draws to a close and they both are dealing with personal things and personal decisions involving college and their life going forward.

Josie is fine staying at home with her family, and as the story goes on she starts to question her decision on why she really wants to stay there and what she wants to do with her life as a high school graduate.

Mitchell just wants to leave home and go out in the world as soon as his diploma hits his hand.

As he and Josie start to get closer to graduation, things start to develop between them and we watch their relationship grow and they try to figure out how their going to continue this relationship when they have different things in mind for their futures.

Their relationship was something I really enjoyed reading about because it just seemed so real between them and they had realistic problems and it’s something many couples who read this can relate to. I think I relate to Josie the most (and not just because I’m a girl and so is she); mainly because she and I had similar fears once the end of high school came upon us. We were both unsure what we wanted to do and it scared us to even think about leaving home and what is in store for us.

Bucchin really did write such a relatable story and wrote such great characters who had flaws, doubts, and had such a beautiful friendship. I loved reading about their relationship both as friends and as a couple.

Paintbrush, the town in the novel, is such a fun place too! I liked reading about the community they lived in, and we got such a good glimpse into their lives.

Also Michell’s friendship with his best friend Cord is so cute and fun! Cord is one of my all time favorite characters I’ve read this year! He was so supportive of Mitchell’s relationship, was there for him during the hardest part of his life when his mom dropped a bomb on him and his father. He was just a nice, supportive best friend and it’s something you really don’t read much about. They were so different, but they really clicked!

Overall I loved this book, it was just a fantastic debut novel from an author who I will definitely be keeping an eye on in the future! Highly recommend this book and I hope you will give it a try!

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on this novel and if you’ve read it as I would love to know!

 

 

Author of the Month/Review

Hello! Welcome to another Author of the Month post!

For those that are new to my blog-first of all WELCOME! And second of all, Author of the Month is where I choose and Author and feature a post about them; normally it’s with a review attached and some links to their website and places to buy their books.

So the Author of the Month for the month of June is Kiersten White! She is the author of many books, my favorite being And I Darken and Now I Rise.

I have a review for And I Darken, the first book in the Conquerer’s Saga. I just finished Now I Rise last night at like almost midnight and I honestly think this series is one of my all time favorites! It just blew me away!

I’ll leave my review for And I Darken here: Review: And I Darken

I also did a review on her book The Chaos of Stars which I will leave linked here: Review: Chaos of Stars

I’ll leave her website and places to follow her down below as well.

So as I mentioned above, I just finished Now I Rise, and I was blown away with how amazing it was! I was so hooked on it!

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Rating: 5/5

Summary off Goodreads: Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Can we just….

A moment of silence for my feels and heart…

Okay so wow! I loved everything about this book! I wasn’t expecting to get so hooked to it because literally after I finished reading it I sat there for like 10 minutes in bed just staring into space because everything was just so overwhelming.

I think it mainly has to do with the fact that Lada is so vicious, cruel, strong, and badass AF. Lada is such a flawed and ruthless character, and I really think that makes her stand out to me. I haven’t really read a book with a main character anything like Lada. Her relationship with her companions and her best friend Bogdan was fun and so complex. She really tested some of them during this journey to get her country back.

Also she had my favorite scene and line from this entire book:

”’Silviu?’ Lada asked. ‘I am here to negotiate your support’ Lada drew her crossbow and shot him in the chest. One of Toma’s men shouted in surprise.

Lada turned her horse. ‘That went well. We have the full support of this estate now.’”

Radu was also an interesting character. I really liked him and in the first book and that affection grew for him in this book. His love for his friend Mehmed was so sweet and loyal.

It hurts my heart that Radu has so much love to give to people who never really give it back to him in return.

But I liked his development in the series so far, his someone distance love for his sister, and his willingness to do whatever it took to help Mehmed and also help a friend. His internal conflict was also interesting to read about, because he really did go through a lot of it during the story, and he really wondered if he made the right choice.

I honestly cannot wait to see where his character ends up as the story goes on, as well as with Lada. I really want to see where she ends up.

If you’re interested in following Kiersten I’ll leave the link to her website here: Website

Her twitter here: Kiersten’s Twitter

And her Goodreads page here: Goodreads

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If you want to buy her books I’ll leave a link here for Barnes and Nobles to get Now I Rise: Now I Rise on BN and Amazon: Now I Rise on Amazon

Let me know down below if you’ve read any of her books and your thoughts; as well as recommendations similar to her books as I would love to know and check them out!

Thanks for joining me on this month’s Author of the Month!

One of Us is Lying/Author of the Month-May

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One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Published: May 30, 2017

Rating: 5/5

One of Us is Lying is a story with a breakfast club type setting: it has the jock, Cooper; the brain, Bronwyn; the beauty, Addy; the criminal, Nate; and the outcast Simon. Five of them wind up in detention, and four walk out alive after witnessing the death of one of their classmates. Simon ends up dying on the eve of his newest post on his gossip app, and the main suspects are the four left alive, because they have secrets that were about to be revealed to the entire world.

I honestly felt this was a great diverse group of people with very diverse pasts, and they have to deal with the consequences of their actions and how their actions affect their lives and their families. I love how it goes in depth about the pressure of family expectations, the issues with drug use, and such. I also like how while her characters had the labels of typical people like the brain or the beauty, they were so much more than that. The criminal was really well rounded and had a lot of heart and character. I think he honestly was one of my favorite characters in the story, mainly because you really got to see his barriers get broken down, and that there was so much more to him than his selling drugs. I just loved seeing him develop as the story went on.

Also the beauty, Addy, was actually really smart and wasn’t like a typical blonde girl sometimes portrayed in fiction. She made a mistake and learned from it and learned to fix herself and her character. She also wasn’t put there to ruin everything, she served a much bigger purpose than is typical seen, and I loved that about this book.

This book really kept me guessing with the mystery! I thought I had it figured out a few times during the story and I ended up being totally wrong! Any time I thought I knew who did it or that it was this way, I ended up having to back to the drawing board, because I never guessed it right! I just was hooked onto this book and the mystery and everything about it! One of my favorites this year!

And that romance man…let me tell you! I support it all the way and I love it and at first it crushed me and I was okay with it and I just…OTP FOREVER. I just really enjoyed that the romance wasn’t the main focus, and it was so cute, and not used as a device to drag the story on! Loved it so much!

Overall I just really enjoyed this book and this author’s writing! The plot was super fun and interesting, I loved the mystery of it, I love the Breakfast Club vibes since it’s one of my favorite movies ever!

And the writing and this book is why Karen M. McManus is the Author of the Month for May! I’ll leave a link to her goodreads page here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15127507.Karen_M_McManus

I highly recommend picking this book up and reading it! You definitely won’t be disappointed!

I can’t wait to see what else Karen brings out into the world!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments as I would love to know and discuss with you!

 

Author of the Month-Feb

Hey everyone! So we are back for another Author of the Month and for the month of February the author is Sophie Jordan! I’m so sorry I haven’t been reviewing lately! I’ve been so busy with school and work that I haven’t had a chance to do much! I’ve been reading a bit, mainly audiobooks, and a little bit before and between classes.

Anyways, so I heard awesome stuff about Reign of Shadows last year when it came out and I finally read it this past December and I loved it! Probably one of my top reads last year! And I received an ARC of Rise of Fire recently and I finished that in a little over day.

So down below I am going to be posting the summaries and reviews for both books! As well as some links for her.

Okay here we go!

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Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan

Summary: When an eclipse throws the Kingdom of Relhok into darkness, an evil chancellor kills the King and Queen, leaving newborn Princess Luna an orphan and on the run. Hidden in a tower, she is safe, and learns to adapt to her surrounding and survive. Then she meets Fowler, and her life is thrown off course. When she and Fowler have to escape the tower after it’s attacked, Luna realises that the world is more dangerous that she thought, and that the secrets they’re both hiding from each other can change the course of everything.

Rating: 5/5

Review: Wow! I loved this book so much! It was just…a treat! I had never read her other books before but they are on my Nook, so this really was just a great introduction to her work. It was interesting, the world was fascinating, the characters were complex, and just overall I felt it was a really cool story. It is a young adult retelling of Rapunzel, which made it unique in my opinion, because there aren’t many Rapunzel retellings that I am aware of at least. And so far, this retelling is my favorite!

You meet Luna, who lives with her guardians Sivo and Perla, and she’s blind. So it was interesting sort of reading things from her point of view. Her blindness didn’t make her vulnerable, it made her deadly. She knew how to protect herself, she caught on to things that other people in the story might have missed. It was great because it really brought forth the message “don’t underestimate anyone, because they can surprise you”.

Fowler was a really cool dude, I liked reading this POV in the story, and overall he was just top notch! He was smart, tough, and I just adored him! I liked how understanding he was with Luna and her blindness; and how at times when she couldn’t understand something he was describing, he would try his best to figure out another way to get what he was saying across. It was just really interesting to see his tough exterior sort of break down as he got to know Luna and as they travelled together.

But let me tell you…that plot twist towards the end just…wow! It wasn’t really a plot twist as it was a revelation! And let me tell you it was a huge one! At least for me it was! I never saw it coming and I thought it really brought a lot of interesting factors into place for the story.

Overall I really enjoyed my reading experience with this book, and I highly recommend it! Try it out at least! I have a feeling you’ll really like it, especially if you like fantasy and retellings!

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Rise of Fire by Sophie Jordan

Summary: I can’t give too much away but it continues on after Reign of Shadows ends. Luna and Fowler are taken as hostages to the neighboring kingdom of Lagonia and end up being used as bargaining chips in an effort to unite the kingdoms.

Review: 5/5

I just loved this duology and I’m so sad it’s over! Once again Luna stunned me so well with how capable she was in this novel. She held her own and I just love her chraracter and her role in everything. She showed so much bravery when she jumped after Fowler and the dwellers.

Fowler, poor Fowler. He was out of commission for most of the book. But I think the best part was his need to protect her even after how sick he gets. He does his best to make sure she’s safe, even though he knows she can handle herself. I just thought it was so cute that he felt he had to do that for her. You kind of see a different side of him I think; because in book one he was all tough and closed off, but in this book he’s more open and willing to let himself really feel things more, which I throughly enjoyed!

I liked all the political drama kind of stuff that was going on, it made it really interesting and added to all that was going on. Going along with the drama, you meet new characters! Maris, the King’s daughter and betrothed to Fowler, and Chasan, the King’s son. As well as the King, Tebald. He was sort of an interesting character, mainly because of his background with Luna’s family. He was also very cruel, and a tad creepy. Maris was just so annoying! I hated her! She was so selfish and shallow. And also kind of creepy if I’m being honest! She would obsess over how even though she barely knew him, she was so excited to start their life together and get married. It was just awkward! But seeing at how creepy her dad was, I wasn’t surprised she was like that! Chasan was someone I hated at first, and later grew to like. He was rude and closed off, and as you got to know him he started to open up and you saw more of his personality and who he really is.

Overall I highly recommend this series! I loved the books, the plot, the characters, the drama, and the world! It was interesting, as well as fun and quick! You’ll fly through these books in a matter of hours!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read these books and your thoughts as I would love to know!

Author of the Month-Jan

Hello everyone!

It’s time for the next author of the month post!

The January Author of the Month is Stephanie Garber!

She is a debut author who’s novel Caraval is releasing later this month. I had the pleasure of reading Caraval so I’ll be leaving the book description and my review down below to check out! I will also be leaving links to preorder the book, as well as information about the preorder giveaway going on.

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Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Summary: Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she, her cruel father, and sister Tella live. After Scarlett’s father arranges a marriage for her, she thinks her chances of seeing Caraval, the once a year performance involving the audience, are now dashed. When her invitation to Caraval arrives, Tella and a sailor she just met take her to the show. Once they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Legend, the Caraval mastermind. This year, Caraval revolves around Tella, and the person who finds her first is declared the winner. Now Scarlett must find her sister before the game is up, or risk losing her forever.

Rating: 5/5

Review:

I loved this book! My first reaction after reading this book was “Wow! Oh my gosh!” I just could not put the book down once I started it, and I really got into what was going on. It was a journey let me tell you! When I first started reading it, I was so curious as to what was going to happen as well as what was going on; and as I read I was sucked into the game and mystery! And I cried…I did because oh man! But it was great that you really get attached to the characters and really feel what they’re feeling, and when things get revealed, you’re just as shocked as they are!

You start off with letters from Scarlett to Legend, and continue on from there. You meet Scarlett, then Tella, and then Julian. He is probably my favorite character besides Scarlett in this whole book.

This book really does show that first impressions are not always accurate with characters. I really enjoyed that about it, because it makes you look more closely at the people and try to figure out who they really are. That was the main thing with Tella more than anyone in this book I feel. You’re introduced to Tella and from my standpoint, she was a bit annoying and just selfish. She didn’t seem to care about consequences for other people, as long as she got what she wanted she didn’t care. Or at least that’s what I saw, and what I thought throughout most of the book. That thought changes once you get further into the book and everything comes to light. What happened basically blew my mind, and I really felt like you were shown a side of Tella that really just changed everything.

I hated her father from the get go, he’s a dick! Ugh! Hate him! But that’s what makes him such an interesting character…he’s still a dick though.

Scarlett remained selfless the whole time, and while at times she got a little annoying, it was amazing to see someone who was so dedicated to their sister.

Julian I think was another character who threw you for a loop many times over. He would be one way, then another, then another, and then you found out more about him and it just blew me away. And shocked me to my soul! Wow!

Speaking of plot twists, those were insane, and so mind blowing to me that I just…fell in love with this book, and I cannot wait to read the sequel that I didn’t know I needed until now. Because I NEED IT.

I feel like I was in a Clue game mixed with The Hunger Games…okay Clue was a bad example. More like a Hunger Games like scavenger hunt.

Stephanie just introduced my favorite read of the year so far, I was that amazed with this! The writing was spectacular, the characters were so interesting and complex, the world building was great, and overall the plot was something so unique and amazing that I just have no words! I highly recommend this book to anyone, you’ll really enjoy it! I cannot wait to see what else Stephanie published for the world in the future! She’s definitely an author to watch!

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Stephanie Garber website: http://stephaniegarberauthor.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SGarberGirl

Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14137787.Stephanie_Garber

Preorder Giveaway page: http://us.macmillan.com/flatironbooks/promo/caravalpreordergiveaway

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/caraval-stephanie-garber/1123015759?ean=9781250095251

Keplers Books: http://www.keplers.com/stephanie-garber-preorder-page

Author of the Month

Hi everyone! So I decided to start a thing for my blog titled Author of the Month where I do posts promoting their work, post buying links from Amazon or Barnes and Nobles etc. Maybe sometime in the future there will be more for the posts if it continues on!

But the first Author of the Month is Estelle Maskame!

She is the wonderful author of the Did I Mention I Love You trilogy!

I have read the first book Did I Mention I Love You and will be posting reviews all this month about them once I finish the last two books in the series! Since it is a series I will only be posting about the first book in the series as to avoid spoilers, but I will be posting links for the other books.

Did I Mention I Love You

did-i-mention-i-love-you-estelle-maskameSummary: Eden Munro came to California for the summer to spend some down time enjoying the sun, sand, and boys. Then she meets her new family: a stepmother, a father she has not seen in a few years, and three stepbrothers. While staying in her room at her fathers fancy new house, she ends up stuck next to her older stepbrother Tyler. While she cannot stand him and he her; but somehow, someway, they begin to fall in love with people they shouldn’t. Each other.

Barnes and Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/did-i-mention-i-love-you-estelle-maskame/1124933634?ean=9781492632153

Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/Estelle-Maskame/e/B00WSPYJ9I/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1480656715&sr=8-2-ent

Estelle’s Website: http://www.estellemaskame.com

Twitter: @EstelleMaskame

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

If movies and books have taught me anything, it’s that Los Angeles is the greatest city with the greatest people and the greatest beaches. And so, like every girl to ever walk this earth, I dreamed of visiting this Golden State. I wanted to run along the sand of Venice Beach, to press my hands on my favorite celebrities’ stars on the Walk of Fame, to one day stand behind the Hollywood Sign and look out over the beautiful city.

That and all the other lame tourist must-dos.

With one earphone in, my attention half on the music humming into my ear and half on the conveyor belt rotating in front of me, I try my hardest to find a spot clear enough for me to grab my luggage. While the people around me shove and chat loudly with their partners, yelling that their luggage just went past and the other yelling back that it wasn’t actually their luggage, I roll my eyes and focus on the khaki suitcase nearing me. I can tell it’s mine by the lyrics scrawled along its side, so I grab the handle and yank it off as quickly as I can.

“Over here!” a familiar voice calls. My father’s astoundingly deep voice is half drowned out by my music, but no matter how loud the volume, I would probably still hear him from a mile away. His voice is too irritatingly painful to ignore.

When Mom first broke the news to me that Dad had asked me to spend the summer with him, we both found ourselves in a fit of laughter at the sheer insanity of it all. “You don’t have to go anywhere near him,” Mom reminded me daily. Three years of hearing nothing and suddenly he wanted me to spend the entire summer with him? All he had to do was maybe start calling me once in a while, ask me how I was doing, gradually ease himself back into my life, but no, he decided to bite the bullet and ask to spend eight weeks with me instead. Mom was completely against the idea. Mom didn’t think he deserved eight weeks with me. She said it would never be enough to make up for the time he’d already lost with me. But Dad only got more persistent, more desperate to convince me that I’d love it in southern California. I don’t know why he finally decided to get in touch out of the blue. Was he hoping he could mend the relationship with me that he broke the day he got up and left? I doubted that was even possible, but one day I caved and called up my father to tell him that I wanted to come. My decision didn’t revolve around him though. It revolved around the idea of hot summer days and glorious beaches and the possibility of falling in love with an Abercrombie & Fitch model with tanned skin and an eight-pack. Besides, I had my own reasons for wanting to get nine hundred miles away from Portland.

So, I am not particularly thrilled to see the person approaching me.

A lot can change in three years. Three years ago, I was three inches shorter. Three years ago, my dad didn’t have noticeable graying strands throughout his hair. Three years ago, this wouldn’t have been awkward.

I try my hardest to smile, to grin so that I won’t have to explain why there’s a permanent frown sketched upon my lips. It’s always so much easier just to smile.

“Look at my little girl!” Dad says, widening his eyes and shaking his head in disbelief that I no longer look the same as I did at thirteen. Oh, how shocking that, in fact, sixteen-year-olds do not look the same as they did when they were in eighth grade.

“Yep,” I say, reaching up and pulling out my earphone. The wires dangle in my hands, the faint lull of the music vibrating through the buds.

“I’ve missed you a lot, Eden,” he tells me, as though I’ll be overjoyed to know that my dad who walked out on us misses me, and perhaps I’ll throw myself into his arms and forgive him right there and then. But things don’t work like that. Forgiveness shouldn’t be expected: it has to be earned.

However, if I’m going to be living with him for eight weeks, I should probably try to put my hostility aside. “I’ve missed you too.”

Dad beams at me, his dimples boring into his cheeks the way a mole burrows into dirt. “Let me take your bag,” he says, reaching for my suitcase and propping it onto its wheels.

I follow him out of LAX. I keep my eyes peeled for any film stars or fashion models that might happen to brush past me, but I don’t spot anyone on my way out.

Warmth hits my face as I walk across the sprawling parking lot, the sun tingling my skin and the soft breeze swaying around my hair. The sky is mostly clear apart from several unsatisfying clouds.

“I thought it was going to be hotter here,” I comment, peeved that California is not actually as completely free from wind and clouds and rain as stereotypes have led me to believe. Never did it occur to me that the boring city of Portland would be hotter in the summer than Los Angeles. It is such a tragic disappointment, and now I’d much rather go home, despite how lame Oregon is.

“It’s still pretty hot,” says Dad, shrugging almost apologetically on behalf of the weather. When I glance sideways at him, I can see his growing exasperation as he racks his brain for something to say. There is nothing to talk about besides the uncomfortable reality of the situation.

He draws my suitcase to a halt by a black Lexus, and I stare dubiously at the polished paintwork. Before the divorce, he and my mom shared a crappy Volvo that broke down every four weeks. And that’s if we were lucky. Either his new job pays extremely well or he just chose not to splurge on us before. Perhaps we weren’t worth spending money on.

“It’s open,” he tells me, nodding at the vehicle as he pops the trunk and throws my suitcase inside.

I move around to the right side of the car and slide my backpack off my shoulder, opening the door and getting in. The leather is scorching hot against my bare thighs. I wait in silence for a few moments before Dad edges in behind the wheel.

“So, did you have a nice flight?” he asks, engaging me in a generic conversation as he starts up the engine and backs out of the spot.

“Yeah, it was okay.” I tug my seat belt over my body and click it into place, staring blankly out the windshield while holding my backpack on my lap. The sun is blinding, so I open up the front compartment of my bag and pull out my shades, slipping them over my eyes. I heave a sigh.

I almost hear my dad gulp as he takes a deep breath and asks, “How’s your mom?”

“She’s great,” I say, almost too enthusiastically as I try my hardest to emphasize just how well she’s getting on without him. This is not entirely the truth though. She’s doing okay. Not great, but not bad. She’s spent the past few years trying to convince herself that the divorce is an experience that she can learn from. She wants to think that it’s given her a life-affirming message or filled her with wisdom, but honestly, the only thing it’s done is make her despise men. “Never been better.”

Dad nods then, gripping the steering wheel firmly as the car peels out of the airport grounds and onto the boulevard. There are numerous lanes, cars racing down each one, the traffic heavy but moving quickly. The landscape here is open. The buildings are not leaning, towering skyscrapers like those in New York, nor are there rows of trees like the ones back home in Portland. The only satisfying thing I discover is that palm trees do really exist. Part of me always wondered if they were a myth.

We pass under a collection of road signs, one above each lane, outlining the surrounding cities and neighborhoods. The words are nothing more than a blur as we speed under them. A new silence is forming, so Dad quickly clears his throat and makes a second attempt at holding a conversation with me.

“You’re going to love Santa Monica,” he says, smiling only briefly. “It’s a great city.”

“Yeah, I looked it up,” I say, propping my arm up against the window and staring out onto the boulevard. So far, LA doesn’t look as glamorous as it does in all those images I saw on the Internet. “It’s the one with that pier thingy, right?”

“Yes, Pacific Park.” A glint of sunlight catches the gold wedding band around my dad’s finger where his hands grip the steering wheel. I groan. He notices. “Ella can’t wait to meet you,” he tells me.

“And I her.” This is a lie.

Ella, my dad informed me recently, is his new wife. A replacement for my mom: something new, something better. And this is something that I can’t understand. What does this Ella woman have that my mom doesn’t? A better dish-scrubbing technique? Better meat loaf?

“I hope the two of you can get along,” Dad says after a moment of suffocating silence. He merges into the farthest right lane. “I really want this to work.”

Dad might really want this to work, but I, on the other hand, am still not completely sold on the whole reconstituted-family-model idea. The thought of having a stepmom does not appeal to me. I want a nuclear family, a cereal box family made up of my mom, my dad, and myself. I don’t like adjustments. I don’t like change.

“How many kids does she have again?” I ask, my tone contemptuous. Not only have I been blessed with a lovely stepmother, I have also been graced with stepbrothers.

“Three,” Dad shoots back. He is growing irritated by my obvious negativity. “Tyler, Jamie, and Chase.”

“Okay,” I say. “How old are they?”

He talks as he focuses on the stop sign only yards ahead and slows the car down. “Tyler just turned seventeen, Jamie’s fourteen, and Chase-Chase is eleven. Try to get along with them, honey.” Out of the corner of his hazel eyes, he fixes me with a pleading stare.

“Oh,” I say again. Until now I just assumed I’d be meeting a couple of toddlers who could barely string sentences together yet. “Okay.”

Thirty minutes later, we’re driving through a winding road in what appears to be the outskirts of the city. Tall trees decorate the parkway on each sidewalk, their thick trunks and crooked branches providing shade from the heat. The houses here are all larger than the one I live in with my mom back home, and they’re all uniquely designed and constructed. No two houses are alike, neither in shape nor color nor size. Dad’s Lexus pulls up outside a white-stone one.

“You live here?” Deidre Avenue seems too normal, as though it belongs in the middle of North Carolina. LA isn’t supposed to be normal. It’s supposed to be glitzy and out of this world and totally surreal, but it’s not.

Dad nods, killing the engine and closing his sun visor. “You see that window?” He points to a window on the second floor, the one right in the center.

“Yeah?”

“That’s your room.”

“Oh,” I say. I wasn’t expecting my own room for the eight weeks that I’m here. But it looks to be a pretty big house, so I’m sure spare rooms are plentiful. I’m glad I won’t be sleeping on an inflatable bed in the middle of the living room. “Thanks, Dad.” When I try to push myself up, I realize that wearing shorts has proven to have both pros and cons. Pro: my legs feel fresh and cool in this weather. Con: my thighs are now stuck to the leather of Dad’s Lexus. And so it takes me a good long minute to actually get myself out of the car.

Dad heads around to the trunk, collecting my suitcase and placing it on the sidewalk. “Better head inside,” he says as he yanks out the handle and begins wheeling it along behind him.

I take a wide step over the parking strip and follow my dad along the stone path. It leads up to the front door: mahogany and paneled, just like the doors to houses owned by the rich should be. All the while, I’m just staring at the Converse on my feet, taking a moment to let my eyes run over my scrawling handwriting, which decorates the sides of the white rubber. Just like my suitcase, there are lyrics written in black Sharpie. Staring at the writing helps keep my nerves at ease: slightly, just until we reach the front door.

The house itself-despite being an obnoxious symbol of consumerism-is very pretty. Compared with the house I woke up in this morning, it may as well be a five-star guesthouse. There’s a white Range Rover parked in the driveway. How flashy, I think.

“Nervous?” Dad asks, hesitating outside the door. He smiles reassuringly down at me.

“Kind of,” I admit. I’ve tried not to think about the endless list of things that could go wrong, but somewhere within me, there is a sense of fear. What if they all absolutely hate me?

“Don’t be.” He opens the door, and we head inside, my suitcase trailing behind us, its wheels scraping along the wooden flooring.

In the entryway we’re immediately overcome by an overwhelming scent of lavender. In front of me there is a staircase leading upstairs and a door to my right leading, from what I can see through the crack, to the living room. Straight ahead there is a large archway into the kitchen: a kitchen from which a woman is approaching me.

“Eden!” the woman cries. She swallows me into a hug, her extreme bustiness getting in the way a little, and then takes a step back to examine me. I return the favor. Her hair is blond, figure slim. For some absurd reason, I expected her to look similar to my mom. But apparently Dad has altered his taste in women along with his living standards. “It’s so nice to finally meet you!”

I take a slight step back from her, fighting the urge to roll my eyes or pull a face. Dad would surely drag me straight back to the airport if I ever displayed such disrespect. “Hi,” I say instead.

And then she blurts, “God, you’ve got Dave’s eyes!” which is possibly the worst thing someone could ever say to me given that I’d much rather have my mom’s eyes. My mom wasn’t the one who walked out.

“Mine are darker,” I murmur in disdain.

Ella doesn’t push the subject any further and instead turns the conversation around in a completely different direction. “You’ll need to meet the rest of us. Jamie, Chase, get down here!” she yells up the stairs before turning back to me. “Did Dave tell you about the get-together we’re having tonight?”

“Get-together?” I echo. A social gathering was certainly not on my Things to Do While in California list. Especially when it’s strangers who are doing the gathering. “Dad?” I glance sideways up at him, willing myself not to fire a death glare in his direction, and arch my brows.

“We’re sparking up the barbecue for the neighbors,” he explains. “No better way to kick off the summer than with a good old barbecue.” I really wish he’d stop talking.

Quite frankly, I hate both large groups of people and barbecues. “Awesome,” I say.

There’s a series of thuds as two boys come jogging down the staircase, their footsteps pounding against the oak as they jump down two steps at a time.

“Is that Eden?” the eldest of the pair whispers to Ella as he reaches us, but I hear him anyway. He must be Jamie. The younger one with the wide eyes must be Chase.

“Hey,” I say. My lips curl up into a beaming smile. From what I remember of my conversation in the car, Jamie is fourteen. Despite being two years younger than me, he is about the same height. “What’s up?”

“Just hanging out,” Jamie answers. He is so totally Ella’s child. His sparkling blue eyes and shaggy blond hair make this connection clear. “Do you want a drink or something?”

“I’m good, thanks,” I say. From his straightened posture and his attempt at good manners, he seems mature for his age. Perhaps we’ll get along well.

“Chase, are you going to say hi to Eden?” Ella encourages.

Chase comes across as very reserved. He, too, has inherited Ella’s flawless genes. “Hi,” he mumbles, not quite meeting my eyes. “Mom, can I go to Matt’s?”

“Of course, honey, just be back by seven,” Ella says. I wonder if she’s the type of mom who grounds you for dropping crumbs on the living room carpet or the type who doesn’t mind if you disappear for two days. “We’re having the barbecue, remember?”

Chase nods and then brushes past me, swinging open the front door and closing it again just as quickly without even a whisper of a good-bye to any of us.

“Mom, do you want me to show her around?” Jamie asks the second his brother is gone.

“That’d be great,” I answer for her. Jamie’s company will surely be better than my dad’s or Ella’s or both of them combined. I don’t quite see the point in spending time with people I’d much rather be nowhere near. So for now I’ll stick to my new, wonderful stepbrothers. Surely they are finding this entire thing just as foreign as I am.

“That’s nice of you, Jay,” Ella says. She sounds grateful at the idea of not having to be the one to tell me where the bathroom is. “Let her see her room.”

Dad gives me a clipped nod and grins. “We’ll be in the kitchen if you need anything.”

I try to refrain from snorting as Jamie takes my suitcase and begins hauling it up the staircase. Right now, the only things I need are tanned legs and fresh air, which I most certainly won’t get from lingering inside with my dad.

As I turn to follow Jamie upstairs, I hear my dad hiss, “Where’s Tyler?”

“I don’t know,” Ella says.

Their voices begin to fade as we all distance ourselves from each other, but not far enough that I can’t hear Dad reply with, “So you just let him leave?”

“Yes,” says Ella before we move out of hearing range.

“You’re right across from me,” Jamie informs me as we reach the landing. “You’ve got the coolest room. The best view.”

“Sorry.” I laugh lightly and try to keep a smile on my face as he makes his way over to one of the five doors. But I can’t help but pause to glance down to the hall below, my eyes focusing on the back of Ella’s blond hair as she disappears through the archway into the kitchen.

I figure she’s the type who doesn’t mind if you disappear.

-Did I Mention I Love You

Did I Mention I Need You

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Barnes and Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/did-i-mention-i-need-you-estelle-maskame/1124933635?ean=9781492632184

Did I Mention I Miss You

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Preorder it on Barnes and Nobles or pick it up at your local bookstore when it releases on December 6 of 2016!

Barnes and Nobles: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/did-i-mention-i-miss-you-estelle-maskame/1124933636?ean=9781492632214

Let me know in the comments your thoughts on the series as I would love to know!

This might also be a time to maybe recommend in the comments books you would recommend that are similar to this incase someone wants to read more books like this in the future!