ShelteredBy Charlotte Stein

Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Publication Date: March 9, 2012
Genre: New Adult/Young Adult-Mature
Source: Purchased

Evie has lived her entire life under her abusive father’s thumb. He controls everything. Where she goes to college, who she sees, what she does. But when she meets Van—a punk who shows her how different life could be—she realizes how much she’s been missing.

Van offers her excitement, protection, love…and most of all, sex—even if he’s at first reluctant to give her all the things she’s been craving. She wants to explore this new world of arousal and desire, but Van is only too aware of how fragile she is, how innocent…

And how much is at stake, when their love is forbidden.

Goodreads Summary

You absolutely have to ignore that cover. It doesn’t reflect the characters’ age (they’re 19), doesn’t look like them and really doesn’t even fit anywhere in the story. It may look like a typical Ellora’s Cave cover but I don’t know who was thinking it would fit on a Young Adult book. This is only the second book that is a true DNF for me since I started blogging – I stopped at the 55% mark so I can only go so far with my thoughts – but it’s getting some wildly positive reviews and I just wanted to share some of what made me quit reading. Because I like to be contrary, you know.

Evie has been spying on Van buying pot from her neighbor for a while when he finally catches her and goes over to talk to her. She turns into a stuttering mess at the sight of this boy from the other side of the tracks and he becomes the star of her nocturnal sexual fantasies which she can’t decide if she should be ashamed of or not. She becomes a little obsessed with Van, continuing to see him in fits and spurts as their relationship gets serious, he backs off, it advances, and he backs off, claiming he doesn’t want to rush her. I finally gave up at the point where they were in the middle of a “won’t rush you’ that involved oral sex, Evie hopping in bed naked and Van diving in after her after being reluctant about how fast things were moving.

From the moment I opened the book, I felt like there was no context for either character or their situations. It started with Evie spying on the drug dealer next door and moved to Van catching her. No history or interaction with Evie’s family – the synopsis promises some sort of abusive situation with her father and the closest that I got in my 55% was Evie musing about having taken a belt, being made to bike to Bible class and her worrying about her father hearing her nighttime fantasies about Van. Her parents appeared once in that 55%, the rest was mainly Evie and Van spending time at Evie’s house – wouldn’t she be even slightly worried about her parents or sister catching them, ever?

As for Van, halfway through the book, I know he lives in a bad part of the city where Chinese chefs chop the heads off of chickens, he’s got a motorcycle, he draws on his Chucks, gets tattoos and piercings and buys weed. I have no idea if he has family, a job, friends, or if he’s smart or dumb as a stump.

This was more sexually explicit than I thought it would be – for a girl that was “sheltered,” Evie is ready to dive in sex pretty fast. She was the aggressor several times and as a result, I didn’t even find the scenes all that steamy, just uncomfortable and sort of unbelievable.

My Summary: Maybe at the 56% mark something momentous happened that explained it all and was that magic moment where the book came together but I wasn’t willing to keep with this. Van and Evie barely had any conversations so I don’t know why they were a couple. Evie’s parents were barely even in the book so I don’t know why or how she was under their thumb. Other than his tats, piercings and pot smoking, I don’t even know why Van was such a rebel. This promised Rocky Road with extra fudge and delivered Pineapple – it really pained me to not be able to finish it.

My Rating: DNF

Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)

Because of LowBy Abbi Glines

Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Source: Purchased

Marcus Hardy had hoped to enjoy a year away at college while he put the summer he’d rather forget behind him. But instead, he’s jerked right back to the coastal town of Sea Breeze, Alabama due to a family crisis. His dear ol’ dad found himself a girlfriend only a few years older than Marcus. So now his sister needs help dealing with their mother who is mentally falling apart. The only bright spot to returning is the fascinating red head who sleeps over several times a week. The problem is she’s sleeping in bed with his new roommate, Cage Watson.

Willow “Low” Foster needs a place to live. Running to Cage’s apartment every time her sister kicks her out isn’t exactly a long term solution. Juggling her courses at the local community college and a part time job doesn’t produce excess income. But Cage has a new roommate and suddenly sleeping over at her best friend’s apartment isn’t such a bad thing. Not when she gets to see those sexy green eyes of Marcus Hardy’s twinkle when he smiles at her like he wants her there.

Even though Cage seems a little territorial where Low is concerned, Marcus finds time to spend with Low without upsetting his roommate. Cage may use his small college baseball star persona to sleep with every hot female in his path but he’s still under the disillusion that when he’s through sowing his wild oats, he’s going to marry Low. Marcus intends to change that assumption for both Cage and Low. Until his carefully laid plans come crashing down with a revelation he never expected. He’ll have to choose between Low or his family. Because once the truth comes out…. there’s no other choice.

Goodreads Summary

This was the first time I’d read anything by Abbi Glines even though I have a couple of her books on my Kindle waiting for me to get to them. After finishing this, I moved them to the top of my leisure-reading TBR pile because if they’re anything like it they’ll be worth getting to faster.

Low Foster has a track record of being left by everyone in her life – her father, mother, low-life sister who kicks her out of her house on the nights she isn’t babysitting her niece – everyone that is, except her lifelong friend Cage. He’s fanatical about being there for her, including making sure she stays with him when her sister kicks her out. When his new roommate Marcus is attracted to her and Low wants to try a relationship with him, he warns her that everyone leaves her except him. Rich boy Marcus is out of her league and will hurt her and Cage will be around to pick up the pieces.

Holy cow. I honestly can’t remember what the last book was that I cried so much through. I checked the progress bar on my Kindle and I started at 59% and counted when I was done and had gone through 8 tissues. This book seriously wiped me out. I actually had to lie when my son wanted to know what was wrong with me – I told him I was reading a book and a bunch of people died because I didn’t want to tell him that I was crying because a girl was having a panic attack because she thought a friend was leaving her.

The narration flips between Marcus and Low and it definitely makes it more emotional to read. I really fell in love with Low who had this horribly battered heart but managed to love Cage, Marcus and her niece so fiercely. She wasn’t perfect – she got jealous and did things that were kind of silly and for someone her age, she was unbelievably sexually naïve. She just felt very real, from the way she spoke to the way she acted. I’d want her for a friend.

Both Marcus and Cage were pretty wonderful (although Cage being a man-slut sort of made him less adorable, you know?). Marcus made a number of mistakes with Low, some worse than others but they were slightly explainable if not excusable. His story is a little more divided than Low’s because he’s also dealing with his family so while she’s thinking of him almost the whole book, he’s involved with her for only about three-fourths of it. It sets up a very painful section of the book later, one that I’m estimating accounted for three tissues.

There are references to sex and a couple of sexual situations but nothing explicit. Low is a virgin and I really couldn’t tell you if she still is at the end of the book or not because it isn’t described.

I’d love to see Preston or Cage’s book next! I know Cage seems pretty irredeemable but he’s such a sweetheart really, he needs a nice girl to set him straight.

My Summary: I ended up reading this twice before writing this, because it was just that good and because I was trying to actually gather some coherent thoughts about it. This reminded me quite a bit of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, but without all of the controversy. Marcus and Low weren’t as explosive as Travis and Pidge, but the intensity of the relationship was there and I know I cried at least as much. If you read YA/New Adult romance, I’d buy it for you if I could – that’s how hard I recommend this one.

My Rating: A

Graffiti Moon

Graffiti MoonBy Cath Crowley

Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: February 14, 2012 (original pub August 1, 2010 in Australia
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Source: Purchased

“Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers.”
It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Goodreads Summary

It’s graduation night and friends Lucy, Jazz and Daisy are determined to have an adventure. Daisy’s occasional boyfriend Dylan (when she doesn’t want to kill him) claims to know the infamous graffiti artist Shadow and his narration sidekick, Poet. Lucy leaps at the chance to search for them. She’s been stalking Shadow for over a year, sure that if she can find him, he’ll be the ying to her yang, definitely do-able. Dylan comes attached to friends Leo and Ed though – generally not an issue since Jazz sort of has the hots for Leo. It’s a problem for Lucy and Ed though, since she broke his nose after a disastrous date in the tenth grade and his nose is about the only thing that’s been mended.

The guys reluctantly agree to Dylan’s plan – very reluctantly for two highly secret reasons. Ed is Shadow and Leo is Poet and after midnight, they’re going to break into the high school to steal some stuff to pay back a loan shark that Leo borrowed some money from. It’s not exactly something you take a date on but Dylan convinces them all that Shadow and Poet will be at a house party and the guys that it’ll all be over before they have to be somewhere else. When they get there, the three couples end up separated and Ed and Lucy end up leaving on their “search” for Shadow alone.

Sometimes when a story is told in alternating first-person narration it can be annoying, but or awkward but it was so perfect here, there were places I wanted to page through faster to get to either Lucy’s or Ed’s perspective. Their home lives and feelings about their futures were total opposites but as the night went on, they connected through art, the one thing Lucy’s always been sort of snobby about. The more Lucy sees Ed in the graffiti he paints (although she’s still too blind to figure it out), the less he wants to show her – and the more determined she is to find more of it. Sort of like a mom.

Technically, the story is a three person narration, since between Lucy and Ed’s chapters are poems from Leo. I think Lucy put her finger right on it when she asked Ed if he thought Leo/Poet was a poet or social commentator and he didn’t know. They’re a nuanced mix and can be taken either way although some are clearly about love or romance. Leo himself comes across as someone who doesn’t take things very seriously or is at least a little irresponsible and the poetry adds something big to him. Lucy’s friend Jazz is psychic (seriously sort of proven to be!) and if she can see the good in Leo, then there must be a future that works out for him.

So much is packed into the story it’s hard to believe it all takes place in one night. There are a lot of flashbacks, mostly to Ed’s life that’s been a series of struggles that he uses his graffiti to express and Lucy spends the night unmasking. Lucy’s studying to become a glass-blower and there are some gorgeous descriptions of the process, pieces and some artists. The whole book is littered with references to art as Ed and Lucy get to know each other, this time without the broken nose.

I don’t even know what to say about everything else in the book except that it was so much fun to read. I loved Lucy and Ed’s friends – Jazz was funny with her psychic predictions that always managed to come true and that she fiercely ignored Lucy’s pleas to get her away from Ed. Daisy was so cute because she was always furious with Dylan but would never tell him why leaving him clueless but still following her around and even when someone told him what he’d done wrong he still managed to bungle things. Some guys really need an instruction manual about how to handle girlfriends. The little subplot about what Leo did to need money from a loan shark and everyone trying to dodge him was always there as was the question of why Lucy’s dad was living in the shed.

My Summary: This started out pretty slow – almost slow enough that I thought about putting it down which is almost unheard of for me. I really would have kicked myself since it ended up being a book I’ll reread. The unexpectedness of Ed’s indecision through the entire story was a realistic addition that made it even more interesting and I wanted to read faster, get into his head more and figure out what he was going to do. I’m so glad this got picked up for US distribution because it turned out to be a little unearthed gem.

My Rating: A