Review: Playing Dirty by Jennifer Echols

Title: Playing Dirty
Author: Jennifer Echols
Series: Stargazer

I love Echols’ Young Adult novels. Each time I read one, I fall a little bit more in love. So when I got the chance to read one of her Adult novels, I was excited. For the majority of the novel, I felt it was fantastic. The people have dimension and the plot line is interesting. I could see where things were headed, but I still wanted to read more. The last few chapters were a little heavy on the drama for my tastes, but I still enjoyed the novel as a whole.

Sarah has just returned from South America where she tackled a crazed rock star problem for the PR firm she works for. Despite her success in securing an album from Nine Lives, he still ended up in jail, leaving Sarah’s job with the agency in question. With her future on the line, she is given the task of keeping The Cheatin’ Hearts, a country band, from breaking up. They must deliver a new record in a week and perform at a 4th of July nationally televised concert. Sarah goes in prepared, but ends up having to change her game at every turn.

The characters that make up the band are interesting and easily held their own. Erin, the female of the group, has a lot more beneath the surface. She puts on a Daisy Duke southern chick act, but it is easy to see that she’s not completely that person. That might be a piece of her, but there’s a lot more to her. Owen, the drummer, has the reputation of being the sweet, albeit slightly slower, member of the group. But like Erin, it’s an act the public buys and wants more of. Martin is the musical genius that isn’t as put together as well as everyone thinks. And Quentin is the leader, the one that makes the pop hits and big decisions for the group even while acting like an uneducated hick. They all bring so much to the story that I could easily read a book about each of them.

The romance part of the novel wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, in that it moved extremely fast and while it was easy to get caught up in it, it was also easy to remember that this novel takes place in about the span of two weeks. I felt like I could go along with it up until the end of the novel, when I kind of wanted to hit the brakes hard.

Overall, Echols has a good Adult novel. I’m still loving her YA novels more, but the balance between characters and drama in Playing Dirty was good. Once I was sucked into the novel it took a lot to pull me back out and that’s enough for me to still be interested in reading whatever Echols publishes.

If Playing Dirty sounds like your kind of novel, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to NetGalley and Pocket Books for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Title: Dirty Little Secret
Author: Jennifer Echols
Rating: ★★★★★

Yet another amazing Jennifer Echols book.

I know when I pick up a book by Echols; I’m going to love it. I know I’m going to get the heart swoons, the stomach fluttering, and the little smile on my face. I also know I’m going to get a great story to go along with it. Dirty Little Secret is no different.

Bailey and her sister Julie used to go out and play the music scene together. Then Julie got a record deal and Bailey was left behind. Not only were her dreams pushed to the back burner, her family wanted to keep her a secret. That is the part of the situation that hurt Bailey most. Not that her sister found success, but that Bailey had to be sacrificed for her to get it.

Sam has a band and will do anything to make it big. That is his one focus. When Bailey entered his life, he didn’t expect his focus to change. He didn’t think making it big would cost him something he hadn’t had in a while.

The romance between these two is delicious. There’s attraction and there’s annoyance. There’s lust and there’s more annoyance. The push and pull never seems childish, but more like actual adults having misunderstandings and miscommunications and being forced to work through them if they want to be together.

Ace and Charlotte could be their own story. There is so much I want to know about those two. They may be secondary characters, but they gave the novel something special.

Dirty Little Secret is yet another fantastic Echols novel with country flair. If you’re looking for a romance that will leave you smiling and get music stuck in your head, this is the book for you.

If Dirty Little Secret sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Jennifer Echols for sending me an advanced copy of the novel.

Review: Levitating Las Vegas by Jennifer Echols

Title: Levitating Las Vegas
Author: Jennifer Echols
Pages: 300 pages
Rating: ★★★★

Levitating Las Vegas is a departure from what I’ve come to expect from Echols. It has older characters and a paranormal aspect. As much as I love Echols, I wasn’t sure if this kind of book would feel right coming from her. I’m glad to say that after a bit of a shaky start, Echols definitely picked up and had me turning the pages as fast as I could.

Holly and Elijah tried to have that sweet high school romance, but their parents interfered. After they each are separately “diagnosed” with a mental illness, they avoid each other as much as possible. So when they discover the true about their mental powers, they once again find themselves drawn to each other.

From there it’s a whirlwind romance with a kidnapping with a twist, a road trip, and personal discoveries that change how they view the world. They have to make decisions quickly and hope that what path they end up on is the right one. They are at times unreliable, but that only makes the drama more heightened.

The first chapter or so felt a little off; it didn’t quite flow as well as the rest of Echols’ works. Once the setup has been laid out, the story gets going and the book flows much better.

Levitating Las Vegas is a fast-paced romance with a twist. Echols handled her venture into the paranormal in a way I would only expect from her and I can’t wait to read what comes next.

If Levitating Las Vegas sounds like your kind of book, you can purchase it here:
Barnes and Noble

Thank you to Pocket Star and Edelweiss for an advanced copy of the book in exchange for a honest review.

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

It’s rare for me to find an author that I love so much I will read anything they write, be it comedy, drama, or a grocery list. Jennifer Echols is one of those authors and Such a Rush only further cemented her place on my bookshelf.

Leah does not have the best circumstances in life. She lives in a trailer park with a sometimes around mother who brings less than decent men around. She’s been moved around often because of her mother’s lifestyle (no job, creating enemies) and the one good thing that has come out of her several living locations is a love of airplanes and the dream to fly. When she settles in Heaven Beach, she gets a job as the receptionist/gofer of the airport before building up the courage to ask for a flying lesson. That one lesson turns into more and her love of flying only grows.

Cut to the death of the man who taught her to fly and the only father figure in her life. Then the twin brothers she’s watched from a distance take over and she’s blackmailed into working for them flying the banner planes and in trying to get one twin to date her. It’s this that creates the tension that had me anxiously turning pages to find out what was going to happen next.

I don’t know much about planes or how to fly them; in fact I’m pretty terrified of flying. But Echols made the whole process seem beautiful and flowing while keeping the danger involved. There’s enough technical speak to make it feel real, and yet it doesn’t get too overbearing and it’s still pretty easy to follow.

I loved the relationship dynamic between Leah, Alec and Grayson. Leah never really had the best example growing up, and so she has two personalities. The flirt and the serious aviator and she switches between them without noticing depending on what she needs at the moment, including when she’s with the boys. It’s easy to see Alec is the nice, sweet, do anything to help out kinda guy while Grayson is tougher and takes things a little too seriously at times. When Leah is with Alec, she turns the flirty side of her on, but when she’s with Grayson, the more serious side comes out and she’s more vulnerable.

The tension throughout this book was amazing. My heart was beating fast and I was getting so frustrated with the characters for seeing the obvious and then going the other way. But it did make for a great story.

Such a Rush was a fantastic book that had my heart pounding and put a smile on my face. I dreaded nearing the end because once I turned that last page, there would be no more. Echols once again has written a story I’ve fallen completely in love with and I can’t wait to read anything she writes (including a grocery list…I was serious about that).

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Yet another book by Jennifer Echols that I adored. As an added bonus, this was two books in one. So many wonderful words to read.

The first of the two books, The Boys Next Door, was simply perfect. It was funny, romantic, and pulled at my heart in the best way. I missed out on any teen summer romances, but in my head, what Echols wrote is exactly how I wanted those summers to feel. Feeling all that emotion–the happiness, the confusion, the love–is what summer love is all about.

Lori was trying to be the girl she thought her mother wanted her to be. She left her tomboyish ways behind and was trying to change herself into the girls she saw at school. This includes dating the guy she thinks her mother wanted her to be with. The realizations she comes to in this book were a little bittersweet, but they made her a better person who was more comfortable in her own skin.

Adam is a sweet guy with a touch of ADHD and a bit of a temper. It’s obvious in the beginning he cares for Lori more than she cares about him (at least in the romantic sense), but he’s able to at least push that aside a little bit. He doesn’t understand why Lori wants his brother so much, but he’ll only get in her way a little bit and hope she comes to her senses and turns to him instead. I felt for him through the whole ruse and was elated when Lori finally realized exactly who she wanted.

Endless Summer was the second book and it was more up and down than The Boys Next Door. It was a great demonstration of how first love isn’t perfect and can take some time to grow into. Where The Boys Next Door was about Lori and Adam falling in love, Endless Summer was about growing into it and fighting for each other.

Lori had to grow up and realize that acting like a teenager wasn’t the way to get her father to give her adult respect. She also had to understand that in order to keep something good, she had to take the mature route and not deal with things as she had done in the past. I loved watching her grow throughout this book, even if I wanted to shake some sense into her at times.

Adam owned up to his mistakes and started working on himself as a person. He got a taste of something wonderful happening in his life, and when it was taken away, he reacted badly. Endless Summer was him growing up and taking charge of the thing in his life he could. He started acting more like a man and less like a youngest child with control issues. It made me adore him even more.

These books made my heart feel incredibly happy and light. They’re quick, delightful reads that are perfect for the upcoming summer. I fell in love with Adam and Lori and people definitely need to read this book.

The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols

Jennifer Echols is becoming one of the few authors I think I will read anything they write. This was the first romantic comedy of hers I read, and I loved it possibly more than I did her romantic dramas. It’s right up there with Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door. Echols was able to take a storyline that could have been dried up and slightly overdone and make it completely sweet and wonderful.

Echols took a plot that a lot of books, movies, and TV shows use and managed to make it her own. She added her own twists and with her writing style, it seemed different. I really enjoyed that. She wrote characters I cared about and even though I knew how the story would eventually end, I still devoured every word she wrote.

I loved Gemma and I loved rooting for her. She was a teenage girl through and through. She had insecurities and wasn’t sure about the person she was after she lost some extra weight. She had spent the past several years mostly content with her life and how she was, but once she saw how her life could be if she took control and made things happen for herself, she wanted that life. It was amazing to see a girl that dealt with her life in such a real way. She wasn’t perfect and that was perfect.

The relationship between Gemma and Addison really brought out Gemma’s character. Gemma sticks with this friendship even though she knows it would be better for her if she left Addison behind. But Gemma is still growing into her new person and knows of Addison as her only real friend, even though she doesn’t treat Gemma like one. It’s safe for Gemma in the beginning, but as the story goes on, this relationship, more than any other, is what demonstrates just how much Gemma grows.

I loved Max. He was just the right mix of humor, sweetness, and romantic with a touch of the imperfect temper and foot-in-mouth syndrome. He goes from knowing the perfect thing to saw, to completely blowing it with one statement. He’s the teenage boy I wish I knew in high school.

The One That I Want was such a sweet read. It left me feeling completely happy and I had a huge smile on my face. I will definitely be keeping this book for another read whenever I need cheering up. It’s a book anyone who loves a bit of teen love without a ton of drama should read.

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

I enjoyed Going Too Far and Forget You, so I was extremely excited to read yet another one of Echols’ books. I was not disappointed and I only wish we had gotten more of Erin and Hunter’s story.

I liked how Echols included some of the stories Erin and Hunter wrote for their creative writing class within the story. It made some of the revelations about their history more interesting than simply telling it in the main story. You still got their back story, but it was not only from Erin or Hunter’s point of view, but from the characters they wrote.

I wish there had been a little bit more written about the class, the publishing internship, their relationship, as well as something more with her grandmother. It felt a little cut off and some of those loose ends weren’t tied up enough for the story to be really over. I felt like there could have been another couple of chapters to really end the story.

I can’t wait to read what else Echols writes in the future.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols

I read this book after finishing “Forget You” and wanting to read more of Echols’ style. It was another emotionally real book that I had trouble putting down.

I can relate to Meg wanting to leave her small town and the life she’s seen before her for her entire life. She wants to do something more than those around her. She wants to be more.

On the other hand, John has chosen to stay in this same town, and be the control and rules Meg can’e wait to break away from. They form a complex relationship that pushes them both to see what they tried to keep hidden. They force each other to look at the entire world, and not just the small sliver they wanted to see.

It was a wonderful book and, yet again, Echols gave me a story I could believe and a romance I could root for.

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

I’m a little torn on this book. While it was a wonderful and touching story, there were things that got in the way of my complete enjoyment of it.

I found it a little hard to relate to and understand Zoey. Some things she does, I could look past, because she had just gone through something no person should ever go though, but there were other things I did not understand. I wanted her to refuse to follow her father’s orders. I wanted her to say no to him and do what she wanted to do. And always referring to Brandon as her boyfriend, even though she knows his personality and not seeing him behaving any differently with her than he does any of the other girls he sleeps with once and dumps.

However, Echols wrote a emotionally charged book, while still being able to be witty and true to life. Even though I had some trouble with Zoey, and that might be just how Echols wanted to write her, I did like most of how she wrote the character. She was just the right mix of sweet and smart, with a little bit of confused mix in. I loved the moments she shared with Doug the most. They were touching and felt real.