Review: Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website
As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.


Have you ever read a book that's truly managed to surprise you? A book that you went into thinking okay I'll probably like this but ended up absolutely loving it - so much so in fact that you now have a new favorite character?

That's how Courtney Stevens' Dress Codes for Small Towns was for me. When I first started it, I wasn't sure if I was going to love it or hate it - it was different from my usual read but there was something that drew me to it. As it turns out, the more I read and the more I got to know Billie, our brazen, hilarious, and humble protagonist, the more I loved it. Simply put, Dress Codes for Small Towns is a compete and utter gem!

Dress Codes for Small Towns begins the story of Billie McCaffrey. Much to her town's utter dismay, Billie has never fit the stereotype of a preacher's daughter. Replacing dresses with boots and jeans, a gaggle of girlfriends with a loudmouthed, reckless boys, and shopping and tea parties with starting fires and accepting and giving dares, Billie has become the town's tomboy as well as the odd one out. However, with a friends as great as her "hexagon" and mostly forgiving, understanding parents, Billie is completely okay with this. Everything changes, though, the moments the Hexagon catches the youth room on fire. Suddenly, the town isn't okay with Billie's actions, and they aren't keeping their mouths shut about it. With Billie's father's job at risk, Billie knows she has to do something, and that something may just be rescuing the the Harvest Festival from ruin. Billie and the hexagon quickly hatch a plan, but the more the plan develops, the more Billie begins to have other dilemmas, especially regarding her complicated feelings towards her two best friends, Woods and Janie...and that's not even counting in Davey, the new boy in town. The one thing Billie does know? It's about to be one crazy month.

Billie is an amazing main character. She is fearless and strong. She is loving and loyal. She is an amazing friend and an even better partner-in-crime...basically, if Billie was a real person, I would definitely want her on my side!

From the first page, I loved her tell-it-like-it-is attitude. Billie's not afraid to speak her mind, and while that does get her in a fair amount of trouble at times, it doesn't mean she's afraid to do what she think is right.

At its core Dress Codes for Small Towns is about two things: friendship and finding yourself, no matter how messy and confusing the road may be.

I feel like books about friendship is rarely found in YA, and honestly, I don't know why that's the case. The friendships I had in high school were incredibly important to me and monumental to who I am today, so to see a book featuring a group of best friends like the Hexagon made me happy - so incredibly happy. I loved seeing how their dynamic worked. I especially enjoyed how each member brought something important to the table - no member was the same. More importantly, how each pushed the others to be the best person they could be, even if they did so in a rash manner at times.

As for finding yourself, a large portion of this book focus on Billie finding herself, especially in regards to her sexuality. I found it interesting to see Billie start the book not knowing who she actually liked - Woods, Janie Lee, or Davy. Over the course of the book, she tries out each option and soon discovers the good and bad to every possible relationship.  Courtney did a fantastic job of presenting Billie's confusion over this, and I feel that anyone who's every been in Billie's shoes will be able to relate.

The writing in this was also on point. I liked the way Courtney divvied up the book, including looks at the past as well as the current time. I also enjoyed how she gave Davey a POV.  It added greatly to the story and also made me come to love and understand him even more than I already did. The aspect I found interesting about the writing, however, was the fact that you could only read so much at a time...I'm usually a speed reader, but this was one book I took my time with, so much so it took me nearly four days to finish it. So my advice? Take your time with this one, it's well worth it in the end.

In all, Dress Codes for Small Towns is about friendship, growing up, making the right decisions along with the wrong decisions. Most importantly, it's about being yourself, no matter the constraints the people around you set. Billie McCaffrey is a kick a$$ character - an inspiration for all. You'll fall in love with her voice, her friends, and her passions... I promise you that. 

Grade: A 

Dress Codes for Small Towns is now out!

Source: ARC provided by publicist/publisher - thanks Brandi at Flutter Communications & HarperTeen!

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Review: Being Human by Patricia Lynne

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website
For Tommy, there is only one thing he needs to do: survive.

Only surviving isn't that easy. The hunt for blood can be tricky when humans know to fear the night. Desire sits on the edge of his mind, urging him to become the monster humans think he is. Vampire Forces, a special branch of police, is determined to turn every vampire to ash. Tommy included.

The only human Tommy can trust is his twin brother. A bond connects them, and with Danny's help, Tommy starts to understand the human world he struggles to survive in. He'll learn what friendships means and feel the sting of betrayal, find that sometimes the worst monsters are very human, and come to understand that family means more than blood.

Tommy just wants to survive and he knows what he needs to do. But with the number of humans that mean more to him than a meal growing, Tommy learns there's more to life than simple survival. He'll discover being human doesn't mean being a human.

Vampire books and I have a love-hate relationship. However, as soon as I read the summery for Patricia Lynne's Being Human, I couldn't resist: I had to read it! As it turns out, Being Human is much more than your typical vampire read, as it offers an incredibly personal look into one boy's desire to be human in a situation where it seems vastly impossible. 

Being Human revolves around Tommy and Danny, twin brothers who share a bond that is stronger than even an untimely vampire change. 

Tommy is a complex protagonist. When we are first introduced to him he's just gone through the "change," loosing all his human feelings and memories. Due to that, Tommy's very straightforward - stilted to a point - not knowing what the social norms are, especially when one is a vampire. 

I thought Patricia did a fantastic job of capturing Tommy's voice. Here we have this character who is as inhuman as you can possible get - he doesn't have blood circulating through him, he killed his own parents without a second thought - yet he still craves a place with his brother, a home so to speak. 

It is so incredibly easy to feel Tommy's array of emotions displayed, such as his confusion on how to act, his fear of breaking the one bond that means the most to him, and his sadness over not having his own "place" in life. One part of Tommy is so desperate to figure out what will make his brother not fear or hate him while the other part of Tommy questions why in fact he worries so much. It's an intriguing inner dilemma, and one that is steadily developed and tested throughout the novel. 

My favorite aspect of this book was seeing the bond between Tommy and Danny develop. It's rare for me to see a book so deeply focused on a relationship between two brothers, but goodness, does Patricia Lynne do it well. Their relationship jumps off the page and comes to life. I admired their need to always protect the other, no matter the cost. It is so easy to see how much they loved each other. 

The plot in this is vastly character development based; however, there is still a sprinkle of action and suspense towards the end. I enjoyed the time length Patricia choose for Being Human - I felt like it was the perfect amount of time to really see Tommy's character grow and develop. I also liked how this book didn't focus too heavily on romance - that was a breath of fresh air in some respects.

My only compliant is that it's a little slow to start in the beginning, but once you get through the first hurtle, it's smooth sailing onward. 

In all, Being Human is a stand-out vampire read, one that will leave you with the question: what does it exactly mean to be "human"? I look forward to reading Patricia Lynne's other books! 

Grade: B+ 

Source: eBook provided by publicist - thanks Jessica at Sunrise Author Services! 

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Cover Reveal: Cold Dark Promise by Toni Anderson

Today, I'm thrilled to be part of InkSlinger PR's cover reveal for COLD DARK PROMISE! 
So without a further ado...


We've got a surprise for you today - the cover of a COLD DARK PROMISE by Toni Anderson, a new novella in her Cold Justice series, is releasing November 14th! Check out the cover below and preorder your copy today!

Available November 14th

A COLD DARK PROMISE takes place during the week leading up to the wedding of former assassin Alex Parker to FBI Agent Mallory Rooney, who meet and fall in love in the novel, A COLD DARK PLACE.
In the midst of wedding preparations, a shadowy figure from Alex Parker's past reappears and threatens the joy he’s found with Mallory Rooney.
Four years ago, Jane Sanders’s rich and powerful ex-husband kidnapped their young daughter and Jane hasn’t seen her since. Now she finally has a lead on her location and she knows just the man to help her get her daughter back. Trouble is, he’s an assassin. And he terrifies her.
Despite his upcoming nuptials, Alex agrees to help, but it doesn’t take long for the routine operation to turn complicated—and deadly. Can the former CIA operative make it home in time to marry the woman he loves, or will his dark past destroy all hope for their future?

Preorder your copy of A COLD DARK PROMISE:

Did you know the first book in the Cold Justice series is available for free? Get your hands on A COLD DARK PLACE!


The next book in the Cold Justice series, COLD MALICE, releases September 12th - have you preordered your copy yet? About COLD MALICE

ASAC Steve (Mac) McKenzie is out to prove himself by leading a task force investigating a series of murders in the heart of Washington, DC. His undercover work in an antigovernment compound twenty years earlier is related—as is the sweet, innocent girl he befriended back then. Now that girl is a beautiful woman, and she has something to hide.
Tess Fallon spent a lifetime trying to outrun her family’s brand of bigotry, but someone is threatening her anonymity by using the anniversary of her father’s death to carry out evil crimes and she’s terrified her younger brother is involved. She sets out to find the truth and comes face-to-face with a man she once idolized, a man she thought long dead. As the crimes escalate it becomes obvious the killer has an agenda, and Tess and Mac are running out of time to stop him.
Will the perpetrator use a decades-old dream of revolution to attack the federal government? And will the fact that Tess and Mac have fallen hard for each other give a cold-hearted killer the power to destroy them both?

Add COLD MALICE to your Goodreads list here!

Preorder your copy of COLD MALICE:
See the COLD MALICE trailer

About Toni Anderson 

New York Times and USA Today international bestselling author, Toni Anderson, writes dark, gritty Romantic Suspense novels that have hit #1 in Barnes & Noble's Nook store, the Top 10 in Amazon and Kobo stores, and the Top 50 in iBooks. Her novels have won many awards. A former Marine Biologist from Britain, she inexplicably ended up in the geographical center of North America, about as far from the ocean as it is possible to get. She now lives in the Canadian prairies with her Irish husband and two children and spends most of her time complaining about the weather. Toni has no explanation for her oft-times dark imagination, and only hopes the romance makes up for it. She's addicted to reading, dogs, tea, and chocolate. If you want to know when Toni's next book will be out, visit her website (http://www.toniandersonauthor.com) and sign up for her newsletter. If you want to read other fascinating stories about life in a city that, during winter, is sometimes colder than Mars, friend her on Facebook: (https://www.facebook.com/toniannanderson).

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