Thursday, June 19, 2014

Review of the Diamond Girls series by Elisa Dane

Ex Factor
by Elisa Dane
Release Date: 04/22/14

Summary from Goodreads:

Nevaeh Evan’s life is uprooted after her father’s death, when she moves in with her aunt and cousin, Livvie. Her plan to lay low at her new high school isn’t working. Her friend’s jerky boyfriend keeps asking her out, the guy she likes treats her like garbage, and the thought of tumbling again makes her want to hurl.

So when her aunt pushes her into joining the elite X-FACTOR cheer leading squad, Navaeh goes along with it.

But Nev feels she doesn’t deserve to be happy. Not after what happened the night her father died.

Bodie Scott knows about grief all too well. Critically injured in an alcohol related accident the year before, Bodie struggles with the fact that he’ll never play football again, and he’s so far behind in credits he can’t see straight. That is, until he meets Nev. Haunted by their bloody pasts and wary of a shared future, Nev and Bodie turn to one another for comfort and support, and realize they’re not so alone after all. And when the party scene at school threatens the life of a loved one, the two stop at nothing to keep the past from repeating itself.

**My thoughts**

This book was a blend of Bring It On, Stick It, an ABC After-School Special, and my own life. The Bring It On part of course is the cheerleading competition aspect of the book. I thought of Stick It with Nev's attitude as she adjusts to her new life. The After School Special part stems from the consequences of the alcohol-related accident. As for my own life, I could very easily relate to losing your mother to Alzheimer's and having your father die. Granted, I am twice as old as these characters, but the pain is the same, regardless. I can't imagine going through all of it at such a young age.

Nev understandably has a chip on her shoulder and feels guilty for trying to be happy again when she has endured so much loss. She also feels a tremendous amount of guilt for some secrets that are later revealed in the story. She has to do a lot of growing up through this book and has a great support team to help her. 

I felt like a lot of the different high school personalities were well captured in this book. I enjoyed reading the story and getting to know the characters. I had a hard time with her mother's illness, though, because it just felt like Nev was way too young to have a parent going through it, even if it was early-onset. Perhaps that is just my own prejudice based on my family's afflictions happening at older ages. 

I did really like this book, though, probably even better than the second one in the series. It's a fun read for a summer afternoon, with a little life lesson thrown in.

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by Elisa Dane

Release Date: 06/10/14

Summary from Goodreads:

Perception is everything to sixteen-year-old Olivia Brown. With her freakishly hot boyfriend, volunteer work at the local animal shelter, successful beauty channel on YouTube, and well-earned spot on X Factor Cheer's elite level five Diamond Girl team, Livvie's the girl every other girl wants to be. At least, that's the illusion she's aiming for.

But Livvie's seemingly perfect life is anything but. Lying about the bruises her boyfriend gives her, and cowering beneath his raging temper becomes a regular way of life until she unwittingly witnesses her drunken neighbor beating his step-son, the town bad boy, Reid Tate.

For Reid, vulnerability is the enemy. Opening up, and letting people in gives them the power to disappoint. Growing up with a co-dependent mother and an abusive alcoholic father, Reid has endured all the disappointment he can stomach.

But when his pretty, do-good neighbor witnesses his step-dad beat him to within an inch of his life, and not only call the cops, but keeps quiet at school about what she saw, Reid wonders if maybe, just maybe, he's found someone he can finally trust.

**My thoughts**

This was a side of Livvie that I didn't expect to see after reading the first book. J.P. is also quite different than I had originally thought he would be after reading the first book. Then again, we didn't get to know him as much. And those who have a raging temper like he does can often hide it for a long time before it manifests. This book takes place during the following school year, so there has been plenty of time for it to grow.

Reid was also a slightly surprising character, as he doesn't appear in the first book (to my recollection). Then again, there was no reason for him to be there. I do like him, though. He is vulnerable and damaged, yet has managed to hold onto the sweetness inside, despite everything he has gone through.

Livvie is typical, in that she doesn't want to provoke J.P. by seeking help. Of course, this causes her problems down the road. I just wanted to smack her for doing that, but can see how easily it happens. She is also amazingly strong, which is beneficial to her.

This story serves as a second After School Special in a way, serving to let teens know that they can get help when in an abusive situation. There are lessons to be learned, and one would hope that they can all end up with a happy ending. 

I enjoyed having some follow-up with Nev and Brodie, as well.

Another fun summer afternoon read, even though I think I preferred the first one. I do look forward to reading more in this series some day!

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About the Author

I'm a lover of books (YA & Adult romance), chocolate, reality television, and am a proud mother to three All Star cheerleaders. Woot!

I write Contemporary YA romance with cheerleaders. Yep. I write what I know, and it's my hope that my stories will not only take you on a romantic journey that will warm your heart, but that you'll find a new respect and interest in the sport of Cheerleading you may not have had before.

Author Links:!/ElisaDane




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