Aug 31, 2015

Review: Deep by Kylie Scott

Title: Deep
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #4
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Positive. With two little lines on a pregnancy test, everything in Lizzy Rollins' ordinary life is about to change forever. And all because of one big mistake in Vegas with Ben Nicholson, the irresistibly sexy bass player for Stage Dive. So what if Ben's the only man she's ever met who can make her feel completely safe, cherished, and out of control with desire at the same time? Lizzy knows the gorgeous rock star isn't looking for anything more permanent than a good time, no matter how much she wishes differently.

Ben knows Lizzy is off limits. Completely and utterly. She's his best friend's little sister now, and no matter how hot the chemistry is between them, no matter how sweet and sexy she is, he's not going to go there. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he's always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn't always stay there. Now he and Lizzie are connected in the deepest way possible... but will it lead to a connection of the heart?


All good things must come to an end, including the Stage Dive series. I was so bummed when I started this because I knew there weren't anymore waiting behind it for me to grab. Sigh. Kylie Scott got me good with this series. She got me real good.

DEEP is Ben's turn, and holy crap. It starts off with a bang when Lizzy, Anne's little sister (Anne and Mal are in book 2, PLAY) gets pregnant. The lucky baby daddy to be? You guess it: Ben.

On the periphery of the series, Lizzy and Ben and have dancing around each other and we get more of that back story with old text messages and scenes that happened during books 2 & 3. DEEP ties all those books together and shows that Ben and Lizzy aren't just a random hookup. There's a lot more depth and layers there.

Lizzy has been my favorite since I met her in book 2. I love her spunk and sass and attitude. Ben I never really got a feel for because he was always in the background. He rarely did much besides play bass and crack the occasional one-liner. It was good to see a bit more of him.

I will say this book was the one that lacked the most substance (but it's also the shortest in the series by far). It felt a bit rushed in places, but it's still a great way to end the series (that epilogue.... <3 love="" series="" span="" ter.="" this="">

Aug 30, 2015

Review: Lead by Kylie Scott

Title: Lead
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #3
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
As the lead singer of Stage Dive, Jimmy is used to getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, whether it's booze, drugs, or women. However, when a PR disaster serves as a wake-up call about his life and lands him in rehab, he finds himself with Lena, a new assistant to keep him out of trouble.

Lena's not willing to take any crap from the sexy rocker and is determined to keep their relationship completely professional, despite their sizzling chemistry. But when Jimmy pushes her too far and Lena leaves, he realizes that he may just have lost the best thing that ever happened to him.


JIMMY'S BOOK! was my first thought when I clutched this book to my chest. Jimmy is my favorite Stage Dive member (what can I say? I like 'em tortured and broken.), and I've been waiting eagerly to get into his book.

Jimmy, the recovering bad boy frontman for the band, is the big brother of the group. That got a little derailed when he was using, but now it becomes abundantly clear in LEAD that Jimmy is the leader of the group. 

Jimmy and Lena definitely have an antagonist relationship that slowly (very slowly) morphs into more. But with Lena trying to stay professional and Jimmy's intense need for total control, it takes a little while to get there. The banter between these two is the best foreplay. They had me cracking up regularly. 

What I like it wasn't instantly that they were together - in fact, there's no sexy times for the first ... 60% of the book? This just builds up the tension and makes their connection more real and true. At first I was as frustrated as Lena, but the payoff was worth it.

Kylie Scott did it again with the third installment of the series!

Aug 28, 2015

Review: Play by Kylie Scott

Title: Play
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #2
Source: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Mal Ericson, drummer for the world famous rock band Stage Dive, needs to clean up his image fast--at least for a little while. Having a good girl on his arm should do the job just fine. Mal doesn't plan on this temporary fix becoming permanent, but he didn't count on finding the one right girl. 
Anne Rollins never thought she'd ever meet the rock god who plastered her teenage bedroom walls--especially not under these circumstances. Anne has money problems. Big ones. But being paid to play the pretend girlfriend to a wild life-of-the-party drummer couldn't end well. No matter how hot he is. Or could it?


"Read Mal's book," the said.

"Mal is mine!" they said.

"PLAY is the best in the series," they said.

OK, OK. I get it. I get why everyone who has read PLAY proclaims Kylie Scott is a genius and their hero and why they stake ownership flags all over Mal's tattooed, muscular body. I GET IT.

But, to be honest, Mal wasn't the highlight for me in PLAY - Anne was. Anne with her unbreakable spirit, easy going nature and kindness was by far my favorite part. She wasn't a doormat, but she also wasn't a hard ass. I loved how protective she was of her sister and Mal and her friends. I loved the way she stood up for herself.

Don't get me wrong, Mal is hysterical. But I was exhausted for Anne by the end of this book. He's like the Energizer Bunny hopped up on ecstasy and crystal meth. And when he bottoms out, he hits the ground hard. His manic swings gave me whiplash; I just held on to Anne and rode the book out.

The balance of Mal and Anne is what makes the romance. She doesn't try to change him and he encourages her to be braver. 

This is a great follow up to LICK (book 1). I am all about the Stage Dive boys and their crazy lives and the women who wade through the mess to find their happily ever after. Love, love this series!

Aug 27, 2015

Review: Lick by Kylie Scott

Title: Lick
Author: Kylie Scott
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Genre: New Adult, Musicians, Contemporary, Romance
Series: Stage Dive #1
Source: Finished copy from publisher
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Evelyn Thomas's plans for celebrating her twenty-first birthday in Las Vegas were big. Huge. But she sure never meant to wake up on the bathroom floor with a hangover to rival the black plague, a very attractive half-naked tattooed man in her room, and a diamond on her finger large enough to scare King Kong. Now if she could just remember how it all happened.

In Kylie Scott's 
Lick, one thing is certain: being married to one of the hottest rock stars on the planet is sure to be a wild ride.


I discovered this book thanks to our PubbyLove adventures in July. I was told both by the publicist, Michelle, and another blogger, Stephanie, that this series was hot and awesome and fantastic and I walked out with a copy of it and promptly dove it.

You know how there are books you just love for no special reason? It's not ground breaking world building or artfully crafted sentences, but it's just a good, enjoyable book that sucks you into the world and you instantly fall in love with (almost) every character you meet? That was my experience with LICK.

From the first page, I was hooked on this unconventional, whirlwind romance. I was captivated by these two people - Ev and David - who were trying to sort it out. I love them together. I absolutely love them. Having now read the entire series, I can say that they're my favorite couple of the series and it stays that way throughout every book. They're amazing together.

If you want a fun, crazy, and sexy book, I can't recommend LICK enough. Kylie Scott is my new author crush and I love her. These books are perfect for fans of Jay Crownover and Lauren Dane.

Aug 25, 2015

Review: Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Title: Until Friday Night
Author: Abbi Glines
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Series: The Field Party #1
Source: ARC from BEA
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 4 ½ Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go… 

Anytime a book is compared to Friday Night Lights, it's pretty much a guarantee that I'll be checking it out. High school and football just compels me in a way few other books do, but it seems like they always leave me wanting more. At least that's how I felt until I read UNTIL FRIDAY NIGHT.

This books is everything I crave - romance, sports, angst, family, love, and sacrifice. And learning. Maggie and West learn so much about themselves and each other.

Maggie is such a heroine in this book. Not just West's rock, but truly the anchor of the entire story. She's dealt with and is still dealing with a lot, but she's able to see something in West that draws her out of her shell. It's always easier to focus on others' problems than your own, and that's what Maggie does. She gives West what she never had - a friend, a haven in the storm, and a calming presence.

West is a total wildcard and a bit of an asshat, to be honest. But once you break down those layers, this golden boy will own your heart. It's hard not to root for him, but nothing made me happier than Maggie standing up to him.


At one point West gets extremely possessive and jealous seeing Maggie with another guy and he runs the other guy off. Maggie flat out tells him that she's done nothing wrong and his behavior and attachment to her is unhealthy. THIS COMPLETELY MADE ME LOVE THIS BOOK. Any lingering doubt was cast aside here where Maggie puts her foot down and says that sh*t isn't gonna fly with her and they need to take a break. I'm all for an alpha male, but an alpha douche is still a douche.


I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. It is a bit graphic for younger teens. The sexuality isn't gratuitously explicit, but it is there. It's very much an upper-YA books and very much a new favorite of mine.

Aug 24, 2015

Review: Scandal Never Sleeps by Lexie Blake & Shayla Black

Title: Scandal Never Sleeps
Author: Lexie Blake & Shayla Black
Publisher:  Berkley Romance
Publication Date: 8.18.2015
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Series: Perfect Gentlemen #1
Source:  ARC from publisher
Buy: Amazon

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
They are the Perfect Gentlemen of Creighton Academy: privileged, wealthy, powerful friends with a wild side. But a deadly scandal is about to tear down their seemingly ideal lives . . .

Maddox Crawford’s sudden death sends Gabriel Bond reeling. Not only is he burying his best friend, he’s cleaning up Mad’s messes, including his troubled company. Grieving and restless, Gabe escapes his worries in the arms of a beautiful stranger. But his mind-blowing one-night stand is about to come back to haunt him . . .

Mad groomed Everly Parker to be a rising star in the executive world. Now that he’s gone, she’s sure her job will be the next thing she mourns, especially after she ends up accidentally sleeping with her new boss. If only their night together hadn’t been so incendiary—or Gabe like a fantasy come true . . .

As Gabe and Everly struggle to control the heated tension between them, they discover evidence that Mad’s death was no accident. Now they must bank their smoldering passions to hunt down a murderer—because Mad had secrets that someone was willing to kill for, and Gabe or Everly could be the next target . . .

I will never turn down a new Shayla Black or Lexie Blake book, but pairing the two together makes me all the more excited. SCANDAL NEVER SLEEPS is the first installment in what is sure to be an amazing, thrilling, and swoony new series. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours.

Can I first talk about Everly? Because I love her. She made this book amazing for me. I love when Gabe got a little controlling or high handed (because he wanted to protect her), she immediately shut that down and told him they needed to end things now because she would never be the docile little woman who waited for the men to finish saving the day. I feel like I have been waiting years for a heroine to say that. She was smart and sure and confident … The epitome of a heroine.

Gabriel … He was a little harder for me to wrap my head around. By the end I was Team Gabe, but it took some getting there. He is a bit of an ass and very used to getting his way.

This book nicely sets up the series and I can’t wait for the Gentlemen to keep unraveling the mystery. Typically in a contemporary series you have self-contained books where each book can standalone. This series seems to have a central plot that will tie all the books together. I can’t wait to see how this ends.

Aug 20, 2015

Irish Banana Book Tours - Blogger Sign Ups

So I've started dabbling into the world of book tours over the last few months and I love organizing them. While this is not me starting an "official company", I am trying to organize all the people who said they wanted to be tour hosts so I'm not pitching erotica to someone who only reads middle grade.

Make sense? Kinda? Sorta? Maybe?

If you want to sign up, fill out the form below. If you don't ... *shrugs* Totally your call. I won't hate you (much) if you don't sign up. ;-)

Aug 19, 2015

Blog Tour: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys with Danielle Paige

Welcome, welcome Danielle Paige to the blog! I'm so excited for SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS and to chat about writing horror (my current obsession).

Confession. This is the first horror story I have ever written.

Yet as I developed the characters and plot behind Dark and Scary Parts and All, I quickly realized that had more than enough inspiration to draw from…

As a kid, I was never the one spinning tales over roasting s’mores by a campfire -- I was the girl hiding behind her pillow watching Halloween.  But I was still watching. At the same time, I was learning that there were different ways to be scared and that I preferred the more psychological ones to the pure id of a straight up slasher flick. Not that gore didn’t get the job done, just that for me there was something even more chilling and satisfying about the first kind. Hitchcock’s Psycho, Stephen King’s The Shining and Carrie…movies and books where the knife twist began in the audience’s mind long before it made contact with any flesh onscreen.

Which brings me to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, i.e., my gateway drug to all horror.  It was the very first monster tale that I fell in love with, probably because I asked myself the same question that every kid does after the first read: what is a monster?  Is it the creature himself, or the Doctor who created him? 

And then there’s The Omen. Damien was the very first creepy kid I’d ever seen in a movie and I found it fascinating to watch his parents decide what to do when they realize that kid is the heir to all evil. (Now there are tons of these movies -- the long haired ghost girl in The Ring, The Children of the Corn, head spinning Regan in The Exorcist -- but Damien made the mold for innocence lost.)

As I reflect on these wonderfully horrific tales, I’ve come to realize that most of the stories that make my skin crawl – and the ones that I draw inspiration from – are the ones aren’t just horror stories. They’re love stories, too. Dark, twisty ones that don’t necessarily end with happily ever after, but there is love there all the same. For example, Frankenstein’s’ creature doesn’t want to take over the world, he wants to run away with a girl. And The Omen is about familial love. Because while Damien’s parents love him, but they have to save the world from him. Interesting, right?

So when I finally put pen to paper and wrote my own scary tale, I applied all that I had learned. Namely, the horror stories that really make my skin crawl are the ones that make you fall in love just a little…before they make you scream.  

-Danielle Paige

Aug 11, 2015

Giveaway: Toxic by Kim Karr

About TOXIC:
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not...

New York Times bestselling author Kim Karr turns up the heat in a smoking hot, emotionally compelling new novel that takes you into the world of Manhattan’s elite.

In Toxic, Jeremy McQueen, a sexy, intense, sometimes brooding entrepreneur goes after what he wants—the woman he left behind years ago. Phoebe St. Claire, a put together, in control socialite-turned-CEO has been drifting through life searching for something she thought she'd never find again—the right man to share her future.

Our passion was boundless. Our lust untamed. And our desire endless. He was the only man who ever made me feel alive. Then, I betrayed him.

When he reappeared, I didn’t question it. Trust rarely survives the wrecking ball, so when he let me in back in—I didn’t hesitate.

Maybe I should have.

What began as a bid to save my family business, turned into a second chance at love. It felt so romantic. Working together, side by side, with the man I loved. My dream come true.

Nothing is as good as it seems.

We had our issues, but then again, every couple does. It wasn’t jealousy, or our too-hot sex life that I should have been worried about.

It was his darkside.

I never saw the end coming, until it slammed me in the face. The question is—did he? 

Was revenge his plan all along?

About Kim Karr:

I live in Florida with my husband and four kids. I've always had a love for reading books and writing. Being an English major in college, I wanted to teach at the college level but that was not to be. I went on to receive an MBA and became a project manager until quitting to raise my family. I currently work part-time with my husband and full-time embracing one of my biggest passions—writing.

I wear a lot of hats! Writer, book-lover, wife, soccer-mom, taxi driver, and the all around go-to person of the family. However, I always find time to read. One of my favorite family outings use to be taking my kids to the bookstore or the library. Today, my oldest child is in college and my twins are juniors so they no longer go with me on these outings. And although I don't need to go to the actual store anymore because I have the greatest device ever invented—a Kindle, I still do. There's nothing like a paperback. So now my four year old and I make dates out of going to the bookstore--it's time I love and cherish.

I like to believe in soulmates, kindred spirits, true friends, and Happily-Ever-Afters. I love to drink champagne, listen to music, and hopes to always stay young at heart. <3 span=""> 


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Aug 10, 2015

Blogger Anonymous: All ARC'd Up

Hey, y'all! It's been a while since I did a Blogger Anonymous post (a post in which I not so anonymously post about an issue that's burning my biscuits so we can chat about it), and something happened last night that totally set me off.

I was perusing my Instagram feed as one does and what should I see but this:

An ARC for sale. By a blogger. Upon further looking I saw that this wasn't the first time this blogger had sold an ARC.

Giving this poster the benefit of the doubt (even though every ARC has "NOT FOR SALE" stamped across it in multiple spots), I commented on the thread and reminded her it was illegal to sell ARCs.

She deleted my comment and sold the book to another commenter. I commented again to both of them and told them both it was illegal. 

And I was blocked. 

It floored me that both the buyer and seller are bloggers. As bloggers, you know the Rules of the ARC:

1. Thou shalt not sell thy ARC
2. Though shalt abide by Rule #1
3. When thou is in doubt, thy will refer to Rule #2 for instruction about thy ARC

I mean, seriously - I says NOT FOR SALE all over it.

A few months ago there was a scandal over at eBay where people were selling ARCs of highly coveted books that had been gotten at BEA (Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo to name a few).

Maybe you're a newer blogger or new to the book world or new to ARCs, so let's go over a few things.

1. What is an ARC/ARE and what does it do?
ARC = Advanced Reader Copy
ARE = Advanced Reader Edition

Same thing, just different names. These are produced in limited quantity by a publisher or authors for the sole purpose of reviewing. These copies are distributed to media outlets, magazines, libraries, and (yes) bloggers and booktubers in hopes they will be covered on that particular publication.

Media coverage and reviews = sales = $$$ for publishers.

With me so far?

These books often contain imperfections that are worked out by the final bound publication, such as grammatical errors, spelling errors, formatting issues, and (in some rare cases) entirely different endings/plots/passages.

2. Why it isn't OK to sell them:
Publishing is a business. It's a career. From writers to editors to cover designers to the publicity and marketing teams, it is a real life job - the same thing that you or someone in your family does to make sure you have a roof over your head, clothing, food, and all the necessities. When someone sells an ARC, none of the people mentioned in the production of that book get a cut from it.

So basically it would be like getting your paycheck and it being $100 short because a few people decided to take a few dollars at a time from your check just because they can. Not because you didn't do your work (you totally did your work and kicked ass at it) but someone else decided that your work was also their work so why shouldn't they get a chunk of it?

See how that makes absolutely no sense? And how selling an ARC is basically taking money directly away from an author? A publicist? A company?

3. But I never asked for this ARC and I need to get rid of it - why should I have to pay to get rid of it?!
Oh, poor you. Poor, poor you. Someone sent you a book for free that you didn't ask for because they hoped you would enjoy it.

What is the world coming to when people get random, free bookmail?

If you receive an unsolicited book for review, you have a few options:

1. Read it and review it
2. Read it and don't review it
3. Pass it along to another blogger
4. Pass it along to friends and/or family
5. Donate it to your local library/school
6.Recycle it

See how none of those options involve selling it?

YA Highway actually did an excellent post about what to do with an ARC when you're done with it that I recommend checking out if you need options. I'm really blessed that I have YADC around me and I can usually pass my books along to another blogger when I'm done.

I can't afford to randomly ship books to people, but if people are willing to pay shipping, I will happily send them a book or 20. But note, I am not selling these books - I don't make a profit on them. It's one thing to be reimbursed for shipping. It's another thing to make a profit off something that isn't yours.

4. But I asked for a gift card ... not actual money:
Still counts. A gift card can be the same thing as money. A $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble spends the same as a $10 bill.

5. Digital ARCs don't count because they aren't real books, right?
Look, Pinnochio, that's not how this works. If anything, selling/sharing digital ARCs is worse. Once a digital file is uploaded in to the interwebs, it's out there for anyone to see and pirate. 

An author's pre-book launch is usually:

10% excitement
10% freaking out
30% planning launch events
50% playing 'Whack-A-Mole' reporting links to illegal copies of their books

Martina Boone's debut COMPULSION was up for illegal download on multiple web sites six months before release.

Would you photocopy an ARC and upload it it for people to read? It's the same thing.

6. So #BooksForTrade is evil?
No. Not at all. Trading an ARC for another book (finished or not) is OK and actually encouraged by publishers. I've actually spoken to a lot of publicists about this and it's bonus publicity for them.

It's simple math (and I suck at math). Let's say the average blogger's post reaches 500 people.

1 ARC + 1 Blogger = 500 people
1 ARC + 3 Bloggers = 1.500 people
1 ARC + 6 Bloggers = 3,000 people

See how the more you share, the more chances a book has to be review/featured? 

Trading a book for a book is one thing. Trading a book for a form of currency (money or gift card) is not OK.

7. How do we stop the madness?
Before you go grabbing your pitchforks, take a breath. I was so mad last night that I was tempted to throw this person's identity out there and just let the chips fall where they may. But what good would that do?

I did report what I saw to the publisher who was publishing those titles I found for sale and what they do now is beyond me. 

Publicly crucifying and shaming someone just stirs a lot of people up and leads to more drama. Which is why I'm not going to publicly share the bloggers that inspired this post.

If you're unsure about something, ask. Ask a publicist. Ask another blogger. As both. Ask 20 bloggers. Pose the question for all of twitter. But willful ignorance isn't a defense, especially when a book plainly says NOT FOR SALE on it.

Excerpt: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Adi Alsaid is one of the sweetest, funniest, fantastic authors I have ever met. He has a natural charm and wit that plays out brilliantly in his writing and I am so excited to share this excerpt from NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES (his sophomore debut).

Chapter 5- Making a Mess

                When they left Chili’s, Dave felt wonderful. Things had gone wrong, but in the exact way they should have. Now he had the evening with Julia to look forward to. He sincerely doubted bright green hair would look good on him, but he had succumbed to Julia’s rationale about the Nevers making the end of the year more interesting. So what if it was some insane attempt to prove herself original, probably in an attempt to win her mom’s approval; the Nevers brought out a joy in Julia that he loved being a part of. As long as nothing between them changed, he didn’t have much to complain about.
“Why’d we add this to the list anyway?” Dave asked, after they’d purchased hair dye at the CVS and were parking at Julia’s house. He was holding the boxes of green and pink dye in a plastic bag in his lap.
“My mom,” Julia said. “She’s always told me that changing looks has nothing to do with leading a unique life. It’s usually the sign of a pretty ordinary inner self.”
They walked up the driveway to Julia’s house, a modest two-story with the garage open, her dad’s workstation glistening with tools. The lawn was lush, almost overgrown. A porch swing hung slightly off balance and in need of a paint job. Julia pushed open the door, placing her bag on the little entry table which held a basket for keys and loose change and which was often piled up with unopened mail. A pleasant smell wafted towards them from the kitchen.
“Hey homies,” Julia said when she entered the kitchen. Tom and Ethan were sitting at the kitchen island hunched over a couple of notebooks. Someone Dave didn’t know was standing by the stove, tending to about a million different things; a wok, two saucepans, a cutting board stockpiled with vegetables. He turned over his shoulder to glance at Dave and Julia then wiped the sweat off his forehead with a dish towel before returning to cooking.
“Hello hello,” Tom said, moving to kiss Julia on the cheek and hug Dave. “How was your day?”
“Impossible to summarize in small talk,” Julia said, walking over to Ethan, who was frowning at his notebook and tapping his pen against the counter of the kitchen island. Julia gave his back a hug. “You look stressed, dad.”
“Restaurant stuff,” he sighed and tossed the pen down, sitting up and rubbing a hand through his graying hair. He almost always wore checkered shirts with the top button undone. He kept a cigarette tucked into his ear, though Dave had never seen him smoke. He’d started an internet company before they’d adopted Julia, then sold it to start a string of businesses in the last two decades, none of them quite as successful as the first one. The latest venture was a restaurant. “Say hi to Chef Mike. We’re doing menu testing.”
“Hi, Chef Mike!” Julia and Dave said at the same time.
Julia walked over to Chef Mike to see him work while deflecting her dads’ questions about her day, probably since the only mentionable thing about it was tickling a possibly middle-aged (it was hard to tell exactly how old Marroney was) teacher. Meanwhile, Dave sorted their mail into little piles on the counter; bills, junk, personal/miscellaneous. Dave never got any regular mail himself, save for last year’s college recruiting packets. Aside from that, he was convinced that ninety percent of the mail in the world was credit card offers. He came across a postcard mailed from Mexico, the handwriting familiar and addressed to Julia.
                “Postcard for you,” Dave said, holding it out for her. Her bare feet pitter-pattered against the kitchen tiles and she snatched it from his hand.
                Julia read quickly, almost breathing the words out loud. Then she laughed and said, “She sends her love,” to Tom and Ethan. The postcards didn’t come often, so when they did, Dave knew, Julia read them over and over again, as if they were poetry. Then she’d put them up in her room connected by strings to push pins on a map indicating where they’d been sent from. Ecuador, China, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Mexico. Julia traced her mom’s journeys around the world and used the few details she knew to imagine the days when she would be able to as well. Without question, the best night in Dave’s life was the night he and Julia sat staring at the map, splitting a bottle of wine stolen from the garage and planning travels the two of them would go on together.
                “Is she still in Mexico City?” Tom asked, dipping a spoon into one of the sauces simmering on the stove to take a taste. “More ginger?” He said to Chef Mike, who shook his head.
                “Yup,” Julia said. “Working at an art gallery and part-time at a bar-slash-restaurant-slash-arthouse movie theater.”
                “That sounds about right,” Tom said with a smile. “That’s gotta be the longest she’s spent in one place since you were born.”
                “She says it might be her favorite place she’s lived in. Although I’m sure she says that about everywhere she’s been, because she only picks amazing places.” She slipped the postcard into her shirt pocket. “We’re gonna go upstairs to dye our hair. Call us when some of this amazing-smelling food is ready.”
                “That’s funny, I thought I heard you say you were dying your hair,” Ethan said, looking up from his notebook. Julia nodded with a smirk and Ethan looked over at Dave.
                “I’m going with green,” Dave said with a nod.
                “Don’t you have to ask permission from us to do something like this?” Tom said.
                “I’m a college acceptee,” Julia said. “That pretty much grants me freedom to do whatever I want, except for felonies.”
                “How’d you get talked into this?” Tom asked Dave.
                “Your daughter has a talent for corrupting the youth.”
                “Don’t I know it,” Tom said. He crossed his muscular arms in front of his chest and appraised the two of them. “I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my iron fist of authority in this household.”
                “Don’t worry,” Julia said, grabbing the CVS bag with the hair dye off the counter and kissing him on the cheek. “You can still tell dad what to do all the time.”
                “Hey,” Ethan called half-heartedly, his attention slipping back into his work, “I resemble that remark.”
                “Resemble? What, are you having a stroke, old man? Don’t you mean resent?”
                “It’s a Three Stooges reference,” Dave explained.
                “There is hope yet,” Ethan said, giving Dave a smile as Julia dragged him out of the kitchen by the arm. “Don’t make a mess,” he called out after them.
                “We are definitely making a mess,” Julia whispered to Dave as they went up the stairs toward her room.
                “Which of us is going first?” Dave said, reading the tiny print on the side of the box.
“Let’s do yours first. Your hair’s darker, so we should probably let bleach sink in longer for you.”
                They grabbed some old towels from the linen closet and spread them around the bathroom in Julia’s room. Julia snapped on the gloves that came in the box and Dave sat on a stool in front of the sink, watching Julia go over the instructions again. She had the most hilariously exaggerated reactions to every step of the process, and Dave sat back and watched, relishing each expression. Just as she was about to dab a bit of the dye on Dave’s arm to test for skin allergies, Debbie the cat jumped onto Dave’s lap, getting a green streak down her back.
                “Oops. Dad’s not going to be a fan of that.”
                As the bleach began to do its thing, whatever it was bleach actually did to lighten hair, they swapped spots. Dave draped a towel over Julia’s shoulders and she undid her ponytail, her hair a light brown cascade that brushed against his fingers. “Have we sufficiently researched this process?”
                “Depends on what you mean by sufficiently.”
                “It might not look like a professional dye job but I won’t get us killed.”
                “I guess that’s reassuring?” Dave said making sure the question mark was understood. After the bleach had magically transformed them into blondes—Julia pulling off the look much better than Dave ever could, though he admitted he was biased—Dave took a seat back into the chair and watched a slightly different version of his best friend pour out the dye into a little container provided in the kit.
                “This stuff smells great,” Dave said.
                “Don’t you dare get high off the fumes. Sit still,” she said, straightening his head and focusing on the dye job.
                It didn’t take her long to finish, since Dave didn’t have all that much hair. The instructions said to let it sit for at least twenty-five minutes, though the Internet suggested much longer, so while they waited for his hair to really grab hold of the green, they changed spots again. He tested the dye against her arm, then mixed the two liquids together as she had. He shook the bottle, careful not to spill. When he took his finger off the top though, a single pink drop that clung to his gloved hand dripped off and landed right in the middle of Debbie’s forehead.
                “That’s what she gets for being so in love with you,” Julia said, looking down at her cat rubbing her side against Dave’s leg, unaware of the splotchy dye job she was receiving.
                Dave squeezed out the dye onto his fingers, and for the next twenty minutes he became lost in the task. He worked slowly, not because he wanted to stretch out the time, but because it was Julia’s hair, and everything to do with Julia he did with care. When he was done, he decided to wait with Julia , and that they would rinse the dye off at the same time. They tried to wipe Debbie clean, but she kept moving around and the drops of pink and green she’d absorbed spread across her fur.
                “She looks like a tie-dyed shirt gone wrong,” Julia said.
                “That doesn’t bode well for our hair.”
                Julia sat on the counter and looked at herself in the mirror, leaning in to examine the pink stains by her hairline. “The genius in this is that if it turns out shitty it’s even more of a cliché.”
                “That’ll be a comfort when everyone’s laughing at us.”
                “Look at you worrying about what others think. Way to get into the spirit,” she smiled, then gave him a friendly tap with her foot. “I think that’s long enough. Time for the big reveal.” She hopped off the counter and turned on her shower, grabbing the removable head and waiting for the water to warm up a bit.
                They helped each other rinse the excess dye from their hair, which resulted in more dye getting all over the bathroom. “It looks like a couple of cartoon animals were blown up in here,” Dave said.
                They turned to face each other, and when Julia asked how her hair had turned out he had to swallow down the word ‘sexy.’ “It looks pretty good,” he said. “How’s mine?”
                She cast her eyes up at his hairline and bit her bottom lip. “I couldn’t have hoped for better,” she said then laughed. “Maybe you should just look for yourself.” She moved aside to let him step in front of the mirror.
                “My God.”
                “I think the lighting in here is bad,” Julia said, suppressing another laugh.
                “Julia, it looks like someone vomited on my head.”
                Dave looked at her in the mirror, petrified. She brought her hands up to her mouth, her perfectly pink hair framing that lovely face of hers as the laughter tore through her.
                “This is seriously the worst shade of green I’ve ever seen.” Dave turned on the faucet and ran water through his hair, and the pretty shade of green water that poured into the sink only made the joke crueler. “There’s no way I’m walking around with this on my head.”
                “Oh, come on. You really pull it off.” Julia was doubled over in laughter, trying to catch her breath.
                “I’m shaving it off.”
                “No, don’t! The Nevers!” She dropped to the floor, not taking her eyes off of him, her hand clutching at her stomach. “Oww, Dave, the laughter hurts.”
                “The Nevers just said dye your hair. They didn’t say anything about keeping vomit on my head for the rest of the school year. I’m gonna go to the mall to get this cut. Right now.”
                “If I keep looking at it I might pee myself.” She laughed again, either pretending to wipe a tear from her eye or actually doing it, Dave couldn’t tell at this point. “Wait until the morning. Maybe it’ll look better in daylight.”

                Dave grimaced but stayed put. “Only because I’m such a good friend and you’re clearly enjoying this.” He lingered by the mirror for a second, looking down at Julia, who was trying to fight off another giggling fit. It was hard not to want this to go on, whatever his hair looked like, hard not to chase after the idea of the Nevers, too, when the result was a whole day spent with Julia laughing at his side, her cheeks as pink as her hair, eyes suffused with joy. “It’s going to be a strange end of the year, isn’t it?”


Never date your best friend

Always be original

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken 

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school. 

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never die your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he's broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It's either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. 

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the clichés, they've actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

About Adi Alsaid

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City, then studied at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it's no surprise that after graduating, he did not go into business world but rather packed up his apartment into his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He's now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he's lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas, and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him more places will eventually be added to the list. Let's Get Lost is his YA debut.