Book Review: The One That Got Away

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theonethatgotaway

Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Bethany Chase
Release Date: 03/31/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars

The One Who Got Away was actually completely off my radar until my Top 10 Tuesday post last week about books on my spring TBR. It was on my TBR list prior to that, but I didn’t have a galley to review and I probably hadn’t even thought about it since I added it to my TBR list way back when. But thank god I rediscovered it, requested it on NetGalley, got approved, and had four hours on a train to the New York City Teen Author Festival to read it because it is a damn good book.

Obviously I love my YA, but there’s something I’ve really loved lately about reading books about women my age or close my age. Sarina, who’s 31-years-old, fits that bill perfectly. She’s an up-and-coming, but successful architect in Austin, TX. She’s been dating Noah for four years and even though he’s spending the year in Argentina working she fully expects to marry him and live happily ever after once he returns. Then Eamon, a former Olympic swimmer she had a tryst with eight or so years ago comes back into her life. Eamon is good friends with her best friend/roommate Danny and after Eamon moves back to Austin, Sarina and Eamon reconnect and Sarina also starts working on remodeling the house Eamon buys.

Noah is the safe bet for Sarina, her dad was never in her life (although she has an amazing step-dad) and her mom died while she was in college so she’s been searching for a family ever since. She is 100% postive that Noah can give her that family, but as she starts to reconnect with Eamon she questions if having that safety and security means not having real passion. The fact that there is a love triangle and cheating in this book was a concern and Sarina often acted in ways that were completely frustrating and honestly just stupid, but they were also incredibly authentic and believable. Towards the beginning of the story Noah is a great guy and there was a time when I worried Chase was going to change his personality to make him the bad guy, but luckily that didn’t really happen (maybe a little). The questions the story raised about adult love and whether you need passion or security or what’s really the best option were spot-on and handled really impressively. And yes, the romance was predictable, but really, what romance isn’t predictable?

There are a lot of good things in this book, but there are three major strengths: the relationships, Sarina’s career, and the city of Austin. There are two romances in this book, Sarina and Noah’s and Sarina and Eamon’s. For most of the book Sarina and Noah are together (but not physically together) and she spends a lot of time missing him and wishing he was there. Both of these romances, and the falling apart of the Noah one and the building of the Eamon one, were done really well. But outside of the romances the other friendship and family relationships were also handled beautifully. Sarina’s friendship with Danny could have been the cliche gay best friend friendship and it wasn’t. Sarina also has a great friendship with her college friend Nicole. Then there is Sarina’s relationship with her step-dad which was amazing and her step-sister, which was a much smaller part of the book, but still impactful. Even the slightly contentious, but then cautiously friendly relationship Sarina has with Noah’s mom was developed well and interesting to read about. This is also a book that does a great job of highlighting that there are families everyone is born into and families people create for themselves.

Sarina’s career as an architect was also a really big and really great part of the book. Even though she’s successful she’s still operating on a pretty small scale so it was nice to watch her business grow. Not only was her work on Eamon’s house featured heavily, but so is her work for a local spa and her pitch to design other locations for the spa as it expanded nationally. There were a couple times when there were a few too many architectural details thrown into the story, but overall it was cool to see a main character with such passion and drive for her career.

And then there was Austin. Austin is a city I absolutely love so I had my fingers crossed that Chase would do it justice. Luckily she did a great job with the city of Austin from restaurants and bars to the neighborhoods where people live to the shopping and even the things outside the city. I used to go to Austin all the time and it’s been a while since I’ve been back but now I’m dying to go even more. My one issue was that Sarina took pictures while shopping in Uncommon Objects. Anyone who’s ever been there (and I’ve spent hours in that story) knows how militant the workers are about you not taking pictures. (True story: last time I was there I found this far of teeth from an old dentist and I so wanted to buy it, but didn’t and I’m still mad I didn’t get it.)

Bottom LineThe One That Got Away is one of the few books I’ve gotten really excited for in 2015 so far. Bethany Chase isn’t quite a Taylor Jenkins Reid, but she does do a stellar job of telling the story of one woman, in her early 30s, who’s making her way through her career, romance, family, and friends. The relationships in this book are stellar as is the settings. Do yourself a favor and pick this up.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Love Letters to the Dead
Two Years Ago
Book Review: Just Listen


Book Review: Deep

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Title: Deep
Author: Kylie Scott
Release Date: 03/31/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A few months ago I did a review of the first three books in the Stage Dive romance series that focuses on a Maroon 5-esque band and the four bandmates’ love lives. I was a fan of the first book, was disappointed by the second, but for the most part enjoyed the third. I have to say, if I had to have one of the books be the one I devoted a full review to I’m glad it’s this one because it is my favorite of the series.

Somehow I never expected to like Lizzy and Ben as much as I did. Lizzy is Anne’s younger sister and given how crazy Anne and Mal’s book drove me I guess I thought Lizzy might do the same. While Lizzy was young, she’s still in college, and kind of naive in ways that drove me a little batty, for the most part I was surprised at how much I liked her and what a strong character she was. Ben always came across as the silent brooding type so I never quite got a feel for him. Honestly I didn’t get that much more of a feel for him in this book, but from from what we got to see through Lizzy’s eyes I really liked.

I also thought the pregnancy story line would drive me crazy. Lizzy is a bright girl with a big future and after a one-night stand with her rockstar crush she’s pregnant and totally devoted to having the baby? I guess I question if she would immediately be so attached to the idea of having a baby (there isn’t any religious or family pressure at play here), but somehow, again, it worked. Maybe I’m just getting older and the idea of having kids is seeming somewhat more normal to me, but I thought pregnant Lizzy was adorable. It was also really sweet how devoted Lizzy was to the baby and how protective she was over the baby, even from Ben. It was nice to see a strong female character that wasn’t about keeping the baby or having a baby to get a man, but keeping the man in her life if he was going to be good for her baby.

In a series like this one there’s also the added bonus of being able to catch up with the earlier couples. Even though Anne and Mal drove me crazy it was nice to see them again and catch up with the rest of the guys, especially Lena and Jimmy. Also, the fact that in this book they were on tour rather than in California or Portland like the other books helped keep it fresh. Traveling to different cities, staying in hotels, seeing groupies and interview, and concerts up close really gave this book a different, but obviously not too different feel and, especially by the fourth book in the series, that was really nice to see.

It’s a little weird that I haven’t talked at all about the romance. This is a romance, but in the end it was more about Lizzy finding herself and becoming a mom. That said, the romance was pretty nice. Lizzy and Ben start out as friends and actually remain friends, with a healthy dose of sexual tension, for most of the book. This was much more of a friends-to-lovers story than any of the others in the series and since I’m a fan of those I really appreciated that. It also had its sexier moments which, like the other books in the series were well done and steamy.

Bottom Line: If you are thinking of giving the Stage Dive series a read I would definitely recommend it. And even if you aren’t thinking about reading the Stage Dive series I would still consider picking up Deep. Not only is this book a sweet and sexy romance, it also has a strong, feisty main character who’s having a baby for all the right reasons and on her way to being a great mom.

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Sekret
Two Years Ago
: Waiting on Wednesday: The Summer I Became a Nerd


New York City Teen Author Festival 2015

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Another year, another New York City Teen Author Festival with the lovely Estelle. This will probably be the last year I get to attend as next year I will be in the tropical warmth (shhhh) of Michigan or Minnesota at grad school during March so I really wanted to have a great experience. If anyone read last year’s post they know I sounded like a lunatic and this year, just due to time and my brain being in a million different places, I will sound slightly less insane, but probably also share less information.

Unlike last year I only went for Saturday, but Saturday is the big day so I was ok with that. First was was Libba Bray‘s keynote about books and gender. Libby Bray was good. She’s a little rah-rah for my personal taste, but I thought she brought up really good points. Her speech was mostly about women and YA not being taken seriously which I think had some valid points (basically about how publishing is one of the few industries dominated by women and that YA is even more female, but that lately we’ve been glorifying boy books to make up for all the girls who work/read YA (and that is a gross oversimplification of her points, I know)). It was a little long and I could have done without all of her own market research stuff about talking to kids about what they want in books. All her points about “boy” books vs “girl” books were spot on for me. She also talked about the Andrew Smith controversy, which I hadn’t heard about before because my life lately keeps me too busy for Twitter (which is good and bad). Bray mostly defended Smith saying that he said he’s trying and that’s the best any of us can do. I went back and read the Vice article and I think Smith’s words were totally innocuous and this is one of those times I’m happy I’m not on Twitter that much. I’ve only read one of Smith’s books but I had no problem with the depiction of women in Winger. I actually thought it was really sweet and respectful. From what I can tell its a bunch of people who haven’t read Smith’s books, or probably even the full interview, mouthing off. Oh the power of the Internet.

Exploring Feminist YA (Libba BrayGayle FormanNova Ren SumaScott Westerfeld; moderator: David Levithan)

At the time I thought the discussion was interesting but I’m having a hard time remembering what they talked about. There was some discussion about covers and how girl books get pink or kissy covers and how that makes boys not want to read them. Also about how people can’t believe Scott Westerfeld wrote from a girls’ perspective but he’s writing science fiction so what seems less believable? There was also a discussion about how so many classic books are authored by men and I thought that was less interesting and a little silly. Classics are mostly from 100+ years ago and I think the lack of female writers among the classics is something much more indicative of the opportunities for women during that time period and less how we regard women today. If 50 or 100 years from now there still few women authors among classic books then I agree we have a problem.

Issues of Representation in YA (Maria E. AndreuCoe BoothSona CharaipotraDhonielle ClaytonIW GregorioAdam SilveraAndrew Smith; moderator: David Levithan)

AKA the diversity panel and it was great. I wrote in last year’s recap that diversity was sorely lacking at the NYCTAF, but they did a great job of incorporating diversity here. The three authors who are heavily involved with the We Need Diverse Book campaign were kind of the loudest, but for the most part I really enjoyed what they had to say. Basically what I took from the conversation is that people write what they know. Dhonielle Clayton taught at a ballet school so she wrote a book about a ballet academy. Coe Booth, an African-American woman, writes books with no white people (she told this great story about doing a visit to a juvenile detention center and having a white kid ask her where the white people are in her books). To me we don’t need more white people writing about black people or black people writing about Hispanic people or straight people writing about gay people we just need more diverse people at the party to begin with. I also liked the point about diversity within diversity. Not all white/black/Asian/female/rich/poor people have the same experience and I think it’s important to remember that. Especially in the myopic world of blogging (which I have a post brewing about).

After the first two panels and the keynote I was thinking how much better this was than last year (even though I didn’t love the authors as much) and then the last two panels came. The third more so than the fourth were just people talking at each other rather than with each other. It’s hard when the discussion is tied into a specific book by the author. It’s like going to a book club where you haven’t read the book (and even where you have read the book it’s just kind of boring).

The Who You Are and Who You Love (Nora Raleigh BaskinCarolyn Mackler, Chase Night, Cindy RodriguezJennifer E. SmithJenn Marie ThorneWill Walton; moderator: Melissa Walker)

This panel was the worst. Rather than being a discussion the panel was really tied into specific books by the authors (some of which I had read) and that’s just not interesting. It was a lot of talking at each other and very little talking to each other. I love romances so I was excited for the topic, but it just didn’t work. Not only did Melissa Walker introduce each of the panelists and describe their book, she then had them introduce themselves and describe their book. Why did I have to hear that twice? Then it was just all about why they did this and how it relates to their own life (zzzzzzzz). I was just like get me to the beer and the food ASAP. And I love romance! That’s what made it even more disappointing. I do see how it’s hard to talk about romance without specifics, but this still could have been better.

Creating Strong Characters (Sarah Beth DurstTM GoegleinElizabeth KiemKieran ScottJessica SpotswoodRobin TalleySandra Waugh; moderator: Terra Elan McVoy)

This was better than the love discussion, but still not great. Terra Elan McVoy was a good moderator and very funny (she also did the let me introduce these people and then let them introduce themselves, but it was somehow less annoying). There were thankfully less specifics about each authors’ books, but there was still a lot of discussion about their books. Interesting points were made about whether it’s easier to write strong characters in kind of epic fantasy/adventure books versus a contemporary every day story. And in either type of story is it easyto be strong in the big moments but harder to be strong in the little ones. And also what is strength? Resilience? Being proactive? It was interesting to think about. There were lots of references to Katniss and Harry Potter.

And then it was finally time to drink! Overall I would say I enjoyed the authors and discussion at last year’s event, but, with a few exceptions, the format of this year’s event. I also appreciate that they got a real website (one of my suggestions from last year) and that they cut down on the people reading from their books (major snooze fest with so many different authors). I still wish they would link directly to authors on their website and that there were more general discussions rather than specific discussions about the authors’ books. They also had it in a bigger room this year, which was good because it allowed more people in, but, as Estelle pointed out, it was less intimate. I wasn’t really bothered by that, but I could see why it bothered others.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Things on My Bookish Bucket List
Two Years Ago
Top 10 Books I Recommend the Most


Pub Date: Luck of the Irish

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So I kind of screwed this month’s Pub Date up. I swear at one point we discussed doing “Green” as the theme for March (and Andi incorporated green into her post this month, too). Green like St. Patrick’s day. Green like Spring (where is Spring??). And, despite reading the other Pub Date posts this month, I thought we were still doing green. (This is 100% my fault, I am a mess lately.) So I went to the beer distributor looking for a beer with a green label or a green theme and I brainstormed a book with something to do with green and eventually had the brilliant idea to search my blog and see which reviews I’ve mentioned the word “green” in.

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The beer I picked this month is Lagunitas’ Day Time Ale. The description of this beer totally sums up my attitude towards drinking and my life lately: “Sometimes you want a beer, then you realize how much crap you need to do before you call it a day. This is it. Nicely dosed with Big, Round Hop Flavors and a Toasty Malt Foundation to satisfy your every need. But it still lets you stay in the game to do what needs to be done. Yup.” I don’t really know what else I’m supposed to say. If you’ve read any of my Pub Date posts you know I love hoppy beers, especially ones with a higher alcohol percent. What I like about this one is that it isn’t as thick as some hoppy beers, but it still has that hoppy refreshingness that I love.

And then here are the book reviews I’ve written that contain the word “green:”

Loud Awake and Lost: I wonder if the main character lives in Fort Green Brooklyn.

Racing Savannah: I talk about the character Vanessa Green.

Catching Jordan: I talk about Vanessa’s brother, Ty Green.

Stir Me Up: The love interest has green eyes.

Past Perfect: I talk about the hideous green trench coat on the cover of the book.

You Look Different in Real Life: The movie about the kids gets the green light.

Before I found that You Look Different in Real Life review I was excited because apparently if I mention the word “green” it must mean that I really like the book, but I guess that’s only true five out of six times.

Make sure to check out my other Pub Dates:
Brittany
Estelle
Andi

One Year Ago: Book Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter
Two Years Ago
Book Review: Nothing Gold Can Stay


Book Review: Liars, Inc.

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Title: Liars, Inc.
Author: Paula Stokes
Release Date: 03/24/15
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Thriller/Mystery
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After being impressed with The Art of Lainey I was excited to give Liars, Inc. I try. Not only do a love thrillers, but I wanted to see what Paula Stokes did with a male POV and a story that felt very different than Lainey. Like Lainey Liars, Inc. started out kind of slow for me, but unlike Lainey it never really took off.

Going into the story I expected the Liars, Inc. business that Max and his friends start to forge permissions slips, help kids get better grades, and generally do things their parents don’t want them doing, was going to be a really big part of the story. But even at the beginning it wasn’t that big of a part. The story was much more about Max’s relationship with his girlfriend Parvati (whose parents don’t want her dating Max), the difference in Max’s socio-economic status than most of his classmates, and Max’s distrust of authority figures and his issues with his adopted parents. Liars, Inc. was kind of a side business Max, Parvati, and their friend Preston (son of a senator and from the wealthy DeWitt family) started, but it never felt like a focus.

It is however the setup for Preston to go missing, but Max pretending to go camping with Preston while Preston snuck off to Vegas to meet a girl from the Internet could have easily been setup without the whole Liars, Inc. thing. As the story went on into the mystery surrounding Preston and the FBI thinking Max hurt him the whole Liars, Inc. business stayed in the background and really dragged the story down. Everytime it was mentioned it just seemed really unnecessary.

I read an ARC of this book and since the ARC there have been a bunch of changes (not uncommon), but so many in this case that Paula Stokes felt the need to create a Word doc reviewers can request to see the changes that were made. I emailed her and got that Word doc and while I think most of the changes are good and make the story a better book overall, they still didn’t fix the whole Liars, Inc. business and they didn’t (at least reading them after the fact) make the story less predictable.

More than the Liars, Inc. business my biggest issue with the story was how predictable it was. I suspected pretty early on what happened to Preston and the secret that the DeWitt family is hiding about Preston. I obviously didn’t guess the specifics of how to all came to be, but I was definitely bummed to have figured it out so early and I suspect many other people will figure it out as well.

I’ve been going back and forth between giving this book 2.5 stars and 3 stars for a while it’s one where I’m really conflicted. Yes, I was bothered by the Liars, Inc. business and the predictability of the story, but there were also good things. This story is filled with diversity. Max is white, but was a foster child before being adopted by his parents; his girlfriend is half-Indian; his middle sister suffers from cystic fibrosis, and his two younger sisters are Asian-American. And it wasn’t like any of those people were the token minority or token disabled people, they just were Asian or disabled, but it wasn’t their entire identity. Also, besides how predictable it was, I still liked the writing, the characters Stokes created, and the backstories she built for the different characters. While it all might be a little far fetched it was interesting and if anything I wish she would have explored Max’s background, his parents’ motivations for adopting him and his sisters, and the DeWitt family’s decision to do what they did even more.

Bottom Line: I used to call books “plane or beach reads” a lot, something I kind of hate, but sometimes it does a good job of summing up a story. I read this book flying from Detroit to New York (via Baltimore) last weekend and it was really the perfect place to read. The story has its issues, but it’s easy enough to read and interesting enough to keep you entertained on a flight. If you’re looking for better mystery look elsewhere (Tessa Sharpe’s Far From You is my go-to YA thiller rec), but if you want an entertaining book filled with diversity and thrills even though it’s predictable I wouldn’t talk you out of reading Liars, Inc..

I received an electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!). All opinions are my own.

One Year Ago: Book Review: A Mad, Wicked Folly
Two Years Ago
Book Review: The Love Song of Johnny Valentine


Book Review: Confess

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Title: Confess
Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: 03/10/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I like Colleen Hoover’s books. I’ve written really positive reviews of Hopeless, Losing Hope, Maybe Someday, and Ugly Love (the Slammed series wasn’t for me), but I will not be writing a positive review of Confess. There was almost nothing about this book that worked or that I enjoyed and that seriously has me reconsidering whether I will give another of Hoover’s books a try.

The premise of Confess is pretty simple, it starts with a prologue during high school where Auburn’s boyfriend, Adam, is dying of cancer and she’s forced to leave him before he passes away. Then we go forward five years into the future where Auburn is back in Texas (where Adam moved shortly before he passed away, Auburn is from Oregon) and pretty dissatisfied with her life. She sees a lawyer about something, she needs to make more money, she barely knows the city where she’s living. Then she meets Owen, an artist who runs his own gallery and she is recruited to work for Owen for the night.

The story is told from Auburn and Owen’s perspective and it’s clear (in fact really freaking obvious and annoying) that they’re both hiding big secrets. We learn from Owen’s perspective that he knows Auburn from somewhere, but that’s kind of all we know for a while. Neither Auburn or Owen want a relationship and they start out as just friends who are attracted to each other, but then kind of have this whirlwind romance.

I say kind of because it just failed so miserably. They spend a night working together, go out for drinks after, and then don’t see each other for weeks at which point we get to hear them whining about not seeing each other. Then they see each other for a few hours and tare then apart for a few weeks, where again there’s more whining. By the second time they’re separated we’ve learned more about their pasts, which at least gives a little more for the story to be about until they meet up again, but the pasts were just convaluted and dramatic that it was kind of hard to stomach.

All of Hoover’s books are dramatic and far-fetched, but this was one was just the worst. There were strange coincidences, very convenient coincidences, and silly things that had nothing to do with coincidences. Part of me wants to say this is what truly bad new adult is made of, but there wasn’t even the brooding bad boy and ridiculous sex to make that the case. (Although I would take Owen’s hyperactively and sad backstory over a brooding guy any day of the week.)

Bottom Line: The part of me that’s enjoyed previous Colleen Hoover books loves what a prolific writer she is, but at this point I think she needs to step back and take a look at what she’s putting out there. The story, character development, and writing in Confess all suffer from major issues. While this isn’t as bad as some new adult out there I think it should definitely be skipped.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Nearly Gone
Two Years Ago
Waiting on Wednesday: The Lucy Variations


Top 10 Tuesday: Books on My Spring TBR List

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I went out of my way to pick books for this list that I haven’t featured any where else and that maybe I wasn’t quite so excited about before I took a look through my TBR list. And now I’ve made myself excited for even more books and with my schedule lately that is not a great thing. But oh well, hopefully you get excited for them, too!

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1. The One that Got Away by Bethany Chase: People, Allie Larkin and Taylor Jenkins Reid blurbed this one. There is literally nothing else to say.

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2. Skandal by Linday Smith: I struggled with Sekret, but I’m excited to see what happens next in this series.

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3. Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren: I love, love, love this series and I’m so excited they wrote another book for it!

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4. Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany Schmidt: I love Tiffany Schmidt’s books and I feel like this is such a departure for her that I’m even more excited to read it.

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5. Flirting with Scandal by Chanel Cleeton: I hate politics, but I love book/movies/TV shows about politics, especially romances!

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6. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: More Lara Jean! I hate that this one sounds like it has a love triangle, but I’m still excited for it.

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7. Charlie, Presumed Dead by Anne Heltzel: A mystery! That Marie Rutkowski called “twisty and devious!”

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8. Joyride by Anna Banks: I’ve never read any of Anna Banks other books, but this sounds like a great YA romance.

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9. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu: Crazy religion! I love books about religion and after The Truth About Alive I’m excited to see how Mathieu tackles this one.

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10. The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough: I’m not 100% sure what this book is about, but I think it’s a historical fiction about an interacial romance during the Great Depression and that sounds very interesting.

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: Books on My Spring TBR List
Two Years Ago:  DNF: Above All Things


Book Review: Coming Down

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Title: Coming Down
Author: Carrie Elks
Release Date: 09/24/15
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Last year I read and loved Carrie Elks’s Fix You and I’m not quire sure how I missed that she had another book come out since then. Fix You was an epic book that covered 10+ years of its characters’ lives in a very epic love story and in some ways Coming Down is like that and in other ways it’s completely its own story.

Beth (for some reason she never seemed like a Beth to me) works at a drug rehabilitation clinic and is married to the older, wealthy Simon. In her college days she fell in with an artistic, drug-loving crowd and a close friend ended up overdosing, something she feels responsibly for even nine years later. When her friend overdosed Beth was kicked out of school and spent the next few years of her life lost. She started at the rehab clinic as a way of doing penance for her friend’s death, but she quickly fell in love with the clinic, especially the kids of the addicts who she mostly works with, and the job becomes her calling in life.

Sadly her husband, who knows Beth didn’t marry him for his money, but still wants Beth to be a bit of a trophy wife, disagrees. When the story starts Simon is often angry at Beth for how many hours she puts in at the clinic, the situations she puts herself in (which he perceives as being dangerous), and for becoming too involved with one family in particular, a poor heroin-addict mother and her daughter. Shortly after the story starts Niall, Beth’s boyfriend from her college days, the guy who gave their friend the drugs he overdosed on, reappears in Beth’s life. Niall is now a successful artist and he’s showing at the gallery owned by Simon’s daughter. When Beth needs an art student to teach art to kids at the clinic Simon’s daughter recruits Niall, something he’s obviously overqualified for, but Beth is both excited and terrified to spend time with him again.

The crux of the story is about Beth’s relationships with Simon and with Niall and adultery is part of the story. At first Simon is more of a victim, it’s obvious that Beth didn’t marry him for money and that even though he doesn’t want a wife with a career like Beth does has he also doesn’t want a pretty face with no brain. But then Simon becomes kind of a bully and it was difficult to reconcile that Simon with the Simon from the beginning of the story and, eventually, the Simon at the end of the story. Niall, on the other hand is less complicated. He clearly is still interested in Beth and it’s also clear that while it wasn’t easy, he’s been able to move on from what happened to them in college in a way that Beth hasn’t been able to.

Beyond the romance this is really a story about Beth, a woman who, at 29-years-old, is still trying to figure herself out, something that a lot of people can relate to. After her drug-fueled days in college, the death of her friend, and being kicked out of college her life became frozen. She manages to move on with a career and a husband, but she did it by completely closing off her old self. Some of that deserves to be closed off, spending her days smoking white widow and her nights popping ecstasy probably isn’t the best idea, but there were other parts of that person that were great and as the story goes on she begins to realize that and let those parts of her come out.

And that transformation is great for Beth, but not always great for the people around her, which is what the story is about. As she asserts herself more with Simon he continually tells her that they’re better when he’s allowed to make all the decisions. Even when she reconnects with Niall she knows she can’t just fall back into her arms and forget everything else and she sets the terms of their relationship. With Daisy and Allegra, the mother and daughter she grows to close to, she even becomes more assertive, which is both good and bad. Even with her friend Lara she seems to speak her mind more as the story goes on.

Carrie Elks is great at coming up with interesting and stories and interesting characters, but her biggest strength might be her ability to show how characters change and grow over time and how that affects their relationships. For someone like Simon where the change all happened in the course of the story it didn’t necessarily work as well, but for Beth and Niall, and even the characters back in Fix You, she knows how to make those transformations work.

Bottom Line: If you asked me which Carrie Elks book to read I would probably recommend Fix You over Coming Down, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy Coming Down quite a bit. Beth is an interesting, complex character and reading about her transformation was fascinating. At times the story was predictable, but the great characters easily made up for it and I can’t wait to read more from Carrie Elks.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Starstruck
Two Years Ago
Book Review: Escorted


Book Review: Rebound

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rebound

Title: Rebound
Author: Noelle August
Release Date: 02/10/15
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I was not the biggest fan of Boomerang. But I also went into Boomerang with really high expectations. I mean, Veronica Rossi co-writing a new adult book, how great does that sound?! Sadly I found Boomerang lacking, but that’s actually a good thing here because it seriously lowered my expectations going into Rebound. I actually wasn’t even going to read Rebound, I thought Adam was really annoying in Boomerang, but I could borrow the ebook from the library and I love when authors make an unlikable character (Alison) into a likable one so I thought I would see how that all worked out in Rebound.

And I’m happy to say I thought it worked really well. It’s not a new favorite book by any stretch of the imagination, but I still enjoyed reading it and I wouldn’t try to talk anyone else out of reading it. Alison, Ethan’s ex, is checking out Adam’s business on behalf of her wealthy father who wants to invest in Boomerang (a Tinder-like online dating service). Alison is trying to prove herself as worthy to her father (who frankly is kind of an ass) so she tries to remain professional and disengaged. Adam is eager to get Alison’s dad to invest so he can start the movie studio portion of his empire and although he’s kind of thrown by Alison being the one scoping them out he’s a smart businessman who can adjust.

The weekend before Alison and Adam are supposed to start working together they both go to Mia’s Halloween party and end up hooking up, confessing secrets to each other, and then figuring out who they actually are. Which makes things pretty awkward because they both want to remain professional, but there’s also this attraction that goes way beyond physical. The story is basically about Alison figuring out herself and her relationship with her family, Adam coming to terms with the past (he’s hiding a pretty big secret), and Adam and Alison building a relationship.

Most of the story really did work well. The pacing was a little off, way too long was spent on the Halloween party at the beginning, eventually it was like let’s just get into the crux of the story, but that’s the only major issue in this one. It did get cheesy at times and a bit predictable, but that’s kind of what I expect from a new adult romance like this.

Even Adam managed to talk me over to his corner. Gone was the hyperactive annoying boss I remembered from Boomerang and in his place was a really nice, wealthy but normal, somewhat tortured guy. If anything he was a completel 180-degree turn from the overly enthusiastic, manipulating guy that was in Boomerang, but maybe that’s actually a brilliant move on Noelle August’s part to show the guy the way he presents himself to the outside and then the guy who really is inside.

As good as Adam ended up being the real star of the story was Alison. Yes she was a model-gorgeous girl with a heart of gold and that could be a little much, but despite her family and her situation she just came across as so normal and relatable. Her cool exterior worked really well as did her softer side. The way she treated Adam was really sweet and the moments where she was with other people and also with her horses, her true passion, also rang true and really rounded out her character.

Bottom Line: Low expectations or not I ended up really enjoying Rebound. Yes the pacing was a little off and it had its cheesy moments, but for the most part the story was compelling, the characters were interesting, and writing didn’t disappoint. I’d still might not totally recommend reading Boomerang, but I would certainly say to give Rebound a try.

One Year Ago: Book Review: Maybe Someday
Two Years AgoWaiting on Wednesday: The Program


Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Books For Readers Who Like Old-School Romantic Comedies

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Top 10 Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. You can see all the topics here.

I thought of this idea after a conversation I had with some coworkers the other day. We were talking about movies (something I always feel out of my league with because they watch lots of movies and I barely watch any) and I brought up how there just aren’t romantic comedies like there used to be any more. My vote for the last good one was Definitely, Maybe (which the guys agreed was good) and one of my coworkers said he really liked That Awkward Moment. Has anyone seen it? Thoughts?

Books are shared without comment this week (lame, I know) because I just started an online course and between working and getting into biochemistry I’m a wee bit stressed and pressed for time!

stealingmarilynmonroe

1. Stealing Marilyn Monroe by Sophie Warren

rushme

2. Rush Me by Allison Parr

overtheedge

3. Over the Edge by Suzanne Carroll

whycantibeyou

4. Why Can’t I Be You by Allie Larkin

stirmeup

5. Stir Me Up by Sabrina Elkins

pastperfect

6. Past Perfect by Leila Sales

therosieproject

7. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

sweetfilthyboy

8. Sweet Filthy Boy by Christina Lauren

toalltheboysivelovedbefore

9. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

betterofffriends

10. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

One Year Ago: Top 10 Tuesday: All Time Favorite Books in the Grandparents Genre
Two Years Ago
Book Review: Through the Ever Night