Tag «Realistic Fiction»

DNF Review: Mr. Right Swipe by Ricki Schultz

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Mr Right-Swipe (from Goodreads):

Rae Wallace would rather drown in a vat of pinot greezh and be eaten by her own beagle than make another trip down the aisle–even if it is her best friend’s wedding. She’s too busy molding the minds of first graders and polishing that ol’ novel in the drawer to waste time on any man, unless it’s Jason Segel.
But when her be-fris stage an intervention, Rae is forced to give in. After all, they’ve hatched a plan to help her find love the 21st century way: online. She’s skeptical of this electronic chlamydia catcher, but she’s out to prove she hasn’t been too picky with men.

However, when a familiar fella’s profile pops up–the dangerously hot substitute teacher from work (Nick)–Rae swipes herself right into a new problem…

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Author: Ricki Schultz
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Grand Central Publishing!

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Mr. Right-Swipe at 46% (Start of Chapter 12). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book! Humour, a workplace romance and the woes of modern romance–it was calling to me!

What I Liked:

–Realistic Approach–

I have to say that on the basic level, this story is very realistic. Rae is a young woman struggling with the memories of a broken marriage and another failed relationship. She’s the last of her friends to find a successful relationship and she’s starting to feel the pressure. At the same time, she’s trying to decide what she even wants in a relationship (kids? marriage?) and navigate her career (although her passions lie elsewhere). I think we all feel those pressures at one time or another.

I also like that this story takes its time. Things don’t happen in a matter of days, they build slowly and that adds a layer of realism to the plot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I’m Probably too Young to be Reading This–

In the same breath, I’m definitely NOT at that point in my life. I love my career and I’m happy being single right now. And because of that, I had a hard time connecting with Rae and her situation.

–Hard to Root for Rae–

Rae is one of those characters that had to work to make me like her…and it wasn’t a successful attempt. The best way (which is also the vaguest way) to describe my relationship with Rae is that I just didn’t “get” her. I think because we are in two different places in our lives, I just had a harder time sympathizing with her situation.

I also thought she was a little rude. Right around the part where I stopped reading, she was essentially fat shaming her date (not to his face but she mentions it numerous times) and that made her seem so shallow and mean to me.

Which brings me to her:

–Lack of Maturity–

I think Rae is supposed to be in her early 30s or close to–but you wouldn’t know that by her narration. She just lacks the maturity I would expect for someone who has gone through what she has. Perhaps that’s part of her current perdicament.

But if I didn’t know better, I would have thought she was much younger than she is and that wasn’t a good thing.

–Not as Funny as I Wanted it to Be–

Damn, I’ve really been struggling with humour in novels lately. I’m someone who laughs at everything but humour in books is a tricky thing. Rae is definitely quirky and that’s cool but because of everything I listed above, it was hard to find the laughs in her comments sometimes.

Will I Finish It?

Maybe in a few years I’ll try and return to this but for now, this is a full stop.

My Rating: DNF

overall

While my review seems mostly negative, I do think people will enjoy this story! For those who have had some unique experiences in the current dating world or who are feeling the pressures of being in a relationship by your friends, you’ll enjoy this modern contemporary novel!

Read if You Like: novels about dating, modern dating, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: struggle with quirky heroines, are your early 20s

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Single Sundays: Come This Way by Michelle Schlicher

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Come This Way (from Goodreads):

A hiking and outdoor enthusiast, fifty-year-old Fern Conrad can’t imagine spending her time doing anything else, much to the dismay of her daughter, Colby.

Kara Dawson, a twenty-five-year-old student therapist, has shut life out to focus on her sister’s illness. That is, until a chance meeting pushes her to confront the possibilities—by letting go and moving forward.

Eighty-three-year-old Nettie Campbell heals in the hospital while facing the consequences of her actions. Can she repair relationships and forge new bonds as she comes to terms with the truth?

Come This Way is an emotional, honest look into the lives of women who are discovering their own strength. It is a story about difficult choices and the people around us who help us find our way.

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Author: Michelle Schlicher
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: October 21, 2016
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I rarely venture outside my little reading bubble of New Adult, YA and Adult romances, but every once and a while, I’ll take a chance on a piece of adult fiction. I’ll admit, when I was asked if I wanted to read this one, I hesitated. I had no excuse other than the fact that it wasn’t my usual read–but all the more reason to give it a shot.

And I am so glad that I did!

The Concept:

I just have to say that this reminded me a lot of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: the concept of 4 women trying to navigate their lives as they enter the next phase of life. Only here, you have these women from various backgrounds and age-ranges with an unknown (if any) connection to each other.

It’s like the life stages version of the Sisterhood Series.

The Plot:

Each character has such a unique yet relatable story. I had a blast learning more about these characters as the novel progressed. There were so many great reveals–it was like watching a well thought out TV drama the further you went.

I also loved how realistic this story was. These are situations many people will find themselves in; and these are relationships that most of us will have in our life times. It was just so well-rounded in that respect.

I also liked the mystery of whether or not these characters were all linked together somehow. It gave a little dose of suspense to the story for me.

The Characters:

I really didn’t think I would relate to all of the characters (I’m not a grandmother nor a mother) but I was immediately drawn into all their stories.  In each of them, I found little pieces of myself and that was what surprised me the most. I truly felt for these characters on all levels and rarely do I connect to every single character in a story of this format (multiple POVs).

So don’t let the ages of the characters dissuade you from picking this up! I’m sure most readers will find a character (if not a few more) to relate with in this story: it’s just that good!

My Rating: 5/5

overall

Needless to say, this was a great read about life, love, family and being comfortable with yourself. I think lots of readers will enjoy this for its simple yet compelling stories. It’s not just light chick lit! There’s so much more to it!

Read if You Like: books about life and relationships, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: want more romance
similarreads

  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
  • Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood Series #1)

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Single Sundays: Spiral by Mila Ferrera

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Spiral (from Goodreads):
Nessa Cavanaugh, psychology student, knows how to stay on an even keel. Despite the urging of her mother and her academic advisor to get a life and have some fun, “all work and no play” sums up her plan to survive her grueling internship year at a children’s hospital. She doesn’t want to end up like her father, whose constant ups and downs broke her family, and avoiding unnecessary emotional entanglements is a must.

Then she (literally) runs into Dr. Aron Lindstrom in the middle of her disastrous first day on the job. The attraction is instant—and terrifying. Nessa knows she should stay away—especially when she finds out he has a reputation for being a player—but Aron is brilliant, intense, and as sexy as they come. When he challenges her to take a chance on him, her plans to stay focused on work start to crumble.

But what begins as passion takes on a dangerous edge, becoming an emotional roller coaster that’s frighteningly familiar. As things spiral out of control, Nessa must decide whether she should hold on for the ride or run … even if it means leaving her heart behind.

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Author: Mila Ferrera
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Mental Health, Realistic
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read Mila Ferrera’s novel Everything Between Us years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I like the mental health aspects she incorporates into her reads and the complexity of her characters. I find the stories to be real and fascinating, always grabbing my full attention with their approach. I bought Spiral during a bulk buy and it got buried under the mass of Kobo books I own until I pulled it out for my Rock my TBR Challenge in April.

The Concept:

This novel isn’t your everyday romance novel though it starts off that way. It does a fantastic job of exploring mental health and the stigma around it. Perhaps that is a bit of a spoiler but I feel like if a reader goes into this novel thinking it’s about some hero who has a tragic past that the heroine saves him from, you won’t enjoy this book for what it really is: an exploration of mental health in relationships.

The Plot:

Like I said before, this book starts off like your everyday romance novel. Boy meets girl and their explore their connection. But the drama of it all comes from the barriers they soon discover about themselves. Of course, there are some other dramatic elements at play but I found they never took away from the main story which is Aron and Nessa attempting to navigate their relationship and new-found careers.

The Characters:

I really warmed up to Nessa as the story progressed. I’m not sure what I found off-putting about her at the start but I didn’t immediately love her. But as I learned more about her character and saw how she interacted, I really respected her as a character. She was a solid character and does a great job of carrying this story.

Aron is also great. Again, a strong character that has great development despite the fact that we don’t get his POV directly you still have a firm grasp on who he is.

The Romance:

This was a really sweet romance to watch unfold. I was worried it was going to be a little “love-at-first-sight” with the way it was initiated but it really develops into something strong and solid. They have great chemistry so the sexual tension really drives the story forward. This story is really about the romance and the partnership that comes from it and it was definitely my favourite aspect of the novel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

If you enjoy romances that focus more on the mental health aspect of its characters, this is a great novel for you to read. It’s sweet but powerful and will have your full attention from start to finish.

Read if You Like: stories about mental health
Avoid if You: want a “lighter” read
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Single Sundays: All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for All the Rage (from Goodreads):
The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mystery
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

A few years ago I read a fantastic novel called You Against Me which focuses on the siblings of the two people wrapped up in a rape case. I loved how it showed the effects on both families involved in a rape situation. So what appealed to me about All the Rage is that it deals specifically with the victim of a rape case–the victim who no one believes.

The Concept:

There are so many rape cases that are never reported for the simple reason that they feel powerless. Shame, self-blame and the belief that reporting will have no effect are all common reasons rapes are never reported. (You can read an in-depth news article here)

I think that sometimes these statistics do more harm than good. For example, if you broadcast something as an unfavourable experience (such as reporting a sexual crime), people won’t want to go through it. However–and more importantly–they also prove that the system is broken if these are the statistics it produces. Rape culture is getting more awareness now in mainstream media but still, no real change is happening. The double-standards, prejudices and attitudes towards victims disgusts me and it made me all the more eager to pick up this book which explores all these facets in today’s modern world. 

The Plot:

As is expected, this story mostly focuses on Romy trying to live her life after reporting her rape. It’s an absolutely heart-breaking story to read because this poor girl is just continuously decimated by her peers. She is the butt of every joke and is continuously bullied by everyone in town. Yes, everyone. This book does a great job of showing that it isn’t just young people who have stigmas against anyone involved in a rape, it spans all ages and genders.

I was actually surprised with the mystery element to this book. I really just thought this book was going to be more about Romy’s life after she reports her rape and how she has to deal with all the backlash at school. So having that mystery aspect kept the book moving forward. I thought it was a great mystery plot and very unpredictable. It also adds another layer to the story that really drives the message home.

The Characters:

Romy is a hard character to get a grasp on because she is unravelling before you. Her story is so emotionally draining that it breaks your heart that there are women around the world who live in Romy’s world everyday.

My problem with Romy is that she is an unreliable narrator. Which is fine, I just found that I had a really hard time following what was happening. The critic in me can appreciate the frazzled, tormented mind of Romy but the reader in me got lost a lot trying to figure out what was happening and that really diminished my reading experience.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I’m so torn over how I feel about this book. On one hand, I LOVE the message is has and how it opens the discussion about rape and how society deals with it. On the other hand, I got lost sometimes in the narration. There are still parts in this book that I have no idea what was happening and I really don’t like that.

I think this is a great read for young people to read. It’s very eyeopening and the mystery aspect makes you want to keep reading about Romy’s experience even when it gets hard to swallow it all. It’s definitely a book that will stick with me for the rest of my life because it truly nails the message that we need to fix how we perceive rape in our culture or else we will suffer terrible consequences.

Read if You Like: eye-opening realistic fiction
Avoid if You: don’t like reading via unreliable narrators

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Movie Mondays: Room

Movie Mondays: On the occasional Monday, I will review a book series or novel that has been made into a movie. I will then answer the question that everyone asks: which is better, the movie or the book? Here is this week’s offering:

Book: Room by Emma Donoghue (2010) | Movie: Room (2015)

Which did I read/see first? the BOOK

Book Cover | Movie Poster

Author: Emma Donoghue
Genre: Adult, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Crime, Contemporary
Point of View: First Person, Single
Source & Format: Borrowed–Paperback

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Room was everywhere when it first came out. I saw it every time I passed a book store or browsed online. At the time, I didn’t understand the premise. I honestly thought it was some abstract book about a boy and his mom who live within a single room. I blame the simple back-cover description for giving me that impression because when I read the synopsis now, it makes a LOT more sense.

I’m a huge Criminal Minds fan so I was intrigued by this premise when a friend mentioned this book to me again around the time its movie was premiering at TIFF.

This book took me a long time to read. Mostly because I’m a busy student and had lots of library books I had to read and return; but also because it is a very tough book to get through.

Jack, the 5 year old boy, is your primary narrator and it’s hard to get used to his narration style. He is the very definition of an unreliable narrator but I don’t know how else you would tell this story. It offers a unique view of the situation Ma and Jack find themselves in. I think most people would assume that it would be Ma who tells the story but I liked the fresh perspective Jack offers instead. His curious innocence gives this story a more positive vibe than if we were stuck in the darker, fully aware place of Ma’s mind. Still, it doesn’t make it any easier to understand what is happening at times.

The other reason this book is hard to get through is the subject matter. Though Jack isn’t aware of the situation, you as the reader totally are and that makes it hard to read. This book tugs on your heartstrings in every way possible. It will also make you frustrated and cause you to cringe. But just a few pages later, you will get a big grin on your face because it is so hard not to like Jack and his attitude towards life.

overall

When a book evokes every emotion in you, it’s hard not to give it 5 stars. This book is simply well done. Jack’s narration is brilliant and I think the book is super realistic, even if the topic is one we don’t want to think about often.

Rating: 5/5

similarreads

  • Stolen by Lucy Christopher
  • Still Alice by Alice Genova

Were My Expectations Met?

Yes and they were even surpassed if I am going to be honest. My friend who saw the premiere at TIFF (where it won the People’s Choice Award) said everyone was in tears at the end. And while I didn’t come close to crying in the the book, the movie definitely evoked some high emotions in me and I will admit that I nearly cried.

How Close is it to the Book?

It’s pretty close actually and the main things from the book are present in the movie. I was also really worried from the trailers that they would cast Ma in a more “self-sacrificing” light than the slightly “selfish” tone she gives in the book. But I feel like the movie captured her character perfectly. You were still sympathetic to her situation and her, but it kept the very realistic tone of a bratty 5-year old Jack and an isolated mom who has her patience tested that is present throughout the book.

Did I Like the Cast?

Brie Larson was fantastic in the movie and definitely deserves all the award nominations and praise she has been getting for this role. She was flawless and made even more so by her young co-star.

Jacob Tremblay (Jack) really stole the show for me. It still feels very much like Jack’s story despite the fact that you aren’t seeing into his mind specifically like you are in the book because Jacob is so real and a natural actor. He really makes you feel everything and it was a joy to watch him in this role. I really think he has a great career ahead of him–even though he was totally snubbed of a Oscar nomination in my humble opinion!

thewinneris wintie

I feel like both compliment each other so well. Bringing a book like Room to life takes a lot of skill and class and this movie has it in buckets. I think the book provides readers with a unique experience but the movie just wraps everything up together in a way that is so approachable and real.

Do you agree? Leave a comment below!

Synopsis for Room (from Goodreads):

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

Trailer:

Single Sundays: Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Little Peach (from Goodreads):
What do you do if you’re in trouble?

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options.

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels.

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition.

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

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Author: Peggy Kern
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Dark, Contemporary **Mature Subject Matter**
Heat Rating: N/A
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I came across this book on someone’s blog (I should really start noting where I find these things!) and the whole topic of child prostitution caught my attention. I’m not a huge YA contemporary fan, but I do enjoy ones that deal with mature, often darker, subject matter (like bullying, teen suicide and similar issues). I’ve never read a book about child prostitution and my knowledge of it is very limited so I looked forward to (as much as one can with a topic like this) learning more about it.

The Concept:

As I was writing this review, I decided to look into some facts about child prostitution or trafficking.

The United Nations defines it as:

the act of engaging or offering the services of a child to perform sexual acts for money or other consideration with that person or any other person

I was shocked to learn that my country, Canada, has a serious child prostitution problem! I suppose it is one of those taboo subjects that just doesn’t get talked about or, even worse, isn’t reported to authorities. You can read about the 5 countries with the highest rates of child prostitution and I highly recommend you read this list of the 10 Most Surprising Facts of Child Trafficking: it is truly eye opening and informative!

The Plot:

The plot itself alternates between the present and the past (Michelle’s journey into prostitution): and boy, is it hard to read! Michelle’s situation is so heartbreaking and shocking that I couldn’t stomach more than a few pages at a time (and this book just clocked in at 100 pages on my Kobo which isn’t very long at all!). It was hard to watch her go through everything she did because it was so realistic! I could easily see this happen to real people and that’s what made this so hard: seeing what happens when people see no other option.

I also found this hard because Michelle is a bit of an unreliable narrator–not that I entirely blame her either given what happens to her. It was especially noticeable in the “present” scenes where I believe it is intentionally left vague as we haven’t met all the characters yet. It presses you to read on but I’ll admit I had a hard time trying to figure out who the “you” was and that I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. It definitely gets clearer as the story progresses and you are brought up to current events.

The Characters:

It isn’t long before you start to develop both empathy and sympathy for her because of how this story is written. You develop sympathy because you see how this 14 year old girl has been abused from early childhood all the way up to the present. And then you develop empathy because of how this book is written; how the scenes are described and the emotions and thoughts Michelle expresses as she narrates her story.

Everyone else is written in an extremely realistic way and they all contribute to this story in their own twisted way. I thought everyone was really well developed despite the short length of this book.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

You can tell that Peggy Kern has done a lot of research and interviews to write such a real characters and situations.

Read if You Like: eye-opening books, realistic fiction
Avoid if You: don’t like realistic fiction, don’t enjoy shorter stories

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Single Sundays: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Forbidden (from Goodreads):
She is pretty and talented – sweet sixteen and never been kissed. He is seventeen; gorgeous and on the brink of a bright future. And now they have fallen in love. But… they are brother and sister.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite 2015
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Dark, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 27, 2010
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I had heard about this book years ago but never picked it up. I was really hesitant to pick is up because of one word: incest. It’s a word that is reserved for taboo erotica novels (though those are mostly pseudo-incest where the people involved aren’t actually related but are “step-etc”) or ancient, royal blood lines who wanted to keep their bloodline “pure”. As a scientist, I’ve discussed the ramifications of breeding with close relatives (ie you don’t get “pure” blood lines as an outcome) but otherwise, it’s not a topic I really want to read or discuss at the end of the day.

However, many of my Goodreads friends/people I follow have given this book 5/5 so call me curious. When it comes to books, I feel like I am a much more open reader now than I was years ago. Since starting my blog my attitude is more of “I’ll try anything once” and so I decided to bite the bullet and put this one on hold at my library.

WOW. Am I ever glad that I did!

The Concept:

If you had asked me before I started this book whether or not I would have fallen in love with Lochan and Maya’s story I would have told you “NO”. Even going in with an open mind like I did, I still had my reservations. But it wasn’t long before those reservations were shattered to pieces.

I mean, positively-blown-out-of-this-galaxy, shattered.

The way Tabitha Suzuma has written this is absolutely heart-wrenching, beautiful and gripping–things I never thought possible given this “taboo” topic.  It’s done in such a classy, objective way that it doesn’t take you long to sympathize and root for Lochan and Maya. It focuses on the love between the two people and not just a physical desire (like I’m sure the freebie taboo erotica novels do). It’s probably the ultimate “forbidden romance” situation and I love how it explores that ideal within the book. It brings such a realistic edge to this story that easily wins its readers over.

The Plot:

I didn’t really expect the focus on Lochan and Maya’s homelife to be so emphasized at the start but I’m really glad it is. It really helps establish who they are as characters and why they find themselves in the situations they are in. It makes me see how this consensual relationship between siblings could happen–whether that is right or wrong is a moral dilemma that may never have an answer–but I suppose it helped me understand these characters in a way that allowed me to continue reading their story. It made me want to get to know them and see how they handle all the problems in their way.

The plot is a great balance between the romance and the coming of age aspect. It’s just beautifully crafted and if I wasn’t reading this at work, I would have shed tears.

The Characters:

I loved the depths to these characters. Lochan and Maya were such interesting characters all things aside and I loved watching them develop as individuals. The rest of their family were also intriguing and do a great job supporting the story and the leads. They are complicated people in a complicated situation and I loved the way it was all portrayed.

The Romance:

The romance was as equally cringe-worthy as it was romantic. Watching the love between these two made it so easy to forget they were blood related–and I often did until I forced myself to remember. I was rooting for them the entire way, hoping for some crazy twist where you find out that they aren’t really related at all and they can live happily ever after together. Because, at the end of the day, if you take away the fact that they are related, their romance is the type I love to see with my romantic leads in a contemporary romance: an emotional connection that pulls people together and is reaffirmed by physical chemistry. They are such a great pair together.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

This book blew me away! I should have known that consistent 5 star reviews from all my Goodreads friends means a great book! But I think if you can’t get past the idea of incest, you won’t enjoy this book at all! You need to read this book with an open mind and explore the fiction of the story. It doesn’t mean you have to change your views on incest and everything associated with it; I just like that it explores a side of a relationship that people might not think about.

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, emotional gripping novels, dark contemporary
Avoid if You: don’t like taboo topics

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Series Review: The Field Party by Abbi Glines

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

The Field Party Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Until Friday Night (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…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Most Read Author 2015
Series: The Field Party
Author: Abbi Glines
# of Books: 4 (Full Series Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Sports, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: warm *spicy YA*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Abbi Glines is my most read author according to Goodreads–so I think it is apparent that any books she publishes, I’ll probably be reading it even if I’m skeptical.

You see, I don’t tend to enjoy books set in the Southern part of the USA. I find the drama is a little too…dramatic for me. It’s a little over the top and seems to bring out the worst in some characters. Of course, there are exceptions. Beautiful Creatures is one of my all time favourite series and it is a TOTAL Southern novel–but oh so good. Oh, and anything Abbi Glines writes seems to work for me…though maybe not The Vincent Boys.

From reading her various posts, I know that Abbi was really excited to start this series and it is something that is really close to her heart. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Abbi Glines would bring with this series…

What I Liked:

–The Romance–

Lately, I’ve been droning on and on about characters lacking an emotional connection when it comes to romance. This one did NOT have that problem!

I really loved watching West and Maggie develop that friendship first. I love romances where the characters support each other and work as partners to move through a difficult time. Sure, everything happens really fast in this novel but that is just part of the circumstances. It didn’t bother me that their relationship was fast-tracked because I could see why it was forming and how well they worked together.

OMG, you do not know how happy I was when Maggie clearly stated that their relationship was starting to become unhealthy! I’m all for the idea that love heals but I’m also a firm believer that it isn’t the only thing that can save a person. So I really appreciated the maturity Maggie showed by looking at their relationship and stating that it was heading into a place she didn’t like. She scored major points with me after that!

–The Plot–

I thought there was a great balance between the romance and the main plot line which is dealing with grief/family tragedy. The romance wasn’t all consuming but always had that underlying tension to keep it developing. It complimented the character progression well I think.

And if you’re worried this book is only going to focus on football, rest assured that it plays a very minor role in this story. It’s more of a connecting factor for West and the rest of the characters.

We also get introduced enough to the other characters who I assume are going to get their own books later. Not a ton to make me wish I was reading their book instead of West’s and Maggie’s but enough to get me excited for their stories once they are released.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Maggie’s Character Development–

I really feel like it was lacking for Maggie in this book. Looking back at the synopsis, I can see why the novel focused more on West because he really has the main, ongoing story unfolding. However, Maggie is a full POV character and I wish her situation was addressed more than it was. If the story was only told from West’s POV I would have been satisfied with her growth but I felt like more could have been done with her.

–Rushed Ending–

I know that some things were left dangling for the rest of the series but I felt like West and Maggie’s story could have used an extra 30 pages or so. Some things were wrapped up wayyyy to easily for my liking and others were just left out in the open. This was really the only time I felt like the plot focus was on the wrong aspect the entire time I was reading. I’m sure some of those things are going to be addressed in the next book but I kinda wanted a resolution to their story within their story.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said, I’m curious to learn more about the rest of the characters and get some of my questions answered about those dangling bits.

updates

–March 19, 2017– Book #2: Under the Lights

Ok, I was really scared to read this when I read the synopsis. I detest love triangles in my stories; particularly in my YA because I can’t take all the petty back and forth drama. And I didn’t really enjoy The Vincent Boys which focuses on a girl torn between two BFFs…the same concept here.

But I should know better! Abbi’s writing over the years just gets stronger and stronger.

While the love triangle is an element here, it is never the sole focus. Instead, we get great character development which in turn leads to a strong romance.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than its predecessor for a variety of reasons. One is that all the leads had solid character development and it never felt lopsided or like one character was the focus more than the other. I also liked the dramatic plot a lot. It constantly surprised me with its development and I liked that it kept me on edge trying to figure it all out..

And of course, it sets up beautifully for the next installment.

–September 17, 2017– Book #3: After the Game

This was super cute! Their story was really heartfelt and mature in a way you don’t always see in YA contemporary romances. Watching these two learn to forgive and forget about what people think was fabulous. They’re just so likeable as characters and super sweet that you want to see them succeed.

I do wish the romance was a little more though. I just wanted to see that connection emphasized a little more at the start but they do make a great pair when all is said and done. I was thoroughly addicted to this story!

It was like the perfect hybrid between the first and second novel but with a new set of unique leads.

–October 8, 2018– Book #4: Losing the Field

To say I’m disappointed in this book would be an understatement. Honestly, this book was a 2/5 star read for me until the last three chapters when I really got angry with the direction it took.

Overall, the best way to describe this novel is underdeveloped. I can appreciate the attempted drama Glines tried to instill in this story. It’s soap opera-esque and melodramatic–exactly that I expect when I pick up this series. But I think there was too much thrown in here and it took away from the characters and romance. (Where was that plot for revenge anyways?)

As for their love? Where did it even come from? Tallulah’s worship of him over the years and her shedding a few pounds? Compared to other couples in this series I feel like we didn’t see much of them together and I failed to see the deeper connection they shared. I also think they spend more time apart then together…

But the moment that took this book from a “meh” read to an “oh wow, that’s awful”?

Why I Rated This 1/5 Stars:

When Tallulah decides not to press charges against the teacher that tried to seduce her–KNOWING he did the same thing to two other girls–that irked me to no end! In this time of assault awareness(#metoo movement) I’m so upset that her response was simply “It’s OK. It’s over now.” No, it’s not and you should be doing everything in your power to prevent it from happening again if you can; especially when there is a child involved.

[collapse]

I hated that response and how it comes across to readers, especially younger readers. I’m all for fiction being fiction but I think there was a great opportunity for a strong lesson and it just didn’t happen.

My Rating: 4/5

Until Friday Night 4/5 | Under the Lights 4/5 | After the Game 4/5 | Losing the Field 1/5

overall

It isn’t my favourite Abbi Glines series, but it was exactly what I was expecting. I cried and swooned so mission accomplished. This is perfect for those who want to try an Abbi Glines’ novel but don’t like New Adult.

Read if You Like: high school drama, stories about grief, books set in the South
Avoid if You:  don’t like football players, high school drama

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Single Sundays: Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Every Last Promise (from Goodreads):
Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

breakdown

Author: Kristin Halbrook
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m not sure where I found this book: I think it was a combination of blogs and browsing my libraries newest additions.

I wanted to read this book because it focuses on a sexual assault–I wholeheartedly support any book that gets the conversation started about sexual assault and reporting it. The statistics about sexual assault are devastating to read and break my heart (you can read some here). I was looking forward to reading a book that tackles the notion of what happens when a sexual assault happens in a small community and how young people deal with it.

The Plot:

The chapters alternate between the past and the present. I found that this delivery keeps your attention and contributes to the suspense of finding out what actually happened to these characters. Learning about the past helps establish the characters and the setting, thus helping you decipher the actions of the characters in the present.

Because when the plot isn’t focusing on what has happened, it’s focusing on Kayla struggling to come to terms with what she knows…and what she doesn’t know. And knowing the community she was a part of helps understand why she is reacting the way she is.

The scary thing is, I can totally see this situation happening in real life. It feels very real and that can make it hard to read at times. As you read, you want these characters to do the right thing but because it is so realistic and because you read the statistics of sexual assault, you know that they may not do the right thing, making it frustrating at times to watch things unfold in the way that they do.

The Characters:

This is why I have labelled this book as mixed feelings: I didn’t like any of the characters (well, maybe Noah). And it isn’t because of how they react to the situation at hand. Kayla and her friends are the type of girls I would never be friends with in high school so it was just a clash of personalities with me. I just didn’t like her. However, I did understand her. As I said before, the altering between the past and the present really helps establish her character.

I do feel like these characters are a little cliché. They are your typical popular girls in YA contemporary but as someone who comes from a small town, I do see the realism. They straddle that line between realistic and extreme but I think it works well for this story overall.

The Romance:

There really isn’t a romance to this story and I like that what is there doesn’t take away from the main story at hand.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I think this book does a great job at tackling a subject that we like to shy away from. This is a great story about talking and reporting sexual assaults. While the characters aren’t my personal favourites, they worked well for this story overall.

Read if You Like: YA Contemporary, books talking about sexual assault
Avoid if You: N/A (I think everyone should read this)

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Single Sundays: The Mad Tatter by JM Darhower

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Mad Tatter (from Goodreads):
Reece Hatfield has just one rule when it comes to falling in love: don’t fucking do it. There’s no room in his life for another person. He can barely keep a handle on things as it is. A shadow of the man he used to be, Reece spends his days tattooing, the artist inside of him longing for the chance to do something different.

Avery Moore is all dance, all the time. Ballet is all she’s ever known, and she’s damn good at it. Her body is her art, a living canvas that captivates Reece the first time he lays his eyes on her.

He yearns to leave his mark on her body… in more ways than one.

The tattooed degenerate with a shady past. The beautiful ballerina with a bright future. They live in different worlds, yet somehow, they fit. But just because they fit doesn’t mean they belong together. Cracks sometimes form. Two pieces don’t always make a whole. The course of love never did run smoothly. Things get messy.

And Reece doesn’t do messy.

Not anymore.

breakdown

Author: J M Darhower
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single *Male POV*
Publication Date: April 12, 2015
Source & Format: Own–Kindle

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Well, just look at the cover for one. Then look at the title (I love plays on words). And then I looked at the price ($1) and thought, why not?

I was looking forward to a book that had seemingly opposite people attract and fall in love. Tattooed bad boy meets a ballerina? Yes please!

The Plot:

I definitely thought this book was going to be more erotica based but I’m really happy that it wasn’t. Actually, the plot in this book really wasn’t anything I expected. The romance was more of a slow burn and the focus was mostly on Reese coming to terms with who he is.

Which was actually very refreshing for me to read. I enjoyed watching Reese grow as a character and man. I loved watching him interact with Avery. It was a very sweet story to watch unfold even if it wasn’t packed with action or a whole lot of drama.

The Characters:

Because it wasn’t told from Avery’s POV at all it was really cool to read and subsequently understand Reese more than you normally would if Avery was the one telling the POV or it was an alternating POV. I really enjoy male-only POV romances–they keep things interesting if you ask me. And what I really liked is that Reese is a genuinely nice guy. He isn’t some crude, alpha male who describes women like objects or simply wants to possess Avery because he can. You really fall in love with him and root for him to succeed.

I also really liked Avery. Even though she doesn’t get her own POV, I still feel like I had a good grasp on her character. And I actually appreciated the fact that she does take a bit of a back-seat to Reese’s development. She was a great leading lady!

The Romance:

Like I said earlier, it was definitely a slow-burn romance–which I really liked! It was great watching these two form a sincere connection with each other. They weren’t banging each other on every available surface or falling too fast. It was a great balance and they were a fantastic match, so I was rooting for them the whole way!

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I’m glad this book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be! It was a great slow burn, male POV romance. Don’t judge the book by it’s cover! There is so much more to The Mad Tatter than meets the eye!

Read if You Like: slow burn romances, tattooed leads, artist leads, male POVs
Avoid if You: want more “romance”, want more drama

similarreads

  • Confess by Colleen Hoover
  • Dance for Me by Helena Newbury (Fenbrook Academy Series #1)
  • All the Pretty Poses by M Leighton (Pretty Trilogy #1)

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