Tag «Realistic Fiction»

Single Sundays: Cold Calls by Charles Benoit

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 Cold Calls (from Goodreads):
In the vein of the teen suspense classics I Know What You Did Last Summer and The Face on the Milk Carton, Cold Calls is a chilling thriller, an unsettling mystery, and a provocative exploration of bullying, culpability, and the cost of keeping secrets.

Three high school students-Eric, Shelly, and Fatima-have one thing in common: “I know your secret.”
Each one is blackmailed into bullying specifically targeted schoolmates by a mysterious caller who whispers from their cell phones and holds carefully guarded secrets over their heads. But how could anyone have obtained that photo, read those hidden pages, uncovered this buried past? Thrown together, the three teens join forces to find the stranger who threatens them-before time runs out and their shattering secrets are revealed . . .

This suspenseful, pitch-perfect mystery-thriller raises timely questions about privacy, bullying, and culpability.

Review:

When this book was first published, it seemed to be everywhere for me. I read the synopsis and it managed to grab my attention. It sounded like a realistic Pretty Little Liars mixed with messages about bullying and social media to teach a lesson and it promised to be a suspenseful thriller so I was looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, this book missed the mark for me in many ways. It wasn’t suspenseful–in fact it was very tame–and while it did raise some questions about social media, bullying and privacy I didn’t feel like it did anything useful with those questions.

This book is slow–it’s only saving grace is that it isn’t super long. I wouldn’t have continued to read it if it had been longer than what it actually was. It wasn’t suspenseful in any way to me; maybe I had the wrong expectations going into it. But to be fair, you can’t claim that it is similar to the movie I Know What You did Last Summer and not expect some stalker killer following the group around. So don’t get your hopes up that it’s going to be that type of thriller. It’s more a mystery than anything with the 3 teens trying to figure out why they are the targets and who is the one targeting them. However, I found most of the novel focused on each teen struggling with their secret and the possible consequences of its unveiling and to me that was boring.

The three characters, Eric, Shelly and Fatima, are your everyday people so I found that this book was very realistic in that respect. Their secrets were secrets any teen could have and I liked that it wasn’t some elaborate, over the top secret. To be honest though, I found them kind of boring so that dampened my reading experience. I like realism in stories like this but I wish there was more development. I also wish that the 3 of them took ownership of their secrets and did something about them instead of just trying to bury them.

One thing that I really disliked about this novel was that nothing felt resumed to me. Sure, the mystery is solved but I felt like the bigger issues, like bullying, social media privacy and “culpability” (who is to blame), where barely touched upon. Perhaps the purpose of the novel was to simply bring them to the reader’s attention but I would have liked more elaboration or some more discussion about them. I just felt like there were no serious consequences for any of the characters actions–but maybe that was the point: to highlight the fact that society thinks nothing of these issues on a regular basis. If that was the mission, it succeeded but I wish there was more to it.

Conclusion:

This read was meh to me. I can appreciate what it was attempting to do, I just wish it did it in a different, more exciting way. It’s a quick, pretty realistic read but I think readers will get bored with it pretty quickly.

Rating: 2/5
Would I Recommend this Book to a Friend: No. I think it might make for an interesting read for a school class because I think there is a lot of potential for discussion but for the everyday reader it isn’t that exciting.

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Teen, Mystery, Thriller, Realistic
Recommended for15+
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person
SERIESous’ Top Book Series: Boring Reads of 2014
Similar Reads: Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

Series Review: Flight & Glory by Rebecca Yarros

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Full Measures (from Goodreads):
Three knocks can change everything…

“She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew he was dead.”

Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. The soldiers at the door meant her dad was never coming home. What she didn’t know was how she would find the strength to singlehandedly care for her crumbling family when her mom falls apart.

Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor, and not to mention the most delicious hands that insist on saving her over and over again. He has a way of erasing the pain with a single look, a single touch. As much as she wants to turn off her feelings and endure the heartache on her own, she can’t deny their intense attraction.

Until Josh’s secret shatters their world. And Ember must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her bare

breakdown

Series: Flight & Glory
Author: Rebecca Yarros
# of Books: 4 (Full Measures, Eyes Turned Skyward, Beyond What is Given, Hallowed Ground)
Book Order: Connected, Direct Sequel (Full Measures + Hallowed Ground)
Genre: New Adult, Army, Realistic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single; Alternating (Eyes Turned Skyward onwards)
Publication Dates: February 2014 – January 2016
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Toonie Tuesday 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:

I picked up this book because of the cover and the price; but I was also interested in the hockey player aspect. I find books dealing with the army are a little hit or miss for me. I absolutely loved the Out of Line series by Jen McLaughlin, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Something Like Normal. But I went into this book hoping it would be like Out of Line and that I would enjoy it.

The Plot:

Overall, I really liked this book but it wasn’t what I was really expecting. The first half of the book is really about Ember finding herself after her father’s death. I would almost describe it like she is undergoing a midlife crisis at the age of 22–and being the same age I could totally see why she is given everything that happens to her. But once she gets a grip on her life, that is when the romance begins to take center focus. This isn’t to say that there isn’t sexual tension for the first half of the book, because there is, I just felt the focus was on Ember trying to navigate her life.

The book I feel is really grounded and realistic. It’s not over the top and you can tell that Ms Yarros has experience with the military life as it is shown in the writing. I felt like I was actually experiencing all of that with my family and I shed a few tears while reading.

The Characters:

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 4/5 was Ember. I’m not sure why I didn’t like her as much as I should have. It’s weird because I totally got her character and her thought process but I just didn’t have that connection with her I usually develop with the heroines. She basically had everything I like about a female lead but I guess she came across as a little cold at the start which rubbed me the wrong way. Given everything that happens I totally understood why but I wonder if my first impression of her just never left my mind.

I really hope that there will be a spin-off book with some of the characters we meet here–especially Sam or Jagger. From what I can see nothing it planned but I would definitely be interested in reading more from this author.

updates

–February 11, 2017– Book #2: Eyes Turned Skyward

It has almost been 3 years since I read the inaugural novel but I had no problem getting back into this world.

This was just a really enjoyable romance novel. The story was so heart-felt from start to finish. Both leads are trying to navigate their complicated lives and it was great watching them grow.

The romance is more of a slow burn but definitely on point. Yes, it is a little cheesy at times but it just worked so well when you looked past the cheesiness. It’s such a sweet story that the cheese is worth it.

Series Rating: 4/5

Full Measures 3.5/5  |  Eyes Turned Skyward 4/5  | Beyond What is Given TBR | Hallowed Ground TBR

overall

For those new adult fans who enjoy military reads and watching love & acceptance heal, this is a read for you. It’s got enough awe moments mixed with hot moments to make a reader happy. But just be aware that it is a little darker (ie not so happy-go-lucky) at times so just be prepared.

Read if You Like: military romances, slow burn romance
Avoid if You: want a lighter story
similarreads

readingchallenges

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catchphrase

Single Sundays: #16thingsithoughtweretrue by Janet Gurtler

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Heart attacks happen to other people #thingsIthoughtweretrue

When Morgan’s mom gets sick, it’s hard not to panic. Without her mother, she would have no one—until she finds out the dad who walked out on her as a baby isn’t as far away as she thought…

Adam is a stuck-up, uptight jerk #thingsIthoughtweretrue

Now that they have a summer job together, Morgan’s getting to know the real Adam, and he’s actually pretty sweet…in a nerdy-hot kind of way. He even offers to go with her to find her dad. Road trip, anyone?

5000 Twitter followers are all the friends I need #thingsIthoughtweretrue

With Adam in the back seat, a hyper chatterbox named Amy behind the wheel, and plenty of Cheetos to fuel their trip, Morgan feels ready for anything. She’s not expecting a flat tire, a missed ferry, a fake girlfriend…and that these two people she barely knew before the summer started will become the people she can’t imagine living without.

Review:

I’m not a Twitter user but I do like looking at the hashtags people use (watch Jimmy Fallon’s Hashtag videos on Youtube! They are hilarious!). So when I saw the title of this book, it intrigued me and it’s been awhile since I read a coming of age book so it seemed like a good match.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I feel like Janet Gurtler hit the nail on the head a few times with how young people use social media. I hate when people are constantly on their phones (if I didn’t need one for school purposes, I wouldn’t have one) and Morgan is a prime example of that; but what I love is that her friends call her out on it all the time. I get that people feel comfortable talking online with people more so than real people (I mean I have a book blog for goodness’ sake!) but I like that this book tries to teach you that there is more to life than popularity and social media so I really appreciated that.

To a certain degree, the book was a little predictable and I had a good idea of what was going to happen. But then there is this curveball that really adds another dimension to the story and I think I wouldn’t have liked the book as much if it wasn’t for that little twist. It was a good move and really cements the message of the story.

Part of the reason I didn’t love this book was because Morgan is a hard character to like at times but that’s probably the intention with a coming of age novel so you can see the character develop. She’s a tad self-centred but she seems to know it and knows she needs to fix it so I can appreciate that. She really does grow as a character by the end so it was nice to see that change. My biggest problem with her was that she didn’t seem like she was 18 years old. Reading it, I would have said 16 years old but I know why she was 18 given the plot of the story.

UPDATE (May 10, 2014): There is a great video out that talks about young people’s obsession with social media and how it is affecting our face-to-face communication. Watch it here!

Conclusion:

It’s a nice coming of age story that today’s teenager will probably relate to in some way. It’s very realistic in its delivery and is well written. While the plot is slow, the book doesn’t take long to read and there are a few chuckle-worthy moments. Readers who enjoy coming of age novels will enjoy this. It’s a definite feel-good read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Coming of Age, Drama, Romance, Realistic
Recommended for: 16+
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person
Similar Reads: Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares (Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants #1) and Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Single Sundays: Trouble by Samantha Towle

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Mia Monroe is running. Running from a person she doesn’t ever want to find her. Running from a past she doesn’t ever want anyone to know. Desperate to find a future, that yesterday, she could only dream of having.

Jordan Matthews likes easy. Easy women. Easy life.

Then he meets Mia.

She’s damaged, troubled and has more baggage than any person can carry. But the more Jordan gets to know Mia-for the first time in his life-he finds himself wanting to try hard for something … for someone … for her.

And then life isn’t so easy anymore.

Jordan is everything Mia shouldn’t want. A whole bunch of dirty hotness, tattooed, cocky bad boy, who made his money at poker tables and picked his women up in bars. Yet, Mia finds herself falling for him. Then the past Mia was running from, quickly starts to catch up with her. Because that’s the problem with running … you have to stop sometime.

And when you stop, you get caught.

Review:

This book was hard to read at the start: not because the writing is poor (because it isn’t) but because Mia is a person plagued with the mindset of someone who has suffered years of abuse. It was hard for me not to cringe as she describes her abuse or how she thinks of herself. Abuse is something that no one should ever have to go through and I want to warn people that this book is not for the faint of heart. I feel like this book handles abuse in a way that is both respectful and something that I haven’t really come across yet in New Adult fiction and I enjoyed (as much as you can “enjoy” something with that subject matter) watching the story unfold and Mia grow.

Getting away from the underlying plot of the book, I’ll focus on the romance. Jordan and Mia had great physical chemistry; however, it all happened a little fast for me. I would have liked it to progress over a few weeks than just one (seemed a little farfetched to me when everything else felt so grounded). But, I thought that they were really cute together and I liked their interaction.

As for the rest of the plot is starts off pretty fast-paced, gets a little slow and then picks up near the end. I really liked how the story ended (for a while I wasn’t sure how it was going to end so that is a bonus!).

Conclusion:

I liked that this book was different than books I have recently read. I don’t recommend this read if you can’t handle stories dealing with abuse and the aftermath of it. But if you like stories where people can overcome their abusive pasts, this is a great read.

Rating: 3.5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary, Drama, Realistic Fiction
Recommended for: 18+
Point of View: First Person, Alternating

Similar Reads:

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catchphrase

Single Sundays: You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
If someone hurts your sister and you’re any kind of man, you seek revenge, right?

If your brother’s accused of a terrible crime but says he didn’t do it, you defend him, don’t you?

When Mikey’s sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart.

When Ellie’s brother is charged with the offence, her world begins to unravel.

When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide.

Review:

Every once in a while I like to read a realistic fiction novel between my never ending list of series. I found this little gem when browsing my local library’s eBook collection and decided on picking it up…and I am SO glad that I did.

This was a great story! It was just so realistic and mature that it blew my mind. I really enjoyed watching everything unfold and watching the relationship that develops between Mikey and Ellie. Everything was just so believable and real–which I loved.

I have to give mad props to Jenny Downham for how she handled the subject of sexual assault. Unlike some novels that add it in for “dramatics” or down play the severity of it, Ms. Downham portrayed everything with grace and sensitivity which I really respect and appreciate. I also like that we get to see the impact the whole situation has on both families involved and not just a biased, one-sided approach.

The only thing that stopped me from giving this book a 5 was the way it ended. I would have really appreciated an epilogue or a defined answer of what happens after. I just felt like the whole thing was building to the climax of what happens in the case and then SPLAT, nada.

Conclusion:

If you don’t mind reading about more mature subject matter, this is a book for you. Overall, a great and believable insight into what happens to both families when someone is charged with a sexual assault and what can come out of it. Realistic fiction as its best!

Rating: 4/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Recommended for: 15+
Point of View: Alternating
Similar Reads: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Single Sundays: Measuring Up by Nyrae Dawn

Synopsis (from Goodreads.com):
Seventeen-year-old Annabel Conway is tired of the Hillcrest High School elite making her life miserable because she’s not a size two. This summer, she’s hiring a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

Annabel doesn’t expect her trainer to be a gorgeous guy around her age. Boys like Tegan are jerks. They pretend to like girls like her so they can make an idiot out of them. Been there, done that. Totally not going there again. She kind of hates him on principal. Blond. Muscular. Funny. It doesn’t help that he knows her measurements!

Soon, Tegan’s so much more than that. He’s the boy who teaches her to box when she has a bad day. Who jogs with her and lets her set the pace. Who kisses her until she melts. He makes her feel beautiful regardless of what the scale says. Unlike her mom, he doesn’t expect perfection, and he doesn’t try to shield her from the world like her dad and best friend. Tegan likes her the way she is.

But what happens when he’s not there? He can’t always be there…

Will Annabel be able to stand on her own and learn that she already measures up? That her worth doesn’t lie in what the world thinks, the scale says, or even what Tegan tells her—but in herself?

Review:

I really liked loved this book! I’m not sure if it was because I was so busy in my real-life that I found an escape reading this (I think I enjoy books more when I know I should be doing other things, like studying for exams, etc.) but I think if I read this two weeks from now, I would still have enjoyed this book.

I think most girls can relate in some way to Annabel. Even though I have personally never struggled with my weight the same way she has, I still found her extremely relatable in how she thinks about herself. I often felt like we were personality twins as I was reading because I couldn’t help thinking, “I would have done/said the exact same thing!”. I find books today have the “rebellious” independent girls who are their own person, yet they all have perfect bodies/features and unbeknownst to them, every guy in the general vicinity is in love with them. With Annabel you don’t get that particular character but someone you have probably felt like at one point in your life.

Which is why I loved the relationship between Tegan and her. You could really see why they liked each other–it wasn’t just physical chemistry but what they talked about and believed that drew them together. They really supported each other–and not in some twisted, nearly obsessive way that some New Adult heroines and heroes “need” each other in order to live. Basically, they have a healthy, realistic relationship.

However, as much as I loved this book, I was a little disappointed. I would really like to see a sequel as I felt some issues, specifically with Tegan’s story, were not fully resolved. But overall, there is a solid ending that provides closer to the readers so you can cease your worrying over my wishful thoughts :P.

Conclusion:

This book was refreshing in a genre that is often just sex & tragedy focused. The characters a relatable and the plot is realistic. With this book, Nyrae Dawn has become a must-read author for me!

Rating: 5/5

Shorthand Stats:
Genre: New/Young Adult, High school, Realistic
Recommended for: 16+
Similar Reads: Size 12 is not Fat by Meg Cabot (Heather Wells Mysteries, #1) and Take Me by Bella Andre (Take Me Series, #1)