In all, this is a pretty standard romance novel with the apparently required New Adult tropes of the main character having some type of sexual abuse i...moreIn all, this is a pretty standard romance novel with the apparently required New Adult tropes of the main character having some type of sexual abuse in her past and a super beautiful, hot guy showing up to help her overcome her emotional difficulties. While I rated this one slightly higher than Carmack's FAKING IT, I do so only for the easy flow of the writing and the beautiful descriptions of place as the main character, Kelsey, backpacks all over Europe.(less)
A surprisingly good romance novella in which the characters are not new lovers navigating a nascent relationship, but rather a married couple who find...more A surprisingly good romance novella in which the characters are not new lovers navigating a nascent relationship, but rather a married couple who finds themselves lost in kids, work, and their roles and responsibilities. The book contains much more depth (and less sex) than the blurb would suggest, as the story is focused primarily on the couple's problems and how they struggle to decide if and how to handle them. I found this novella moving and honest in how it depicted marriage, albeit sometimes depressingly, and it wrapped up with a hopeful ending and a very nice author's note to explain why she wrote this story. Highly recommended to romance fans, especially those who can relate to married life with children.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy received from NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Quick & easy read for fans of contemporary YA romance
In Dare You To, Beth Risk lives with her drug-addicted mother under the constant threat of p...more Quick & easy read for fans of contemporary YA romance
In Dare You To, Beth Risk lives with her drug-addicted mother under the constant threat of poverty and violence. When she's sent to a rural town to live with the uncle that left years ago, Beth struggles to find a way to save her mother and get back to the few close friends who have helped her. Though local golden boy and baseball star Ryan Stone's life appears blissfully easy in comparison, there's more simmering beneath the surface of his family's perfect façade. When Beth and Ryan's lives intersect, sparks fly and each learns that the expected path in life might not always be the best one.
While DARE YOU TO was a bit formulaic, this book was a quick and easy read that will appeal to fans of Simone Elkeles, both in its style of alternating male/female points-of-view and its overall light tone, despite the serious topics involved. One notable strength of the novel was Ryan: he was a great male lead who treated Beth with respect. Though there were some moments when he acted a bit chauvinistic, these instances seemed realistic for his character and the small-town climate in which he grew up. While I always knew where Beth and Ryan's relationship was headed, it was nice to see the progression from attraction and lust to something deeper. In addition, I appreciated how the sex scene was handled; the story featured a virgin hero and did a very good job depicting how sex can be an exercise in trust, not just desire. I also enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Ryan's friends Chris, Logan, and Lacey. The interactions between these friends and their classmates depicted small-town rural/suburban life well without mocking it.
This novel didn't work for me on all levels, though. Some very serious issues were presented in the book (e.g., drug abuse, domestic violence, poverty), but they were glossed over and resolved too easily, even if somewhat sadly. Similarly, significant changes in Beth's character seemed to happen too quickly to be believable, and she felt less developed as a character than Ryan. While I liked Ryan's character, he did some things that seemed to contradict his "nice guy" persona, while also sometimes seeming too idealized to be real.
Even with these misgivings, I enjoyed reading DARE YOU TO and think it will have a wide fan base. This installment was a definite improvement over my experience with McGarry's first book (Pushing the Limits), and I look forward to reading the final book in the trilogy (Crash into You)) when it comes out.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.(less)
Beautiful & achingly realistic tale of young love & its aftermath
Very rarely does a book impress me, satisfy me, and affect me emotionally as...more Beautiful & achingly realistic tale of young love & its aftermath
Very rarely does a book impress me, satisfy me, and affect me emotionally as much as Katie Cotugno's debut novel, How to Love, did. This novel is a beautiful and achingly realistic portrayal of one couple's doomed teenage love affair, the aftermath, and their eventual coming to terms with one another.
HOW TO LOVE stands out among the crowd of other YA contemporary novels most notably due to Cotugno's lyrical, evocative writing. The author creates beautiful mental images throughout the novel by including details that add nuance and feeling to the story. Every detail or repeated image seems intentionally placed and well-considered. I would often stop reading to admire a passage and think to myself "THIS is what good writing looks and feels like." Another strength lies in the two main characters, Reena and Sawyer. Both are complex, flawed characters with multifaceted family members and friends surrounding them. While I often didn't like Reena or Sawyer, the writing allowed me to understand them and their actions and motivations.
In addition to her strong character development, Cotugno also does wonders with the plot and the structure of the novel. There is a careful interweaving of plot threads about family pressures, work, alcohol/drugs, religion, school, and friendship to make the characters' lives feel real and palpable. I especially liked the presence and impact of Reena's best friend, Allie, on the relationship between Sawyer and Reena. The plot of HOW TO LOVE never hurries nor dallies; the juxtaposition of the "before" and "after" chapters are perfectly aligned with mirrored events that follow one another naturally. When the book came to a close, the ending left me satisfied, even without answering every plot question directly.
Though this book was a perfect fit for me, there were a few phrases or sentence choices that threw me at times, and other readers may not be able to look past Reena's and Sawyer's flaws in order to find them sympathetic.
In all, though, HOW TO LOVE is the best young adult book that I've read in the past two years. I can't wait to see what moving, realistic, and emotionally arresting stories Cotugno writes in the future. I know that I'll be reading every one of them.
Note: This review refers to an advance review copy.
Immediate reaction: My first five-star book in two years! I am so incredibly impressed with the quiet but compelling story this novel tells and the style and lyricism with which the author tells it. I can't wait to see what this author writes in the future.(less)
When I requested a review copy of Stealing Harper, I didn't realize that it was a companion novella to an already existing book (Taking Chances). Desp...more When I requested a review copy of Stealing Harper, I didn't realize that it was a companion novella to an already existing book (Taking Chances). Despite that, I was still able to read it and understand what was going on, but I unfortunately didn't care about the story or its characters. The writing was repetitive and insipid, and the characters had few distinguishing characteristics other than an unexplainable attraction to each other and a noticeable lack of reasoning. Chase wasn't hot; he was emotionally hurtful, sometimes physically abusive, and downright disgusting in his dealings with and perception of women. Harper, his love interest, had no personality other than being indecisive and easily embarrassed. Their interactions with each other lacked authenticity, and the supposed romance between them never held a hint of romance for me; it was merely empty sexual attraction and a lot of repulsive, possessive inner dialogue from Chase about "his princess."
Only recommended to those readers who enjoyed the first book, TAKING CHANCES, and who want to see things from Chase's perspective.
Nota bene: Only 65% of the e-book contains actual content; the remaining 35% is merely samplers for the author's other works. (less)
I know that many people enjoyed this, but it felt like a sloppily-put-together mess to me. I didn't once believe that the two characters had been best...moreI know that many people enjoyed this, but it felt like a sloppily-put-together mess to me. I didn't once believe that the two characters had been best friends their entire lives, especially when there appeared to be no real communication between them. I also found Kyler to be terribly unappealing (and downright disgusting) because of the ways he used and treated other women. I adore friends-to-lovers stories, but this one didn't seem believable to me at all.(less)
Wavering between 2.5 and 3 stars on this one. Despite the ridiculous number of typos, misspellings, and poorly written sentences, the story clipped al...moreWavering between 2.5 and 3 stars on this one. Despite the ridiculous number of typos, misspellings, and poorly written sentences, the story clipped along after an initially slow start and there was no instalove to make me roll my eyes. If the author cleaned this up, I think it would be one of the better titles in the New Adult genre...though that's not a ringing endorsement from me.(less)
When I received this ARC, I was extremely excited to begin reading it because I was familiar with and impressed by the author's spoken word/slam poetr...more When I received this ARC, I was extremely excited to begin reading it because I was familiar with and impressed by the author's spoken word/slam poetry work. That, coupled with a ringing endorsement from Sherman Alexie on the cover, made this seem like it would be a real treat for me.
Unfortunately, this novel didn't grab me like I had hoped, and I stopped reading a little before the half-way mark. Though I liked the opening and found some humor in the writing, it felt forced at times and the narrative didn't always flow smoothly. Developments like the new kid, Drake, disclosing his sexual orientation to our protagonist within days of meeting her felt unrealistic and only necessary to push the plot forward. There was much potential here, but I didn't find enough in the story to keep my interest.(less)
I read this on a whim while home sick from work; Harlequin has been bombarding my GR and Facebook feeds for weeks with their advertisement of a free e...moreI read this on a whim while home sick from work; Harlequin has been bombarding my GR and Facebook feeds for weeks with their advertisement of a free e-book so I decided to take them up on the offer. This title is mindless and unrealistic with very limited character development, but it wasn't the worst writing I've encountered in a romance novel and it was free.
Poor writing & implausible story made this a non-finisher for me
In an attempt to try out another New Adult title, I downloaded The Coincidence of...more Poor writing & implausible story made this a non-finisher for me
In an attempt to try out another New Adult title, I downloaded The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden. It is currently sitting in the #4 spot on the NYT Best Sellers list for e-books, and it seemed like a deal at only 99 cents. I even picked up the author's second similar title (The Secret of Ella and Micha) on a whim at the same time. Though I should have been more wary due to the low price and the author's self-pubbed status, I was feeling adventurous.
Oh, how wary I should have been! I have never before given up on a title so quickly as I did with this book (at the 7% completion mark). The two chapters that I read were littered with typos, incorrect pronoun usage, and simply pedestrian and awkward writing. As per usual with YA or NA titles, the characters have trials or past abuses to overcome, but this story laid them out entirely too obviously within the first three pages with clunky statements about "hiding the scars on the inside" and the young woman's obvious fear of men. Then, soon after we're told that the main character hasn't touched anyone outside her family in six years and has never told a soul about what trauma has befallen her, the next chapter finds her at college with a new best friend -- the token gay guy -- whom she touches, laughs with, and has shared her darkest secrets with. The quick character changes, and the obviously forthcoming romance with the also-traumatized football jock from her hometown, just seemed too unbelievable. I simply had to stop reading due to the absolute implausibility of the story and the poor writing.
Though I don't hope to diminish anyone else's interest or enthusiasm for this book, I can't understand any of the hype, high sales, or great ratings for this book and the author's other titles, if they are at all similar. Not only did I declare this a DNF title, but it is also the first thing I have ever digitally returned. Read at your own risk. (less)
Quick and easy to read but ultimately unsatisfying. Though fun hijinks ensue, the outcome of the plot is too easily deduced via the synopsis, the char...moreQuick and easy to read but ultimately unsatisfying. Though fun hijinks ensue, the outcome of the plot is too easily deduced via the synopsis, the characters aren't consistent, and the romantic connection doesn't make sense. (less)
Though I had heard many positive things about Hopkins’ gritty verse novels for teens, Collateral was my first experience with her work and it left me...more Though I had heard many positive things about Hopkins’ gritty verse novels for teens, Collateral was my first experience with her work and it left me extremely disappointed. The author’s use of verse never felt poetic; it simply seemed like prose broken awkwardly across a page.
Additionally, while it was clear what message the author was trying to impart about the effects of a military life on both the solider and those around him/her, it came off as heavy-handed and unbelievable; because the reader only meets the characters at the time of enlistment, it’s a big jump to believe that the personality changes described are attributable solely to the stresses of military life, as opposed to some inherent part of their dispositions.
Only recommended to those who enjoy Hopkins’ work and who are willing to read a very depressing tale about military life, abuse, and drug/alcohol use. (less)
A leveled reading selection for urban teens. While the plot points were obvious and the language often clunky, this title and its companions in this s...moreA leveled reading selection for urban teens. While the plot points were obvious and the language often clunky, this title and its companions in this series could be great choices for librarians and educators working with reluctant teen readers who are far below grade-level. (less)