Unbelieveable plot & weak writing make this a poor read
After being less than satisfied with the two other Nicholas Sparks novels I have read over Unbelieveable plot & weak writing make this a poor read
After being less than satisfied with the two other Nicholas Sparks novels I have read over the years (A Walk to Remember and The Choice), I read THE BEST OF ME in anticipation of the film adaptation that's being released in October 2014. When I read Sparks' other two books, I was one of the many readers who knew she/he was being manipulated emotionally but who still cried anyway. For this one, I was expecting much of the same: schmaltzy scenes with serviceable but unimpressive writing to back it up. I experienced something far less enjoyable than that, however.
Never before have I encountered such a ludicrous and unbelievable plot. In Sparks' attempts to add some mystery and paranormal happenings to his typical storyline, the author created a tale with no feeling and no logic. I have never before flipped to the end just to get through something, but with this novel, I did. And, when I got there, I literally exclaimed about how ridiculous the resolution was and how unrelated it was to the first two-thirds of the novel. The two main characters themselves were supposed to be sympathetic, but they seemed incredibly immature for their ages, and the villains and other townsfolk were simplistic caricatures who were hard to imagine as real people. In addition to the failed plot and hasty characterization, the writing was incredibly pedestrian and flip-flopped between narrators (in third-person limited point of view) too often to maintain any type of narrative flow.
With this experience in mind, I think I've had my fill of future or past Nicholas Sparks novels. I'm glad that many other people enjoy his work, but his style and plotlines are not a good fit for me as a reader....more
Though there wasn't anything terribly wrong or troubling about this book, it didn't grab me emotionally. The improbable likelihood of Amber and Cade m Though there wasn't anything terribly wrong or troubling about this book, it didn't grab me emotionally. The improbable likelihood of Amber and Cade meeting on "the day before" each of their lives changed and striking an immediate connection felt too contrived, as did the quick resolution in two pages at the end....more
My fluffy and light Christmas read this year. Though this title didn't offer anything astounding plot-wise, I enjoyed and it was the perfect feel-good My fluffy and light Christmas read this year. Though this title didn't offer anything astounding plot-wise, I enjoyed and it was the perfect feel-good holiday romance read. I think I'll be picking up more from Lisa Kleypas in the future to see if I like her full-length novels....more
This book had the potential for an interesting set-up with a young woman studying abroad in Italy, but the love-triangle dilemma between the protagoni This book had the potential for an interesting set-up with a young woman studying abroad in Italy, but the love-triangle dilemma between the protagonist's step-brother and an almost-priest was too unbelievable to be taken seriously. Poor writing (quite frankly some of the worst I've ever encountered) and uninspired sex scenes also left me unmoved....more
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 iIn 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....more
Unfortunately, this installment didn't add anything important or moving to the story of Hope and Holder. This novel was nothing more than the exact sa Unfortunately, this installment didn't add anything important or moving to the story of Hope and Holder. This novel was nothing more than the exact same story as found in HOPELESS with the exact same dialogue and merely more angsty moments from Holder. If anything, it made me like Holder even less as a love interest. ...more
A surprisingly good romance novella in which the characters are not new lovers navigating a nascent relationship, but rather a married couple who find 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....more
CRASH INTO YOU was an easy-enough read, but it contained instalove and a lot of implausible plot points and a boatload of clichés. Of the three books CRASH INTO YOU was an easy-enough read, but it contained instalove and a lot of implausible plot points and a boatload of clichés. Of the three books written so far by this author, I think the second (DARE YOU TO) is the strongest....more
FAKING IT is a formulaic and predicable addition to the New Adult genre with a sensitive-but-tough love interest and a rough-around-the-edges female p FAKING IT is a formulaic and predicable addition to the New Adult genre with a sensitive-but-tough love interest and a rough-around-the-edges female protagonist who just needs a good guy to show her how much better things can be. While this book had some nice moments, too many cliches from the New Adult/romance genres appeared and frequently drew me out of the story....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 p 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....more
Beautiful & achingly realistic tale of young love & its aftermath
Very rarely does a book impress me, satisfy me, and affect me emotionally as 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....more