Rebeca aka Renegade listed this book as one of her picks in her Romance 101 post on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. And I can see why she likes it so much:Rebeca aka Renegade listed this book as one of her picks in her Romance 101 post on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves. And I can see why she likes it so much: both of the main characters defy the stereotypes of their professions (rock star and librarian, respectively). They both are smart and have issues they need to work through, so there's a satisfying level of angst. However, I had a couple of issues with this book:
1) The two main characters seemed like they were becoming best friends rather than romantically involved. In theory, I have no issue with this, because obviously couples should care about and respect each other on that level as well. But, really, there wasn't a lot of chemistry that worked for me beyond the friendship factor (which I really loved, incidentally--they both kind of needed that sort of connection).
2) I was very disturbed by the way in which the issue of abortion was handled in this novel. The author demonizes the characters who suggested abortion as an option for a teen who faces an unplanned pregnancy. More details in the spoiler: (view spoiler)[The librarian's secret--which we learn in the first couple chapters--is that she had a baby when she was 17. She gives the child up for adoption, but ultimately regrets that it was a closed adoption. The parents of the boy who fathered the child are treated as almost cartoonishly evil because they want the main character to terminate the pregnancy. This entire aspect added nothing to the story, and felt as if an agenda was inserted into the novel for no reason whatsoever. Frankly, these characters were depicted with more judgement and less compassion than those who really deserved it, the main character's parents, one of whom was physically abusive and the other who covered up that abuse. (hide spoiler)] I get that this is a category romance, and therefore veers toward the conservative, but this was unnecessary and added zero to the character development or plot.
I would not have read this book if I haven't been making an effort to read most of Rebeca's suggestions, and I do think it's an enjoyable book, regardless of my reservations about it. I'd particularly recommend it to folks who read a lot of YA who maybe want an adult story without a lot of sexytimes. (There's a sex scene, but it's more of the blink and you'll miss it variety.) I'm not sure if I would read this author again, despite the good dialog (it's very clever and witty) and enjoyable characters because of my concern about issue #2, above. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Awhile back Renegade reviewed this book for us on "Clear Eyes, Full Shelves and absolutely loved it. I was cynical because 1) the cover is ridiculouslAwhile back Renegade reviewed this book for us on "Clear Eyes, Full Shelves and absolutely loved it. I was cynical because 1) the cover is ridiculously bad (I know, I know... don't judge a book by its cover and all that) 2) the jacket description sounded kind of melodramatic and 2) it's a category romance and I have an aversion to them because the few I've encountered have felt formulaic.
Well, I should have listened to Renegade, because this book is really super.
I picked up Within Reach when it was a freebie on Harlequin's website last week and didn't plan on reading anytime soon. But, last night I left the paper book I was reading in the living room and was too lazy to haul myself out of bed to go it (it's been a loooooong week) so I picked up my Kindle (not really mine, since my husband accidentally broke my Kindle--this is his that I've commandeered) and Within Reach was sitting at the top of my "Recent" collection so I figured I'd read a few chapters and crash. Except I accidentally read the entire thing.
Renegade's review pretty much covered why this book is so good, and I echo all of her thoughts. I was so surprised by what a sad book this is, despite that it's a romance, and you know a happy ever after is a given. What struck me the most is how much both Angie and Michael love Billie, who died suddenly at 32. Nothing feels forced or rushed, as both have to figure out who they are without their best friend and wife, respectively. The two having to figure a way forward for themselves as individuals first made Within Reach feel emotionally authentic, which is my litmus test for romances. Both are also decent people, who want to do the right thing by Billie's memory and for Michael and Billie's children.
My only niggle (aside from the one in the spoiler below--which isn't really a spoiler, but more a discussion of one of my hot-button issues) would be that there's a huge time jump between the first chapter when we see Billie's death and the second, which takes place ten months in the future. I would have liked to see more about the immediate aftermath of losing Billie, because it would have created more context for the connection between the two in terms of losing Billie. But, despite that, this is definitely one I'd put on my yet-to-be-developed list of Romance for People Who Think They Don't Like Romance.
(view spoiler)[Again in this book, like in many romances I've read, the condom use (or lack thereof) is suspect. The two's first sexual encounter is a frantic sort of situation and they don't even discuss condoms, which makes sense in the context of the story. However, after the fact, Michael (rightly) apologizes for that and Angie tells him she's on the pill and it doesn't matter. In her internal monologue, she thinks something along the lines of, "Plus, she trusted Michael." First off, trust is not adequate protection against STDs. That's sex ed 101. Secondly, in this case, Michael is the one who should have pressed this issue because while he'd been in a monogamous relationship with his late wife for many, many years, Angie was single and who knows who else she told she "trusted" and didn't need to worry about condoms. I know people don't like to deal with this in books because it's not sexy, but like I always say, gonorrhea is also not sexy. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Aw, this is really super. I LOVED the way the family dynamics played out--it was completely realistic and I think that aspect will be really relatableAw, this is really super. I LOVED the way the family dynamics played out--it was completely realistic and I think that aspect will be really relatable for a lot of readers.
I would have adored Amy's books when I was a teenager. The smarts and humor just work for me, and I wish I'd had that sort of book when I was a teenager a million years ago. ...more
UPDATE: We made the balanced cider and it was excellent.
I highly recommend this book if you're interested in home brewing beyond just beer.
InitialUPDATE: We made the balanced cider and it was excellent.
I highly recommend this book if you're interested in home brewing beyond just beer.
Initial reaction: I'm not going to rate this because we haven't made any of the recipes yet, but the instructions are excellent, as are the introductory chapters about cider-making, etc. I'll update this review once we've made something from this book.
(I buy loads of cookbooks, and I realize I never put them on GR.)...more
I feel like this book had the potential to be a lot better than it was--the bones of something unique and moving were there. But, there were2.5 stars
I feel like this book had the potential to be a lot better than it was--the bones of something unique and moving were there. But, there were numerous plot holes and some elements that just needed more development as well as some key points that were not particularly realistic or believable for me. It's a three star book because the surfing scenes were great and the multicultural aspect was good too. I wrote an actual review of this one on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves - http://cleareyesfullshelves.com/blog/......more
Aw... I really liked the voice in this one even though it was a bit younger than I usually like reading. I'm surprised this hasn't been publi3.5 stars
Aw... I really liked the voice in this one even though it was a bit younger than I usually like reading. I'm surprised this hasn't been published in the US, it is very universally relatable and not as specifically Australian as some of the other Aussie YA I've read....more
So good! I still like Such a Rush and Going Too Far the best of Jennifer's books, but this one is right up there with those. The music stuff is absoluSo good! I still like Such a Rush and Going Too Far the best of Jennifer's books, but this one is right up there with those. The music stuff is absolutely fantastic and this is absolutely the best setting in any Echols' book. ...more