Hot, hot, hot! I liked how there was a story within a story, and I also liked how Aubrey got her...inspiration. ;-) I need to read the second book prontHot, hot, hot! I liked how there was a story within a story, and I also liked how Aubrey got her...inspiration. ;-) I need to read the second book pronto!...more
The synopsis for The Eternal City immediately piqued my interest, mostly because when I firstFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
The synopsis for The Eternal City immediately piqued my interest, mostly because when I first heard about it I was just months away from my first visit to Rome, plus I love books with foreign settings. While the synopsis sounds exciting and different, and I liked the premise of the book, the execution was lacking. The story felt like a series of random events and strange things happening to the main character, Laura, but the characters were completely flat and the attempt at romance seemed like an after thought.
Laura is on a school trip to Rome, the Eternal City, a beautiful city rich in history. The vivid descriptions of Rome are pretty much the only reason I gave this book 3 stars instead of 2. It was easy to picture the places Laura visited, and I really liked that. So Laura's trip is moving along nicely until Laura is almost mugged at the Trevi Fountain, and then odd things begin happening, all of which seem to be centred around her for some reason. We come to find out that she’s in possession of the Eyes of Minerva, and ancient gods are battling to retrieve them. As I said, the premise was good, but there were a lot of things that didn’t quite make sense. It didn’t help that the characters were completely one-dimensional, so there was nothing to connect to. I usually prefer character-driven books, or if the books have a lot of action and fantasy elements, I want to at least get a sense of who the characters are, what drives them, what they’re like outside the events that are happening, and I never got that from The Eternal City. The action scenes were good, but they weren’t enough to carry the story on their own. The romance was just sort of thrown in and wasn’t believable. They had no chemistry and didn’t get to know each other at all - they were just thrown together by circumstances.
Overall, The Eternal City wasn’t what I was hoping for. It had a beautiful setting, but the characters and story itself were lacking and fell flat. Despite not really enjoying this one, I bought Morris’s Ruined awhile ago and I’m still eager to read it. ...more
Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus is one of my favourite books of 2015 so far, so I was incredFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
Megan Erickson’s Trust the Focus is one of my favourite books of 2015 so far, so I was incredibly eager to get my hands on Focus on Me. From the very beginning of the book, I knew Erickson had done it again and I was going to love Colin and Riley’s story (almost!) as much as I loved Trust the Focus. This is an author who knows how to break your heart and then piece it back together, make you laugh, make you cry, make you swoon...and make you need a cold shower!
Colin and Riley are both complex, flawed young men. They each have their own demons and issues, and they’ve made mistakes that haunt them. Colin had a great voice and I connected with him easily. He was easy going, smart, and just an overall genuinely good guy. I loved his relationship with his younger sister an felt like we learned a lot about who he was through his few interactions with her and the way he talked about her.
One thing I really liked about this book - and all of Erickson’s books - is how different it was. There was nothing cookie cutter or predictable about it. There were situations and issues that you don’t often see in books, and they were dealt with in a way that was brutally honest and realistic.
I appreciated how the story dealt with male body image - something I don’t think I’ve ever seen in a book before. We see girls dealing with body image all the time, talking about how they’re too skinny or they need to lose weight or have bigger boobs or smaller thighs or a prettier face or any other myriad things the media tells them. There’s so much pressure from society, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that guys feel that pressure too in their own way. I have two young nephews, one who’s just days away from becoming a teenager, and it put some important things into perspective for me and showed me things to possibly watch for in their behaviours or the things they say.
Body image wasn’t the only demon Riley struggled with. His erratic behaviour and some of the things he said left me guessing what exactly he was dealing with internally, and you could feel that confusion in Colin, too. Colin knew Riley was unhealthy and needed help. He knew they were enabling each other, but he didn’t know what to do. He was used to quitting everything and he didn’t want to continue his track record with Riley, who so clearly needed him. He knew what they were doing was unhealthy and maybe even dangerous, and you could really feel his inner turmoil and the mixture of emotions he experienced. I particularly liked the overall message that love and sex don’t or can’t heal everything. Sometimes you need more; sometimes you need professional help, and there’s absolutely no shame in that. Love can make you want to change or work on your problems, but it can’t always chase away the demons or heal the cracks in your heart or mind. There was no ‘sex cures all problems’ mentality in Focus on Me, and I loved that and respected Erickson so much for this realistic portrayal of mental illness, and how it not only affects the person suffering from it, but also the people who care about them.
Focus on Me was emotional and hard to read at times, but it was ultimately hopeful. Colin and Riley met in strange circumstances and thought they’d only be together for a short time, but quickly ended up needing each other. Their relationship was intense, and it gave them both the opportunity to learn more about themselves as they learned about each other. They had some major ups and downs, and I ran the gamut from heartbreak to anger and everything in between while reading their story. Focus on Me is a beautiful story about love, friendship, survival, and healing. If you haven’t read Trust the Focus yet, I highly recommend starting there and then reading Focus on Me. These stories, and these characters, are phenomenal. ...more
I adored AJ Pine’s first two books, If Only and What If. She writes great, complex charactersFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
I adored AJ Pine’s first two books, If Only and What If. She writes great, complex characters with real life issues, and One Night was no exception. One Night is an emotional story about two people who were broken in their own way, but who helped each other learn how to heal.
Jess is haunted by many personal demons. Her life changed two years ago, and since then she’s kept people at arm’s length to keep her heart safe. She never fully let herself heal and recover from the trauma in her past, and it’s affected her entire life, even though she doesn’t realize it. Jess wasn’t always easy to like. I’m all for flawed characters, and while I sympathized with Jess and felt horrible for the things that happened to her, I went back and forth between really liking her and wanting to throttle her. In closing herself off, she became self-centred and almost all her actions had selfish motivations. She didn’t care about anyone else because she was so busy focusing on her own problems - or more accurately, avoiding her problems. That being said, I fully believe you don’t have to like or agree with everything a character does if there’s a reason for it. Jess learned a lot about herself through the course of the book and changed her self-destructive, hurtful, selfish behaviour. Her first inclination was always to push people away and not let anyone get close, but Adam and her roommate Zoe slowly took down her defenses and forced her to see some ugly truths about herself that made her want to change. I loved that Zoe wasn’t afraid to call Jess on her shit and tell her how selfish she was; sometimes it takes someone to point something out to you before you fully realize it and try to change the behaviour. I appreciated and enjoyed Jess’s growth, even though it took awhile and was frustrating to watch at times.
While I had issues with Jess, I thought Adam was pretty damn close to perfect. He was strong, patient, and determined. Being a basketball star, he had girls falling all over themselves for him, but he was focused on his career and overcoming his injury so he could keep playing through the end of college. He was sweet and funny and his charm and openness drew Jess in, despite her desire to keep her guard up. I loved the chemistry between these two and thought they were great together. Their interactions ranged from fun, funny, and flirty to frustrating to sexy. Despite Jess’s actions making me want to scream sometimes, I never stopped rooting for these two. It was obvious they really cared about each other, and that Adam’s love had a healing affect on Jess’s broken heart.
Other things I loved about this book: the side characters, especially Zoe and Regan. They were fleshed out well, and they each had something important to teach Jess. I loved all the little touches in the book that were like a running joke and kept me grinning, like the shitty coffee, the cake, the Chinese food, and Vampire Diaries. They made me feel like I was part of the story, like I was actually hanging out with Jess and Adam and Zoe. I also loved how depression and trauma were dealt with in a believable, compassionate, respectful manner, and that ultimately Jess wasn’t ashamed to get help and make sure she had the tools to heal completely and live a full, happy life.
One Night was a love story in every sense of the word. It was about learning to love yourself, learning to love others, and learning to let others love you, even when it’s not easy, and even when it hurts like hell. It shows that horrible, life-altering, agonizing things can happen to you, but if you have the strength and a great support system, you can overcome anything. Love and friendship really do have healing powers, and One Night explores that in a beautiful, realistic way. This was another great book from AJ Pine, and I’m eager to read whatever she writes next....more
The Distance Between Lost and Found is a hard book to peg down. I felt so many different thinFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
The Distance Between Lost and Found is a hard book to peg down. I felt so many different things while reading it. My mental rating of it went up and down throughout, but by the end, it was easy for me to give the book 4 stars. It was told in third person present tense, which I normally don’t like, and it had religious themes, which I tend to avoid. Something about this book made me curious, though, and I’m glad I gave it a chance because I ended up really enjoying it.
Normally, for me, third person present tense feels stilted and impersonal; it’s like reading a play, and it can be hard to get a sense of who the characters really are on a deeper level. With The Distance Between Lost and Found, I was pleasantly surprised. The characters were really well developed, and I felt like I got a good sense of who they were. There was also a surprising amount of character development, especially considering the book took course over such a short period. It felt very authentic to me, probably because of the characters’ circumstances, and I enjoyed watching the characters, especially Hallie, learn and grow. By the end, I felt a deep connection to her, which I honestly wasn’t expecting. I was proud of her, and I wanted the best for her.
The religious themes were handled well. I appreciated that Hallie was honest about her feelings regarding feeling God’s presence, wondering if and why he’d abandoned her, why it seemed like some people were never punished for things, and that maybe not everything could be attributed to God - maybe she should be able to take credit for certain things. Sometimes books with religious themes make me uncomfortable, and some of them have even made me see red (which is why I tend to stay away from them), but when religious themes are handled as well as they were in The Distance Between Lost and Found, I can appreciate and even enjoy them.
The story wasn’t necessary draggy, but there were parts that felt too long. I found myself wishing a few times that they’d just be rescued already, or that Hallie would just spit out her story and stop drawing it out. A lot of times when a character has this huge secret to tell and it takes them forever to spill, it ends up feeling anticlimactic. While I thought it took too long to get the whole story, I was pleased with the story itself - it was appropriately rage-inducing and made me really feel for Hallie and her situation and the unfairness of it. I liked that it brought her closer to Rachel and Jonah, and that by telling her story for the first time, she was able to heal part of herself.
Overall The Distance Between Lost and Found was a very enjoyable read. It was an interesting mix of contemporary and survival story. I loved the characters and feel like Hallie, Rachel, and Jonah will stick with me for a while. ...more
I read and loved Game. Set. Match. two years ago and have been waiting (im)patiently everFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
I read and loved Game. Set. Match. two years ago and have been waiting (im)patiently ever since for Losing at Love. In my review of the first book, I said that I went into it not expecting to love it. I have no interest in tennis, plus I often find it hard to keep multiple POVs straight, especially when a lot is going on. I was pleasantly surprised, and ended up loving not only the tennis stuff, but also the three main characters, Indy, Penny, and Jasmine. Iacopelli succeeded in capturing my attention from the very beginning, and she did that again in Losing at Love.
It was so great reconnecting with these characters. It felt like meeting up with old friends, and I was eager to see what they were up to. I love that Indy, Penny, and Jasmine have stuff in common beyond tennis - they’re all strong, independent, smart girls - but they also have their own distinct personalities, interests, and goals. Throughout the book, the boundaries of their friendships (and other relationships) were tested, and it was nice to see them go through real life stuff even though their lives are far from most peoples’ idea of normal. I also appreciated that the relationship stuff wasn't always easy. I love the boys in this book as much as I love the girls. There were some steamy, sexy moments that were great, and they were mixed in nicely with the emotional stuff and some cute, funny moments.
I’d love to see this series as a TV series. I can picture it clearly, and I think it would make a great teen drama. It has all the elements of a hit TV show - friendships, romance, humour, sexytimes, competitive characters, action. It’s not often that I can picture a book translated to the TV or movie screen, but I’d watch a TV show about the OBX girls in a heartbeat.
I’m completely hooked on this series. I didn’t want the story to end, because I want to know what will happen next for Indy, Penny, Jasmine, and their sexy love interests. I just hope we don’t have to wait another two years for the next book! ;-)...more
I went into Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda feeling slightly wary. It sounded fantastic and like something I’d enjoy, but there was so much hype around it. I’m not one who usually avoids a book because of hype, but it made me nervous, especially when several bloggers I really admire and trust gave it 5 stars and gushed endlessly about it. So I started reading...and when I was already giggling like a fiend within the first few pages, I knew the hype was justified. This book continued to prove it was worth the hype right until the last page when I finished reading with a huge smile on my face and happy tears in my eyes.
I’ve been searching for a long time for a truly fantastic LGBTQ YA. I’ve found some good ones, but not one that I would undeniable recommend to anyone and everyone...until Simon. This book has everything - great characters, humour, feels, swoons, and real life situations. Simon is one of my new favourite characters. His voice was so authentic; I felt like he was a friend who was telling me what was going on his life. He’s hilarious and irreverent and smart, and the stuff he thought and talked about were so spot on. I’ve said before that I wished LGBTQ YA was more than coming out stories (even though I know how incredibly important and relevant coming out stories are), but Simon was different. Even though Simon’s sexual identity was a big part of the story, it was about so much more than that. I appreciated that we got to see his life before and after coming out, and how his coming out was seamlessly woven through with Simon just being Simon.
The side characters were equally fantastic. All the characters in this book had a purpose. Simon’s friends were great, and I loved the different dynamics with each person or group, and I especially loved his relationship with his parents and sisters. That’s something else that was really realistic - his parents were actually present, they wanted to know what was going on in their children’s lives, be part of it, and spend time together. The issues they had added to how realistic the whole thing was. Despite being giggle-inducing, this book had some truly poignant revelations about different aspects of growing up, being gay, and coming out. It showcased what I think is one of the hardest parts of growing up: changes. The changes people go through individually, and within friendships and families. Even when you don’t mean for things to change, or you don’t think they are, it happens, and when you realize it, it can be surreal and often really painful. Ms Albertalli captured that feeling perfectly.
Then there was Simon and Blue. Aaaah, these two. They were just so freaking cute. Their emails were alternately hilarious and sweet and touching. They talked about everything and nothing, and said so much even when they didn’t say much at all. And during the big reveal...I cried. Not even gonna lie. I basically cried happy tears through the last couple chapters of the book because it was just so unbelievably perfect and wonderful and lovely.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is pretty much the perfect coming of age and coming out story. It’s laugh out loud funny, adorable, touching, and clever. I think the fact that a book about the every day stuff in life - hanging out with friends, going to school, spending time with family, listening to music - can have such a huge impact is a testament to Ms Albertalli’s skill as a writer. I can’t wait to see what she writes next....more
For years I’ve been looking for the perfect LGBTQ+ book. That one quintessential book that wFind this and other reviews at Ramblings of a Daydreamer.
For years I’ve been looking for the perfect LGBTQ+ book. That one quintessential book that when people asked me for a recommendation, it would be the first one that came to mind (well, second…if I’m in a self-promo mood, my f/f NA would probably be my first rec, let’s face it *wink*). I’ve read a few decent LGBTQ books and a few really good ones, but none of them have felt like THAT book - the one that had everything I wanted: real emotion, humour, romance, sex, sweetness, adventure, and a happy ending. When I read the first half of Trust the Focus in one sitting (which may not seem like a big deal, but considering a) I was in a huge reading slump and nothing was holding my interest, and b) I’m a super slow reader, so it’s no small feat to read that much at one time), I was pretty sure I had finally found THAT book. By the time I finished reading it the next day, teary-eyed and with a huge smile on my face, I knew I’d finally, finally found that book.
Trust the Focus is such an authentic book. There were so many times I found myself nodding along when Justin was thinking or talking about his fears regarding coming out, being out, dealing with the possible backlash from family and friends, and just his feelings for Landry in general. I connected with him almost instantly, and on so many levels. Having lost my own father, I appreciated his desire to take this grand adventure to honour his dad. The sentiment of it and his obvious love and respect for his dad was just beautiful. Road trips are one of my favourite things in the world, and I’ve always dreamed of taking one in an RV, so I felt like I was right there with Justin and Landry. Throw in the photography element and several other similarities between myself and both boys (including the fact that my last name is Landry) and I felt like this book was written for me.
There were so many beautiful, poignant moments throughout Trust the Focus. I ran the gamut of emotions while reading - I’d be giggling one minute, swooning the next, tearing up the next, needing a cold shower the next, and then I’d be back to laughing. It had such a great mix of everything. There were also moments that frustrated me and made me want to yell at Justin and/or Landry, but even those moments felt so genuine and real that it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story. These characters were wonderfully, realistically flawed, and had so much depth and experienced so much growth. I enjoyed every moment of their story. Also, I won’t lie - I loved that there were actual sex scenes in this book. So many LGBTQ books have fade-to-black sex scenes or no sex at all; it doesn’t bother me if it feels like it fits with the story and the characters, but I often feel disappointed because I want more. There were no ‘behind closed doors’ sex scenes in Trust the Focus and I loved that honesty and bravery from Erickson for writing those (totally freaking hot) scenes.
I can’t say enough good things about Trust the Focus. These characters and their journey took hold of my heart from the very beginning and never let go. Justin and Landry will stick with me for a long time to come. I laughed with them, cried with them, swooned over them, and cheered them on. If you’re a fan of sweet, swoony, sexy, raw, emotional stories with depth, character growth, heart, and humour (plus an epic road trip!) you need to read Trust the Focus....more