The Next Chapter is the sequel to The Gaze. If you haven’t read it, you should because it’s awesome! I was very excited about The Next Chapter and couThe Next Chapter is the sequel to The Gaze. If you haven’t read it, you should because it’s awesome! I was very excited about The Next Chapter and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Because the author has become a friend, and because he’s just that damn cool, he sent me autographed copies of BOTH books! So I kind of had to ignore my usual policy of purchasing anything I review for this one, although I may at least go purchase the Kindle copy as a show of support for one of my favorite authors.
So, with all that said and out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty gritty! Generally when I post a review I try to avoid spoilers. That will not be the case this time, so if you haven’t read it, plan to, and don’t like spoilers this is the part where you navigate away from this review. Just go knowing that I really, really enjoyed this book!
Characters: In this book our beloved Lewis finds love for himself. He is just as fabulous, if not more so, as he was in The Gaze. An all around loveable guy with an amazing wit that can make you laugh even at the worst of times. Samantha is, naturally, in this book as well, but she is nowhere near the mess that she was in her book. She’s still a bit of a mess, but she has come a long way and we get to see her wedding in this one. YAY! One of my absolute favorites is Lewis’ mum, and I feel like a complete ass because I can’t remember her actual name. I’ll just call her Ms. Bettford. Ms. Bettford is kind, witty, practical, loving, and accepting. She is everything you would want a mother to be. Finally we get to Lewis’ love interest. *SPOILER ALERT* Just thought I would give you more warning before telling you that while the love interest’s name is Quinn, Quinn is a chick! Lewis, the most awesome gay man ever, turns out to be straight after all. It’s quite alright, I nearly fainted myself. I’ll talk more about how controversial that little tid bit might be later.
Plot: This book is filled with drama! Duh! While the personal challenges that the characters each have to face may seem, at first glance, to be on a scale that the average person never has deal with, they are actually entirely relatable when you scale them down. By scale down I mean take away money and relative fame. Who hasn’t had a crummy ex, or even a psychotic one? Even if you haven’t personally, you can still see the plausibility of it. And although I doubt many people would openly admit to having ever been sexually confused, I’d be willing to bet there are tons of people who go through it. Robayo sets up all these interesting twists and turns throughout the book and somehow manages to avoid leaving any gaping holes. I’ll admit that the foreshadowing of Lewis’ relationship with Quinn may have been a tad heavy handed, BUT if he had just proclaimed his undying love for her without it, it wouldn’t have been nearly as believable.
Dialogue: Yay! My favorite part! The conversations in this book, as well as in The Gaze, are so well done that you feel like you really are a part of them. I love to talk (if you can’t already tell that by my really long reviews), so I always love it when I get so into the book I half expect to see my own voice in the pages. Of course there would be a lot of ‘OMG’ and ‘Oh hell no’ if my thoughts were added in. J Lewis gives a toast at Samantha’s wedding that made me cry like a baby and had my kids looking at me like I was nuts.
Okay, now for the maybe/maybe not controversy. (This will be loaded down with spoilers.) There was a lot of foreshadowing that hinted at the fact that Lewis wasn’t going to be finding his ‘happily ever after’ with a guy. I didn’t quite pick up on it at first because we don’t get introduced to Quinn until much later in the book. That fact alone should tell you that this book is all about Lewis and his personal baggage, less so his romance. Samantha’s impending wedding really screws up his head, but that is what sets him on the path to happiness too. And it was while he was still trying to cope with the wedding business that his secrets get revealed. I should have seen it coming, but I didn’t. WTF Lewis, ladies and gentlemen, was a virgin! *Gasp* I was totally not expecting that. To say that it floored me would be the understatement of the year. He isn’t written in the way that I suppose a stereotypical virgin would be. He comes across as a really loveable player. Maybe ‘player’ is too strong a word. A free spirit. Anything but a virgin! That’s what I get for thinking in stereotypes. Now I won’t get into all of the reasons for his sexual status and/or orientation, but I will say that like all of the other plots/subplots in the book, I felt that it was plausible. The reason I say that it might be seen as a controversial transition is because I’m not sure how the actual gay community would feel about it. I worry that it would be seen as the author taking the easy road by making him straight, rather than having him settle down with another man. I didn’t really care who he ended up with, or what type of equipment they had, so long as he got his happy ending. I hope that anyone else reading the story will feel the same way. When you love someone, real or invented, you should want them to be happy, regardless of who or what that involves.
So that concludes my review of The Next Chapter. I highly recommend it because I thoroughly enjoyed it. Javier Robayo has an amazing ability to pull you into the story and not let you go until the very last page. The characters are the kind of people I would love to just sit down and have a drink with. You just can’t help but like them. I look forward to reading his next book My Two Flags. ...more
Review: I discovered Jon on Goodreads. He is a member of some the same groups that I am, and I have found myself laughing out loud at some of his postReview: I discovered Jon on Goodreads. He is a member of some the same groups that I am, and I have found myself laughing out loud at some of his posts. I had already decided that I wanted to read some of his work when he sent me a message recommending Abigail Dare. I bought myself a copy with the hope that it would be at least half as entertaining and witty as his posts to GR. I was absolutely NOT disappointed.
The Nitty Gritty:
Plot: When you first start reading, the story line seems a little disjointed. It feels like it is skipping around. And it is, because it is giving the more recent history of the Dare house, and gives the reader an idea of what is currently happening there. It then goes back even further, taking the reader back to before the house was even built. That’s where the real story begins, and that is the point where I could no longer put it down until I was finished. That is what made Abigail Dare one of those “holy shit its 3am and I’m still reading” kind of books.
Characters: I’m going to start with Abigail’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Northbridge, because I loved them. Supporting characters don’t get much better than these two, and Etheredge gives you just enough information on both of them to be satisfied. William “Billy” Dare’s story is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Given everything he had to overcome in life, I’d say he did pretty damn well. His portion of the story is executed perfectly, and left me with no questions, whatsoever, about who he was. Billy is the type of character who doesn’t really need an inner-monologue. You can tell what he is thinking/feeling by his actions. Abigail is also an excellent character, but I was left with some questions on her, or at least her post-life motivations. I’m trying not blurt out spoilers here, so my apologies for being a bit vague.
Setting: The story stretches from around the time of the Great Depression, up to present day. The back drop was well chosen. The details of the historical events of the times were easily visible in the lives of the characters. The hardship and struggle of the Depression were shown mainly through Billy Dare’s life. The story he brings home from World War II is also a great example of the author showing how things were, rather than just telling the reader, “Times were tough in the big WWII.”
Dialogue: Hopefully by now everyone knows that I am a big fan of good dialogue. Conversations in a story have to seem real for me to like the story. If it comes across as forced or ridiculous I won’t read it. The conversations in Abigail Dare are well done, and the reader even gets a little glimpse at the wit of the author. That it something I was really hoping to see, so I’m glad that even in a book that struck me as being more on the serious side, he still managed to toss in a bit of humor.
Break Down: I really enjoyed this book. In the beginning I thought, initially, that it got off to a rocky start, but upon reflection, I can see that it was necessary. If you pick it up and have that same feeling, stick with it. It’ll be worth it in the end. As I stated above, I do have some minor questions about Abigail, but in the grand scheme of things they are irrelevant to the story itself. I laughed. I cried. It made me think. It made me remember. If a book can cause that many reactions in me I need nothing else to recommend it. I would even recommend this one to my mother…and that is a rare thing indeed. J
P.S. One of the things it made me think about: If you know, meet, or just randomly bump into someone who is a Veteran or is currently serving in the military, shake their hand, give them a hug, or just tell them, “Thank you.”
The author requested a review for Raising Wild Ginger, which is a follow up to this book, but since I don’t do ARC’s I decided to go ahead and read GiThe author requested a review for Raising Wild Ginger, which is a follow up to this book, but since I don’t do ARC’s I decided to go ahead and read Gillian’s while I was waiting for the next one to be published.
Plot: This story is about a really nice woman (Gillian) who is married to a total douche canoe (Jack). While there is a little emphasis on Jack’s behavior, his numerous affairs and generally self-centered behavior, most of the focus is on how Gillian deals with moving on. I found it interesting, and oddly realistic, that it seems like one day she just snaps, and decides that she can’t tolerate his low-down, dirty, cheating ass anymore. The reader gets to follow her along on her journey as she works through feelings of betrayal, heartbreak, joy, and hope.
Characters: No man is an island…that goes for women too. Gillian has a lovely little group of friends that are her support system. But first, I want to talk about Gillian herself. She is a very well balanced character, neither soft and spineless nor heartless and cold. She does her best thinking when she is cooking. Be prepared for frequent and serious cravings while reading this book! I was eating left over dinner at midnight! I really enjoyed all of her direct interactions with Jack. And a really big part for me in any book is dialogue. I can handle many things, but forced dialogue isn’t one of them. I can happily say that every word uttered in this book felt natural. Every conversation felt genuine and real.
Edward and Sam (who are the main characters in Raising Wild Ginger if I’m not mistaken) are a really awesome couple that you can’t help but love. If they are half as awesome in the next book as they were in this one I’ll be a happy reader. Maggie is also a delight. Gillian’s adult children, John and Aurora are also great characters, as well as Jack’s mom Pearl. As a side note: one of the really minor characters, Evelyn, was the best mean old bitch I have ever seen.
While a reader can sometimes sympathize with the villain in a story, this isn’t one of those times. There isn’t a single thing about Jack that you could possibly like. He is selfish, egotistical and…well he’s a politician…need I say more? The fact that he is also an adulterer, to me, was really just a symptom of his extremely flawed personality. He is the kind of guy who, if given the opportunity, I would gladly junk punch just for shits and giggles.
I really liked the fact that Luke wasn’t exactly male model material. His being a physically average guy lends a much more realistic aspect to the story. His personal history also had a very honest ring to it.
Overall: I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t put it down and yet I couldn’t even put my finger on why until the end. It wasn’t action packed or filled with mystery…so why couldn’t I put it down? Because I like Gillian’s character so much that I had to know how things were going to work out for her. I definitely recommend this book because I bet you’ll like her too. Just remember…have a snack handy…or maybe several, because with as much as she cooks in this book, you are bound to get hungry at some point. ...more