A combination of book reviews and other things of my interest.
Awww.... I liked this so much.
This is a friends to lovers story. But from page one you learn that Nick and Gina are in love with each other. Nick a little moresoe than Gina at first. I mean that guy is Drunk in Love, Dangerously In Love, Crazy In Love...(okay I'll stop with the Beyoncé). But seriously...dude is turnt out!
When the opportunity comes for Nick to make his feelings known to Gina he does so. She reciprocates. This happens very, very early in the book.
So the conflict isn't about them falling in love. In fact, even though the they break the seal on sex and moves the relationship far away from the platonic, their bond of friendship is so strong that it remains as the foundation for their romantic relationship. This was the thing about this book I think I loved the most. Even amongst their romantic travails, Nick and Gina always felt like the best of mates. Even their dialogue throughout the book, while peppered with words of love, still held that awesome tinge of friends who can say anything to each other, insult each other, give each other monumental shit...the only way best friends can. They were ride or die for each other.
Their romance doesn't imperil their friendship, instead their friendship is what solidifies their romance.
The conflict then comes from Nick's job. Although he and Gina had been friends for over ten years and have been (silently) in love for most of that time, Gina has no clue that Nick is basically in a mob family.
So she has to reconcile her moralilty with her love and affection for this man.
I love how the author allows Gina to work through that. It could have been so easy to manufacture drama and misunderstandings, but no matter how awful things got, no matter what they said to each other sometimes in the height of anger and emotion, the fact of the matter is Gina never forgets what this man means to her. So Gina always works her way back around and a lot of time she does it through some smart inner reasoning.
Hence my enjoyment of this book. It didn't follow predictable paths. There were so many times it made left turns, as it were, in the narrative.. things I just wasn't expecting. For instance, the character of Sofia was just such a left turn. She is set up to be a certain type of character. But then... she starts to talk and says things and I couldn't help but be delighted with her. In another book her materialism and cynicism would probably have made her less than sympathetic, in this one it is simply a facet of her personality that actually makes her feel honest. I loved Sofia. And I loved the relationship she and Gina developed as the book went on.
- the dialogue was excellent. I love British slang and it is all over this book.
- It was funny in places. Gina's 'voice' is particularly fun.
- Nick understands Gina's hair issues. Over they years he has surreptitiously stocked his bathroom with her fave hair products as well as hot combs and straighteners for the times she's stayed over. Come on! This guy is Irreplaceable, Flawless (ok, more Beyoncé..sorry)
Madly enjoyed this one.
(Am currently reading the author's DEADSHIFTED, which is great. Different series, though.)
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Triggers: References to abuse
I got this book as a freebie on Amazon due to an author event. While I am new to reading poetry and analyzing still. This book really did speak to me, and there were a lot of the poems that just spoke to me on a soul level, which I think it was supposed to. And for the poems that I didn't necessarily relate to, there was still understanding and being to relate and really feel what the writer was trying to say and get across.
This book does play with sexuality, and while most mentions of it are subtle, I did like that. (i.e., not all of the relationships are necessarily to be interpreted as heterosexual, at least not IMO). I also like the fact that familial interactions were investigated and displayed. And while I couldn't necessarily relate to each poem due to personal experience, I still did get a raw response from what the author wrote.
Not all of the poems are short, which didn't really hurt the book but it was something that I did not expect to see.
All in all, I did like this, and I'm glad I read it. It really is a great book of poetry.
Okay, so, I'm under the first 100 pages of this book, and while the writing is good and the writing itself is keeping me focused, the characters are not. It's not that they're boring or I'm uninterested. I don't like their actions. This is one of those novels that's, more than likely, have two couples get together instead of just one. I'm not bothered by that. What I AM bothered by is that in each "soon-to-be-couple" at least one character has said "No. I don't want to date/go out" or if not, gave the non-verbal/emotional cue version of that, and instead of their love interests backing off and going away, they are pursuing them still and having that "They'll go out with me"/"I'll make them change their mind"/ "(S)He doesn't know they like me yet", etc.-type attitude about it. And I really, really don't like that. In fact, I hate that. To top off, there are other little side comments and things that I hate and dislike. But those can be saved for the full review I think.
Triggers: abuse; dosmestic violence; verbal abuse
So, I heard a lot about this author, mostly through GoodReads. She's considered one of those authors you read if you like Dorothy Koomson, which I do, and has/is becoming a big name in the Women's Fiction(or Chick-Lit) genre. So, when I managed to find one of her books, I was excited.
This book follows three different women--Jane (a younger, single mother), Madeline (a woman who has three children, one with her former husband/sig. other, and two with her current husband), and Celeste (a woman who is going through a difficult/abusive relationship with her spouse).
I did like a lot about this book. It kept me interested and it kept reading, trying to figure out each little mystery or tale that was going on. So, that was going on. It was well written. I did, for the most part, like a lot of the characters.
I would say that I did have a few problems with this book. One, there was the use of the racial slur g**sy. It was used to describe the entire one of the character's was wearing (Bonnie, Madeline's ex-husband's new wife) and it was used to imply that she looked tacky and was gaudy. Yeah, did not like that.
Bonnie kind of came across as the stereotypical White Feminist, and at first, I was thinking that was why Madeline didn't like her. Bonnie constantly talked about yoga and just kind of had the presence of someone who claimed to be Feminist but wasn't looking at forms of Feminism, if that makes sense. However, you found later that Madeline just kind of hates Bonnie due to her personality. And while there is a mention of whiteness and privilege, it's not done in a way to say "Hey, this isn't right; here's why.". It was more so to talk about Bonnie briefly and then used to describe Madeline's eldest daughter who believed that she was the "only voice for these young girls". (The young girls beings girls of color. So...yeah). That also didn't sit right with me.
I also kind of felt like the stuff with a certain character was queer-baiting. Basically, it's the whole "one of the characters falls in love with someone or is attracted to someone but it's not to because they're gay. But surprise! They're straight". While I DO find the couple in question cute together, I think that could've been handled better. That character could've just have been bisexual or pansexual. Or there could have been some explanation for him dating a man/having a boyfriend and wanting to be with the one of the female characters without having to do the "he's gay; wait, no he isn't" tactic.
Those were the things that kind of messed with me a lot with and were the main problems I had with it. Other than that, while I wouldn't necessarily say it was a "fun" book to read due to some of the issues, I will say that it was enjoyable. The characters were interesting and did seem real to me. I do like the way it was told and how it was written. The chapters were relatively short but there were a lot of them. So, that was something I did like.
I don't know what else to really say about this book honestly. It kept me interested and wanting to keep reading. I really did like it, and I do want to read more from this author when I can.
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
Two years ago (I cannot believe it’s been that long), I read and fell in love with The Book of Broken Hearts. I knew Ockler was definitely an author whose future books I would want to devour and The Summer of Chasing Mermaids reminded me why I fell in love with The Book of Broken Hearts so long ago (okay kind of a while ago :P).
This is a beautifully written book that makes me want to do the monkey, makes me want to highfive the author and if I could do cartwheels, that’s what I would have been doing after finishing this book.
I should start off by saying that I am not really a contemporary reader. That isn’t to say I don’t read contemporary, I DO and I have a lot of favorite books that are contemporaries but it isn’t my ‘go to genre’ when I want something to read (at least in terms of YA books). But this was up next on my review list and I knew it was time to pick it up (because otherwise, Nick would have disowned me). It’s ridiculous that I even put this wonderful piece of work off for as long as I did since it only took me a couple of pages to be sucked in and forget about the outside world.
Now I am not saying this book is absolutely perfection, it’s not. There are things that bothered me but the good things completely eclipsed the not so great which is why I am here right now kind of rambling about this wonderful piece of work.
This is a book that really showcases what it means to be a teenager in the modern world. Its a sex positive, pro feminist (ideals) read that features a POC female lead and great relationships and just makes me want to squeal in delight.
Can I just say that it made me so happy to see the word feminist being used in this novel. I AM A PROUD FEMINIST KILLJOY. I know a lot of books have dealt with feminist issues but it’s the first time (unless my old age is affecting my memory again) I’ve actually seen the term being used and I think this is such a huge step forward! Moving on from my joy at seeing the term being used, this book also deals with the idea of gender roles. We see young little Sebastian, who is obsessed with mermaids constantly being shot down by his father and other men around him (besides his fabulous brother) and urged to do something more masculine. Elyse also suffers the consequences of these roles when she is repeatedly told by the mayor she is not suited to being a first mate, even though she has more experience sailing boats than almost anyone else on the Island. It’s disgusting that so many people out there have such backward attitudes but there it is. And Ockler deals with the issue beautifully.
She also deals with teen sexuality beautifully. Here is the truth: a lot of teens out there have sex on a regular basis. Here is also another truth: sex is not really talked about in our society in the way it should be. Instead it is frowned upon and I have friends whose sex education was basically abstinence. That is not what we should be telling teens. Teens should know that it is completely normal to have a sex drive (I PROMISE I WON’T MAKE THINGS TOO AWKWARD) and that what they feel is normal.Sex isn’t wrong or bad or something to do only if you’re married. Have sex all you want teens, just stay safe. So yes, basically, Ockler nails it and should get some sort of award (I couldn’t come up with any witty names) for dealing with sexuality in a healthy way (going so far as to feature a masturbation scene).
My only problems with this novel arose with some minor issues with Christian and how some of the girls outside of Elyse’s group seemed to be defined by how they were really into Christian. There was also this awkward moment when a girl was defined by her article with clothing (“short shorts”) until Elyse learned her name. Christian also makes certain comments that made me uncomfortable because they seemed almost demeaning to me, but over the course of the book, we get to see him unfold into a character that is worthy of all the swooning and in the end, given all the other positive things this book has going for it, I didn’t feel too put off by these issues.
I have spent way too long talking about all the issues this book is dealing with and completely forgot about some of the more important things, like Elyse.
Elyse is a PERSON OF COLOR. OMG. CAN YOU GUYS BELIEVE IT? ME EITHER! *flails* And she is a person of color with a disability. As a result of a recent accident, she lost her beautiful singing voice. She doesn’t know who she is anymore so she runs away from home (Tobago) and comes to live with her dad’s friend. Elyse is so lost and confused at the beginning of the novel and seeing her so unsure of herself broke my heart but I loved watching her grow into the beautiful person she was by the end of the book. She learns to stand up on her two feet again, and to appreciate herself and she doesn’t do it on her own. Lemon, Kirby and Vanessa are all there to help her find herself again. Healthy relationships between females are so important and this book ticks another check box there.
Christian is a great romantic interest. He starts off as someone I wasn’t entirely sure about but he manages to win me over. By the end of the book, I was swooning so hard over him because he is such a great guy. He may be a player, but he isn’t an asshole and that is an important distinction. He is also so kind to Elyse and the way he is there for is just fantastic.
Their romance made me flail and I loved seeing them progress from friends to something more than that. They work well together and I love that they support one another. Both of them issues they need help dealing with and they help each other by BEING there and believing in one another.
My favorite character in this book was hands down Sebatian though. After all, what’s not lovable about a 6 year old boy who loves mermaids?
This is a great book that deals with loss and coming to terms with it (whether it’s literal or not literal), about finding one’s voice again, and appreciating all those important relationships in your life. This is a magical summer read filled with mermaids, swoon worthy boys, an adventure, a great MC and one I would highly recommend. PEACE OUT, MERMAIDS.
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So, I picked up Beyond Shame as a freebie on Amazon (which I think still is by the way), and while it did take me a little while to read that was more so due to personal reasons rather than book being slow. In fact, it moves quite fast, and in a good way. This is the first book of the series, and it focuses on Nicole and Jasper—or Jas. Jasper is kind of like Dallas’s right hand man and second in command of the group. Nicole is literally thrown into this area of Sector Four from the City (Eden). With the way is set up, it really gave me a similar feeling to Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series—which I liked. There wasn’t that much in world building per se. However, I think that was more because this was, at the end of the day, still a Romance, and so, a lot of the focus was on Nicole and Jasper’s relationship. While I don’t want to say that it was perfect, because, like I said, it does move fast, they have a relatively good relationship. For once I was able to find a portrayal of a BDSM/”Bad Boy” Romance where the male character is redeemable and isn’t grating on my nerves. Huzzah!! There was great push and pull from them, both and emotionally and even sexually.
Jasper is a great character. He isn’t over possessive or going on a “You are mine” type of thing in an over the top kind of way. He really is about pleasing Nicole and helping her kind of figure out what she likes, doesn’t like, etc. I liked that about him. Again, he didn’t make me want to slam my head against the wall. That makes me really, really happy.
Nicole kind of came into her own too. I do like the fact that she is fresh faced and new to everything outside of the city. I do like the fact that she came into it without having to completely sacrifice her personality or who she was as a person. She wasn’t out to necessarily be like the other woman in the group but find out she was while still being apart of the group—if that makes sense.
The sex scenes were hot. Hahah. They were hot, well-written, and well done. Loved it.
I don’t really have anything bad to say about this book. I will say when you step back and realize that it does kind of take place over a couple of weeks, it does seem like Jasper and Nicole moved fast (at least imo) but I think that was apart of their personalities at the same time and what were they about.
Rating: 5 starts out of 5
Just in case you were planning on doing this... ;)
Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there.
Sometimes it is nice to get lost in a romance that features a really good beta hero. You get so inudated with alpha heroes sometimes, that I feel authors feel like they can't create a compelling, strong hero unless he is also presented with all his uber macho on display.
It is also rather nice to read a book where from page one the hero is deeply in love with the heroine.
The conflict in this book, which is set up rather nicely, is that the hero Zach has been in love with the heroine Abigale all their lives. They grew up together. They starred together as kids in a popular sitcom that was cancelled after they reached the rather less cute teen aged years.
And through it all they became each others absolute best friend. Or in the case of Zach, an unrequited love for his best friend.
Part of reason, also rather well set up I thought, was because of their different childhoods. Although they both grew up in Hollywood and lived the often thankless lives of child stars, their home life couldn't have been more different.
Abigale's mother was a selfish, pushy stage mother who lived the high-life through her daughter, almost bankrupting her in the end and creating a thoroughly chaotic unsettled life for the young girl. Added to this, Abigale's mother also paraded a succession of less and less savory men through Abigale's life.
As a result, Abigale didn't have a very good role model or even opinion of love and marriage. Her one safe harbor was her friendship with Zach. She holds onto that with both hands.
In contrast Zach has a large close knit family who have always been very loving and supportive. He is a lot more open to the idea of love and Happily Ever After. But he knows Abigale's hang ups and how much she treasures his friendship. That and the fact that she has never, not once, given any signs she thinks of him as more.
So he's in love and she's oblivious. Now he is at a point where he no longer wants her to be oblivious so he makes a move.
So at it's base this is a friends-to-lovers story with some family drama thrown in. In most FTL stories I've read the two either have a moment where they both realize they want something more, or there is a catalyst that changes how they look at each other or mybe one of them is feeling a little more attracted than the other. But I think this is the first one I've read where one of them is just obviously heads over heels from the jump.
I think I could have been a little more exasperated with Zach's failure to make his move earlier, especially since everybody on the planet except Abigale is aware of his feelings. Except I think the author did a really good job of establishing the stakes. Zach and Abigale's friendship was so strong and so deep and her issues were so real, that you get why he'd hesitate for so long. Choosing instead to preserve the unbreakable friendship rather than test it with a possibly risky relationship.
And also, I didn't have to be exasperated, there were several characters in the book who were exasperated on my behalf. I also rather liked there were some who were a little pissed at Abigale for being so oblvious when all was said and done. So there were a nice group of supporting characters who I thought reacted rather realistically as observers to the drama should.
This was a sweet romance, rather much sweeter than I am used to with this author. But I really enjoyed it.
This book had potential to be better than it was. I like this author's voice, I really do. It is a bit irreverent and very smart. This book only had glimpses of that irreverence & smartness which is why I think this book could have done better.
The basic story is that Pasha Markovitch is a Russian boxer who lives in London. He needs sponsorship to go on to bigger and better things in the sport but his lack of British citizenship is preventing that.
Lily Asare has just had her life savings stolen by her boozing, gambling wastrel of a father. Without it she can't start her own business and she currently absolutely hates her current lech of a boss.
Pasha's father has a solution. Lily marries Pasha so he can become a citizen by marriage. And he'll pay Lily the money.
So this becomes a rather murky MOC story.
I rather liked Lily and Pasha together but I felt so many other elements of the story competed (too successfully, imo) with the romance. For one thing both Pasha and Lily each have a set of frightful parents. And their dysfunctional relationship with their respective parents take up some rather hefty real estate in the book.
I generally like messy relationships amongst characters in books. Feels more life-like. People don't behave like book characters do, so when I see book characters behaving like real people I like it. In this case it had the effect of coming off as rather disjointed and a little non-cohesive.
It may sound like I did not like this book. I did. I actually did whip right through it. But I think my rating and review in reflecting a comparison to other works the author has done and this book feels just a little not up to her normal standards