Saturday, 18 November 2017

REVIEW; Easy (Contours of the Heart #1), by Tammara Webber

13548456Rating:

Genre: New-Adult, Romance

Recommend: Yes

Book 1

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Jacqueline's passion was music, but she foolishly followed her high school boyfriend to his state university, only to be dumped soon later. When one of his friends attacks her, mysterious Lucas saves her. He sits at the back of her classes, always with his head down and busy doodling.
After falling behind in class following her break-up, Jacqueline has to receive help from a tutor by email, Landon, who appears to be crossing the lines of tutor/student boundaries. Jacqueline has to work around her new stalker, Lucas' secrets and Landon's identity. 

My Thoughts:

I've had this on my wishlist since 2014... so three years later I finally got to read it and I was not disappointed. I always worry that books I marked years ago will no longer be relevant or I'd find too young for me now, especially as the characters in this were younger than me.

Jacqueline: Immediately we meet her at the party before she gets attacked. She is quite a strong character, persevering to get a second chance at making up her grade for one. I think she will stand as being quite an empowering character for younger women. When she gets attacked, she tries to just bury it all. But her friend enlists her in self defense classes so she can feel safe. Following another assault, Jacqueline pairs up to report the rapist and Webber highlights how society tend to react when it's a person with status or money behind them. I feel one of the most important scenes was the Sorority taking charge to build a case against him and stand up for the targeted girls, disregarding reputation. 

Story: This was a fantastic story. Never once did it come across as a damsel in distress story; with a good few twists involving characters and their history.  The pacing was brilliant, there was always something of suspense to keep me reading and guessing as to what would be the outcome. 

I don't think much more should be said as it would give more of the plot away, and I believe it should be enjoyed with little known. 

Overall:

This did not disappoint after waiting 3 years to read. A fantastic, heart-wrenching tale of love and heart-break, and the social status game that permeates society.   

Saturday, 11 November 2017

REVIEW; Pushing The Limits, by Katie McGarry

10194514Rating: ★

Genre: New-Adult, Romance

Recommend: Yes!!

Book 1

NO SPOILERS 

Summary:

Echo Emerson has lost her brother. Her mother is not around. She ended things with her boyfriend and now wears long sleeves, ending her social game completely. She plummeted from popularity to a nobody. All she wants to know is what happened the night she got her scars, the scars everyone is intimidated by. Noah lost his parents in a fire and is fighting for custody over his younger brothers. Attending the same counsellor, Noah and Echo strike up an unlikely friendship, as they help each other to gain the answers they need. 

My Thoughts:

The fact we know going into this book that Echo has scars, signifies it's going to be a heavy read, but I was not expecting it to be as gut-punching. Like, WOW. It was dual POV, switching between Echo and Noah throughout.

Echo: We meet Echo in a counselling meeting with her useless father and his new wife. She wears long sleeves to hide her scars, and she has plummeted in social status. I think she was an extremely interesting character and there was a lot to do with self acceptance. She hid her scars as everyone else would wonder/comment/stare, but as Grace pointed out, Echo was repulsed by them also and shouldn't care what other people thought. It was all an interesting dilemma. She was definitely a character with great determination and knew her worth. She didn't fall under Noah's spell when he outlined their life together, instead she knew what he was actually thinking and stood up for herself. Bravo! 

Noah: Noah also attends counselling but he wants custody of his two younger brothers. Initially, he has no time for Echo until he realises they can help each other and before long he wants her. He doesn't do relationships and I loved that he didn't just switch for her. He had the internal struggle of did he just want her or did he want a life with her. It wasn't insta-love, insta-change. There's tons of character development for Noah, as he morphs from a hot-headed guy to an understanding, loving man who could set aside his feelings for others, and accept he can love others. 

This is not a light read, and I had tears more than once, which is rare for me. I don't often get emotionally affected by reading, but this story really got under my skin. The pain that Echo has endured, emotionally more so than physically, is just unbelievable. We think we know what has happened and yet there's more secrets uncovered as her world just falls apart, bit by bit. 

My heart grieved for both Echo and Noah. What struck me though is there was very little of the unnecessary drama... so a lot of the time a MC would assume something about their love interest, being a catalyst for drama and keeping the plot turning. However, the plot surrounding the pair just wanting their own truths sufficed, and there was very little petty, unwarranted drama, which I really applaud. 


Overall:

If you're looking for an emotional rollercoaster that will have you ugly cry, work its way under your skin so you're reading by candlelight (lamp), this is definitely for you. I'll remember this story for a long time. 


Saturday, 4 November 2017

REVIEW; Illicit, by Ava Harrison

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary 

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Lynn leaves a party to get some fresh air on the beach after catching her boyfriend cheat on her. Carson leaves the same party to get space from everyone. Two strangers both finding solace on the same beach, staring at the night sky and bonding over the constellations. What turns into a wonderful night of passion, is soon tainted when Lynn turns up to class and finds Carson as her teacher, Mr Blake. They have an unimaginable amount of chemistry, but both know they can't revisit that night while she remains his student. 

My Thoughts:

I loooooove student/teacher romances to find out how different authors portray the taboo relationship and how it all develops. I think straight away there is such a strong boundary between right and wrong in society's eyes, and I love reading how that boundary turns grey between characters. 

Lynn: Poor Lynn catches her boyfriend cheating on her, and she goes to the beach for some space. When mysterious and charming Carson joins her, the two form a bond over constellation talk, which soon leads to swimming together and doing the deed. Lynn expects it to be a one-night stand and part of her healing process. But, she was held back a year and is still in high school. Her parents are divorced and she is left living with her evil bitch mother, as her dad stays away and pretty much ignores her calls. Thankfully, Lynn has her best friend. 

Carson: Bless him. Straight away when he realised Lynn would be a student he tried to do the right thing and get her to change classes. It was clear from that start that he was uncomfortable and it showed he had a conscience. But as he learns more about Lynn's life, they can't stay away and so the most wonderful forbidden romance ensues!

Story: There was a lot more going on than just a student/teacher romance. I think it was really beautifully written and Harrison addressed some serious issues and also didn't romanticize them at all (yay!). She includes a huge emphasis on counselling and seeking professional help for various issues and it's refreshing to read a serious topic being treated that way and not just thrown into a story for the lols. As for other drama... well it all added up for a good read. I felt the subplots were woven really well together with the main plot and it all seamlessly flowed as the drama intensified. 

Overall:

This was a highly addictive, dramatic read about a forbidden relationship and the stakes of being in love. It deals with some heavy topics and about healing and recovery. A beautiful story!  

Saturday, 28 October 2017

REVIEW; Frosh: First Blush (Frosh #1), by Monica B Wagner

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary, Young Adult

Recommend: Yes

Book 1

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

At Hillson University the drama is like no other; Ellie, an aspiring journalist, will learn just what it means to "do what you need to do to get the story". Grant is a star football player trying to live up to everyone's expectations. Devon is Queen Bee, and will stop at nothing to get Grant and parade him around on her arm. And then Charlie is about to change his nerdy, shy attitude in order to catch Devon's attention. What could go wrong? 

My Thoughts:

I quite enjoy books that move between a lot of POV's. In this case the story revolves around the four main characters - Ellie, Grant, Devon and Charlie. It reminds me of reading series like The It Girl about 7-8 years ago. 

I think a main thing to note from the start, is that this is rather predictable. Nothing really happened that was a huge shock or was a twist, so if that's what you're looking for, keep looking. But it does serve for a good light summer read that I read in one day. 

Ellie: She is a typical innocent and fresh heroine, starting university with high hopes and dating not on her agenda. I feel she was a little weak though. It all felt too convenient, with how Tanner instantly took a shine to her (although there were other reasons) before he even knew who she was and simultaneously Grant also noted her as a woman of interest quite early on. But why do these heroines always have to be so naive and dis-trusting. I'm so tired of a heroine seeing/hearing something and totally jumping to conclusions. I understand there is need to keep a plot turning, but can authors not think of other ways? Like, I really felt sorry for Grant because she was pretty cruel to him, even if it was out of defense, she still didn't even allow him a chance to explain his side of anything, and that to me is such a frustrating trait. 

Characters: There were a lot of characters in this, with their own agendas, and at times I did get confused with the secondary characters and how they were all inter-related with different main characters. But they all had a substantial difference to them, so every character felt like they served purpose and were distinct. I enjoyed the suspense and secrets surrounding Devon's drama and uncovering her family secrets. I really liked Charlie though. He was such an adorable character and I always loved reading about his nerdy t-shirts. I think he was the one I felt for most and was really rooting for, being the underdog and letting Devon treat him like shit but then he'd stand up for himself and it would be amazing! 

I don't really like when there is cheating in books, and there wasn't really in this, but the love triangles gave me a headache. Ellie liked Grant, but also Tanner liked Ellie. Charlie liked Devon who was after Grant. Then Grant went out with Devon and Ellie with Tanner and it was just a bit messy for my liking. Appeared more like high school drama than university... 

I read a similar review that actually mentioned legal drinking age and I feel that's a really good point. At this point, all the characters are underage as per American law. Whereas in Ireland (where I grew up) and the UK (where I now go to Uni) the legal age is 18. So by the time I got to uni I was already 18, and one of the youngest in my year, and most people had those rebellious alcoholic years behind them (save a few dodgy nights!) but on a whole, most people drink responsibly so the drama levels are not the same. 


Overall:

I'm sure a lot of NA readers would enjoy this, but personally feel it's more suited at YA due to the maturity levels and drama. I can't really relate to the characters and the scheming as being that of 18+. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

REVIEW; Home Tears, by Tijan

Rating: 

Genre: New-Adult, Contemporary 

Recommend: Yes

Standalone

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Dani has just returned to her home town, after everyone believing she had died. The love of her life had left her for her sister so she left for 10 years. When she returns, her family aren't overjoyed to see her except for her Aunt who gives her a place to stay. 
Jonah, a bad boy back in high school, befriends Dani, and the two begin to test the waters of a relationship. But the more time spent back home, Dani begins to uncover some hard truths about her family and she wonders if she was better off letting them believe she had died. 

My Thoughts:

I think unfortunately something was missing for me to entirely love this. I did read it in a day and found it just as captivating as other Tijan books, but I wasn't in love with the characters like I usually am. I didn't form those emotional connections...

Dani: I really felt a lot of sympathy for her and liked how we got some development with her character. She has been through hell with her ex Jake, not just marrying one of her sisters but also having dated the 3rd sister. That for me, was a little extreme. Now she's back in town and they all couldn't be more uncomfortable with her return and refused to try and even understand the grief that Dani harboured. She must be one of the most resilient characters ever. I know if I were here, I would not have returned to the shit storm that awaited. 

Jake: I hated him. What an absolute ass. I feel like he should have stayed the hell away from Dani as he was meant to be marrying her sister, who couldn't be less pleased with her return and who feared Dani would steal him back. Jake had no backbone and Dani was much better off leaving him in her past...

Jonah: He was pretty cool! An apparent reformed bad boy, everyone loved him and I loved how well he complimented Dani. He helped her grow and spread roots and pushed her to mend relationships as they both fought against the town's judgement. He was a real core in Dani finding herself and having someone to confide in who had her best interests at heart. 

So, we had sister drama. We had boy drama... now onto family drama. 

Dani starts to dig and finds out that there was a lot more family drama than just a death and a guy who slept with each sister. As she aims to uncover the truth about her mother and her family, it's woven beautifully with her own journey of forgiveness and allowing herself to love again (because of Jonah).

Overall:

I can't really explain it well, but this was a beautiful read about betrayal, forgiveness and secrets. It sort of highlights what's important in life and in family units. It explores the journey of Dani recovering from lies and heartbreak and allowing herself to have a new beginning and new chance. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017

REVIEW; Bad Mommy, by Tarryn Fisher

Rating: 

Genre: Romance, Psychological Thriller 

Recommend: Yes

NO SPOILERS!!! 

Summary:

Fig lost her little girl and believes that her soul is present in a girl she watches at the park. She learns where the girl lives, and conveniently moves into the house next door, befriending parents Jolene and Darius. She wants everything that Jolene has - her child, her husband, her house, her style. As the imitation reaches new levels, so does the danger. 

My Thoughts:

Well where to start with this whirlwind of a book. I think this was definitely the best book I've read this year - it has to be. I love Tarryn Fisher's books and they usually hit me pretty hard, but this was on a whole new level of crazy (or maybe on par with Marrow). 

We know Fig has lost a child, and her relationship disbanded as her partner didn't want to try again while Fig couldn't cope with the loss. She slowly becomes fixated on a little girl she sees in the park, following her therapist's advice that she would meet her child's soul again. 

But Fig is an obsessive person, and moves into the house next door to Jolene and her young daughter. Fig is envious from the start; of Jolene's life including her home, her husband and her sense of style. It starts of rather minor, with Fig buying similar home decor, or vising places that Jolene has posted on her social media. But her stalker tendencies are dismissed by Jolene, but her husband, Darius, can't let it go. 

This book is told from three different POV in three distinct parts; Fig (The Psychopath), Darius (The Sociopath) and then Jolene (The Writer). And HOLY SHIT! It's hard to know who to believe as the plot twists and totally blindsides you and makes you feel sick with worry and... it's just a book that is impossible to put down. To the reader, it appears like Jolene and Darius have a happy, tight marriage. But after Fig's meddling, is it all for appearances? Can we trust Darius? There are just so many times that I had to stop and try and piece together the puzzle and THE ENDING! 

The ending of this will never escape my memory. This wins the best ending ever and it absolutely punches you and guts you. I even ran out of the room to my mom to tell her how it ended because I was so in shock. Even now, what wonderful literary wisdom to write that way. 

As victim to emotional blackmail in a relationship with a narcissist, I feel like this is an important read. It really highlights how blind love can be when you are being lied to and how you need to be stronger to rise above it all, now matter how much it F's you up. I got chillsssss...


Overall:

Wonderfully psychotic and captivating - one of my favourite reads from 2017 with some twisted characters brought to life with magical writing skills.