Book Review: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

cvr9781476743554_9781476743554_hrHopeless by Colleen Hoover

Release Date: December 19th, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 408
Price: $16.00

“Not everyone gets a happily ever after. Life is real and sometimes it’s ugly and you just have to learn how to cope.”

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

As a Colleen Hoover fan, this book was quite a disappointment. The plot was all over the place. First, I thought it would be a cute love story where Dean was a good guy with a bad boy past. Nothing about the book was as it seemed. Sky’s entire background was a hot mess. It was one reveal after another of things that, as I mentioned earlier, seemed to have nothing to do with the plot.

As Hoover novels go, this one was low on my list. I was missing the usual spark that her novels contain and that steamy sexual tension between the characters. There was some in the beginning, but when things got weird, I just did not understand what was happening. I really didn’t want to keep going, but I paid for the book, so I felt like I owed it to my money to trudge on until I finished. With all my disappointments, I can’t say that Hoover isn’t a good writer. I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by her so far besides this one, so that’s saying something for her. I will still look forward to reading her other novels, but this one wasn’t her best.

Rating: 2 Stars

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Book Review: Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

23314731Truth or Beard by Penny Reid

Release Date: July 21st, 2015
Publisher: Caped
Pages: 400
Price: $4.99

“I had an odd thought just then, that I should only ever whisper her name, and that she should always be close enough to hear it.”

Hot rugged men. Sexy ginger beards. Bikers. Brothers.

Identical twins Beau and Duane Winston might look exactly alike, but where Beau is friendly and sociable, Duane is brooding and reserved. Which is why recent college graduate, Jessica James a level headed good girl, has had an unhealthy infatuation with Beau for most of her life. His smile makes her weak at the knees and her mouth rendered useless. Whereas Duane has always been someone who aggravated Jessica to no end. She can’t stand him, and she is relatively sure he feels the same.

Except after a case of mistaken identity, Jessica finds herself dreaming of Duane instead of Beau. She’s spent her entire life dreaming of Beau that she finds herself in quite a pickle when it turns out to be the opposite. Jessica is completely unprepared for the reality that Duane is quite interested in her, utilizing his hot hands, hot mouth, and scorching looks. Jessica can hardly keep herself together around him, muddling her good girl instincts. But when Duane seems to have gotten himself in some trouble with a local biker gang, things begin to heat up in a different way.

Jessica’s infatuation with Beau diminishes and she is soon compelled towards Duane who has always been her adversary. She’s willing to risk everything to be with him, but is he willing to risk the same?

My initial yearning to read this book was because the title sounded cute and immediately conjured images of hot rugged red heads. Not a bad picture, let’s be honest. The sexual tension in this book is pretty delicious. Duane is hot and needy and damn if I didn’t wish a few times that I was Jessica. They sizzled on each page and their love grew slowly over time whereas their lust was present almost immediately. Duane was sweet, despite his bad boy image. All the Winston boys were precious in their own ways, adding their own flare to the story. The book was just a simple, cute, light read that gives you a shot of romance and tons of lust.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

BJMC_BeautifulDisaster_Cover-e1333664180331eautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Release Date: May 26th, 2011
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 432
Price: $8.92

“You know why I want you? I didn’t know I was lost until you found me. I didn’t know what alone was until the first night I spent without you in my bed. You’re the one thing I’ve got right. You’re what I’ve been waiting for, Pigeon.”

Abby Abernathy has reinvented herself as a good girl. Leaving her childhood behind for a new start at Eastern University where no one but her best friend America knows her past. She doesn’t drink or swear, she owns the appropriate number of sweaters, and she just wants to blend in. Her plan works until she runs into Eastern Universities Walking One-Night stand.

Travis Maddox is hot. He’s a fighter covered in tattoos and impeccably built. He’s everything that Abby wants to avoid, and yet, she gets pulled in by his charm. Unable to separate herself from his appeal, Travis tricks Abby to spending more time in his life through a bet. If Travis wins, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live with Travis in his apartment for the same amount of time. Never one to back out of a bet, Abby agrees. What Travis doesn’t know, is that he met his match.

Pardon the pun, but this book was an actual disaster. I really enjoyed it in the beginning because Travis and Abby had such insane chemistry and neither of them would do anything about it. But as the story progressed and they got closer, it just seemed like Travis was too possessive. He was always on top of her about one thing or another, like he owned her, which was not attractive. He was a whiny baby at times and got drunk and mouthed off when Abby showed she had a life outside of their relationship. It just became this constant jerk between them being happy and in love to them being completely devastated by one another. The book became really annoying after a while and I just wanted it to be over. I had high hopes for this book, but the characters and their interactions just became too frustrating to really care about by the end. It’s really frustrating when you like a book in the beginning only to hate it as you go through. Unfortunately for this book, that feeling started way before the book over and I’ll probably get rid of it soon.

Rating: 2 Stars

 

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Release Date: January 13th, 2015
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Pages: 323
Price: $26.95

“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps.”

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

This book was a wild ride from start to finish. It was a fantastic mystery that kept me guessing every step of the way. I had a few theories and I eventually figured out what happened before the big reveal, which was a big reveal because I didn’t see it coming for most of the book. The change in narrator is a bit confusing at times, particularly when Rachel drinks heavily because she can’t remember what happens and as a reader that is so frustrating because I can only know as much as she does. There were points where I got so frustrated with her drinking that I would just sit there and  say, Rachel come on, we know what happened last time you did this and it didn’t turn out well. I felt really horrible for Rachel because the entire book she was beating herself up over the state of her life, which to her credit she really did mess up, but it wasn’t completely her fault. She had help. With that said, every character was crafted in a way that kept you reading and wanting to know more about them. The mystery was fantastic and every clue sent you in a new direction. Definitely a highlight of my book reading thus far.

Rating 4 Stars

Book Review: Magonia by Maria Dahana Headley

21393526Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Release Date: April 28th, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Price: $17.99

“If you look at the sky that way, it’s this massive shifting poem, or maybe a letter, first written by one author, and then, when the earth moves, annotated by another. So I stare and stare until, one day, I can read it.”

For as long as she can remember, Aza Ray has been dying. Drowning in thin air as she calls it, from a mysterious lung disease that has plagued her since infancy. Her disease makes it hard for her to breathe, but even harder for her to live like a normal girl.

When Aza spots a ship sailing in the sky, she thinks she’s lost her marbles. Her family believes her hallucinations to be an unfortunate side effect of her medication, but Aza isn’t so sure. She hears something, someone, calling her name from the ship.

The only person in her corner is her best friend Jason who has always been by her side. The boy who she might harbor more than simple friendly feelings for, but before anything can be done on that front, Aza is lost to our world and finds herself in another, Magonia.

Souring high above the clouds in a land of trading ships, Aza is no longer dying and weak. She can breathe. She can live. Better than she ever has before. Now she is full of power and strength, just in time for an impending war. Magonia and Earth are close to a reckoning and the whole fate of humanity lies in Aza’s hands—including Jason who will do anything to get her back.

I was expecting a lot from this book and I think I was let down slightly. I felt like there was a lot left out of the story. I didn’t get enough about Magonia and how it started out as a civilization. I didn’t even get a full sense of their rules and customs. Despite this, there is a lot of room for a second book. Things are left a bit open ended and the door is definitely open for a sequel. The book itself is beautiful. The storyline is heart breaking but also exhilarating because it breathes new life into what it means to be alive. Aza was a great character to read and experience. She was strong and resilient, funny and kind. She knew her limitations and didn’t wallow in her existence. When she reaches Magonia, things are complicated. She misses her family and Jason, but there is something bigger happening than just her transition. I wanted more from the book, I think overall. I felt like I heard so much about it and when I finally got to it, I wasn’t sure how I should feel about the book because I was missing some elements. I enjoyed the book, but I felt like it was missing something overall.

Rating: 4 Stars

Book Review: All The Rage by Courtney Summers

21853636All The Rage by Courtney Summers

Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 321
Price: $18.00

Will contain spoilers.

“I leave her there and find a shower stall for myself where I run the water hot as the sun. It stings my skin. I imagine it eroding lines into me, all over my pale body, my arms, my legs, and especially my face until I look like one of those women. The kind no one fucks with.”

This story isn’t about the sheriff’s son Kellan Turner who took something he thought he had a right to, because no one ever taught him otherwise. This story is about Romy Grey, a victim of sexual assault and the damage that ensues when no one believes her claims. Because the golden child isn’t capable of something as heinous as he’s been accused. Left in silence and abandoned by her friends, family, and community who have branded her as a liar and a slut, Romy lives with her truth—she survives.  Her only comfort is the anonymity she gains while working at a diner outside of town. There, she can blend in, she can disappear.

When a girl Romy used to call her best friend vanishes, and news of Kellan having previously assaulted yet another girl, Romy must decide to stay the course or speak the truth to save further girls from being hurt. With no one in her corner, Romy’s pleas and pain went unheard, but now her silence has left others vulnerable and Romy realizes it may be time to speak up.

I have a lot to say about this book. So forgive me if I jump ideas.

There are books where you can tell by the brief synopsis that they will remain with you forever because the content is just too relevant—too personal. Romy’s narrative is like so many other girls and women who have had to endure the pain, humiliation, and degradation of an assault as well as the aftermath of those events. No one believed Romy and so her voice was silenced by an entire community because no one could believe that their golden ‘boy’ was capable of assault. The community backed a ‘boy’ because his future had been compromised by the accusation, but no one even thought to acknowledge the damage he had caused to Romy, because her story wasn’t important—to them her story didn’t exist.

Romy’s assault wasn’t believed, not only because of who she accused, but because of the amount she had to drink. She willingly drank an excessive amount, and therefore, was held accountable for her own rape in the eyes of her community. Alcohol can make people do stupid things that they ultimately will regret, but it takes something dark and ugly deep inside that allows someone to completely violate a woman, and believe that it’s all fun and games. That she wanted it. What Romy needed and what she received were two completely different things. She needed someone to look after her, to take her home before she got sick. She needed a human being with enough morals and values to realize the state that she had been in. She needed someone who cared. What she got, however, was a boy who believed that the hole between her legs was a vulnerability. That it was his right to use it and abuse it as he saw fit. What he did not remember or even care to imagine is that he came from the exact place that he had violated. Strength brought him into the world through a place for which he believed was a sign of weakness.

Reading Romy’s assault was heart wrenching. She was moving in and out of consciousness and her rapist continuously bated her to look at him, look into his eyes as he broke into her body. Kellen took something from Romy during that assault. He took her ability to trust men. He stole her ability to feel safe in her own skin. He violated any idea that people would believe anything she had to say for the rest of her life.

The worst thing about the aftermath of the attack was that the community blamed her for her own assault. They shamed her for the filthy things that were done to her body without permission. They hated her for ruining the life of a promising boy that had such a bright future.

Romy was the victim and yet everyone was trying to make her into the monster.

Romy was broken by this assault. She emanated pain, yet had the control and the strength to enter her school each day where she was bombarded with snide remarks and severe bullying. She had done everything she could to make the police believe her. But how are you supposed to express to complete strangers what it feels like to have someone push themselves inside of you and call it justified? Kellen wasn’t sorry for what he did to her. He didn’t respect her. He didn’t feel like he needed to. He was righteous, she was intoxicated, he was entitled. He felt entitled to her body, as if she owed him something, as if she were paying some invisible debt he had assumed the payment of.

There was one chapter in particular which was actually more painful to read in my opinion. Romy had an encounter with her old best friend where she finds out that another girl admitted to being assaulted by Kellan. The realization that she wasn’t his only victim hits her hard and she ends up at her school’s lake party, a legacy event that has happened for decades. There, Romy is drugged and left on the side of the road with her shirt open and the words ‘RAPE ME’ written in Romy’s signature red lipstick on her abdomen. This was a violation in itself and it was disgusting and extraordinarily painful to read knowing what she had already gone through. I felt disgusted after that, like I too, needed a hot shower to burn away the remnants of the chapter.

I read in another review that someone was bothered by how Romy would push people away and wouldn’t disclose why she was the way she was. I would say to them: How would you like her to act? She was a child, broken by disbelief and invaded by a monster. She survived the best way she could, keeping people at a safe distance. I’ve never been the victim of an assault, but I have to imagine that I too would pull away from others. Because from that moment forward everyone else in the world would become a potential threat and the only safety would be found with myself.

The most poignant thing about this book is that everything that happened could have been prevented. Had the men in the story been taught that they had no right to a woman’s body without her consent, perhaps it could have been different. Had they been taught that ‘no’ was a command, not a suggestion, maybe no one would have been hurt. Had they not been fed this idea that they were entitled, potentially there could be fewer victims.

Romy is and always will be a testament to women of this generation who have had to endure uncomfortable moments with men, unwanted advances, unwarranted attention, violence, and assaults. She is a small beacon of hope that maybe the generation who reads this will work to change the injustices that victims face. Romy’s story is a reflection of our time. That even in this day and age, women are still bombarded with what they did to facilitate their own assaults.

I had one consistent thought throughout the entire book, and that was to protect Romy. Every time she got into an uncomfortable position I felt the need to pull her away and shield her from the world. I needed to protect her the way no one else had. I wanted to help her. I wanted to save her. She didn’t deserve what happened to her, and in reading her story, I had started to feel as if I had been violated. As if the assaults that befell Romy had also fallen on me. I was the girl ridiculed in the locker room. I was the girl who had idle threats made about my safety. I was the girl who was left on the side of a dirt road with ‘RAPE ME’ written across my stomach. I was the girl who was raped by a boy who believed he was entitled to my body. I am Romy, just like every reader who goes through this novel becomes Romy. I was Romy’s age once and I also had a crush on a boy, but that boy didn’t take from me what Kellan took from Romy.

This book is uncomfortable, heartbreaking, and extremely important. This is what happens when people turn their backs on victims. We can’t allow it to continue. There should be no more questions of: What did they drink and how much? What were they wearing? Did they lead them on? Did they say no? These questions are meaningless because they don’t matter. What does matter is consent. As a woman, I stand with other victims. Victims with a specific gender and victims who don’t live by the binaries society places on them. They need a voice when theirs has been silenced. I am Romy’s voice, just like countless other readers will become her voice. Her story may be fictional, but it’s all too familiar to some. Her consent was revoked and now it’s time to give it back.

If Romy had given her consent, she wouldn’t be a victim. If Kellan had been taught he wasn’t entitled to Romy’s body, maybe he wouldn’t be a rapist.

If you take away anything from this book it’s that there are different levels of priority to assault. When you report a break in, no one asks if you wanted to be robbed. Change the stigma on rape. Become a voice for those who have become silenced. Remember Romy and what she went through. Teach EVERYONE not to rape and that consent is a yes or no deal, there are no blurred lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell

51wv-MTbz3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell

Release Date: January 1st, 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 410
Price: $14.99

“Maybe when she’d been eighteen it was a quality she might have laughed at, but at twenty-eight, dependability had turned into something of an aphrodisiac.”

Tilly Cole always keeps men at an arm’s length. If she stops feeling anything towards them, she becomes distant to the point where the men are forced to break up with her so she doesn’t have to leave them. When a newly single Tilly sees an ad for a “Girl Friday” she jumps at the chance. Leaving her flat in London for a fun job in a small town with a chance for a fresh start in a cute country house, Tilly begins to see the possibilities of a life she didn’t think she could have. But her new fun world changes when she becomes the topic of gossip, jealousy, and intrigue all surrounding the local bachelor-Jack Lucas.

Jack Lucas has a reputation as the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. His escapades are legendary and every single woman in town lusts for him and every woman wants her chance to be with Jack. Tilly is not immune to his charm, but decides to do the mature thing and keep her distance from him, lest she wind up like all the other woman who have spent a night in his bed. Despite her attempts to remain away from Jack, her work and home life force interaction and eventually a slight friendship between the two leading Tilly to believe that not all the rumors she’s heard about him are true. With little to go on, Tilly has to decide what she believes is rumor and what is fact—because Jack doesn’t sleep and tell.

I’m going to start off with my mantra, if you can’t get into a book it’s not the right time to read it. I’ve had this book for a few years now, but I could never get into it. This time, it stuck. The writing was witty and hilarious and the characters were fun and charming. I felt like I could easily slip into their world and immerse myself in a culture that I’ve never experienced first-hand. Everything about the story was quaint and charming, but also real. I love the chaos that ensues before things even out, because that’s how life can be. I’m still partial to my happy endings because they make me, as a reader, feel better about the world around me and I think that’s really important. I’m currently looking for more Mansell books to add to my to-be-read pile.