The Opposite of Hate: The Hating Game

I have found that book choices are very mood dependent.  For example, sometimes I’m in desperate need of a good cathartic gut wrenching cry and will choose a book accordingly.  On the other hand, a book that has been recommended over and over again just won’t strike a nerve because I’m not in the right mood.  Thus, my book choices fluctuate from literary fiction to contemporary to young adult.  However, when you find the perfect book to fit your mood it’s as if striking gold and thus the book high…you know, that feeling you get from reading a book that makes you not want to put it down because it’s so good and then you have to go find another one that makes you feel that same way and you search and you search and you read and you flounce until just when you think you can’t find the feeling again…AHHHH…you found it.

Enter, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne.  Named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2016, it was the perfect romantic comedy of a book which could easily translate into a movie.  This one reminded me of Ten Things I Hate About You meets How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days.  Lucy, an upper-level assistant at a publishing house finds herself wanting to be friendly with her new counterpart Josh, when their publishing houses merge.  However, Josh does not return Lucy’s smile on the first day and it’s game on.

“He did not smile back, and somehow I feel like he’s been carrying my smile around in his breast pocket ever since. He’s one up.”

Rather than form an alliance at their newly formed company, Lucy and Josh become the best of adversaries in their new roles.

“I always thought you’d live underground somewhere, near the earth’s core,”

But, like all good rom-coms, Lucy and Josh are barreling straight toward a head-on collision with potentially disastrous consequences, not only for themselves but their careers as well.  The Hating Game, included on The Washington Post’s Top 20 Romances of 2016, was a delightful, smart, funny read that simultaneously made you wish it was a movie but at the same time not because it was such a good book and you thoroughly enjoyed reading it so much that there is no way that the movie could make you feel the same way. So…when you find yourself in the need for a quick escape but still in need of some mild angst, UST (unresolved sexual tension), and romance The Hating Game is the book for you.

facebooktwitter

It Ends With Us: A book you don’t want to end

It Ends With UsI’ve always found that the best books are the ones that make you think and spur the need to talk about it such as JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You.  Colleen Hoover’s It Ends With Us is one of those rare books that will stay with you for days, weeks, and months after reading.  I think Hoover is an amazing writer and I always look forward to her books.  The first novel that I read of hers was Hopeless.  It was one of the first books that I had read in a long time from the Young Adult genre and it could have just as easily been found on an adult reading list.  Her most recent new release prior to It Ends With Us, November 9, also did not disappoint.  With eager anticipation of her latest release, I began to see social media hype calling this her best book.  While following her on Facebook and Instagram (follow us here), Hoover stated that this book was the most difficult book to write in her entire career because of how personal it was.  Everywhere you looked sang praises for the book but they all said the same thing—go in blind.

How do you go into a book blind?  Don’t read the summary? Avoid reviews? That is just what I did.  With promises of an amazing book, I began reading with knowing little about the premise of the book nor did I read any of the advanced reviews.  First, what an amazing testament to Hoover’s fan base that she was able to heavily promote this book without giving anything about the book away.  Secondly, I’m so glad that I listened to the warning about going in blind.  I’m not sure that I would have loved this book as much as I did if I’d known anything about the characters or the plot.  With that being said, I want you to have the same experience.  I know, I know—how do you give a book a glowing recommendation without telling the readers anything about it?It Ends With Us Heart

What I can tell you is that this book is based on a romance which you find out from the first chapter.  I can tell you that you will fall in love with the characters.  I can tell you that you will want to simultaneously devour and savor every chapter of this book.  You will feel the need to consume it all at once while at the same time needing to take a break because you aren’t sure if you’re ready to find out what happens.  Yes there is angst, but let me tell you, this transcends the typical angst you might find in a typical Hoover book.  This angst is something that you will learn from and it will make you question your beliefs.  It will make you a more understanding human being and create a new understanding that you didn’t’ know you needed.  It will also make you want to share this book with those that you love.  And after all, what more could you ask for in a book?

facebooktwitter

For The Win: An Olympic Themed Winner

For the WinIf you’re anything like me, sometimes you get in the mood for a specific type of fiction.  Sometimes you need something that will make you cry, sometimes something light-hearted and funny, and sometimes you need some action.  I often find myself craving sport themed fiction at the start of a new sport season which is why For The Win, by Rochelle Allison and Angel Lawson came at the perfect time.  If you’ve been consumed with the Olympics like the rest of the world and simultaneously are looking for a great book, this one wins.

For The Win features brother and sister soccer phenoms, Julian and Allie, who have aspirations of playing in the Olympics.  Allison and Lawson did a brilliant job of turning a sports themed novel into one that anyone would want to read.  They beautifully built this multi-layered story with plenty of suspense, character development, and intrigue to keep you reading.  I loved that this book was not predictable.  I thought I knew the outcome but was pleasantly surprised in the direction that the novel took.

Not only do you have the intrigue of brother/sister Olympic soccer hopefuls, but their childhood friend, Melina, is also a serious soccer Olympic contender.  Couple their aspirations with Julian and Melina’s romantic history and you have a great plot.  However, Julian is battling his own bad-boy past that has left him as the disdain of the soccer world due to his self-implosion.  At first, this plot seems predictable and entertaining.  However, the author’s ability to build a story and weave together characters, drama, and a plot that you didn’t see coming makes this book different from the rest.

For The Win is a great debut novel from Allison and Lawson that couldn’t come at a better time–and price.  It’s free on Kindle Unlimited!

facebooktwitter

The Trouble with Paper Planes: Hint, it’s alot

The Trouble with Paper PlanesOh boy.  Where to begin? Ever read a book and things are going along swimmingly and you’re thinking “this is really good” and then BAM! WTF? WHAT AM I READING? Yeah? No? That was The Trouble with Paper Planes.  At first, this book was refreshing.  Not only is it written from the male’s point of view, but the plot was rather intriguing.  Heath, the narrator and main character of the book, is reeling from the loss of his childhood friend turned girlfriend.  She is literally lost.  Emily has been missing for five years and it isn’t until much later in the book that the reason behind her disappearance is revealed.  Heath is grieving for her loss along with their close-knit group of friends as well as Emily’s family.

Enter newcomer to the town Maia, who takes a job at Emily’s mother’s restaurant who looks eerily similar to Emily albeit with different hair color.  So much so that Emily’s mother calls Heath to warn him of her disturbing resemblance.  After meeting Maia, Heath is inexplicably drawn to Maia in a way that he has never experienced—not even with Emily.  While this may seem unbelievable, Amanda Dick’s writing allows you to actually believe that their connection is real.

“It felt like we’d missed a step somewhere along the line. Like we’d skipped a few pages in the book, or scenes in the movie. It felt both wrong and right, simultaneously. I wanted to caution myself against getting too involved, yet at the same time, I wanted to scream that I didn’t care and dive in head-first regardless. My head swam.”

Heath’s feelings for Maia are strong.  So strong that even he questions the experience himself.

“It wasn’t enough. I simultaneously wanted her to be part of me, and yet I felt like she already was. I was stricken with an extreme sense of vertigo, as if I were falling and she was holding me up. The prospect scared the shit out of me.”

Despite their strong connection, Maia remains somewhat of a mystery to Heath.  While she knows about Emily and his past, Maia reveals very little.  However, later we learn that Maia was involved in some sort of accident and has experienced amnesia.  She remembers nothing about herself, her past, or anything else for that matter.  It’s at this point that Heath begins to wonder if Maia could actually be Emily.  And this is where the trouble enters for me with The Trouble with Paper Planes.

All throughout the book, Heath’s friends, and Emily’s family make comments on the remarkable likeness of Maia and Emily.  Mannerisms are pointed out as similar, although their personalities are different.  I find it unfathomable that if Maia and Emily look so strikingly similar that Heath or Emily’s mother Bridget, wouldn’t look for some defining physical characteristic to link the two together such as a mole or a scar.  We all have those.  This was a gaping plot hole for me that I couldn’t wrap my head around.

And then the author decides to take this book way into left field so much so that I’ve spent too many days returning to this post to try to finish this review.  To be honest, I’m not even sure I understood what I read.  I felt like I missed something really big but the plot twist was so surprising, and terrible, in my opinion, that I didn’t even want to go back and reread it.  I immediately had to tell two people how incredibly bizarre the ending was.  It was that kind of book.

Which leads me to my next question…do you look at reviews for a book before you read? I rarely look at the reviews.  I don’t want the book to be spoiled and reviews can often contain major spoilers.  I came across The Trouble with Paper Planes as a suggestion from Amazon based on other books I like.  After the super surprising ending, I immediately jumped on GoodReads to see what others thought.  It’s always surprising to me how different reader’s reactions can be to the same book.  Surprisingly, a lot of the reviews were positive, however, I did feel validated that there were several that had the WTF feeling just like me.  With that being said…read at your own risk.

What was the last book that you read that left you feeling like WTF?

facebooktwitter

An Unrequited Love Story: Unbreak My Heart

 

To say Unbreak My Heartthat I couldn’t put down this book is an understatement.  I read it in a day and that was in between taking breaks because I was stopping myself from throwing my Kindle against a wall.  Unbreak My Heart is the epitome of unrequited love.  Katie develops feelings for her childhood friend Shane who then falls in love with Katie’s college roommate. Shane then marries Katie’s friend all the while Katie still harbors feelings of love and resentment to Shane.  While Shane is deployed overseas, Katie helps her best friend with raising their children and playing surrogate parent.  However, Katie’s best friend dies in a car accident leaving Shane with four children under the age of 8 and desperately leaning on Katie.

I’m sure you can figure out where this is going.  Refreshingly, it was not insta-love between Katie and Shane.  However, their journey together is about as crazy and infuriating as insta-love.  Through a series of very unfortunate (or are they fortunate?) mistakes, Katie becomes so entwined in Shane and the kids’ lives that lines are blurred not only among the kids but between Katie and Shane as well.  Despite Shane relying heavily on Katie to become the surrogate parent, his feelings of Katie’s role in the kids’ life and his own are conflicted.  He subsequently makes a series of mistakes that will leave you (remember from above?) wanting to throw your e-reader.  Despite this, I couldn’t stop reading to find out how Shane was going to redeem himself and if he even wanted Katie to forgive him.  Although he his grieving for the loss of his wife and while some of his actions could be blamed on that grief—there is only so much Katie can take.

Unbreak My Heart will undoubtedly break your heart in the process of reading this book.  For me, the angst in this book is the perfect kind—the kind that makes want to keep reading into the wee hours of the night to get through it.  Although some will argue that Katie is too forgiving, I was surprised that Nicole Jacquelyn did not tie things up into a pretty bow at predictable parts in the book.  Instead, the story and drama between Katie and Shane unfolded throughout the course of the book and developed over time. This added to the believability of the story and halted the sometimes eye-roll worthy moments of plots of this nature.  However, there were a few plot holes for me.  For one, I couldn’t understand Shane’s actions toward Katie later in life could happen if they were so close in high school as the author lays out.  Secondly, although Shane’s actions could certainly be blamed on grief, it did not seem that the book covered enough grief—through Shane, Katie, or the children’s actions. Despite these few problems, Unbreak My Heart surpassed my expectations and gave great angst!

 

facebooktwitter

First Book of 2016

F*ck LoveHave you ever read a book synopsis, fell in love, and then after the first couple of chapters think…wait, what is this, I didn’t sign up for this. F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher has the makings of a great book. Girl falls in love with her best friend’s boyfriend and then must decide what to do about her feelings. However, Helena, the main character does not discover that she is in love with her best friend’s guy over time, but wait for it….in a dream. A time travel dream. And she lost me….

But wait…I should give the book a shot, expand my horizons, right? Ok, I powered through and am so glad I did. This book was unlike anything I thought it would be, both good and the not so good. What I thought would happen (ie. the typical plot) did not happen, but what did happen was…good.

Tarryn Fisher’s writing style is witty, funny, sarcastic. Almost as if you know instantly that you and she could be friends.

Someone once told me that it was on of Oprah’s favorite restaurants, but seriously, Oprah has a lot of favorite things—it all sounds like lies at this point.

F*ck love explores not only the ups and downs of love, but female friendship too.  Helena’s constant struggle with her best friend, Della, is one that all women can relate to.  The roles that both women play in the friendship, some willingly and some not so willingly.

I love Della, God I love her.  I’ve known her since we didn’t have real personalities, and we relied on Tiger Beat to tell us which boys to have crushes on…

On her quest to find love with Kit, Helena ultimately is on a quest to find herself.  Some of her choices are puzzling, and some didn’t make sense, but one thing I am happy about is that this was not a story that was wrapped up  nice and neat.  No, this story was developed.  I found myself surprised when I looked to see how far I was in the story thinking that the obvious end was coming and I was only at 56% (Kindle reader).

F*ck Love has all the elements of a great book in my opinion.  Great writing, unique characters, witty banter, a love story, and angst.  I loved the process of reading this book.  I literally couldn’t put it down.  It’s one of those rare finds that makes you remember why you love reading…to find out what happens next, what becomes of these characters, etc. However, the last 15% of the book was all over the place. The book felt as if it had too many elements and plot twist that made the ending lack luster.  One thing that isn’t lackluster is Fisher’s way with words:

Contrast is important in life.  We understand what light is because we can compare it with what we know is dark. Sweet is made sweeter after we eat something bitter.  It’s the very same with sadness.  And it’s important to experience sadness, to embrace it in order to truly know happiness.  

 

 

facebooktwitter