Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review: Sway: A Novel by Kat Spears

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
320 Pages

In Kat Spears's hilarious and often poignant debut, high school senior Jesse Alderman, or "Sway," as he's known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want---term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. He has few close friends and he "never EVER" lets emotions get in the way. For Jesse, life is simply a series of business transactions.

But when Ken Foster, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming king, and all-around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feeling all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget's belligerent and self-pitying younger brother who has cerebral palsy. Suddenly, Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. Could the tin man really have a heart after all?

A Cyrano de Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse's point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor, his observations about the world around him untempered by empathy or compassion---until Bridget's presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life-changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel" something" again.



This was a book that I was super excited to read. The cover, the blurb on the back, everything about it drew me in. But...it really wasn't what I expected.

Jesse "Sway" Alderman is the go-to guy for everything. You want homework done, he'll get it for you. You need a car wash to be a hit, he'll make it happen. You need drug, he can hook you up. You want a girl to fall in love with you, he can make that happen...well, kinda.

When Jesse is approached by Ken Foster, resident popular guy and jock, to help him get a date with shy, quiet Bridget Smalley, Jesse accepts the job and the $200 to get it done. Then begins the 'getting to know Bridget' process so he can report back to Ken. Of course, Jesse does the unthinkable and begins to fall for her.

What I liked about this book was actually Jesse's friendship with Bridget's brother, Pete, a young boy with cerebral palsy. Yes, he gets close to Pete only to get to Bridget, but you can actually see their friendship building throughout the book. Pete was someone who needed a real friend and someone who wouldn't treat him differently because of his disability - that was definitely Jesse. It's also the only time Jesse really showed any compassion for others.

However, I really wish the author would have spent the same amount of time on the relationship between Jesse and Bridget. There was a great deal of focus when they first met and then at the end, but the in between story was more "How Jesse and Pete became friends". I didn't really get the swoony feels that I wanted in their relationship and I also didn't really feel their chemistry.

Another problem I had were the characters themselves. For the most part, Jesse wasn't a likeable character. He was rude and a liar. Some of the things he did and said were horrible. He had a few moments of sweetness where you saw that he was an actual person, but for the most part he was just doing his business. Bridget was very...timid? We didn't really see a lot of her so it was hard to get a read on her. The times we did see her, she wasn't a very strong character.

I didn't dislike it, but I didn't love it. And it definitely didn't feel like a love story. It was more, a day in the life of Sway. I just feel like maybe I expected too much out of it.

And it's probably mostly my fault but

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Book Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books
320 Pages

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…



I feel like this is me after the end of almost all of Colleen Hoover's books.

Ok, it's not a big secret that I adore Colleen Hoover. But while I adore her and her writing, I'm not always in love with her stories. So after [book:Ugly Love|17788401], I was a little bit worried about connecting with her characters. Then I read Confess and damn...

The story begins with 15-year old Auburn Reed and her dying boyfriend, Adam, in the hospital struggling to say goodbye to each other for the last time. It's a sad, emotional scene that sets the stage for Auburn's troubled state for the rest of the novel. 5 years later, she's living in Texas, working for a job she hates and just trying to make it day by day.

Owen Gentry is an artist who owns his own studio. He designs his paintings based on anonymous confessions he receives from people. Like Auburn, he is also dealing with events from his past and uses his art to hide in. When he meets Auburn, she forces his past to come forth as well as hers.

This book was very intense and at times I couldn't help but think "this is too much for one person to have gone through", but as the events unraveled and I learned about these two, my heart just broke for them. Without giving away the story, Auburn is a very strong young woman and even though she makes some decisions that no one would agree with, when you know her reasoning, you can't help but understand.

I've also read a lot of reviews about the istalove in this book. I'm not a huge fan of instalove, I feel that it's very overused in this genre and comes off completely unbelievable. However, in Confess, I can see how people call it instalove on Owen's part, but as his past unravels, it wasn't so much instalove for me and I found myself okay with how it was portrayed.

There were also some heavy scenarios here that shocked me. Hoover touches on manipulation, abuse, substance abuse, and rape.

Hoover has a knack for writing the dramatic and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but she always sucks me in. It was the last chapter that really broke me and brought the whole story full circle.



Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Real" Book Challenge February Recap

Real Book Challenge on Swoony Boys Podcast and Fiction Fare

I am once again partaking in the "Real" Book Challenge hosted by the lovely ladies over at Fic Fare. I've been signed on since January but completely forgot to link up what I've read so this post will be for both January and February so I can get caught up. So here's what I've read so far:



Goal: 80
Total So Far: 10
Current Level: Real Book Newbie

I'd say that's a pretty good start. There's still time to join up! If you're interested, head on over to Fic Fare and sign on up! See you next month :)


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Review: Never Never (Never Never #1) by Colleen Hoover & Tarryn Fisher

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: January 7, 2015
Publisher: Hoover Ink
159 Pages

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen.
Complete strangers since this morning.
He'll do anything to remember. She'll do anything to forget. 



 
So...
This book was extremely hard for me to rate and I know that it's because it's a two part novella. I felt like we're only getting half of the story, so how should I rate it?

Well, let me just start off by saying that I would read anything Colleen Hoover puts out. I may not always love her stories, but I love her writing style and Never Never wasn't any different. Having never read any of Tarryn Fisher, I still found myself enjoying the writing style.

Now I love a good mystery. But this was just one giant "WTF". My head was spinning by the end trying to figure everything out. Nothing was concluded, not even something small. It really seemed like a nice marketing gimmick, "Want answers, buy our next book!". (I think I may be a little upset that this was initially one book then was split into 2.)

Then there were the characters. I did not like Charlie at all and while Silas seemed like a good character, the more that came out about him just put him on the same level as Charlie.

I will be reading the next installment because I really want to know what happens, but I'm just not a fan of how it was presented.

*My opinion of the story as a whole may change pending the outcome of the entire product.*

 

Monday, February 16, 2015

ARC Review: The Distraction (The Body Works Trilogy #2) by Sierra Kincade

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley
352 Pages

The seductive story that started in The Masseuse continues...

Anna Rossi knows that opening your heart only gets you hurt. But Alec Flynn is just too good to resist…

It’s been three long months since Anna’s seen Alec, since he saved her life and lit up her soul with unquenchable desire. Being without him has left her on edge, but his bravery has motivated her to change her life and go after what she’s always wanted—a job where she can help people. She can’t wait to show Alec the woman she’s become in his absence, or to prove how much she’s missed him…

Three months away has done nothing to slake Alec’s need for Anna. Unfortunately, it hasn’t made his life any less dangerous. The last thing he wants to do is hurt Anna, but if giving her up is the only way to save her, he’s not sure he can do that either. He’s determined to have her for as long as he can. Except his past is creeping up on him faster than he knows, and this time he may not be able to keep her from becoming collateral damage…


Having your boyfriend in jail sucks. Just ask Anna Rossi. She's been counting down the days until Alec Flynn is released and she's not very patient. But when Alec is released, Anna doesn't count on the awkwardness that follows them around. Add in the danger of such a high profile case and you have a very emotional roller coaster of a ride.

I definitely enjoyed this installment more than the first. And I think that was mostly in part to Anna. She grew as a character in this book and became more mature and more self-sufficient.

Alec to me was still very stiff and lacking any real type of personality. Maybe it was because we don't see a lot of him, but he was very bland and their chemistry beyond sexual is very hard to see.

What I really enjoyed were the side stories. I loved the parts with Mike and his daughter and Anna's best friend and her daughter. I really want to know more about them and watch their relationship grow because, come on, we all know where that's going.

Also, the author does really well with writing believable crime drama. Most of the books I've read, writers take liberties relating to crime involvement and it ends up taking me out of the story because of it's absurdity. But Kincade wrote situations that, although extremely dramatic, weren't completely unbelievable.

I really enjoy Kincade's writing style and I felt like it grew in this book right along with her characters. She does love to end her books on a little of a clifhanger, so I am definitely looking forward to reading the next, and last, installment.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ARC Review: Last Hit (Hitman #1) by Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Publisher: Berkeley Trade
368 Pages

From two bestselling authors—the first in a deliciously bold new series that takes readers to the most dangerous edge of desire . . .

Nikolai: I have been a contract killer since I was a boy. For years I savored the fear caused by my name, the trembling at the sight of my tattoos. The stars on my knees, the marks on my fingers, the dagger in my neck, all spoke of danger. If you saw my eyes, it was the last vision you’d have. I have ever been the hunter, never the prey. With her, I am the mark and I am ready to lie down and let her capture me. Opening my small, scarred heart to her brings out my enemies. I will carry out one last hit, but if they hurt her, I will bring the world down around their ears.

Daisy : I’ve been sheltered from the outside world all my life. Home-schooled and farm-raised, I’m so naive that my best friend calls me Pollyanna. I like to believe the best about people. Nikolai is part of this new life, and he’s terrifying to me. Not because his eyes are cold or my friend warns me away from him, but because he’s the only man who has ever seen the real me beneath the awkwardness. With him, my heart is at risk . . . and also, my life.



 
Umm…this book was kind of all over the place. Russian hitman falls for country bumpkin who knows nothing about the world. The premise didn’t grab me, but I figured, what the heck, I would give it a shot.
This was insta love. Plain and simple. Nick sees Daisy from his building across the street and instantly knows she must be his. And when I mean sees her from across the street, I mean, he spies on her from his apartment into hers. I’m sorry but that’s not romantic (come on, Daisy!). He also tends to stalk her and destroy her things so he can buy her new ones.

Then there’s Daisy, the little innocent virginal flower. Her mother was killed in a random act of violence and because of that, her father shut the out the outside world and raised his daughter within the confines of his own house. Only letting her leave for a few hours each day to buy food. Somehow Daisy manages to run away and it’s in the big city where she meets Nikolai.  She literally knows nothing about life and easily trusts Nick almost from the moment they meet.

The book then proceeded to go the way most insta love books go: everything super-fast and super unbelievable. He teaches her about her sexuality while also lying about his profession (oh he’s a hitman). He tries to get her to quit her job because it’s not safe and he can’t protect her there.  And then DRAMA.

Of course Nick’s profession was going to cause problems. And poor little Daisy gets caught up in the crossfire. Sigh…predictable. Unfortunately, this book just didn’t cut it for me. And when your side characters are more interesting than your main, there’s a problem. What this book did do for me was entice me to read the next one.  Regan and Daniel just seem so much more interesting than Nikolai and Daisy.


I received a copy of this novel from the publisher for my honest opinion and review.
 
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