july reads.

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Author: Colleen Hoover

Length: 385 pages

Genre: New Adult 

Synopsis: “Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.”

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines, when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Poignant and powerful, Without Merit explores the layers of lies that tie a family together and the power of love and truth.

 

REVIEW:

First, I want everyone to know that this is not a romance novel, just in case you thought it would be. There’s a touch of romance, but nothing swoon worthy. That wasn’t a problem for me – I just had to adjust my mindset, but that only took me ten minutes, max. It’s more of a story about acceptance and understanding – finding yourself, so to speak. Just like many other Colleen Hoover books, there is an important message written in the words.

Colleen Hoover is the best of the best when it comes to writing. She’s fucking brilliant. I have read loads and loads of books so I know a good author when I see one. I know what I’m talking about. She’s one of the best. I expected her to show up and show out with her new book. She showed up but she did not show out. I really thought after a long break in between her books that she was going to come out HOT! That’s not what happened here.

And that’s okay. It happens. I’m not always 110% at everything I do but I’m still the shit.

Without Merit started out very well, I was hooked by the end of chapter one – there was already drama. YES! I love me some good old story time drama. I found Merit personality intriguing – at first. . . after awhile she just came off as crazy and annoying. I don’t have a little sister or brother, but I could imagine her as being the annoying little sister that gets on everyones nerves.

The storyline was attempting to paint Merit’s family as this crazy dysfunctional mess, but I didn’t really get that. My family drama growing up was a crazy dysfunctional mess, her family just had too many secrets and once they were exposed everything got better within a week or maybe it was five days. I can’t really remember and I’m not in the mood to go back and fact check so I will say it was between 3-7 days. It played out more as a misunderstanding than a dysfunctional family.

I don’t know you guys. It’s like, I can see what CoHo was trying to do here but it was just executed oddly. Yeah, oddly, that’s a good way to put it. There are some deep rooted issues in this book from depressions, to sexual identity, to cheating, to family roles, to alcohol and drug abuse. Somewhere in the story the mark was mixed.

Normally when I read a CoHo book my Kindle is filled with highlights and notes, but for Without Merit, I only have two. It may not be two because one of them is a popular one that was made to standout so I don’t know if that even counts.

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.” – Sagan
When I reached the end of the book, I felt like there wasn't any real conclusion to the book. Everyone’s issues where still there at the surface. Nothing was really resolved. There was only a bandage put on top of everything that would eventually fall off.

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Author: Carola Lovering

Length: 385 pages

Genre: New Adult/Coming of Age

Synopsis: Everyone remembers the one. No, not that one. The other one. The one you couldn’t let go of. The one you’ll never forget.

Lucy Albright is far from her Long Island upbringing when she arrives on the campus of her small California college, and happy to be hundreds of miles from her mother, whom she’s never forgiven for an act of betrayal in her early teen years. Quickly grasping at her fresh start, Lucy embraces college life and all it has to offer—new friends, wild parties, stimulating classes. And then she meets Stephen DeMarco. Charming. Attractive. Complicated. Devastating.

Confident and cocksure, Stephen sees something in Lucy that no one else has, and she’s quickly seduced by this vision of herself, and the sense of possibility that his attention brings her. Meanwhile, Stephen is determined to forget an incident buried in his past that, if exposed, could ruin him, and his single-minded drive for success extends to winning, and keeping, Lucy’s heart.

Lucy knows there’s something about Stephen that isn’t to be trusted. Stephen knows Lucy can’t tear herself away. And their addicting entanglement will have consequences they never could have imagined.

Alternating between Lucy’s and Stephen’s voices, Tell Me Lies follows their connection through college and post-college life in New York City. With psychological insight and biting wit, this keenly intelligent and staggeringly resonant novel chronicles the yearning ambitions, desires, and dilemmas of young adulthood, and the difficulty of letting go, even when you know you should.

 

REVIEW:

DNF at 160 pages
Jesus fucking Christ I can't even deal with any of the characters in this book. This is a "thrilling" coming-of-age story that follows this couple Stephen and Lucy. They are both from New York, but they are going to college in California, where they meet. This novel is told in their dual POV's. My main issue with this book is: Stephen. I'm not sure if I've ever hated a character more than I hate him. Lucy isn't my favorite character either, but holy fuck Stephen makes me want to slam my had into a wall. 

Stephen is the typical annoying douche-bag who pressures Lucy into dating him by repeatedly asking her over and over again even though she said nomany times. He thinks he can fuck Diana (his ex), Nicole (his fling) and Lucy (his girlfriend) without getting caught and he thinks it's perfectly okay. He says he doesn't understand people who read fiction because he's a non-fiction guy *insert eye roll here* and as soon as he convinces Lucy to open up to him he stops paying attention because 'he can't stop staring at her tits'. He tells Lucy to get on birth control because he 'hates condoms' and he says, and I quote: "Girls are generally psychotic." He desperately wants to get back together with his ex Diana throughout his entire relationship with Lucy, and when he finally gets her back he says: "When you get what you want, it almost automatically decreases in value" like are you fucking kidding me? He's such an asshole! I had actual STEAM coming out of my ear reading from his POV.

And then don't get me started with Lucy. She is so superficial and all she cares about is trying new drugs like weed and cocaine and losing weight and achieving a thigh gap, but then she doesn't want to date guys that look a certain way and she's super judge-y and hypocritical and ughhhhh.

I do realize that the author most likely wanted these characters to be very unlikable, but I don't see the purpose of reading a book like this. I can deal with unlikable characters to an extent but god damnnnnnnn. I absolutely love this cover but that's about the only thing I love about this book. I'm so bummed because I really wanted to love this book but unfortunately it's one of the worst I've read this year so far. 

june reads.

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Girl In Pieces - Kathleen Glasgow

Pages: 416 pages

Genre: YA / contemporary 

Purchase: 12.99 at Barnes & Noble 

Review: Although this book tells a story of people being cruel to themselves, it is a book about being gentle with yourself. It seems odd to call this novel kind, as it was often a savage read (it is unflinching in its portrayal of self-harm, homelessness, addiction, and desperation) but it has such a sweet heart, such a piercing desire for its characters to improve themselves in every way, that hope persists in even the darkest moments. Glasgow's use of adult characters to challenge, support, and mirror the teen characters is genuinely inspired, and the resulting fictional neighborhood dynamic felt intensely real. In general, the characters are wonderfully drawn, and although this novel is nothing like Code Name Verity, I think I might recommend it to folks who enjoyed that one. Girl in Pieces prioritizes characters and their complicated truths in a similar way. I'd probably recommend this one for older teens and adults who read YA, not because I believe in shielding kids from content, but because the characters in this novel make nuanced and morally gray decisions that might render them unlikable to a less experienced soul. I know I would have judged the narrator more harshly at 13 than at 18, and that would have been a shame. 

This one earns a place on my keeper shelf. Will instantly pick up whatever Glasgow puts out next


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Lies That Bind Us - Andrew Hart

Pages: 304 

Genre: thriller / mystery /fiction

Purchase: free on kindle unlimited 

Review: I’m going to be brief here, because this tale is not worth a lengthy exposition. As another reviewer pointed out, the decision to remove the sample pages feature most assuredly increases the chances of finding oneself staring in dismay at a literary pig in a poke. Such is the case here, for me.

The first chapter is overwrought and overwritten, full of italics and angst, and failed to show me the alleged panic and terror this woman—we assume she is a female—feels chained in a cell in the dark. And that is the problem: I don’t see this; I am told it is happening. That sort of amateurish writing jerks the literary rug from beneath any novel, especially one billed as “suspense.”

The second chapter, by contrast, is an amazingly pedestrian account of the main character’s promotion, her repeated thoughts of uncertainty about handling her “team leader” status, and then the muddled decision by her group of nondescript friends to celebrate their long friendship by a vacation on Crete. The presentation of the characters, including What’s-er-Name, the intended damsel in distress, was as exciting as cardboard, and about as developed. I rolled my eyes, and plowed on, not caring much about these people.

And then here we are, back to the italics and the telling panic—pun intended—as the damsel in distress continues to wonder what exactly got her into her present pickle. I laughed at the prose, and plowed on.

Let’s end this now, shall we? I skimmed the last two-thirds of this book because that was the best I could do besides deleting it without finishing. I admit to a certain faint fascination, a slight curiosity to see if it got better, or if the plot veered off onto the road less traveled. But alas. The tale did not improve, the writing remained in stasis between purple and dull, and the plot remained true to a trope that has almost been done to death. In more skilled hands, perhaps I might have been inclined to offer a better opinion of this book.

may reads.

Hello and welcome to the month of May book reads! I read a lot this month and not all of them were great but these three stuck out the most. I'll see you in June for our next monthly reads!


Six Feet Under & Pieces of Eight - Whitney Barbetti

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Six Feet Under is the first book in the mad love duet and it is breathtakingly amazing. In the prologue we meet Mira a 23yr old woman who struggles with mental illness and an affinity to drugs and alcohol to drown out the madness. You want to hate her and everything she stands for yet you find yourself slowly understanding and accepting everything she is. She beautiful in her madness and I found myself rooting for her in the end. 

Being in Mira’s head was kind of exhausting — in a fascinating way. I really felt for her character and sympathized with her plight. And I liked Six. However, I honestly still don’t think I know him. Even though he was the hero of this story, he kind of existed on the periphery. So I kind of had a hard time really falling for him. I also didn’t understand his silence and all his motives which frustrated me more often than Mira’s antics. I’m really hoping the next book delves a little deeper into his character. I think had I learned to connect more with him, this book would have been even better. The story was unputdownable though so it wasn't shocking I searched to make sure the second book was ready for me to consume. 

Buy book one (free on kindle unlimited)

"No one saves us but ourselves" 

Pieces of Eight picks up right where Six Feet Under leaves off and boy was I in for a rude awakening. If I thought my heart was breaking towards the end of the first book this book slowly put it back together. I felt like I finally began to truly understand who Mira was and why she was the way she was. I hurt for her and yet I cheered for her as she slowly started rebuilding all the broken pieces of herself. I couldn't help but root for the underdog because i understood her. While my mental health issues haven't led me down the path of alcohol and drug dependency i know how easy it is to get there. 

"He's been there through the dark. And instead of pulling me into the light, he'd held me in the dark, letting me choose the light for myself."

Purchase book two (free on kindle unlimited)


My Time In The Affair - Stylo Fantome

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"I made a conscious decision to cheat on my husband."

I was a little nervous about starting this book. Cheating in books isn’t a complete deal breaker for me. I know it happens in real life, it’s messy, but sometimes it’s real. That being said, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about a heroine who went out of her way to cheat on her husband. I mean, why not just leave? I’m not condoning anything our Mischa did, but I did understand her and relate to her much more than I thought was possible. 

Mischa is not happy. She married her best friend years ago, but she’s not in love with him anymore. She’s not sure if she ever was. After much deliberation, she decides to do it. To have one night with a stranger. It’s been so long since she’s been wanted, been desired. She needs that. 

My Time in the Affair is an engaging, entertaining, heartbreakingly beautiful tale of an imperfect woman who’s finding her way in life. It does have romance, some mystery and is an emotional read. Obviously, if you don’t like reading about cheating, this may not be the book for you. It’s so beautifully written and the story itself isn’t quite what you’d think. 

“Falling for you was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”

Purchase on amazon (free on kindle unlimited)

Welcome!

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WELCOME!

I originally hinted at starting a new segment on the blog in yesterdays Sunday afternoon thoughts post specifically about the books and stories I've devoured every month. I want to start off slow and do monthly reads that way i can give my full attention to providing a thorough background, synopsis and review as well as links that would help you decide whether or not you should read the story as well. 

I'm excited to nurture this space and have a place for me to virtually earmark the books i have read, loved and sometimes hated. 

Can't wait to begin this next venture together!