review: Slip of the Tongue by Jessica Hawkins

28230547

Thank you to Jessica Hawkins and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!~

Was this book good?

Well, what does it tell you that right after reading it, I bought everything else Jessica Hawkins has ever read and devoured her words like a starving animal? Maybe that last sentence was unnecessarily creepy, but you get the idea.

Just…

2

So, this was not at all what I expected. Given the summary, I fully believed I’d be rooting for one particular couple, and the opposite happened. Don’t you love that? I love, love, love when authors surprise me – especially New Adult authors. It’s a genre that often relies on routine plots, and Jessica Hawkins is anything but routine in her writing and imagining.

Slip of the Tongue is about Sadie Hunt. She’s your typical New York girl – living in Manhattan with her husband Nate, working for a PR firm and struggling with the idea of growing up and moving on. Worse, her husband – once loving, sexual and sweet – has turned into a ghost overnight. Cold, mono-syllabic and withdrawn, Nate has taken his love away from Sadie – something she can’t understand and can’t bear. He won’t discuss it with her, leaving her to draw her own conclusions.

Enter a new neighbor, stage left.

Finn Cohen is the opposite of Nate. He wants Sadie. Badly. He seems to be willing to do anything to be with her – and in her current mindset, it’s very, very tough for Sadie to resist.

Does she?

You’ll have to read to find out, but it’s obvious from most of Hawkins’ writing that she is fascinated by cheating, and it’s no different here. I love that she focuses on this particular part of relationships – monogamy, finding the ‘one’, marriage, affairs, etc – because so many authors really shy away from it. On GoodReads, most novels that deal with cheating have terrible reviews. It’s not something many readers can stomach. I’m normally one of them actually. For instance, Thoughtless by S.C. Stephens is super popular and the entire thing infuriated me. Mainly because of the main character.

Sadie was different. I really felt for her. She seemed like a genuinely good person who just can’t help herself / nor figure out what the hell happened to her life. She struggles with her decisions, knowing that what she’s doing is wrong – but in the end, she tries to do the right thing. She tries to give everyone what they want.

Naturally, she can’t. But she still tries, and that means something to me. Her marriage with Nate felt very real to me – as were the reasons behind his sudden change of heart. How the little things DO add up. How it can be the smallest thing, but in a marriage – it can mean disaster.

Regardless of small quibbles (the ending wraps up too quickly for me), I just loved, loved, love this. I’ve read it twice. Go and give Jessica Hawkins the fame she deserves! Go, go, go!

review: Alex (Cold Fury #1) by Sawyer Bennett

21794306

{Source: GoodReads.com}

Official Synopsis
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people–like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries–and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy facade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.”

Review
Oh Good God.

I’ll just be over here, not sure what to say. Sawyer Bennett is shockingly adept at writing New Adult romance and hot-as-fuck heroes to the point where it’s difficult to review, because my only thought after putting this down was can I have him now please?

Alex Crossman. Um, where to begin?

fanning-myself

The guy is sex on skates, lemme tell you. Sure, he’s somewhat of an asshole, but don’t let that stop you from reading. The guy may have been voted “Most Valuable Prick” but that could be taken two ways is all I’m gonna say.

When he meets Sutton Price, a fiery, compassionate and beautiful (natch) drug crisis counselor, Alex is startled to discover he actually has… what are those now… oh right, feelings. He takes this about as well as most commitment phobic jerks do, and goes through the usual crisis where he just doesn’t know how to examine these ghastly emotions without completely breaking down into little man pieces of worry and regret and avoidance.

And I didn’t even hate him for it.

Mostly because their first sex scene is one of the most scorching things I’ve ever read. I won’t pick out the specific moment that surprised even me – a seasoned romance reader. I can’t say anything else without making this X-Rated. Dammit.

Suffice to say, my reaction to Alex in this scene – and every scene?

giphy

What else is there.

Good job, Sawyer Bennett. I am Rachel on Friends, proudly proclaiming to the world:

tumblr_mdwwvxN4yR1qcggyvo1_250

review: Down London Road by Samantha Young

downlondonroad {Source: GoodReads.com}

So.

Down London Road is a puzzler. In terms of On Dublin Street (which I gave 4 stars), I liked the heroine much better, I thought the characters were a bit tighter and at least things actually happened to the heroine in this one – compared to Joss whining because she has to fuck a hot, rich guy all the time.

But I gave this one 3 stars, and I need to untangle why here. I’m not even sure myself.

The Good

1. Jo. Weirdly, I liked her a lot. Her one main flaw was her refusal to accept help from friends, while banging rich guys for money/dresses AND THEN getting offended when anyone dared point out it might be better if she just … ya know, let her loved ones help her out? Every.single.time Braden said, “I can get you a job in my office” and she was all self-righteous and refused, and then ran off to hang onto her boyfriend Malcolm’s arm at a party and simper at him, well, my blood boiled. I’m all for female agency, but I think she just FELT like being contrary.

All the players from On Dublin Street are back and Jo is suddenly best buddies with all of them and invited to Sunday lunch at Elodie’s. I have decided Elodie is my favourite. The way Young describes her as tipsily asking everyone if they’d like a refill and then spilling the wine while drunkenly saying, “Oopsie” makes me want to be friends with her immediately.

Anyway, back to Jo. I liked her. She worked hard, she tried her best and her circumstances were horrible. Her Mum especially – whoa. I couldn’t imagine living with that.

2. The sex was decent. I was comparing it to Joss and Braden, and I think the sexual tension itself just didn’t measure up. But it was still pretty hot. I do wish everyone would step out of the box a bit. It’s a little vanilla, and while I don’t mean I want them to get all Christian Grey/Bella Swan or whatever her name was, I just think maybe… well, you probably know what I mean.

3. Cole. He was a darling and Young has a talent for writing teenaged boys. I fully believed everything he said, including all the shrugging.

4. Malcolm. He was a nice guy, he was attractive and he won the Euro Millions!! I’LL MARRY YOU!!

The Not-So-Good

1. Cameron. I wasn’t a fan. It wasn’t simply that he didn’t measure up to Braden (he didn’t, by a long shot), or that I kept picturing him as Adam Levine (who I don’t find attractive), it was his disgusting attitude toward Jo in the beginning. I couldn’t, for the life of me figure out how he got into her pants after the things he said to her. He was beyond a dick – and it was all based on ridiculous assumptions that barely meant anything (his Uncle married a gold digger? Cool story, bro. Nobody cares.) And his treatment of her after she spends the night at Malcolm’s and he has to help Cole out? OMG I felt RAGE. RAGE.

description

2. It took them forever to have sex. And then all they did was have sex, argue about nothing and NOT TALK ABOUT ANYTHING. All their worries could have been cleared up in a 2 second conversation.

3. They made a serious relationship decision about 3 seconds after they started dating, which I won’t spoil here.

4. Cam’s moronic reaction to seeing his ex-girlfriend. I didn’t buy FOR A SECOND his reasons for acting weird. Not for a second. Sorry, guys don’t work like that.

5. The set-up to Young’s next book. I guess I just feel like not everyone is going to get along all the bloody time. If Elodie invites any more people over for Sunday lunch, there won’t be enough room for her.

Sigh. Still anxiously waiting Jamaica Lane or whatever the next one is called though. Young had me at describing Olivia as “slightly overweight”… can’t hate that. Not even a little bit. No matter how much I complain, I can’t seem to NOT read Samantha Young’s books.

description

review: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

harry1 {Source: GoodReads.com}

Oh, Harry.

I resisted reading this series for a while when it first came out, mainly because it was so popular, and you know that feeling of, “well it can’t possibly be good if so many people like it”? Thankfully, I did end up reading this book and anxiously awaited the final installment when it came out in 2007.

It all begins so innocently and so wonderfully, with Harry living in The Cupboard Under the Stairs with his horrendous “family”, the Dursleys, until one day, funny things start to happen. Harry finds he has a specific set of abilities that scare the Dursleys, owls begin appearing, letters come through the fireplace and there is something that no one is telling him. Something big.

When Harry does finally find out the truth –

You’re a wizard, Harry.

– it’s pretty magical. He discovers Diagon Alley, Gringotts, Hogwarts and makes friends with Hermione and Ron. Over time, darker forces threaten his happiness, and he learns the truth about his parents’ death, the mysterious scar on his forehead, and ultimately, his own destiny.

JK Rowling perfectly captures every child’s dearest fantasy – that they will discover that they are actually a wizard, destined for amazing things and whisked off to wizarding school where they will learn to do magic and escape from their humdrum lives.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone isn’t the strongest of the series (I give that to Azkaban but it is the beginning of a beloved tale that will stand the test of time (given it’s been made into a theme park and all…), and introduced us to a cast of characters that I will never forget.

review: In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

intheunlikelyevent {Source: GoodReads.com}

Note: I won this book in a GoodReads.com giveaway from the publisher, Knopf. I thank them for the chance to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Oh, Judy.

I love Judy Blume so much. As soon as I finished In the Unlikely Event, I immediately picked up my well-read copy of Summer Sisters so I could be back in one of Judy’s worlds again.

In this tale, we follow quite a few perspectives (I admit to finding this tough and a tad confusing in the beginning, but I quickly found my groove), but the main heart of the story is Miri Ammerman, a fifteen-year-old girl living in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950s. As planes plummet to earth, Miri struggles with the fever of first love, a best friend who seems to be unraveling at the seams, a rambunctious, opinionated and loving family, and a town in chaos.

Three planes did actually crash in quick succession in Elizabeth, during Judy’s childhood. Those scenes are especially vivid and all the more wrenching because you know it happened. Those balls of fire, those plane bellies upended and spilling intestines, those bits of people found strewn across the earth like piano keys. It’s all too much, and that’s reflected in the characters’ growing horror as they wonder… what is happening? Is the world ending? Is it a conspiracy to kill children? Is it just bad luck?

Could it be that the world is that cruel, that unfeeling… that dark?

I loved following Miri’s story, and I found her to be an engaging and lovely character – tart in her opinions, intelligent and as fiercely trusting as only a fifteen-year-old girl can be. The haunting touches throughout the book – Ruby (she hit me the most, like a smack, looking into that baby’s eyes), Natalie’s eating disorder, Penny and Betsey, Fred the dog, Mason… it all comes together to form a tapestry of normal life, made even more beautiful by tragedy.

Judy Blume has said this may be the last book she ever writes. If so, it’s a worthy coda to her wildly successful career. But I hope it isn’t true. I can’t wait to fall into another one of Judy’s worlds again.

She’s just that good.

review: It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell

itwasme {Source: GoodReads.com}

Andie’s story was, at its core, all too familiar to me. Not the unhappiness of her childhood or her obsession with sweets – but at the heart, her comforting herself with food? Her untreated depression? Her discomfort in her own body? I felt those intensely.

For me, it’s not sweets… it’s cheese, sour cream, chips. Basically, a plate of nachos. It’s my kryptonite and has been ever since I first tasted “7 layer dip” as a kid. Through high school, I comforted myself with food – bags of chips dipped into containers of sour cream was the fave.

To read about Andie’s frustration with herself was intense for me – and I believe it would be for anyone who suffers/suffered from an eating disorder. And her journey toward better health – both mental and physical – was lovely and felt true. It was a bit glossed over (I started walking and lost 135 pounds…) and I definitely don’t think that eating everything in moderation is possible for everyone – or even most people. But it worked for Andie.

Not to mention, she met Leonardo DiCaprio. As someone who went to Titanic six times in the theatre, heavily related. If I touched his back, I think I’d faint. Congrats, Andie. Get it girl.

review: The Lost City of Z by David Grann

3398625{Source: GoodReads.com}

This review does contain mild spoilers. It’s difficult to discuss this book without them. Read at your own risk, you guys.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – David Grann should write ALL THE BOOKS ALL THE TIME.

Grann is the ultimate in detectives, tracing the path of one Percy Harrison Fawcett (PHF to friends and family), who, along with his son Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh, disappeared into Amazonia while searching for the fabled city of El Dorado (or as Fawcett called it, simply, “Z”). Fawcett and his team vanished in 1925, so it’s unlikely that any traces of them will ever be found, but what about Z? Grann sets out on a quest to follow Fawcett’s footsteps, and that’s where our journey begins.

Fawcett was, by all accounts, a fascinating, complicated and driven individual, with a singular ability to survive in the Amazon rainforest, as well as to communicate with the Indian tribes that so threatened exploration at the time. One of Fawcett’s many flaws was his inability to understand that others may not have his stamina (he called one member of his team who drowned in a river a “rotter, typical waster” and was appalled that another wanted to stop because their body was infected by maggots… the nerve!) but the end result normally worked in his favour. His explorations came in under time and under budget, and he was a hero of the Royal Geographic Society.

Grann speaks with Fawcett’s existing relatives, reads through his journals and other documents, and manages to find out what others hadn’t. but wait, there’s more…

review: Diana: Portrait of a Princess by Jayne Fincher

632113 {Source: GoodReads.com}

This is an exquisite book about Lady Diana Spencer – who was oft-called “the most photographed woman in the world”.

Jayne Fincher actually seems to care about Diana and knew her – something I think that is lacking in most books that were written hastily in the wake of Diana’s untimely death. She even dedicates the book to the memory of Diana, something I think is important – most of the so-called “tribute” books were written by either publications that used to benefit from the paparazzi’s stalking of the princess, or by people who didn’t know her personally at all.

I was 14 when Diana died, and was devastated by it – she was a personal hero, and I grew up fascinated by her life, her emotions that always seemed so close to the surface and her troubled relationships, be it with her family or her ex-husband. I adored how much she adored her children, how she protected them and raised them to be the men they now are (I often think how proud she would be of William and Harry).

Fincher’s book is more than just a collection of gorgeous photographs (and they are gorgeous – Diana certainly was!) – it’s also a loving remembrance of a woman, a mother and a philanthropist. I think it’s a tribute Diana would have appreciated, given it was written with grace, gentleness and above all, compassion.