Monday, June 25, 2012

Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan

(Breathing series, book 2)
Emma’s struggle with an abusive home life came to a heart pounding conclusion in the final chapters of Reason to Breathe. Now everyone in Weslyn knows Emma’s secret, but Carol can’t hurt Emma anymore. Some are still haunted by the horror of that night, and some must face the repercussions of their choices. Fans of Rebecca Donovan’s debut novel will discover there’s still much to learn about Emma’s life.

“Six months ago, I was dead. My heart didn’t beat within my chest. Breath did not pass between my lips. Everything was gone, and I was dead.” - Emma

So, remember how after I read Reason to Breathe I said if I hadn’t already downloaded Barely Breathing, I would have lost my marbles? Well, guess what, y’all? I’M LOSING MY DAMN MARBLES!! The fact that there is no publication date for the third book is driving me crazy! Alright, alright…maybe I’m overreacting; let me compose myself real quick…

Whew. Let’s try this again. The cliffhanger from Reason to Breathe had me pulling this sequel up on my Nook faster than I could even comprehend what had just happened to Emma. Needless to say, I expected a lot of this novel and I was not disappointed. If anything, I was actually kind of shocked. I mean, Emma f*cking DIED in Reason to Breathe; how in holy hell can you make a sequel that is as good, or better (in my opinion), than that?! Well, apparently it’s possible because Rebecca Donovan did it.

Emma somehow survived the strangulation, Carol is locked away in prison, George took Leyla and Jack to live in Florida, and Emma’s mom is now back in her life claiming to be sober. Her best friend’s parents have assumed legal guardianship over her, and she’s trying harder to let Evan into a part of her life she never expected or wanted to share with him. While trying to appear okay to everyone around her, she attempts to thwart her all-too-real nightmares and come to terms with her past, but is faced with a whole other set of problems when she agrees to move in with her estranged, “sober” mother.

I really, really wanted to like Emma’s mom, Rachel; I really did. I had my hopes up that she really was sober, finally got her sh*t together, and realized that she wanted to get to know her daughter before it was too late. I wanted her and Emma to be able to fix things between them. My hopes were short lived, to say the least. Emma finally got away from the physical abuse at the hands of her aunt, only to be emotionally and verbally abused by her mother. I felt so awful for Emma, and yet every time her mother would drink too much and say hateful things to her, she would apologize the next day…and guess what? Emma forgave her. As much as I wanted to be upset with Emma for staying in her mother’s house after all she had done to her, I couldn’t. She thought all along she could fix her mom…that she could fix their relationship. Unfortunately, some people and some relationships aren’t fixable. The only positive thing in Rachel’s life, it seemed, was her young boyfriend, Jonathan.

Okay. I’m torn on how I feel about Jonathan. Sure, it’s super weird that he is closer to Emma’s age than her mother’s. Sure, it’s super weird that we find out her mother is apparently a cougar capable of snagging a super handsome 20-something year old. BUT…I just can’t get over the connection Emma and Jonathan have. I just can’t do it! Don’t get me wrong, I love Evan and Emma together but there is something between her and Jonathan that I just can’t shake. He’s the one who understands her nightmares; he is the one she is able to freely open up to about her past; he is the one she calls at night when she can’t sleep. They are bonded for very different reasons than her and Evan, so I’m still just not sure how I feel about the potential romantic relationship between them.

The cliffhanger in this book wasn’t as good as the first book, but it completely shocked me! I mean…I really don’t even know what to think at this point! Overall, I loved this book. I was expecting it to be a little lighter than Reason to Breathe, but it wasn’t…at all. If anything, it was just as dark but in a different way. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking; it gave me hope and then shattered it; it made me love and it made me hate. I’m waiting on pins and needles for the third book to be released because I am dying to know what happens to Emma and Evan…and hopefully Jonathan! I NEED SOME ANSWERS! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan

(Breathing series, book 1)
“No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?”
He knows there’s something more to the girl in the back of the class the moment he sees her. She’s beautiful, intelligent, and athletic – but she slips quietly through the crowded halls, trying not to exist. Determined to get to know the elusive girl, Evan soon discovers…
Emma Thomas is hiding a terrible secret.
Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girls’ fragile grasp of hope.

WHAT THE CLIFFHANGER?!? It’s a good thing I already downloaded the second book of the series or I would have probably lost my damn marbles!! Let me pull myself together real quick…

Okay, let’s try this again. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that made me cringe, smile, cry, and laugh from start to finish. I also don’t know if I’ve ever read a book where I absolutely, positively hated a character as much as her. (I don’t even want to type that witch’s name.) I had no idea just how terrible Emma’s secret would be, and I think my pulse sped up every time Carol was around. (Yes, unfortunately I felt like I had to type her name…ugh.)

Emma manages to walk around her high school without drawing much, if any, attention to herself. She’s a badass soccer player, basketball player, and track star, all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. She lives for school and sports because it’s her only way out of the nightmare of a life she lives in right now. The only person Emma confides in and knows the horror she lives with every day is her best friend, Sara; a beautiful, popular, rich red head. I just adored Sara. She was so wonderful to Emma, and for a girl who seemed to have everything, she never once let it go to her head.

Enter Evan. Tall, dark, and handsome athlete who has set his sights on shy Emma. I got slightly irritated when she kept pushing him away then pulling him back, then pushing him away…stop toying with his emotions, girl!! That being said, I admired Emma’s want to keep Leyla and Jack’s life in tact even if it meant hers being a living hell for the next two years…and keeping Evan at a distance. I fell in love with Evan a little bit. Okay, okay! I fell head over heels for Evan. He was just so sweet to Emma, and the fact that he was athletic AND artsy AND romantic?! Umm…where do I sign up for one of those boys??

Now, onto the cliffhanger; the ending completely threw my whole afternoon into a frenzy…yes, a frenzy. I had heard there was a cliffhanger, but never would I have imagined one THAT HUGE!! I couldn’t immediately start the second book considering I had to actually do some work, and it was killing me that I didn’t know what happened after that awful ending! Don’t worry y’all…I started the second book this afternoon after work and have managed to bring my heart rate back to normal.

This storyline was unique, flinch-worthy, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. Some of the things “Satan” did prevented me from making this a 4 or 5 star…it was almost too much for me to handle. Other than that, I loved the characters, the relationships, and the determination Emma had to turn lemons into lemonade. (I’m a sucker for a cute cliché…don’t judge me.) 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

April & Oliver by Tess Callahan

Best friends since childhood, the sexual tension between April and Oliver has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April’s brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April – and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to “save” his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own – secrets he hasn’t shared with anyone, even his fiancée. But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April’s life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral…towards salvation.

“All your life you’re yellow. Then one day you brush up against something blue, the barest touch, and voila, the rest of your life you’re green.” – Nana

Let me start off by saying I did really like April & Oliver, but there were a couple things that held me back from really falling in love with it. We’ll get to those issues later on. As much as I love the happily ever after stories (who doesn’t?!), I have recently realized that I love books that have twisted, f*cked up relationships just as much. Relationships aren’t always unicorns and rainbows; they’re also tornadoes capable of mass destruction. Unfortunately, it seems like April was content with the latter.

April and Oliver were best friends throughout their childhood, but drifted apart after high school. Oliver moved away and went to college while April stayed in New York and worked at her late father’s bar. They went from being best friends to complete strangers, and it’s not until the sudden death of April’s little brother, Buddy, that Oliver is jolted back into April’s life…only he’s not alone. He has his fiancée Bernadette in tow.  Regardless, Oliver attempts to help April anyway he can even if it may appear that he is more anxious to spend time with her than his fiancée. I kind of went back and forth between liking Oliver; at first, it seemed like April was the self-destructive one and Oliver was simply a good friend who didn’t quite know how to deal with her situation. My opinion of him changed about halfway through the book though. He seemed to want April more, but refused to admit it...or act on it…and that made me mad at him. Not because he wanted April, but because he wasn’t honest enough to admit it to himself, and more importantly, to Bernadette. April warned him that she would only cause problems for him, and yet he still couldn’t leave her alone. I didn’t expect him to drop her like a bad habit given their past, but it just upset me that he wouldn’t own up to his feelings not only for his sake, but for Bernadette’s!

Surprisingly, I didn’t dislike April. I knew going into the book that she would be a bit self-destructive, but I didn’t realize the extent…and yet I still found myself in her corner. You learn about the issues she had with Quincy, her father’s partner in the bar business, and you realize why she is so f*cked up. She’s one of those girls that believes she doesn’t deserve a good man because of her past and her dump truck full of baggage. Instead of realizing her worth, she goes back to an abusive relationship with T.J. because she feels like that’s all she’s good enough for; it’s so sad. She was so used to masking her pain that when she was physically hurt, it didn’t affect her. One instance in particular was really disturbing, and I’m sure you’ll know exactly what part I’m referring to once you’ve read this book. I felt for her from page 1 up until the very end, and somehow I felt bonded to her.

Now, I didn’t give it 5 stars for a couple reasons. The first being that I felt so bad for Bernadette and the way Oliver “looked right through her” on multiple occasions that it made me dislike him. The character of Bernadette was so sweetly written and had such good intentions that it broke my heart a little to see her start wondering if maybe Oliver did feel something for April. I probably still would have been upset had Oliver handled things differently with her, but the fact that he continued to hide his feelings from her upset me. I was also hoping for more of a physical connection between April and Oliver, and unfortunately there isn’t much of that; not that I would condone him cheating on Bernadette (it would have made me dislike him even more), but I feel like we only barely scratched the surface of their physical connection, and I would have liked to delve a little deeper.  

All in all, I really liked this book and it is definitely one of the better books I have read recently. I found myself really drawn to both April and Bernadette more than any other characters, which made my emotions play tug-of-war with each other when it came to their relationships with Oliver. Did I want Oliver with April or Bernadette? I don’t think I can answer that, because I haven’t really made up my mind yet. I’ll think on it, while you go out and pick up this book. Seriously. Go now. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boycotts & Barflies by Victoria Michaels

After an endless string of bad dates and a generally pathetic love life, Grace Park and her friends decide to boycott men for six weeks. With a fantastic pair of shoes on the line for the woman who makes it to the end without breaking any rules, the competition gets fierce. Sparks fly a few days into the bet when Grace and her friends cross paths with a sexy bartender named Michael Andris who happens to have a little bet of his own going with his friends…
In this hilarious debut novel, Victoria Michaels brings us a colorful and relatable cast of characters. She sends them on a sweet and sexy escapade as they sidestep one booby trap after another, manage the best of misguided intentions, and exert a whole lot of willpower and self-control as they race down the path to true love.
Winning isn’t everything…or is it?

“Shoes, money, eternal bragging rights…Shoes, money, eternal bragging rights…” - Grace

I can’t remember the last book I read that made me laugh out loud so many times! There wasn't one character I didn’t like, and the banter between all of them was incredibly entertaining. Best friends and roommates Grace, Meg, and Bianca all decide to boycott all men for six weeks after having tons of horrible dates, and whoever is the last one standing wins money to put towards an amazing pair of heels. Meanwhile, three hot bartenders and best friends Michael, Jack, and Ryan created their own bet after they all got tired of dating dumb “barflies.” They decided to throw down money, meet nice girls somewhere other than the bar, and whoever goes the longest without having sex with a barfly wins.

Seriously, this book made me want to be best friends with all three girls and made me want to date all three guys. The visual I painted in my head of the three guys was…distracting, to say the least! Whew. BUT…I would have my say my favorite two characters were Bianca and Jack. She is so feisty and he is just so damn hilarious! I was cracking up while Meg and Bianca were recounting some of Grace’s worst dates while at dinner with the guys one night; from a dull insurance salesman to a creepy mortician known as “Dead Fred” to the earthy poet who refused to wear deodorant, eat meat or bathe every day…but drove a Hummer. Oh, and the “weiner story” had me rolling! I thought it was funny when Bianca first told it, but then to hear the guy’s side of the story just put it over the top for me! I was laughing out loud at my desk at work. It is that damn funny.

The main reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because the probability of all these characters running into each other time after time seems a little bit farfetched. It was also a little unlikely that both groups of best friends would make similar bets at the exact same time, and just happen to stumble upon each other during the bets. However, I still absolutely adored this book and all the relationships in it. This is also the first romance book I’ve read in a while that didn’t involve a catastrophic conflict between the relationships. There were a few snags (the one involving the creepy hotel worker made me cringe a little) but I actually enjoyed that there weren’t any huge issues for the couples to overcome. Well, no huge issues besides the whole resisting-gorgeous-men thing. These girls had some serious willpower! I’m not sure if I could hold out that long with that much tempation and that’s saying A LOT because I have a serious shoe fetish!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious novel and look forward to reading more work from Victoria Andrews. The relationships were real, the characters were lovable and witty, and I seriously had a stupid grin plastered on my face the entire time I read this book. It is by far the best Chick Lit book I have read, and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light, rib-tickling romance novel. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend America, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs – and wants – to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

“Do you know what co-dependency is, Abby? Your boyfriend is a prime example, which is creepy considering he went from having no respect for women at all to thinking he needs you to breathe.” –Kara (THANK YOU FOR BEING THE ONLY LEVEL HEADED CHARACTER, KARA!)

I’ll just start out by saying that this is in no way shape or form a positive review. I know I am going to end up using profanity in this review so if that offends you, please just stop reading now. Also, if you are one of those people who get offended or pissed off when someone else gives a book you absolutely love a bad review, scroll on past this one, because things are about to get ugly. I originally gave this book a 2 star rating, and after I wrote the review I dropped it down to 1 star. All of the issues that just disgusted me in this book were brought back into clear focus and I realized that this book does not deserve more than 1 star. I read this book because it seemed to get good reviews and I have been into a lot of self-published books lately, but Christ on a cracker…I don’t think I have ever been so upset after reading a book. Not even just upset; I was downright mad. This book should be classified as fantasy because in absolutely no reality is the kind of behavior Travis exhibits okay or acceptable.  

Let’s start at the beginning: Abby meets Travis at one of his fights where he so lovingly decides to give her the nickname, Pigeon. Yes, Pigeon; like the fucking bird. Does he even bother asking her what her actual name is? Of course not; he’s Travis Maddox for crying out loud. He doesn’t need to know a woman’s name before giving her a gross pet name. The next day, Travis reappears in the cafeteria during lunch and is followed by two blondes who have hearts in their eyes instead of pupils because Travis is just that fucking dreamy. Right. The girl sitting on his lap makes a remark to Abby’s friend and Travis’s cousin/roommate’s girlfriend, America, and instead of handling the situation like a decent man sticking up for a friend, what does he do? He just spreads his legs and lets her fall to the ground like a piece of trash. How respectful.

Skipping ahead a little, the boilers break in America and Abby’s dorm room and America insists that Abby will come with her and stay at Shep (America’s boyfriend) and Travis’s apartment. Why is it necessary to stay there? She couldn’t just go over to use the shower and go back to her dorm? Whatever. Abby finally agrees, and as they are arriving at the apartment, Travis’s latest conquest is just leaving. Now, if you didn’t see what a toolbag he was earlier with the lunchroom scene, here’s just one more example: the girl offers her phone number and Travis says no. Granted, these girls should know what they’re getting when they sleep with Travis, but regardless, it’s downright disrespectful. Abby gets upset because she wasn’t aware their apartment was a “revolving door for clueless bimbos.” OH! She also refers to the girls Travis sleeps with as STD-infested imbeciles. Isn’t it fantastic how well the women are portrayed in this book?! Now, call me crazy but if the girls are all infected with STDs, wouldn’t that mean Travis was just as susceptible to them as the women? Does Abby ever consider this or say anything about Travis being an STD-infested imbecile? Of course she doesn’t! He also mentions that Abby can sleep in his bed because he never has sex with girls in his bed; just the couch. They aren’t good enough for his bed apparently. What…a piece of crap.

Up to the night of the infamous bet: the four of them are headed out to Travis’s fight. Abby walks out in a low-cut halter top, jeans and heels, and what does Travis do? He FORCES HER TO CHANGE! They aren’t even together, and he forces her to change clothes! (Psst, Abby! That should have been a big hint that this guy is completely controlling…just sayin’!) Travis and Abby make their bet, and Abby loses; she has to stay with him for a month. Why on Earth she would agree to this bet is beyond me. Well, I think I know why; Abby is an idiot. While living with Travis, Abby starts dating Parker, a nice pre-med student she meets in one of her classes. I actually liked Parker, and was hoping Abby would wise up a little and get serious with him instead of Travis, the loose cannon. Does Travis like Abby dating Parker? Of course not! Does he behave like a mature man should in this situation? Of course not! On one of Abby and Parker’s dates, they are making out in his car and drunk Travis throws open the car door and yanks Abby out. IN WHAT WORLD IS THIS OKAY?! How in the hell does anyone justify that as acceptable behavior? He’s not only a psychopath, but he’s a stalker too. How dreamy! (I’m rolling my eyes in a comically big way right now.) Abby spills the beans that she’s a virgin, and despite him ruining her date and embarrassing her in front of Parker, she still honors the bet and stays with Travis. What does drunk Travis do next? He tries to have sex with Abby. Does Abby object? OF COURSE NOT! Are you freaking kidding me?! This guy just barged in on your date, laughed about you being a virgin, and then drunkenly groped you, and you’re excited about sleeping with him?! DISGUSTING. Oh, and when she finally does break down and sleep with him, he wakes up the next morning and notices she’s gone so he does what any rational man would do, right? He destroys the apartment, throws his stereo against the wall, takes a swing at Shep, breaks a mirror, etc. THAT’S NOT NORMAL, PEOPLE!!!

I feel like I’m on the verge of typing a 27 page review so I’m just going to start going over some of the reasons why I think Travis has severe issues and is an absolute psychopath:
1)     He tattooed “PIGEON” on his wrist, and a Hebrew scripture about “my beloved belongs to me and I to my beloved” after they had been dating for only a few weeks. Um…WHAT THE FUCK?! 
2)     He buys her a puppy for her birthday, which I can only assume was a manipulation tactic to get her to keep coming back to his apartment after the bet was over.
3)     He savagely beats up his friend in the cafeteria at school for making a comment about Abby. Oh, and Abby sucked a big one here too. She condoned it, and actually encouraged it by saying “teach him some manners.” I don’t think it’s necessary to beat someone to a pulp to teach them some manners. OH, and why is no one stopping this beating? Why does no one stand up to Travis? Because he’s a fucking hot-headed bully, that’s why. That is just such an attractive quality to have…I’m swooning over him as I type this. (Cue comically big eye roll)
4)     After they break up, he lies to his family and tells them he and Abby are still together as a ploy to get her to honor her Thanksgiving day plans with him. Abby complies (because she’s an idiot) and do they end up sleeping together while they are staying at his parent’s house? Of course they do! Once again…Abby is an idiot.
5)     He stomps onto the dance floor at his frat’s Valentine’s Day party, THROWS ABBY OVER HIS SHOULDER AND HAULS HER OUT OF THE PARTY AGAINST HER WILL! Why? Because she was dancing with guys. THEY WEREN’T EVEN TOGETHER AT THIS POINT IN THE STORY!!! I actually had to stop reading the book for a couple hours after this scene because I was just so furious. This kind of behavior is not acceptable, nor should any woman think that a man behaving like this is a turn on! Continuing on…Travis tells the DD of the party to take him and Abby to Travis’s apartment. Abby says several times she wants to go home, and does the DD listen to her? No. Why? Because Travis threatens him. Once again…BULLY. This guy is a fucking psychopath and should be seeing a shrink on a regular basis. Ohhh, but of course Abby can’t stay mad at him, so they end up having sex that night. Disgusting.

Oh, and I’d like to point out one more thing; in the description of the book it states “Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear.” Hmmm…not true. She does swear, and she absolutely does drink. Here is a direct quote from the night of her birthday party: ‘“That’s how Kansans do birthdays,” I said, popping back another shot.’ Not only that, but she mentions that her dad’s way of bonding with her was to drink with her back home in Kansas. So, at what point were we supposed to think she didn’t drink? 

Okay, for my own sanity I am going to wrap this up because I am getting all riled up again just typing this review. The type of behavior that Travis exhibits in this book shouldn’t be considered sexy; it’s possessive, controlling, psychotic, and downright disturbing. I can’t imagine any woman would find this man attractive given his qualities and it’s scary that it appears so many people really do love Travis’s character. Stalking isn’t cute. Punching any guy who even touches you because he has jealousy issues isn’t cute. Breaking a cell phone into a million little pieces because it’s the only way he won’t call you isn’t cute. IT’S PSYCHOTIC. The only characters in this book I didn’t really have a problem with were Parker and Abby’s roommate, Kara, who was portrayed as a total bitch just because she didn’t want to be involved in their god awful drama. Fuck that noise, I would have acted the same way. I can’t remember the last time a book portrayed or condoned such volatile behavior in a relationship, but it’s not okay. Nothing about this relationship is okay. This book was not a beautiful disaster; it was just a disaster. And if I hear the word pigeon or 'pidge' ONE MORE TIME, I'm going to lose it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Callum & Harper by Fisher Amelie

(Sleepless series, book 1)
Life sucks for orphans Callum Tate and Harper Bailey.
Kicked out of their foster homes because they suffer the ‘eighteen disease’ with nothing but a hundred dollar check from the government and a pat on the back, they’re forced to rely on a system that failed them miserably.
So they sit. They sit inside Social Services, waiting for their social workers to call their names and offer them a miracle they know will never come but they sit anyway because they have nowhere else to go, no other options on their very literal and figurative empty plates.
But as they sit, they notice each other. Although captivated, they each come to the conclusion that life is complicated enough without throwing in a boiling tension that can’t ever be acted upon because they’re both too busy thinking about where their next meal will come from but when their names are called and both are placed on a year long waiting list for permanent housing, suddenly relying on each other seems like a very viable plan B. And, oh, how lovely Plan B’s can be.
Well, except for the psycho from Harper’s past that haunts her and, oh, yeah, there’s the little issue that neither of them knows they’re in love with the other. 

“One day, you and I are gonna wake up and be alright. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day. One day. I promise you.” – Callum

I had read three excellent romance novels within the past couple weeks, and now Callum & Harper makes it four. I can’t quite give it 5 stars, but we’ll get into why a little later. The storyline was moving, original, and heart wrenching. Callum and Harper are kicked out of their foster homes when they turn eighteen, as their foster parents no longer receive compensation for taking care of them. With both of them being part of the ‘system’ for years, they are now on their own, jobless, homeless, and broke. Then, as fate would have it, they meet at Social Services and are immediately drawn to each other…yet can’t find the nerve to tell the other, and they both think the other just wants to be friends. I loved the change in POV as it shifted back and forth between Callum and Harper, especially when the same incident was narrated from both of them. I thought it was an excellent way to show how each of them felt about the other, and added to the turmoil of the reader knowing that they were both in love with each other and just too afraid to admit it.

Now, here are the two reasons why I couldn’t quite give it 5 stars; first of all, the quickness of their complete infatuation with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in lust at first sight and I know all about the tingles and jingles you start feeling when you meet someone and are immediately attracted to them…but this seemed like it was poured on thiiick like molasses right off the bat. Aside from that, I absolutely love Callum and Harper together! They were essentially each other’s savior and became the family that neither of them had. The other reason I couldn’t give it 5 stars was because of the lack of communication between the two of them regarding their feelings. I can understand that they didn’t want to say anything because they were both scared of ruining what they had and were both terrified of losing the other. I just felt like the whole ‘hiding how they both really felt’ thing lasted a little too long. I mean, I was legit getting frustrated when I was over halfway through the book and they STILL hadn’t told each other how they really felt! I know they were both holding onto each other in any way they could without ruining it, but how long can you really pretend like you only want to be friends with someone when you’re completely infatuated with them? I think Callum and Harper set a record.

I felt for both of them so much, especially when it seemed like absolutely nothing could go their way; it was like they’d take one step forward and the world would push them five steps back. I’ll admit, some of the incidents seemed a little far-fetched but they did add a welcome element of suspense to the storyline. Time after time, they both proved that there wasn’t anything they wouldn’t do for each other and it just proved how pure and real their love for each other really was. Ahhh, I’m such a sucker for a good romance!

Overall, I really loved Callum & Harper. They found each other when both of them seemed lost, and managed to help each other learn how to survive in a cruel world that had turned its back on them so many times. They really are soul mates, and their love for each other is inspiring. This is a great romantic story, and the epilogue is flawless. Seriously…go and buy this book now. I promise you won’t be disappointed! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

(Slammed series, book 2)
Hardships and heartache brought them together…now it will tear them apart. Layken and Will have proved their love can get them through anything’ until someone from Will’s past re-emerges, leaving Layken questioning the very foundation on which their relationship was built. Will is forced to face the ultimate challenge…how to prove his love for a girl who refuses to stop ‘carving pumpkins.’

“It’s the clear headedness behind her voice and the calm, reasonable expression in her eyes that rips the heart right out of my chest. She turns to leave, and all I can do is let her go. I just let her go.” - Will

I have such a bittersweet feeling with the end of this two-book series. I’m sad that the story of Layken and Will is over, but I honestly don’t think my emotions could handle another book! This is absolutely one of my favorite series that I’ve read, and I can sum up how I feel about it in three words: “IT’S BUTTERFLYING PERFECT!” (You’ll get it if you read the book.) I wrote a review about the first book of the series, Slammed, and I’m sorry if this one sounds repetitive, but the way I felt about Slammed is very similar to how I feel about Point of Retreat.

Unlike the first book which is written from Lake’s perspective, Will is the narrator in this book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first, but it didn’t take me long to love it just as much as I did Lake’s narration. I didn’t think it was possible to love Will any more than I did after finishing Slammed; I was wrong. His love not only for Lake, but for Caulder and Kel is so admirable. The responsibilities he handles on a daily basis made me forget that he’s only twenty one. AND…OH. MY. GOODNESS! What he does for Lake as a final attempt to show her how much he loves everything about her was so freaking perfect! I would melt like a stick of butter on a hot day if a guy did that for me!

My favorite characters from Slammed were back; Lake, Will, Eddie, Gavin, Kel, and Caulder are all just as fantastically written in this sequel. Kel and Caulder are still best friends, and have gotten even funnier than they were in Slammed. My favorite new character we are introduced to is Kiersten – an odd, outspoken, hilarious, lovable, too-mature-for-her-age eleven-year-old who lives on their street and is in Kel and Caulder’s class at school. It seriously broke my heart when she was talking to Will about how being bullied didn’t even bother her anymore because she’s used to it. I cried. Yep, that’s right. I broke down and cried in this book AND the first one! I just absolutely adored Kiersten so much, and to think of her being bullied made my heart hurt.

The issues that arise in Will and Lake’s relationship really test their relationship, physically and emotionally. I love these two characters so much, and I remember saying out loud “Please, please, pleeeeease let them work things out!!” I feel like I’m in their relationship with them! That’s how freaking invested I am! I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I won’t go into any details, but much like Slammed, my emotions were playing tug-of-war with each other. I felt for both of them and I found it impossible to take sides! Their love for each other is just incredible, and it put a pit in my stomach when I thought that it was possible they might not end up together.

Here are just a couple other reasons why this book is worthy of 5 stars:
- Suck and Sweet. This is so awesome, and I can't wait until I have kids so I can do this with them.
- Kiersten's slam (GET SOME, GIRL!)
- Caulder's slam
- Will's slam for Lake (I know I already talked about it, but it deserves another mention)
- Kiersten's mom, Sherry
- The vase full of stars
- Will and Lake's incredibly adorable and powerful love for each other
- The "one more time" after Will says I love you to Lake (so freaking adorable)

Colleen Hoover just wrote two books that are now some of my favorites that I’ve ever read. I was so emotionally invested in these characters that it was almost scary. I honestly can’t think of one negative thing to say. This book was just as beautifully written as Slammed, and I was completely mesmerized by every single story line. Colleen Hoover, thank you so much for this incredible two-book series. I will forever recommend it and if I ever find myself ‘carving pumpkins’, I’ll remember these books and force myself to stop.