You know when you stumble upon an author that many people don’t know about, then you read their books and wonder, “WHY THE HELL DON’T MORE PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS!?”
Yeah, get ready. I’m about to gush a bit because today’s release celebration is the third book I’ve read from this author and it seriously just keeps getting better and better!
Everything you think you know about what this story is going to be about at first glance is probably wrong. This story is so much more and is like nothing I’ve read that is remotely like any of its sister tropes.
Chloe: Moses has been my best friend since kindergarten. We met when I shoved him face first in the dirt and took his action figures. Ever since, we’ve been tighter than blood, but we’re not blood, and my body knows that. My heart has known that for years.
The fact that being a pole dancer has interfered with my relationship status is an understatement. Moses is literally the longest I’ve been with a man, except I’m not really ‘with’ him.
Now I’m approaching a place where I’m curious enough to tell him about my feelings. I’ve gotten close, but a man as hot as my bestie has had really small gaps between girlfriends. I know it could be a big mistake, and he’s never seen me that way, but I won’t know for sure unless I act, right? Only problem is, I might be too late again.
Moses: I’m not blind to the fact that my best friend is dangerously hot. She’s basically every man’s dream but she’s not mine. I’m the one that protects her, councils her, and encourages her, knowing she will do the same for me. She’s my girl.
But now something is different, and I can’t put a name to it. Something feels changed, but I’m putting all that on the back burner because I think I found my perfect girlfriend.
Still, Chloe is in my head; I’m not sure she would handle knowing that. After all, I’m in the friend zone…
Once again, another book by Nicole Strycharz sucks me in and never wants to let me go.
This is book two in the Relationship Quo Series but can be read as a standalone. In the first book, ‘The Divorce’, though that story was about Chris and Jenzy, we meet Moses and he pursues Jenzy until they finally enter a relationship. Now, in ‘The Friend Zone’, we meet his best friend, Chloe during the same timeline as when Moses meets Jenzy…see where this is going?
This story gripped my heart and had me in knots almost the entire time. What I love about Nicole’s writing is that she knows how to tell a full, emotionally rich story. Just like with ‘The Divorce’, other writers may take both story concepts and leave you frustrated and perhaps with a lack of closure (it’s happened to me with other writers and stories like these), and most times, by the end, I’m upset with one or both main characters, feeling like the writer didn’t convince me that one deserves the other. (Again, I’ve read books that have left me this way many times). But, nope, not Nicole! Every time I feared she would leave me without proper closure or that it’ll feel rushed and not truly resolved, chapters later and the conclusion of this story for both our main characters wraps up so perfectly.
Book one and two are such uniquely told stories. I have yet to read any similar tropes pull off such quality storytelling. So much happens and by the end, you feel like you’ve lived a full life with these characters.
Her characters feel so real to you. Chloe is a professional dancer; a pole dancer, folks–ex stripper! And all the stereotypes that come with that are thrown at her. You think you know her at first glance but she’s so much more. I loved Chloe’s strength and independence but she was also vulnerable, loyal, hopeful, even though life hasn’t always been good to her.
Then we have Moses and we see so much more of who he really is and his point of view of things during his time with Jenzy, from ‘The Divorce’. If you’ve read ‘The Divorce’, Nicole structured the timeline and story so perfectly. You get just enough from the previous book but so much more is new and fresh.
I don’t want to give spoilers! This was one hell of an emotional journey! I cried, I laughed my butt off, especially whenever her friend, Brianna was around (who is blind, spunky, and wonderful. I loved her character!) Another amazingly engaging and full of heart, sexy, and sweet story that will suck you in! Head over to Amazon and ONE-CLICK it! It’s only $0.99! It’s seriously SO. GOOD!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicole has been writing historical romance for over ten years. Her passion for history fuels the creativity for her novels and she finds the tools there to create a compelling plot.
However, she’s evolved into writing contemporary romance as well, with more modern stories to come.
“The Divorce” and “Meadow Creek” are both nominated in the 2016 Indie Book Awards! “The Divorce” also won second place in the 2016 Best Cover Design in ‘Urban Literature Magazine.’
Nicole lives in Virginia with her three children and their amazing Grandparents. She is always reading or working on the next book between mommyhood adventures.
Get ready for a bit of a rant, y’all! Now, I know this can’t just be me but I have this little OCD-like quirk when it comes to books. No matter how much I am not enjoying a read, I will push through. I will keep this teeny tiny unicorn poop pellet of hope that maybe, just maybe, things will get better. Why?
Because, I HATE NOT FINISHING BOOKS!
I don’t know what it is but it bothers me. My friend Melody is the complete opposite. She is perfectly capable of having no conflicting emotions whatsoever about marking a book DNF and moving on.
“I don’t give a fuck. I don’t waste no time.” *sings* “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
I have never DNFed a book before. Even some really crappy ones. I read one a couple months ago that irked the living hell out of me. I was so passionately irked, I just had to run to Amazon and leave my frustrations in a 2-star review. I avoid reviewing books that I may give a low rating to. I want to support and encourage more times than not but this one was just not getting away without a rant. I felt all that and I STILL finished that damn book. The incomplete factor in a book gives me hives. Even if they were a Free One-Click. Imagine the ones I PAID for. Even more so, I want to make sure I finish them.
Well, the day came, folks.
There are a couple books that I marked as “currently reading” on Goodreads that have been sitting there…waiting…incomplete status. I’ve been telling myself that I’ll eventually get to them because hopping on my Goodreads and seeing them there as “currently reading”–STILL–and knowing others see it, gives me anxiety.
I had to finally ask myself the real and hard questions.
“Desiree. Are you really going to finish it? Are you even interested in going back in? Do you even remember what the hell is happening in the story?” *crickets*
This has happened before and I have gone back just to get it over with and finish. This time around though, I must be honest and admit that it’s just not going to happen. I don’t even remember what happened in the story. Le sigh. And so, we have Desiree’s first DNF. *hangs head in shame*
Let’s look at my list of “Currently Reading” from my Goodreads page and discuss which are getting the dreaded, “DNF” marking and the ones I’m still holding out hope for.
Oh, Julian. Julian, Julian. I was so excited for this. I had actually seen a book blogger post a beautiful picture on Instagram with this book that had just released. Some of you already know I’m a book cover slut. If I see one that just smacks me in the gut like a hot guy passing by, turning and giving you that grin that oozes alluring pheromones; Pfft! You’ve got me! *wipes drool from side of mouth*
Funny, that the very title of this one gave that exact feel and scenario. “The Allure of Julian Lefray” by R.S. Grey seemed cute, sexy and promising. I remember purchasing it and jumping right in.
Lately, I’ve been on a New Adult/Adult Contemporary Romance kick. I haven’t forgotten you YA, I’ll come back, but I’ve just been in the mood for funny, sweet, sexy reads.
Normally, I’ll finish these in one sitting. The fact that I got as far as 80% and for some reason stopped makes me wonder. Something must not have been grasping my attention. Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t even remember anything about the story. Nothing. If I can’t recall any events from the book, that tells me something.
It’s been weeks. I’d look at my Kindle, starting a whole new adventure in another book and think, “Should I?” Nope. That was always my lackluster response. Finally, this morning I crossed, once again my Goodreads and it was there. Staring at me. Mocking me. The incomplete failure that all have seen, sitting there, festering. (Yes, I’m well aware of my dramatics) I asked Melody about DNFs and how she goes about it on her GR (goodreads) and she talked me off the shame spiral I was taking myself through over intentionally choosing not to finish a book.
And so I did it. I marked my first DNF today. It was both liberating and cringe-worthy, but felt like freedom all the same. It was official. I removed this weight off my shoulders. Sorry Julian, the allure was there. Your staying power? Not so much. Hmm *strokes imaginary beard* this could totally be a life metaphor about guys and dating but if I start on that train, we’re gonna be bunny trailing this little blog post WAY off course.
On to the next book’s life sentence!
Now, here’s a book that I was really excited to get–okay, maybe I should stop saying that ’cause I seem to say this about every book. I bought this fresh, sunny, summer read and took it on a roadtrip with me.
I began reading “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Morgan Matson and it was cute and mysterious. There’s this whole premise about one from the bestie duo who just up and disappeared and no one knows anything about how or why. The mystery factor is what keeps you pushing through, wanting to know. There’s also a list left to the bestie behind, challenging her to do things outside of her comfort zone.
All this sounded like an adorable and enjoyable read. Somewhere along the way–I’m guessing around 43%–I was feeling a little worn out waiting for the mystery to be solved. I became invested, hoping for the MC’s possible love interest sub-plot to pick up but the story started dragging and I just put it on pause. This was back in December.
Now, I don’t think I will DNF this one. I want to finish it. I’m curious and do remember the events of what I’ve read so far. So, this one survives the chopping block. I will finish you one day–hopefully before the end of the year.
Oh, “Beautiful Elixir” by Addison Moore, how I wanted to like you. I really did. But, holy hell, I’ve never disliked a main character/heroine so much before. I have been an avid reader of Addison Moore. She was one of those Automatic one-click authors for me. I loved her “3am Kisses” series and read and enjoyed the first two books in the “Beautiful Oblivion” series. This here is the third book in that series. I should’ve known something was up when I read the latest from her “3am Kisses”series and for the first time, did not enjoy it. I was sadly, disappointed. I expected so much more and it just fell flat. Then I saw this one come out and started it.
47% later I just stopped. I’m surprised I got that far but like I’ve been saying, I have a thing about not finishing a book. I just cant do it–till now. Let me just say, when it comes to New Adult/Adult contemporary romances, I forgive A LOT from main characters and their romantic leads. I go in usually not taking them all that serious. I read a lot of NA/Adult romance for the fun thrill of it. Sometimes, you find those authors that just do it right. But not always.
Anyway, this was just one MC I could not forgive and get past. This chick was a pathological liar and there was nothing appealing or redeeming about her. The entire time I’m thinking, “What the hell is wrong with this guy? Why is he into her?! She’s horrible! She’s so flippant and irritatingly indecisive.”
The more I read, the more annoying she was. My main characters by no means need to be perfect but there was nothing likable about this chick. Again, this has happened to me before and I STILL pushed through and finished those stories. This one? I just couldn’t.
So, after this liberating and nerve wrecking decision, I thought long and hard–okay, not that long or hard–and decided this book will just have to be the second victim in the DNF fate of books.
Ah, cute YA contemporary. This is one of the good ones. I know it is! I was really enjoying it, I remember. I believe I read that 45% of “My Life Next Door” by Huntley Fitzpatrick in one sitting. Don’t ask me what happened because I couldn’t tell ya. At some point I stopped and never picked it back up.
I plan to. This is one of those I will not DNF. I want to finish and relish all the cuteness. Unfortunately, I am Dori (forgetful character from Finding Nemo) so I don’t remember much if anything about what I have read. It was a while ago so, I’m gonna say that’s the reason.
Fear not, cuties, once I find myself in that ‘easy breezy YA contemporary’ feel again, you and I. It’s a date.
Last but not least…
This book. This. Book. I had bought this during the hype of the upcoming conclusion to the series, “Champion“ was about to be released. “Legend” by Marie Lu was the YA book that year. The entire series was being praised and if you read YA, then you just had to have read this.
I got it. I cracked it open and started reading. For some reason, Goodreads won’t give me a percentage progress on this so I marked it as 60 pages out of 305. Not very far…
I liked what I had read thus far. Dystopian is my favorite genre. I love it hence I’m even writing in the sub-genre myself. This is one of the Dystopian books that everyone is telling me I must read. I know. I’m sorry! I believe what happened was that at the the time I cracked this open, I just wasnt in that mindset to read it. I was in the mood for something completely different. Sometimes, you’re just not in the mood for a certain type of read and that has nothing to do with that particular book. The book could be amazing! You’re just not ready to read it at that moment.
Well, that’s what happened here. Unfortunately, that pretty thing up there has been sitting and waiting…and waiting. I just havent found my way back to it. With that said, this puppy’s not getting the DNF stamp. I will most definitely be reading this and the following two in the trilogy. When? Not sure, but it’s gonna happen, dammit.
Oh, brother. That was all a mouthful. I hope you all enjoyed and hopefully, I’m not the only one in this struggle out there. Do you DNF? Are you a little neurotic like me and NEED to finish books even if they’re sucking?
Where do you stand on marking books DNF? Let’s talk about it!
Now, don’t get me wrong. Goodreads, I love you but all in the bookish community may agree that there are a few improvements we have eagerly been waiting for and…nada. Heather from Heather hearts Books mentioned to me recently about her friend Ashley of NoseGraze and her husband’s project called, LitRate.
What is LitRate?
LitRate is our dream for a new website for the literary community. It will essentially be our version of Goodreads—but better. We’ve seen all your ideas, all your complaints, and all your dreams of new features. We’re here and ready to implement them in a new site that we can build together!
Check out LitRate.com for all of the site features to come!
When Heather told me about it, and I then checked out Ashley’s video explaining, I just knew everyone within the community needed to know about this! I mean, here are two dynamic duo people willing to bring the booknerd community more fun, interactive, bookish toys to connect and play with. I for one am passionate about encouraging reading, especially toward the younger generation. Let’s face it–we’re a technology driven generation that projects such as these can benefit in connecting people. We all know that we booknerds are not always the most outdoor social butterflies–not all of us, I know but most of us–and to have means to gush and fangirl/fanboy on about current reads with others who understand is why Goodreads became such a quick success.
Now, about those improvements we all grunt about. One fairly common complaint is the DAMN HALF STAR RATINGS! They make such a VAST difference when it comes to portraying as accurate of an impression as we can of a book to the masses. LITRATE WILL LET US GIVE HALF STAR RATINGS! *laughs* Well, I’m in! Sold! Of course, there are MANY more awesome features to enjoy. (Refer to their site–link above–for feature details)
Here’s the deal…KICKSTARTER
They need our help! Launching something as massive and interactive as a different *coughs* better *coughs* version of Goodreads, is not cheap. Check out their video where Ashley explains the concept of LitRate, their desires for the site and why and how they need our help.
I feel so inadequate, trying to express my feelings for this book. In the last week, I have read three series finales. I have a three book hangover. I’m trying to recover. I loved each of them. I loved them all for different reasons. I need to reread them all. The first two, were beautiful in regards to their relationships as well as their great action-adventure story telling throughout. Ignite Me, I would say was more about the relational romance dynamics with a backdrop of the world-building plot and let me tell you…I did not hate it! It was cool to see a romance that was set within a dystopian backdrop, but the dystopian plot not being the focus of the story. It was a character story.
Overview of the series:
If you’re looking for a detailed world-building, intense, action-packed, classic dystopian novel, this isn’t it. The theme and dynamics connected to our main character is Dystopian in nature, but the story is a relationship-centric romance.
I believe, if you can go into the story with that in mind, you can then appreciate it for what it is. The core of the Shatter Me series is about Juliette. It is a character story following the journey of a young girl who we first meet as timid, tortured, living within the frightened shell of her mind, shunned by people due to her ability to kill with just the touch of her skin.
Through the three books, we see her first (Shatter Me), experience freedom with Adam—a young solider, struggling in poverty to make ends meet for him and his ten year old brother. We meet a sadistic, sociopath named Warner—a leader of the military in Sector 45 and son to the Commander of the Reestablishment. Warner begins as Juliette’s captor, a monster trying to bring out the monster within her, which she desperately fears and hates. She wants to hide away from the big bad world and Adam shelters her, protects her, keeps her away from all she fears—or he tries. No one can touch her. No one but Adam. This begins the bond between them. Juliette, holding to hope, believing fate brought the one person who can touch her…until Warner too, touches her.
Come book two—Unravel Me—we begin to see Warner in a different light—especially if you read the novella in between the first two books, Destroy Me. Adam’s and Juliette’s relationship begins to suffer. Her touch is beginning to drain him, kill him slowly. His ability—which no one, not even him, knew he had—was what allowed him to touch her, and deflect her power, only now, by doing so, it drains his energy. Then we find out that Warner too has his ability, and not only can he touch her, but her touch strengthens him, fills him, doesn’t hurt him as it does Adam.
Now let’s get into it—Book three. IGNITE ME
Here is where Juliette breaks out of the frightened, little girl shell and determines herself to live differently. She will no longer be afraid. She will learn to truly live. She would have done everything different if she could but chooses to look ahead and live each day with confidence, and determination to make tomorrow different. For her. For everyone.
I loved many things about this book! It truly was focused on Juliette’s journey with herself and with love. The rest of the world-building plot took a back seat, providing a backdrop and scenery for the real story.
At first, the love triangle.
The changes taking place in Juliette.
Many things we saw within the first two books through Juliette’s perspective get confronted and challenged.
Suddenly, things she thought she knew, things she believed happened, in fact, did not happen the way she thought. Through her perspective, we all, together learn these things as well.
Kenji is pure, awesome, ridiculousness and has by far, most of the best lines ever, in this book. I laughed out loud so many times, I can’t count and 99% of the time, it was cause Kenji spoke. I enjoyed very much Kenji and Juliette’s friendship in this book. In book two, I didn’t connect with it because it was still growing. By book three, they’re friendship is a solid best friendship and I loved it! I loved their conversations, his candidness with her, his vulnerability. He provided such a wonderful bridge, and comic relief to so much of the story. He was more of a main character in this book.
The end for me needed more pages. For the most part, there is enough resolution. All in all, I am very happy with who Juliette ends up with. It is most definitely the best choice for her and I love how Tahereh developed it further in this book. I love that she allowed us to SEE it, enjoy it and not just wrapped it up in the end with, “And Juliette chose so and so and now live HEA.” No, she let us in. I liked that very much.
I loved this book. I loved the “love”. I loved Kenji and his friendship with Juliette. I am satisfied with the ending—though there is a little more I would’ve wanted. Just a few more pages Tahereh.
By the way, yeah, I won’t do a Memorable Moments Tab because I would pretty much be sharing the ENTIRE BOOK. I’ve never had so many tabs in a book before. No one would need to read the book after I’m done. They would have it here. Ha! So let’s just discuss it 🙂
Through out the book, a lot doesn’t actually happen other than everyone training but what I did like about that was that it gave room for the development of Juliette falling in love with Warner. I truly appreciated how Tahereh built that story line, how she let us SEE the process of Juliette falling in love with Warner. I didn’t mind that it took till Chapter 55(oh dear goodness me, Chapter 55 *blushes) for them to officially come together. Everything leading up to that was brilliant because she allowed us to see the development. I loved that this book was pretty much Juliette, Warner and Kenji. Ha! Awesome.
Now, I do agree with some that there could have been perhaps more Anderson. He’s such a strong villain and an opposition to the story. I mean, yes, we definitely got a good clear picture of him in Unravel Me. You hate me. You understand he’s bad. There were no holes about his character but what I would have really like perhaps was in the end, or near the end, a Warner and Anderson and maybe even Adam showdown, resolution.
Maybe not so much throughout the story, because as I mentioned, I really enjoyed that time being dedicated to Juliette’s growth and seeing her fall in love with Warner and understanding what her true feelings were towards Adam all along. Perhaps in the end, it would have felt like a well-rounded ending if when it was actually time for action…there was um…action. More action, showing the rest of the group’s battle, struggle. A little more conflict perhaps.
I did NOT expect Warner’s reaction to be what it was after he finds out Adam and James are his brothers. My heart melted. I LOVED his walls coming down, feeling sorry and guilty for almost killing his own brothers. He lost his mother (oh my goodness, talk about heart shattering quiver lip. I can’t see a man cry. Breaks my heart. Man Warner, you won my heart in this book), he gained two brothers and was eager to make amends and spend time with them. Get to know them. Build that brotherly bond that was lost for so many years. So weird to think Warner’s the older brother. Oh my goodness, I LOVED (I need a thesaurus, I know) James and Warner conversing. I wanted more! I wanted James to keep breaking down Warner’s walls, especially AFTER Warner found out, I wanted him and James to chat more, bond. Too cute.
Juliette’s Personal Journey
Quiet, fearful, sweet, tormented girl at first…in the end she is strong, confident, aware of life, and of herself. Thank goodness, cause yes, Juliette’s feeble minded self drove me crazy sometimes but that was the point. The point was to really see a character arc and transformation. She came into her own. She learned so much about herself and from there, understood what she needed, which in turn was what she wanted and not by default because…SHE COULD TOUCH PEOPLE NOW! How cute was that scene with Kenji, holding his hands, tears in her eyes. She learned to control her lethal touch, now being able to have skin to skin contact. *wipes happy tear* How did we know this? Because of Adam’s jerk of a move that could have killed Kenji, dang it! Oh my goodness, let’s talk about that for a moment.
But lastly, the famous quote:
I am no longer afraid of fear, and I will not let it rule me.
Fear will learn to fear me. -page 103
Adam Goes From Boring To JERK Mode!
Omygoodness, Adam, what the hell?!
Book one, I was team Adam, all the way. There was so much, I felt, that he was still holding back, and hiding. He was sweet and hot, (yes, um, shower scene, anyone?) and caring and protective but there was something lacking. Come Unravel Me, I was a bit torn. I was still wanting to be Team Adam, but then he got all crippling by the news of his ability and how Juliette’s touch weakens him more than anything. He became desperate and distant and a bit of a pansy here. I was wanting so bad for him to man up and I felt bad for him. Juliette refused in her “love” for him to hurt him. She broke up with him. She walked away from him. Things got awkward between them and then entered Warner. He started to fog up my head and judgment as he did with Juliette. I didn’t know what I wanted. I came into Ignite Me thinking, Adam’s going to redeem himself, be so freaking awesome and be the healthy choice for Juliette.
Holy Baloney was I wrong.
I hadn’t read Destroy Me before but I knew there were some misunderstandings about Warner from Shatter Me. Chapter 62 in Unravel Me(hot dang) had me swaying but I thought still, something would happen where Warner wouldn’t be the right choice in the end. So I thought. Ha.
I didn’t finish reading Fracture Me before this, so I didn’t even see when Adam starting showing his jerk side. I was completely blind-sided, as I’m sure was Juliette, by Adam’s behavior. Man, talk about sore loser. He became venomous. I was hurt by his toxic words towards her. Granted, I did feel bad for him.
“All of this,” he says, meeting my eyes, his voice quieting to a raw, aching whisper, “was for you. I left everything I knew because I thought we were in this together. I thought it was going to be me and you.” His eyes are so dark, so deep, so hurt. Looking at him makes me want to curl up and die. “What are you doing?” he says, desperate now. “What are you thinking?” -page 135
Ugh. Ok, here, my heart went out to him. I saw how he thought, as did I, leaving Unravel Me, things weren’t technically over. He thought, we were on a break. *chuckles* Ah, Ross from FRIENDS comes to mind.
“We were on A BREAK!!!”
He held hope that once he could control his power, and not be hurt by Juliette’s touch anymore, they could be together again. I totally get that but then…Oh, but then…there was NO excuse for his behavior, his harsh words. That says a lot about a person. In the long run, he would NOT be someone I would want to be with if that’s how he reacts when he doesn’t get his way. Hell to the No!
Page 167, which I like to call…Where All Hell Breaks Loose.
Adam finds out Warner is returning to his house to meet with everyone about the plan to work together to take down The Reestablishment and ultimately, his father, Anderson.
Adam. Flips. Out. and kicks Juliette out. Let’s just review some of the lovely phrases Adam spewed within just a couple of pages. Sorry Adam shippers, but I had hope, kind of, for Adam and Juliette still until THIS. I lost all respect for Adam.
“She can go do whatever the hell she wants.” He turns to me again. “You want to be with him?” He points to the door. “Go. Drop. dead.”
Juliette’s inside are breaking and Kenji’s trying, pleading with her not to go, but how could she not? Adam’s there, waiting, spitting in her face practically to get the hell out of his place.
“I was happier,” Adam says, “when I thought she was dead.”
“You don’t mean that. Don’t say things like that, man. Once you say that kind of shit you can’t take it back–”
“Oh, I mean it,” Adam says. “I really, really mean it.” He finally looks at me. Fists clenched. “Thinking you were dead,” he says to me, “was so much better. It hurt so much less than this.”
Oh, and there was more. My mouth was gaped open, in shock. My heart was punched. It’s like I was there, looking over at frozen Juliette, trying not to cry, trying not to fall apart, and my heart ached for her. I was there, part of the nine, looking at Adam, then at Juliette, then at Adam again, shocked at how someone could do such a 180. Later, Juliette’s standing there frozen, not registering voices and pressing the clicker over and over and over again, hoping Warner would come and rescue her from this heart break.
From the moment Warner rushed in, straight to her, cupping her face, so worried, I was done. I was 150% team Warner from here on. -pages 167-175
On To Happier Times: KENJI
I should do a post just on Kenji’s one-liners. Man, he made me laugh out loud SO many times. That doesn’t happen often. I’ll smile or chuckle inwardly with a book but no, Kenji flat out made me laugh. Him and Juliette on the roof, sharing their feelings. Too cute. It was nice to see the natural, vulnerable side of Kenji that he only allowed Juliette to see, and perhaps Castle but we never see those moments. By the end, as they were going to attack Anderson, one Kenji moment stood out, and I was cracking up.
“…I know I am an extremely attractive man, J, “
Um, can we just pause at the cuteness of his new nickname for her. I loved when he started calling her J, all the time.
“but I am not Bruce Lee.”
“Who’s Bruce Lee?”
“Who’s Bruce Lee?” Kenji asks, horrified. “Oh my God. We can’t even be friends anymore.”
“Why? Was he a friend of yours?”
“You know what,” he says, “just stop. Just–I can’t even talk to you right now.” -page 371
I’m laughing right now just typing and reading it again. LOVE. IT!
This was for me, the one thing that left me a little bit conflicted in the end. I finished the book, after binge reading it for seven hours, and though I was smiling on the inside and out, the entire time, I closed the book and said,
Was there an epic, elaborate battle scene in the end? Kind of? Nope, not really. It was a medium sized intensity battle scene. The entire “confront the bad guy resolution” begin and happened within the last 10 pages of the book.
I’m reading, and freaking out because as I read, I look over and notice, the pages are dwindling FAST. Chapters are ending quickly, becoming shorter and shorter and I’m tensing up thinking,
“Tahereh, how the hell is this ending? How can you possibly wrap this up soon? Is there an epilogue? (nope)”
There were a few things I wanted. The last pages felt rushed. There needed to be more pages to round it up better, if that makes sense. It felt like the ending, after this whole emotional journey, was merely snapshots of what happened in the end, with missing pieces.
It was battle time.
We got a lot of tension with Juliette running around tight, military hallways for like three chapters and some weird, unknown thing overpowering her for a few minutes, Kenji finally showing up but now will he live, and then Juliette overcoming the thing which turns out to be a person with crushing sound wave abilities, then Anderson and her two second showdown. The end. Oh wait, and then there was ‘Where are my friends, pause. Oh, there they are, sweet. Wait, where’s Warner? Phew, there he is, hugging me. The World aint got nothing on us. Now, the end.
Wait, what? That all happened in like 20 pages. That was the quickest wrap up of life. I just needed a little bit more. More conflict. More of the battle in the sector with everyone else in the group, perhaps a Anderson and Warner verbal showdown, confrontation. Before all that, I wanted more bro bonding between Adam, James and Warner. I wanted to see it. Especially more James and Warner convo. I wanted an epilogue with more of Warner and Juliette, together, living this new reality. *sighs*
All in all, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK! I will re-read it again. I need to read it more slowly, enjoy, digest the awesomeness. The ending conflicted me a bit, hence I gave it a 4.5 on Goodreads but putting that aside, I am satisfied with the ending. I am most definitely happy with who Juliette falls in love with. I love them together. I’m in SHOCK, looking back at how I perceived Warner, and seeing how much I LOVE him now, which is crazy but it’s true!
YAY TAHEREH MAFI! Thank you for such an awesome series that made me laugh, and FREAKING blush, woman! Thank you for SHOWING us, Juliette falling in love and actually allowing us to see them BE together. It wasn’t, she chooses Warner in the end and now imagine what them being together would be like. No, we get to see their relationship for a bit and it was AWESOME!
I enter our local coffeehouse and spot the “Book Talk” group off to my right. I wave and head towards the barista.
“Hey Tristan. Can I get–”
Tristan marking a cup doesn’t look up, “Medium White Mocha with a pump of?”
Holding my wallet, I’m a wide-eyed statue. How sad, I thought, that they know me already. Perhaps I drink too much coffee. Maybe it was time to wean off the stuff and come less to the…but who was I kidding. I chuckled as Tristan, holding up the cup still, waiting to write the finishing touch to my order, turned up one side of his mouth into a crooked grin.
“Let me guess” he begins. “Winter is gone, so we’re done with Peppermint. I’d say” he lingers on that last world, eyeing me as though he were searching my soul for the answer. I can feel the stare of the girls behind me, waiting at the table. They’re going to make fun of me for this one.
I let myself look pensive for a moment but he was right. It’s exactly what I wanted.
“Is that your final answer?” Oh boy, I was flirting. I need to stop this. Just nod and pay the man, Des.
“Thanks Tristan, how much?” I asked but really, that was a dumb question. I knew the answer. It was the same every time and his face told me he was thinking the same thing.
“Right, $4.30” I said, setting the money down, and adding a dollar tip to the jar. I smiled, suddenly feeling a rush of heat in my cheeks. Walk away now, Des. I turned toward the girls and their wide, not so subtle, open mouthed smiles displaying their molars for all of the coffeehouse to see, made this even more uncomfortable.
I approached, keeping my cool, pretending there was nothing deserving of their ridiculous reactions happening here. I sit and pull out Infinite by Jodi Meadows from my bag.
Silence. Shifty eyes.
“So…books” I said. Silence broke with giggles. Suddenly, we were all schoolgirls.
Then Tristan’s voice carried like a warm latte on a rainy day, “Des! You’re drink’s ready.”
Hey everyone! January has come and gone. I feel productive on the reading end of things. I set a Goodreads goal for 2014. 80 books. It’s my first Goodreads book goal. It’s ambitious but I like the incentive to keep me from allowing unnecessary book lulls to happen. I can let those lingers for too long. I can’t do that. There are WAY too many books I want to read. Many new, and many old I need to catch up on.
Apologies on the unexpected book Talk intro. It started off as just a one liner because I’m weird like that, and like to give the book talk a touch of quirk and well…it turned into an entire short story passage. Hope y’all enjoyed my randomness.
And now…to THE BOOK-TALK!
The entire series–the storytelling–was well done. It was well-rounded, lyrical, beautiful, endearing, adventurous, funny, and well paced.
From the beginning of the series (book one-Incarnate) we met Ana—a Nosoul, a Newsoul—sheltered the first 18 years of her life, kept away from civilization by her only living relative Li—her mother. On Ana’s 18th birthday—three years after her quindec, what those in the city of Heart consider adulthood—Ana left home to go find herself. She left her uncaring, unloving, cold, over protective mother to be free and live, finally live.
On her adventurous venture, she comes across sylph who chase her down till she is cornered at the edge of a cliff looking over a lake in Range. If Range is the city, Heart is the town within it? Or is it more that Range is a state and Heart a city within?
Back to the “being-cornered-on-a–cliff-overlooking-the-lake” part. Ana gets hurt by the burning sylph and jumps into the freezing waters below. If she was going to die, it would be by her own accord, not these fearsome burning, melody screeching, shadow creatures above.
Enter Sam. Tall, black wild hair, brown eyes, and music in his soul. He jumps in to rescue her as Ana loses notion of where the surface of the water is. Is it up? Is it down? She’s downing…till strong arms wrap around her waist, pulling her up.
Here begins a three book journey for our main characters Ana and Sam.
Back to My Thoughts On Series:
I truly enjoyed this series. I found the world to be unique in its modern technologies, intertwined with fantasy elements we’re all familiar with. Sylph, Dragons, Centaurs, Trolls, Rocs mixed with air drones, and SED’s that are pretty much like iPhones–communications devices that also do…everything. Anything you need, these little devices were built to do it.
I found the concept of a million souls for five thousand years being reincarnated over and over—never someone new till Ana–fascinating. I was extremely curious to know, why? Why a Newsoul, now? Ana was a Newsoul but told she was a Nosoul—insignificant, incapable of love, life, thinking, feeling, anything. Then Sam comes and challenges all that thinking, making Ana feel infinite.
What I Loved in Book Three: INFINITE
I loved…too many things. Unexpectedly, there was A LOT of action. So much happened early on in the book. From the beginning, the pace zoomed full speed ahead with no intentions of stopping. Right when you thought it would for a moment…nope! Sike! Something rocked their world, and threw monkey wrenches all over the place. All. Over. The. Place. Money wrenches, everywhere.
Look over there! *points left*
See? Monkey wrenches. Ok, I’ll stop now. I laugh because I tweeted Jodi Meadows, right before opening the book for the first time, ready to delve into this much anticipated story and I told her that I was excited to see Sam and Ana get cozy cause man, Asunder (book two) was a rough ride. What does she reply?
“Well, I—Well, good luck.” *shifty eyes* *busies self writing other book*
My eyes opened wide.
“Jodiiiiiiii!” I responded.
Awwww man! I opened the book.
To book: “Be nice…you’re gonna give me heart palpitations aren’t you?”
Yep! First couple pages…brace yourself.
From here on…WARNING: SPOILERS (not many really, just little things)
Loved the series and recommend it! Go read it *winks*
Other Things I Loved…Spoilery Things:
Cris. I loved Cris. Here I was in Asunder, scowling at Cris. I’m like,
“Cris! Go away! You’re complicating things for Sam and Ana.”
Then the end happened and I literally cried for Cris. Then Infinite page 124—my heart wept and my eyes may have watered as he bloomed a smoke-filled shadow rose to identify himself to Ana. *quiver lip* Oh Cris. He was such a wonderful surprise as a secondary character. I fell for him. I came to really care for his character. I appreciate and enjoyed his role in this last book.
Sam and Ana. Man, here I thought their relationship would be better than it was in book two but this was their greatest trial. My heart seriously felt tension the entire second half of the book. My chest was tight at their weeks of tension, distance. It hurt me. I felt Ana’s ache. I felt the emptiness she carried as everything continued to FALL APART and the other half of her soul, whom she loved with everything she was, was distant. He was mad and hurt and angry and distant. Again…*quiver lip*
And this is one of the many reasons I love Jodi Meadows. In another life scenario, if we were in the same town, went to the same school or something…I think we’d be friends.
Omygoodness. The Dragons and Ana. Later Sam says to her,
“You just go right up to anything and talk to it, don’t you?” Sam closed his eyes and smiled. “I love that about you.” Page 406.
I loved how throughout the series—not all at once—Jodi introduced each mythical creature at some point mentioned, which really aided in painting the world building image for the reader. The whole time, I could see where I was, what it looked like, what they were encountering, seeing.
I like that Jodi didn’t leave any loose ends, really. Elements she brought about over and over, found their resolution.
For example: I thought the timing for Sam and Ana’s intimacy was well played. At one point, you almost thought it would happen and she siked us! Jodi! *chuckles* Then soon after, the opportunity presented itself, even better than the first. It wasn’t just thrown in there to be thrown in there. It was part of Ana’s ARC, I believe. There was a purpose for it. She grew so much as a character. Their journey toward that intimacy which I felt, sealed the bond that strongly existed between them, was well thought out and written. Not all authors succeed at this. Some throw it in, sloppy, just to throw it in. Others don’t build it well. They present it but then shy away from it, misleading their reader. I appreciate YA writers who approach this sensitive reality with thought instead of impulse and status-quo expectations giving it no purpose. Even in stories where sex is openly painted in the story, it could still be done with a story line purpose, with some thought. For example: “Where the Stars Still Shine” by Trish Doller” which I read and book talked–there are many, I call them New Adult scenes where sex is a part of the story but there was thought behind it. The characters life, upbringing and then her past demons, it all made sense. It fit within the story. Okay, I’m done ranting. Anyway. Sam and Ana’s journey was real and beautiful.
Ana. I truly loved her character. I loved her growth. I loved her quirks; I related to them so much, it was great. I liked her gusty approach to things. I liked her determination to not be held back by peoples assumptions, thoughts, rules, small minded ignorance trying to box her in. If she believed in something, nothing or no one would convince her otherwise. She loved well, and for someone told she was incapable of loving. I enjoyed her journey and by the end, I desperately wanted another chapter or so. I wanted a bit more of Ana in her new life.
There is so much more I loved about this series but am still in the midst of my book hangover and can’t remember it all right now. I’m processing the sad reality that I am done with this series. I will not read anything further on Ana, Sam, Cris…I want more. Thanks Jodi Meadows for a great series! Can’t wait for Orphan Queen! (her new project)
I definitely recommend this series. It had a lot of heart. It had adventure. It had a beautiful relationship that developed in the course of a year. It was great. Go read it!
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.
Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.
In this second book in the Newsoul trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.
After I finished Incarnate-book one–I literally hunted this one down. I needed to know what happened. I needed more Sam and Ana. Jodi Meadows did it again. She created this unique fantasy world with so many intricate elements.
In book two, Asunder, so much comes to light. Many things within book one that were presented, are developed further in book two. There is so much to explore. Sam and Ana’s relationship has slowed down due to everything they and the town have gone through plus everything they begin going through in this book. There are many swoony moments still but Sam is hearing the sneering comments from the people of Heart who grow to hate Ana more and more. They begin tainting what they have, speaking of how inappropriate it is for Sam to be taking advantage of such a young girl. She’s only eighteen and he’s well, five thousand years old. It begins to mess with his head. He loves her and wants to honor her. It creates issues and a strain within their relationship that is surrounded with so much trauma and additional tragedy mounding up.
Many answers finally come to the light, and with Ana, we begin to understand so much about her existence. The ending leaves you crying (I literally cried) and with your mouth gaping open. Book Three–Infinite–I’m looking at you and eagerly waiting. THREE MORE DAYS!
If you like fantasy, heart and romance, check this series out! It’s completion comes to a book store near you, January 28th, 2014. How about a Series Binge Read?
That concludes the non-spoiler section!
Memorable Moments Tabs!
(from here on, you see that Yellow Tape? Yup, this section is closed off for SPOILERS! You have been warned *winks*)
Tab #1 – (pg 21-23) Cris…Awkward Moment
In the beginning, Sam and Ana go to Purple Rose Cottage and encounter some sylphs again. Only, they seem to respond to Ana and music. Someone was approaching the cottage at the time. Once the sylph leave, Ana asks,
“Were they after you?” I asked.
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. I was walking here and heard your playing. I thought you might be–” He shrugged the words off. “Then I saw the sylph as I approached the path. That’s it.”
…”I’m sorry,” he said, offering his hand. “I’ve been rude. I don’t think we’ve met in this life. Cris.”
A little while later, Sam comes out of the cottage. He had gone to get some sylph eggs to save them from an attack. Ana mentions they left but they got Cris in trade.
“Cris.” Sam’s voice slipped, and there was something while the boys looked at each other–something I couldn’t understand.
“Dossam. I heard you were…” Cris shifted his gaze to me. “Then you must be Ana.”
Awk-ward! Omygoodness. First, can we talk about something a little weird to grasp in this series. These million souls have been reincarnated a bunch of times. Each life is different. Sometimes they’re woman, sometimes they’re men in another life. Now, imagine coming back with all your memories and experiences, remembering the people you have fallen in love with? So the weird part is you fell in love when you were a woman and they were a man. Imagine coming back and now you’re both men in this life. Then imagine, you being a man and seeing the man you fell in love with in another life, in love with another woman? Yeah, I think you understand now the AWKWARDNESS that occurs during this entire book between Cris, Sam and poor Ana who is for the most part till almost the end, completely OBLIVIOUS to this. She senses the weirdness but doesn’t understand what it’s about.
Here’s the crazy thing, you just cant seem to hate Cris for it. He…um, once she…um, well, in this book he is a he, and he is just so lovable and awesome, gosh darn it. You want to though. There is clearly some past tensions between Sam and Cris.
Tab #- (pg. 62) Sam loves Ana.
Sam and Ana are east of Range, where Menehem, Ana’s father disappeared all her life to do his research and experiments. Ana and Sam decide it’s time to go back to Heart and suddenly Sam scoots over to Ana saying he has something to tell her. He kisses her before saying what that is. His kiss is a little desperate. He pauses, breathing heavy and Ana is panicking wondering if what he is going to say is bad and that’s why he kissed her like that.
He drew himself up, kissed me again, and spoke the words against my lips. “I love you, Ana,”
My breath caught in my chest.
Eeep *high pitched girly squeal*
Tab #3 – (pg 185-196) Meuric Alive?
Ana and Sam were supposed to enter the Temple again to find answers. Sam got caught outside by Stef and started an argument. Ana was hiding in the shadows. No one goes into the Temple. There’s no door. Only, a device that Ana took from Meuric when he tried to trap her in the Temple in Incarnate(Book one), opens doors and causes reactions in the temple and from Janan–their deity? The one who reincarnates them. Stef won’t let Sam alone so Ana goes in by herself.
This place is horrendous inside. Every time Ana has gone in, I just want to run right back out. Janan reveals himself (vocally) more in the previous chapter and he is disturbing. He wants to eat Ana! He began messing with her mind in there. Time is different in there. It may only seem hours in the Temple but outside, you’ve been missing for days.
As if things weren’t already crazy in here, Ana hears a familiar voice, which in her mind, must be impossible because he’s dead. She killed him.
Meuric. He didn’t die when she stabbed his eye and kicked him into the upside down gravity reversed pit hole where he fell deep. The fall alone should have shattered every bone in his body and it had been months!
Blood and fluids seeped around his filthy clothes. He hadn’t moved all those months from that spot. This entire part is crazy. She finds a means to get information from him.
Tab #4 – (pg 195-196) and then…the Truth!
In the midst of this exchange between Ana and Meuric, he says something that literally shook my insides. Are you ready? This is a MAJOR Spoiler and in context to the book, man, this was huge and felt like a punch in the gut! I don’t know whether to tell you all and leave you wanting, so you’ll read it…hm…
Ok, I’m not gonna reveal it.
I’m trying to withhold laughter here because I’m in the middle of a Starbucks. I’m not laughing maniacally, it’s that I built that whole thing up only to not say it in the end. Sorry. Don’t hate me. It’s to enrich your reading experience.
What I will share is that, it finally gives us clarity about Ana as a NewSoul/NoSoul. We understand everything suddenly about why and how she is what she is.
Tab #5 – (pg 207) Sam said What?!
Yeah, so remember that whole Cris and Sam situation I told you about earlier. Oh. My. Lanta. When I read this part, I gasped and screamed and waited to see (read, actually) Ana’s reaction and she didn’t. She didn’t react and have a light bulb as I thought she would, or if she did, she is much less impulsive and emotional than I am. I would’ve gone buckwild. Then again, she was loosing consciousness so, what do I expect. But AFTER. When I resurfaced. Oh, yeah…buckwild.
So in book one, remember (I mentioned the Tab in my Book One book talk-Incarnate by Jodi Meadows Book Talk–this moment) in the beginning when Sam rescued Ana from the frozen river she jumped into, to survive the sylph attack? Then she woke in a cozy tent, her boots and jacket off, drying, laying down with a strangers body pressed up against her back with his hand over her heart. Then she freaked when he spoke.
Back to this point of Book Two. They just found Ana who finally escaped from the Temple. She was missing for a week. She got out weak. Finally passing out, Sam picked her up and carried her home. All she could hear are voices.
Bundled in blankets on the sofa, everyone started trickling out to leave. Her blurry vision caught faintly people leaving out the door. At the door Sam and Cris spoke.
“You didn’t have to do so much,” Sam said. “But I’m grateful. Thank you.”
“She seems nice.” Cris hesitated. “Well, a bit testy, but I suspect she’s nice underneath all those thorns.”
And here it is…
“When we first met, she had scars all over her hands. It took me a while to figure out how she’d gotten them.” Sam hooked his thumbs in his pockets. “Or why they looked familiar.”
Then Cris holds up his hands showing his scars from tending flowers and plants.
What the? Holy crap! When Sam first met Ana and tended to her while she was first passed out, his flirty nature, his behavior, his confidence handling Ana...HE THOUGHT SHE WAS CRIS IN THIS LIFE!
Omygoodness! I freaked about this. I wanted Ana to freak. It would hurt a little, understanding suddenly how deep their past was, their love.
But then, the entire time (though they’ve both had their stupid moments) Sam turns around and gives you no doubts, whatsoever, that he is in love with Ana. And again, Cris…just won’t let you hate him. He is so good and awesome.
Tab #6 – (314-315) Don’t Let Me Go
So here’s one of the stupid moments I just mentioned above. Back on page 292, Sam said something STUPID. This was clearly one of those guy/girl miscommunications.
Finally, we reached the house, and Sam’s mitten slipped on the doorknob as he spoke. “I wanted to ask you something. You’ve been talking about making your own decisions, wanting to do things for yourself” He tried the knob again, but snow and wool slid across each other.
“And?” I scrubbed my mittens on my coat and grasped the knob…
“Do you want your own house? Li’s or Ciana’s?”
…I felt like I had a mouthful of snow as I stared up at him. Had he changed his mind? Decided he loved Stef or Cris more? (cause, yeah, Stef was another past of Sam’s we had to deal with here)
Before they could speak further on this, they see someone DESTROYED everything inside the house. It was so sad.
Later, through all the grief, aftermath, unspoken moments, big elephant in the room, Ana tried to go and get Sam’s attention. He’s been mentally M.I.A. lately.
She tells him she’s thought about it and will be leaving. They’ve been living together for a year now. They’re romance after the end of Book One SLOWED down significantly with everything that the city went through.
My heart was breaking as Ana was trying to be strong here and leave. She thinks it’s what he wanted. She then walks out the room, breaking a little more with each step.
As I left his room, I wanted him to stop me. I wanted it so badly I could almost hear the perfect words he’d say to convince me to stay, but when I breathed, those words were lost…Another step. If I could just make it to my bedroom–
Arms wrapped around me and my knees buckled. “No.” Sam’s cheek grazed mine, fresh-shaved stubble.
Tab #7 – (369) “Lick My Shoe!”
A lot happens, reaching to this point of the book. There are just some Spoilers, I will not reveal. I don’t want to take away EVERYTHING in case you haven’t read it yet. I won’t reveal one of the major plot point Spoilers here but on this page, I literally LAUGHED. OUT. LOUD.
I love Jodi Meadows writing and I love how she wrote Ana. I relate to Ana so much in this series. Her quirks and the things she says sometimes–which are hilarious–remind me of my own humor. Ana has some audacity, let me tell ya.
Here, she’s in the Temple again…yup…again. And Janan is shouting through the walls, during this crazy intense scene,
“You will die!”
And what does Ana say in response to his threat?
“Why don’t you lick my shoe?”
Best. Thing. Ever.
Tab #8 – (pg 396) Oh, Cris.
I am not going to say it for those who haven’t read it but for those who have and know what I’m talking about…Ohmyheart! Cris. Yeah…If I had the slightest doubt or lingering ill-will because of the whole Sam and Cris debacle…This. This right here, threw any of it left, out the window. Oh, my heart.
Tab #8 – (pg 403) She says it…finally.
Second to last page, Sam and Ana make a decision about what to do next (can we say, I need Infinite…NOW-book three).
Heartbeat thudding in my ears, I met his eyes and let my emotions bubble into words. “I love you, Sam.”
So there it is folks! I loved this book. I loved the first one. I loved the moments Jodi Meadows wrote between Sam and Ana. They’re beautiful. I can not wait to see what she does with book three and how she wraps up this entire series. There is so much she left us speculating. Jodi Meadows created an elaborate world, full of possibilities here. Her creativity, synopsis and plot was brilliant and beautiful.
Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.
Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.
I went into this not really knowing ANYTHING about the storyline or plot. I didn’t read that slab of description within the front flap of the dust jacket. I almost did but decided,
“Nah, I want to just dive in blindly and see how it goes.”
It was a pleasant surprise. I read the first 122 pages the first night. I was sucked in. I really liked Trish Doller’s approach. It was real. Now, some of you are going,
“Uh, Des…duh, that’s what contemporary is.”
Hey, Hey! Simmer down the attitude *winks* I admire her writing. There isn’t fluffy, or pretentious language (and people who do write with fluffy words or pretentious, intellectually dripping, talking like a Gilmore Girl’s language, well a lot of them do it well, so I’m not knocking it. Especially indie writers driving an indie story, many of those stories are brilliant, so don’t get me wrong here).
There reason I admire Trish Doller’s writing is because she writes REALLY well. I admire it because I am not a fluffy, intellectual, Gilmore Girl talking witty type writer–I wish, but I’m not. I aim to write well. Plainly. Just tell the story and paint it well through words.
She did that here. There were sensitive issues involving sexual abuse at a young age. Our MC narrates, first person, present tense, through these moments where she reflects her being affected by these past memories and pain.
Here’s what I found interesting and liked; Trish didn’t focus on the time of the abuse, or the process of the main character’s years where she was stolen from her family–all the things presented to you within the synopsis isn’t the story. The story takes place during a time in Callie’s (our main character) life AFTER all these things. Trish brilliantly intertwined Callie’s past through her present moments without needing to take us all the way back and live it with Callie.
This story tugs at your heart in many ways; love, ache, anger, sadness, *Feels*, blushing…
It was a beautiful story leaving you wanting more. I would definitely recommend reading.
(here begin the SPOILERS! You have been warned *grins*)
Tab #1 – (pg 10) I Relate to Callie!
So from the beginning, you are painted clearly Callie’s reality. She has a deadbeat Mom who makes bad decisions–especially with men–and is being dragged as a teen through this tumultuous rollercoaster called her mother’s life. Now, personally I can not relate. Then comes page 10 and I have a moment where I connect with Callie. And I wonder, if I were in her situation, would these little things be my little things as well.
When Callie runs back to the momentary apartment they are living in to escape one of her mother’s creepy, perverted boyfriends who finds her at a laundry mat,
she finds her mother frantically packing–once again. She has two minutes to pack her life in a suitcase and get into the car for them, once again to escape to a new place, new city, new life. It’s her mother’s pattern.
It’s the things she packs that caught my attention. She’s a reader–yay–and she packs mostly books, a journal that’s stuffed and has papers sticking out from the sides–I love that!
I have boxes of journals that I have kept since little. I always aimed to have one of those, where you put your life in them so they’re overflowing with many knickknacks, poems, pictures and papers.
She packs maybe three articles of clothing–ha! I would do. Let’s just say I have staple comfort pieces. Ask my besties and my mom. They conspire together constantly to steal them and burn them.
Then she reaches for something that surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it from her character. A guitar. An old rosewood and spruce Martin guitar. I have one as well. Someone once anonymously gave me that Martin (that’s another story for another day) so it’s very special to me. My attention from here on out was peeked asking,
“Who is this Callie character?”
Tab #2 – (pg 24) “My name is Callista?”
How sad is that?! Omygoodness. Callie all her life was told by her mother that her father left them. Her father was painted the villain. Her mom ends up arrested and her legal guardian is her father. She meets him for the first time, well since she was five years old. She’s seventeen right now and remembers nothing about this man, Greg, who shows up and takes her off to Tampa to live with him. Her mother stays arrested in Chicago.
During the flight, her father shows her a red leather photo album he had put together for her to have. Her birth certificate is in it and it says her full name…which she did. not. know.
Callista Catherine Tzorvas.
“My name is Callista?”
Greg’s chuckle dies in his throat when he realizes I’m not joking. “You didn’t know.”
I shake my head and his eyebrows pull together.
My heart ached a bit there and felt a little of what I can imagine Greg, her father felt. How could she not even know her full name is Callista. Here you really begin to see what living the life she has, on the run with her mother looked like. The lies, or selfish omissions her mother never cared to worry about or focus on, because it was always about her.
Tab #3 – (pg 33-34) Her Haunting Dreams
Oh my heart. This was so sad to witness, really. Callie’s living in an Airstream mobile home they (her father and his family) have out back. She falls asleep crying and has a dream. One of many that occur throughout the story. This was difficult, realizing what this poor girl has been through. Here was a brilliant way Trish Doller gave us a piece of Callie’s past, without needing to have taken us there from the very beginning, or making the story about that in a current setting.
In Callie’s dream, a man, whose breath is tangy with alcohol sits on her eight year old bed and whispers in her ear as he is sexually abusing her. Even right now, just half-re-reading it (cause I just can’t fully read it again right now) I want to find Frank (her mother’s live-in boyfriend at that time) and Lorena Bobbitt him!
She doesn’t even allow herself to cry for fear that he’ll cuddle her against him, kissing her cheeks, telling her she is his special girl.
Ugh, my chest is tight from how awful this is. Then she wakes up with tears and sweat, wondering where she is.
Tab #4 – (pg 40) Enter Alex Kostas…
kinda…here enters a mystery that leaves you wanting to know more…as it does with Callie.
Callie ventures off to explore because her emotions are all over the place. It’s night time. She’s used to her mother working nights, and being left alone. Now she suddenly has a father, and two baby brothers and a stepmother? A father who in his mind, logically has rules and practicality. These are all enigmas to Callie.
She reaches this river front lined with rows of fishing boats, their decks heaped with dark mounds of something she can’t identify. They’re sponges from deep within the seafloor.
Standing beneath the light, a guy around my age–no, probably a little older…He has a blue bandanna tied around his dirty-blond curls, and when he bends down for another sponge, there’s a sweat-stained spot on his gray shirt where it sticks between his shoulder blades. He glances up, and his face is something so fine and beautiful, it makes my chest ache the way it does when I hear a sad song or finish a favorite book.
(loved that last line)
They exchange some back and forth and this mystery guy on a boat just offers to go get a beer and give her the behind the scenes version of what he’s doing instead of the brochure tour version. Callie feels the air so thick between them and doesn’t understand why. They don’t know each other. She doesn’t even know his name.
He’s only the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and I’m so, so tempted. But I also know how this ends. And after everything that’s happened in the past two days, I’m not sure I want to add feeling like a slut to my to-do list.
OMG…so apparently, directly from Trish Doller’s Pinterest board while she wrote the novel…here’s is her Alex inspiration. *drools* “Uh, hello.”
Tab #5 – (pg 84-86) Rocking the Boat Therapy?
Whoa. So, didn’t see that coming.
Callie was introduced to her Big. Fat. Greek…Family? Suddenly this girl on the run with her deadbeat mother, all her life from one day to another has a father, little brothers, a step mother, a grandmother, cousins, and aunts and oh-my-lanta that is overwhelming. In the midst of sudden-family overload, Callie overhears some of her aunts trash talking about Callie’s mother and how she is sick mentally, and crazy.
This throws Callie over the edge so she sneaks out of her own welcome home party. She finds herself naturally walking to the boat docks. Alex went out for a few days on the boat to harvest sponges. She’s at her bench, that she’s become comfortable with, just in front of the boats, across the sponge shop she started working at.
They officially meet. He flirts and teases that if he knew she’d be waiting for him, he would’ve told her he wouldn’t be back for a few days. She bites back that she wasn’t, he just got lucky. Well, immediately he leads her to his boat and down below, where he pretty much lives. She knows she should hesitate but her mind is in her routine mode. She wants to escape, and a guy, whether it’s a Danny, a Matt, an Adam, Alex who she just found out his name, will just be another on the list–so she thinks.
Callie and Alex’s moments together are very much New Adult genre, rated R material. I was not expecting that. But then, something else was very surprising.
During a few of their “moments” together, there’s a pause. Alex does something that triggers Callie’s past “Frank” traumas. Right when you’re blushing, as Alex and Callie get to…um, know each other more, your heart stops and hurts for Callie. You want to Lorena Bobbitt Frank all over again for what he did to Callie at eight years old.
I won’t mention all the tabs where Alex and Callie, well…make me blush but there is a theme that happens here.
Throughout what you think is just a physical thrill between these two, Alex slowly–without knowing–chips away at the wounds that haunt Callie. He’s so patient and gentle with her during these moments where she freaks out without explanation. He doesn’t ask. He just helps her through it, or cooperates with her even though he doesn’t momentarily understand what’s behind it.
Finally, it isn’t until their first official date together (near the end of the book, before that, it was stolen secret moments together; on his boat, in her “room”, on the kitchen counter–just a makeout–with her father and step-mom in the other room! Freaking out they’d get caught moment much?)
Oh and yeah, especially since we find out that…ALEX IS PHOEBE’S BROTHER. Phoebe, Greg; Callie’s father’s WIFE! Aw-kwardddd.
So page 277, while laying on Alex’s lap in his truck, after their beach venture,
she falls asleep and has another haunting Frank dream. She wakes screaming, having a fit and Alex almost swerves off the road.
Moment of truth time. She tells him everything. I love Alex here. I love how angry and protective he becomes. He’s pacing and thinking of all the ways he can kill a man. I love him here.
Tab #6 – (pg 104) “Every girl needs a string of these for her room” Twinkle Lights.
I loved Kat and Callie’s friendship. In the beginning, Kat drove me crazy sometimes, only because I’m more like Callie with personal space. Kat’s so extroverted and no boundaries but you just love her and she wins your heart, just like she did for Callie.
This moment with her made me smile because I believe Kat’s motto here.
They’re in her Airstream mobile home room and Kat takes out a box of tiny white star-shaped Christmas lights.
“Every girl needs a string of these for her room,” she says. “Not only are they beautiful, but when you have fairy lights, you’re never completely in the dark.”
This was a sweet moment that won my heart over to Kat and her thrusting-best friendship towards them.
Tab #7 – (pg 194) Can I just say, Yiayoula. Love. Her.
Her Greek grandma. Yeah, she’s awesome. Just when you think she’s just a naive, kind, old grandma, she spits out some sass! Then, she reveals, that she isn’t as oblivious as you think she is. I don’t want to write out this scene because reading it in context makes it that much better. Seriously had some “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” flashbacks here. Love it.
I did love the writing. I admired Trish Doller’s approach to such a sensitive subject. I loved the flow and pace of this story. I loved the father, daughter relationship that developed–definitely one of my favorite elements of this story. I loved Alex and Callie and their crazy, very quick relationship that grew in beautiful depth…then…it ended. The book ended and left an open ending.
I finished, closed the book and thought,
“Wait. No, wait. That’s it? No, I need more. Don’t…leave it for me to figure it out Trish!”
I knew I needed to sleep on it. I understood that, to be true to Callie and Alex and the rest of the story and characters, it would need many more chapters to give me what I wanted.
My hope was that there would be an Epilogue that could still leave some elusiveness in the air but I wanted more closure.
I ran across a book review-book talk today of this book. It was by accident, because I was searching for images relevant to this book. The only reason I knew about Trish Doller’s pinterest was through this book blogger’s review which I really enjoyed.
She mentioned feeling the same way and then finding Trish on Twitter and discussing it with her and some other friends. After doing so, she felt better and understood the ending more.
I am not going to say the ending cause I don’t want to spoil it.
It was a great book. I truly enjoyed it and loved her writing style very much. I’m definitely planning on checking out her other books.
So there it is! Apologies if this is really long. If you’re in the mood for a Contemporary YA/New Adult (for me) that has sexy romance, a lot of heart and a beautiful story of finding yourself, your worth and believing finally that you are worthy and deserve more in life and it’s okay to believe in yourself, then definitely check this one out!