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Books I’ve Read: Stay with Me by J Lynn

Books

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: Stay With Me
Series: Wait For You #3
Author: J Lynn/Jennifer L Arrmentrout
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 23 Sept 2014
Source: Bought
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

At 21, Calla hasn’t done a lot of things. She’s never been kissed, never seen the ocean, never gone to an amusement park. But growing up, she witnessed some things no child ever should. She still carries the physical and emotional scars of living with a strung-out mother, Mona—secrets she keeps from everyone, including her close circle of college friends.

But the safe cocoon Calla has carefully built is shattered when she discovers her mom has stolen her college money and run up a huge credit card debt in her name. Now, Calla has to go back to the small town she thought she’d left behind and clean up her mom’s mess again. Of course, when she arrives at her mother’s bar, Mona is nowhere to be found. Instead, six feet of hotness named Jackson James is pouring drinks and keeping the place humming.

Sexy and intense, Jax is in Calla’s business from the moment they meet, giving her a job and helping her search for Mona. And the way he looks at her makes it clear he wants to get horizontal . . . and maybe something more. Before Calla can let him get close, though, she’s got to deal with the pain of the past—and some very bad guys out to mess her up if she doesn’t give them her mom.

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We were introduced to Calla in Be With Me as Tess’s friend. Although her facial scar is mentioned she is only a brief peripheral character and I have to say I was a little surprised to see her get her own story. But what a story it is.

Having survived a horrific event as a child and then her parents emotional withdrawal my heart went out to Calla, all my nurturing instincts kicked into overdrive with her. Although she has serious self-esteem issues, that are completely understandable, she has such inner strength you can’t help but admire and love her. She is so much stronger than she gives herself credit for. She doesn’t allow negativity into her life, she really is one of the most upbeat people you could ever wish to meet.

I really liked the progression of the previous characters in the story shown alongside Calla, especially the friendship dynamic between all the characters. How they each relied on the other, they have an amazing support system. The way in which they were unafraid to show their vulnerabilities to each other, especially the girls was a monumental moment within the plot.

Jax has his own issues to deal with but what can I say this guy will melt the coldest/hardest heart. Although I could have quite happily slapped him for the way in which he handled a certain deranged, evil bitch *GRRR* I loved the way in which he was able to push past Calla’s barriers, breaking them down one at a time while simultaneously building her confidence.

This book deals with issues of body image and self perception, alongside the reality that people are generally superficial in the way they view others based on looks alone. My 14 year old daughter generally has a soapbox rant about this issue, she is extremely mature in her attitude that people should be seen for their actions and personality rather than their appearance.  Yes, she does make me very proud :)

Stay With Me while being a swoon-worthy, smexy romance covers a lot of emotional issues that affect our perception while promoting positivity and kindness.

Review: The Fall By Bethany Griffin

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Fall
Author: Bethany Griffin
Publisher: Indigo
Publication Date: 2 Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down?The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

REVIEW BY JACK 9:6

I don’t normally read Gothic novels, so I found this fascinating but difficult. The Fall is an extremely complicated book based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher”.  Chapters throughout the tale show Madeline Usher, the main character, at different ages, ranging from 9 to 18. Also interspersed are chapters from the diary of a relative of Madeline’s, named Elisabeth.

The Usher family is cursed with fits, mental illnesses and a conscious, evil house. The curse damages Madeline worse than most, choosing her as the heir to the house. Various people stay at and then leave the house during the book, each affected by the house and curse in a different way; as well as many killed leaving when the house shows its displeasure.

The part of the story I like best is around chapter 100, when Madeline finally works out what is happening to her, her friends and to the house. My favourite character is Madeline’s father, who is little affected by the curse. He does so much and is so determined to try and protect his sister, his betrothed, his wife and his children from the curse. Eventually, though, he succumbs like generations of Ushers before him, beaten and battered.

Although this book keeps jumping between narratives, it is only moderately difficult to follow due to the clever way in which it is done. I did find it confusing how some key events in the book are never expressly stated, you are just left to infer them. This left me struggling to work out what happened when in some cases.

Additionally, the ending left just a few questions unanswered, such as why Roderick had to leave his school, who he loved and what happened to the doctors. I believe that tying up these loose ends would be a huge improvement.

Review: Letting Go by Molly McAdams

Received from BookSlapped

Received from BookSlapped

Title: Letting Go
Series: Thatch #1
Author: Molly McAdams
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date:
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Grey and Ben fell in love at thirteen and believed they’d be together forever. But three days before their wedding, the twenty-year-old groom-to-be suddenly died from an unknown heart condition, destroying his would-be-bride’s world. If it hadn’t been for their best friend, Jagger, Grey never would have made it through those last two years to graduation. He’s the only one who understands her pain, the only one who knows what it’s like to force yourself to keep moving when your dreams are shattered. Jagger swears he’ll always be there for her, but no one has ever been able to hold on to him. He’s not the kind of guy to settle down.

It’s true that no one has ever been able to keep Jagger—because he’s only ever belonged to Grey. While everyone else worries over Grey’s fragility, he’s the only one who sees her strength. Yet as much as he wants Grey, he knows her heart will always be with Ben. Still they can’t deny the heat that is growing between them—a passion that soon becomes too hot to handle. But admitting their feelings for each other means they’ve got to face the past. Is being together what Ben would have wanted . . . or a betrayal of his memory that will eventually destroy them both?

REVIEW 

I’ve got to be honest, I always enter a Molly McAdams with a great deal of trepidation, waiting for my heart to get ripped out of my chest and pulverised to dust. Yep, this is the effect her stories have on me, it doesn’t help that she tends to torture her poor characters with all kinds of emotional hell. Be Warned ;) At least we know someone dies right at the start of this one (yeah I’m totally not letting that one go Molly) ;)

OMG – Jagger is just the best book boyfriend, I utterly adore him. You can tell he is the right choice for Grey from the very beginning. He is protective, her rock yet he allows her to grow independently praising her strengths instead of focussing on any weakness the way others end to treat her following Ben’s death. Obviously, there is a lot of guilt over his feelings for Grey considering she was due to marry his best friend. However, I think it is Ben that should have felt like a douche when he took Grey knowing how Jagger had always felt about her.

The story tends to focus on the conflict both Jagger and Grey feel as their feelings for each other grow into something so much more. I constantly questioned why Grey had been with Ben rather than Jagger from the start. Things just didn’t feel right; the way in which Jagger and Grey fit together perfectly added to my confusion.

I was a little annoyed at how much Grey seemed to wallow in her grief at the beginning of the book. Then grew even angrier when certain people accused her of not caring about Ben when she finally was able to get herself under control. The revelations woven through the story added to the heart-ache and made all the accusations and interactions painfully clear. I told you Molly has a habit of emotionally torturing her characters ;) The dark side of human nature rears its ugly head leaving pain and destruction in its wake. Do we really know people or are they a sum of the things we/they allow us to see. Intense emotions and situations alter people irrevocably.

I just love the idea that a person is your home – that feeling of comfort and security no matter where you are. I hope I’m not too old to find that person for me. I have to say I never felt that way with my Ex – not surprising that he is my Ex than I guess, LOL.

I really like that Molly doesn’t romanticise the families she portrays. They all have their flaws and some have huge negative aspects that serve to add strength to the characters in those situations. I hope that makes sense.

With all the hurdles life can throw in your path; being with your true soul-mate means never having to stumble on your own. Their strength is the safety net you can carry in your heart forever. Pure swoon-worthy romance all wrapped in heart melty goodness :) that is what Jagger and Grey embody :) Anything life throws at you ultimately leads you to where you should be and who you should be with.

Review: All Broke Down by Cora Carmack

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: All Broke Down
Series: Rusk University #2
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: 28 Oct 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

Received from InkSlingerPR

Received from InkSlingerPR

REVIEW 

If I could get away with writing ‘I adore Cora Carmack’ 100 times as my review I would ;) But alas, no :) Just go with me on this and accept the fact that her books do not disappoint.

The second book in the Rusk University series has Silas taking the spotlight. We briefly met Silas in All Lined Up in an unfavorable light, however, I think even then we could tell there was far more to him than appeared on the surface. Although he is a hot shot football player, Silas truly believes that he isn’t a good enough person to be where he is and have all the good opportunities open to him because of his football abilities. His negative view of himself stems from his difficult childhood and absentee mother. His belief that he doesn’t fit in makes him project his insecurities onto other people fueling his anger towards himself.

Dylan, on the surface couldn’t be more different to Silas, but the magic word here is surface. Judging by outward appearances you would think that Dylan has the perfect life, coming from a wealthy, influential family she embodies the ‘good girl’ persona. Yet it is evident from early on within the narrative that Dylan is really only living up to other expectations of what she should do/say/act. She was adopted at 9 having lived in an extremely strict foster home for a few years. She has never really had the opportunity to test boundaries, too afraid that she will lose any affection she has gained by being herself. My heart went out to her, especially thinking that love is conditional on behavior and appearance.

Both Dylan and Silas feel lost in their lives, needing to find their own identities rather than be defined by their past and the expectations of others. Together, they seem to be the perfect counter point to each other, achieving balance by making the other a happier, better, fulfilled person.

The narrative involves a significant look at identity, what defines you as a person is it your actions or your upbringing (nature versus nurture to a degree). I loved the psycho-analysis that is woven into the story allowing an amount of self-reflection on behalf of the reader, both in terms of how it applies to themselves and also in ways to relate to others.

Ultimately, All Broke Down shows that your upbringing isn’t what defines you, it is how you allow yourself to deal with these aspects of you personal growth that defines you. The temptation to become a self-fulfilling prophecy can be overwhelming yet there is nothing to stop you becoming whoever you want to be as long as you are willing to work for it.

Review: The Time of My Life by Joanna Nadin

Image from Goodreads

Image from Goodreads

Title: The Time of My Life
Series: Rachel Riley #7
Author: Joanna Nadin
Publisher: OUP
Publication Date: 6 March 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Ta-dah!

So, this is it, am finally going to shake off the shackles of my dull, suburban upbringing and venture out into the big, wide world. I foresee a life of tragic literary friends, vintage markets, and ironic tea parties. All I have to do is pass exams, get a place at uni, and persuade mum to let me go. Easy!

It is totally the end of an era. Jack’s moved on and so will I. Jack’s history. Jack is no more. In fact, Jack who?

I’m Rachel Riley – welcome to my so-called life.

REVIEW BY IMOGEN – YEAR 9

‘The Time Of My Life’ is a book displayed in the form of a diary of an eighteen-year-old girl named Rachel. It describes the trials and tribulations of her complicated life and quirky family. Her cleaning obsessed mum and younger brother always getting into some sort of mischievous antics.

The main character in the book is Rachel, during the story Rachel is sitting her ‘A’ level exams and taking her driving test.  During the book Rachel has to learn that, it’s a big world and that she can’t stay in Saffron Walden, Essex forever. She has to make decisions about university and what she wants to do with her life. She takes you with her through all her highs and lows of her life, from January to September, expressing all her thoughts and feelings in her diary.

My favourite character in the book was Rachel because I like her humorous brutally honest personality, you feel like you really get to know her as you progress through the book.

The only thing I disliked about the book was that I think the storyline was perhaps a bit weak, I think the book needed to be more structured.

This book is suitable for teenagers; I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone under the age of thirteen as the book does contain some bad language and mature themes. For an older teenager perhaps the humor might be too immature.

I would give this book a three out of five because I do feel the storyline was lacking in substance and I think during the end of the book, it got slightly too ridiculous. I prefer books with a bit more structure to them.