#ARC Review || A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom || Tragic + Wonderful

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom
ARC via Publisher
Published || February 7, 2017 by Poppy
Goodreads || Amazon

In the vein of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and All the Bright Places, comes a captivating, immersive exploration of life with mental illness.

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Eric Lindstrom, author of the critically acclaimed Not If I See You First, examines the fear that keeps us from exposing our true selves, and the courage it takes to be loved for who we really are.

You know what I wish we all talked about more? I wish we talked about mental disorders. There’s this stigma around those who’s minds spark up differently that someone else’s, and it seems to me that this maybe because of lack of understanding. The main character of A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL mentioned this more than one.

She said she is not like her Aunt, or like her brother– even if her mood wanes and waxes more similarly resembling her brother’s than her Aunts. It’s important to recognize that no one person’s symptoms are exactly like the other. This books does a slow reveal on just about everything, and for this, well, it was glorious. 

What do I mean by the slow reveal? Everything—relationships and lives and heartbreak—in this book is riddled in secrets, may that be conscious or otherwise. Everything—those relationships and lives and heartbreaks—were something to behold. It is messy, and scary, and wrenched at the strings of my still-beating heart. It broke it. A thousand times over. That is another thing this books does well. I saw it in NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST too. Obstacles. Facing life with them. People in your life facing them with you, but not sure how to broach them.

This book is about bipolar disorder, and it is about Mel Hannigan. It’s how bipolar disorder, or any mental illness for that matter, is not a One Size Fits All Deal. I mean, no one has the same brain as another person, so why would how that brain work be any different?

A TRAGIC KIND OF WONDERFUL is also about friendship. I think Lindstrom approached friendship is a really cool way. We sort of have the Before friends and then we have the After friends. Before and After the bipolar disorder made itself known, I mean. The reader gets to see how the Before friendships worked, how they contributed to making Mel the darling, self-conscious human she is today. The After friendships are the protective sort.

After the fall-out. After the deception, and the lies, and the low-key betrayal. After the mistakes, and the fear. 

One other part of the book that I loved besides the way mental illness was approached along side different kinds of friendship was (I know; I know) the romance. It wasn’t hot and heavy; this guy is going to save me. He isn’t. I personally believe that people are an important aspect in allowing one to come to the realization that they are worth saving. People help to bring to light the irrationality of some rationalizations. This is what David is, to a certain extent. He’s also someone who did not see the Before or the After. He’s a fresh set of eyes who sees Mel as nothing more than she is in the moment.

So what do we have? Variations of friendship. An approach to mental illness that shows that, like friendship, these things vary. And, finally, we have Mel trudging through her own set of rough waters. All these different things make this book what it is. What is it? Well, it’s fantastic, and tragic, and wonderful.


Dear Pheobe {Bookishly Ever After}

ARC Edition via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
Goodreads // Amazon
Published January 12, 2015

In a perfect world, sixteen-year-old Phoebe Martins’ life would be a book. Preferably a YA novel with magic and a hot paranormal love interest. Unfortunately, her life probably wouldn’t even qualify for a quiet contemporary. But when Phoebe finds out that Dev, the hottest guy in the clarinet section, might actually have a crush on her, she turns to her favorite books for advice. Phoebe overhauls her personality to become as awesome as her favorite heroines and win Dev’s heart. But if her plan fails, can she go back to her happy world of fictional boys after falling for the real thing?

Dear Phoebe,
Despite you having one of my least favorite names, you might actually be one of the most relatable characters. With your love for all things literature and your taking advice from your favorite young adult heroines, you might actually be me. I mean, I’m not totally sure I would actually do what characters from books would do (falling into his arms? Really?) but I can’t completely promise that I wouldn’t either. From having a major crush on a total idiot because he looks like a totally swoony character from a book and taking up archery because you YA idol is an archer, you certainly take your lit seriously.
You’re an introvert with a lacking fashion sense apparently. Also a knitter. I’ve always wanted to learn to knit socks (haha; remember that time when you decided Dev was totally knit-worthy?). I’m an introvert, but I happen to think that my clothes are so very fantastic. In case you’re wondering, I happen to be wearing red pants and a gray slouchy sweater with some silver earrings from Earthbound.
In your story, BOOKISHLY EVER AFTER, you do some…let’s say…embarrassing…things. But you also do some things that I am so swooning over. Or, well, let’s just say that the ending is darling. The camp was the cutest.
In the beginning, I was so not loving your friend choice. However, I slowly (very, super slowly) I began to approve. It was slow though.
From one bookish human to another, I think that you kind of do what we are all capable of doing. (I mean take risks when you’d rather be reading, fear for the loss of the people inside the books, a huge adoration of the outside world with the grand hope to change it.) Overall, I think there something about your story that resonates. It’s not going to be one of those that make the history books, but it’s a story I totally get. The relationship with fictional characters. The wariness of real people, as strange as that sounds.
I wouldn’t read your story again, but not because I didn’t enjoy it. I did, especially the last few chapters. I wouldn’t read it again because, like you, I have too many other books to read and way too little time.


ARC Review: Joyride by Anna Banks

Goodreads / Amazon
ARC via Publisher + Netgalley
Published June 2, 2015

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

“Do I have you like you have me?” (ARC).
Brutally and beautifully honest, Anna Bank’s novel “Joyride” tell the story of a police chief’s son and a Latina girl trying to bring her family into the US from Mexico and all the hurtles and heartbreak along the way. My final though for this book: holy freaking bleepers.
For all those who say young adult novels don’t talk about relevant issues, why don’t y’all read this lovely? And then why don’t y’all come to Texas, where I know this is a hot issue. What’s this controversial issue? Immigration and all the fun stuff surrounding it. Raw and real, this story reaches the hard to talk about things like being sent back, being sent for, the people bringing them illegally who aren’t always as honest as you’re hoping they are, the heartbreak at being separated from your family and finally the police. Now, tell me if any of those issues are black and white. Carly dealt with all this and the pressure her older brother (who I’m pretty sure if half drowning in hope and half drowning in fear) puts on her to help out with the quest to reunite their family. Carly doesn’t really agree with all these ideals- she wants to graduate and make money from job that do more than give people food. She wants a degree.
Enter Arden. This boy made me wanting to ooh and aah over all the sweet things he did and said. He also made me cringe a little bit at the lack of thought that the consequences she would reap verses the ones he would. After his older sister commits suicide, he’s life is completely shattered. His father (the racist police chief) is more of an asshat than ever, his mother slips into a desperate oblivion and is unable to think about things that impact him and his Uncle (who happens to be complete awesomesauce) is drunk and depressed. How do these two meet? Basically Arden tries to scare his Uncle out of driving drunk (Carly happens to be on shift that night) and is confronted with a gun wielding Carly who in the words of the wise Uncle, is a little spitfire. CARLY WAS AMAZING. Have I mentioned that?

This book was super fantastic because of the characters. They’re people you can connect to, feel sorry for, hope for and totally fall for. The story was one where the characters have to fight for something real. Like, holy crap it was real. It was nail-biting real. While Carly was fighting for her family, she realizes she’s fighting to find out who the hell she is. Her whole life has been ruled by the prospect of just getting them back, not what they’ll come back to. Arden, he’s fighting to regain what he lost- a partner in crime and a part of himself. When he asks if he has her like she has him, it’s totally swoon inducing and oh so very sweet in a oh you’re just the vanilla ice cream on the cherry cobbler kind of sweet. And is there really a better kind?

Book Review: Outside the Ropes by Ashley Claudy

Outside the Ropes by Ashley Claudy
Netgalley / Amazon / Goodreads
Publsihed January 2015
Galley via Netgalley
Final Rating: 3.25

In the ring, Regan has control. Outside the ropes, she fights to survive.

Regan Sommers spent her life fighting. Fighting foster parents, kids in the group home, and classmates. But the night she has to fight for her life changes everything. 

Now, she’s fighting for money in the ring, and from the first punch she’s addicted. Every addiction has a price though, and this one is the gym’s star boxer, Gage Lawson. He may come in an enticing tattooed package, but his demands are more than she can handle. 

The responding officer from that night, Anthony Fields, comes with no demands. He wants whatever she’s willing to give, and Regan can handle that. She can definitely handle him. 

But no help comes string free, and Regan’s not the only one with a hard past and scars to cover. The life she was trying to escape is nothing compared to the danger she’s in the middle of now, and she can’t fight her way out.

So maybe this book needed a cup of coffee with it if I was planning on finishing it when I started it. . .around 8:30 in the evening, but that doesn’t exactly mean I didn’t enjoy it.

I was expecting Outside the Ropes to be about a girl overcoming societal conformity, and if I am being completely honest, I didn’t pay as much attention to the “she fights to survive” as I should have. Mostly because going into this novel I was forced to face the life of the other half of society and I just wasn’t prepared for all that jazz. The ones looking for a fix, looking for money, affection- no matter the cost. May it be your sanity or your soul. Even a fight. I’ll be honest some more. I mean why not? How does that sound?

I admire Regan’s strength, but I was also frustrated with how she seemed to dash towards trouble and turmoil rather than away from it. I mean, I understand the story needs conflict, but Regan, darling. Breathe, love.

And the two males trying to get her and gain her love, or her body, or her affection. Or maybe just her thoughts and her time. They were something else. Does any of that make sense?

Okay, so one one hand you have Anthony- a copy and seemingly overall decent guy who I steadily grew to really dislike as I read more and more of the book. From Anthony, Regan gets someone to trust, a warm body and safety. A real rarity in her life. So her relationship with Anthony is something she really values.  Then, on the other hand, we have out too-hot-to-handle, seriously moody, but also rather sweet, prized boxer: Gage Lawson. Gage hides more than his heart (and yes, y’all, I know that sounds cheesy) from Regan. Hell, he hides a whole freaking lot more. Like a bunch of roses and a baseball field more. Yeah. 

Oh, look. I’m about to be honest some more. I didn’t particularly like either Gage or Anthony. They both were possessive is a not-so-hot kind of way. *shudders* And it made me want to hit them both in the face with a brick. Or a shovel. Either one, they are both pretty decent options. The brick or the shovel I mean. Pepper spray would probably work as well, now that I think about it. But Regan, she was pretty cool. She is fiercely loyal and independent to a fault.

I think the story is fine. Like, it is perfectly fine. Not great. But also not terrible. I think my main complaint is that I didn’t really connect to any of the characters. Not a bit. I mean, I got man. But it was more anger at the situation that anger at the characters.

In the end, this book won’t make it to my favorites shelf, but it was a decent read.

ARC Review: The Artisans by Julie Reece

ARC via Month9Books
Goodreads / Buy It
Published May 19, 2015

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven’s stepdad’s drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?

Dios mío. This book is one of the most amazing books I think I’ve ever read. The Artisans has everything I’ve ever wanted in a book, plus has me liking things I’m usually not too fond of (like ghosts and ghouls) a whole flipping lot. A modern twist on Beauty and the Beast with a dash of a few other fairy tales for good measure, this tale is one of a curse, a steampunk dress-maker in a modern world and a boy entwined in the middle of it all (whether it be by his own design or not).
When Raven’s stepfather messes with the wrong family, he’s finally in over his head. Gideon Maddox calls for him to come pay his debt, but he’s unable to go and Raven goes in his place. She strikes up a deal with the bad boy who has a troubled past and magic that goes on for days. Terribly handsome, terrible lonely and terribly hopeless, Raven is just what Gideon needs to battle the demons of his past and the ones that reside in the halls of his mansion. Raven stays at the mansion with Gideon and his two in house servants and makes clothes for Gideon’s clothing line. Nightmares keep her awake and soon she really can’t rest until she’s figured out everything. Everything about the house and everything about the boy who isn’t as bad as everyone believes.

“You are everything I never knew I wanted” (ARC).

Okay, so that was a really bad over view of the novel. Nothing can really describe how amazing this book is. I mean its romance and mystery and self-discovery and heartbreak and meaning and finding meaning and friendship and family. That doesn’t really describe it any better though, does it? Let’s just go with its amazing. So, so amazing.
The characters are fantastic: Raven, Gideon, Ben, Maggie, Dane, Cole, Edgar. I love them all. Cole is the ghost who made me like ghosts. Something I’d never thought would happen, by the way. But he’s just so completely sweet. Maggie and Dane are the best friends that anyone could have. They sort of made me ask the question how far are you willing to go for the ones you love? As a matter of fact, this whole story made me ask that question. Well, that and where can I get a Cole or Gideon or Dane? Costco? Ikea?
The mystery with the whole curse really had me going for a bit, but the way it was composed was breathtaking and wonderful. I sat down and I read it all. That’s how good this was. Now, this isn’t a debut novel. That kind of surprised me. It felt fresh. But, since it isn’t a debut that means I can totally binge of the other books this author has written.
I suppose what I’m trying to say is this: go read or pre-order or order it right now.
Oh, one last thing. That nursery rhyme. Be still my heart. 

ARC Review: Nobody’s Goddess by Amy McNulty

Goodreads / Month9Books
Published April 21, 2015
ARC via Month9Books

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn’t in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her. 

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

I’m sorry. I really am. But, y’all, I just really, seriously don’t like the main character. At all. But, y’all that’s only one of the things about this book that don’t really float my boat. Oh yes. Did y’all know that I’ve never read a time travel book that I have liked? Never. Never ever ever. I didn’t know this was time travel. *le sigh* The writing and composition was really on point- don’t get me wrong. But the book as a whole just really wasn’t my cup of hot chocolate.
Okay. So in this futuristic society, women rule the men. If a man takes of his mask before his goddess returns his love he’s turned to dust. Poof. All gone. No one asks questions and they give thanks to the first goddess for mercy and kindness without a thought as to why. Except for Noll. In the beginning of the novel I was like thank the heavens above that someone in this town want to know ‘why’ but as the tale progressed I grew annoyed by her antics. In all honesty, I found her to be selfish. I wanted to shake her a say girl, you can ask questions without destroying people. Because that whole ruining things and messing things up and NOT USING THE BRAINS THE GOOD LORD GAVE HER were are particular talents of hers that made me want to stab her. Only a little though.
The love interest was- I thought-  was fairly obvious, but for spoiler reasons I’m just going to leave him out of the review. Not because I didn’t like him. I mean I liked him more than I liked Noll.
What did I like about this novel? I bet you think I’m going to say nothing. Well, you’d be wrong. I liked the whole ‘history repeats itself’ concept that was a pretty major theme in this novel. Yup, so there you have it.

So, no I can’t recommend this book. I think if you like time travel you’ll like it more than I did for sure. But I just found Noll to be rather unlikable. 
Do any of y’all fancy time travel novels?

Review: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Goodreads Book Profile 
Published: December 2014
ARC via Netgalley

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Of Beast and Beautywas good. Princess of Thorns was better.
From the author of the Beauty and the Beast retelling comes a jaw-dropping, girl power (ish?) and cross-dressing gift of a novel. The cross dressing? To save her bother and get men to see her as something other than to marry. The girl power? Because she’s stopping at nothing and proving that hells to the yes she’s just as strong as a man. Jaw dropping? Because they’re fighting and humanity and immortality and darkness and a guy who is not book boyfriend material but totally you need to be my best friend now right after I hit you with a frying pan for how you objectify women. You know what I mean? Who know I could actually like a guy who objectifies woman. If I ignore the objectify thing. (Don’t worry y’all. Our main girl totally shows him what’s up.) So what was this book about in my own words?
This book was about a quest to save the world, to find one’s self, and to maybe try real hard not to fall in love with a boy (who has a swan issue) who is intent on marrying her, although he doesn’t know that she is her. Confused yet? Overall, it’s about empowerment and hope and what it means to save a life. This Sleeping Beauty (Grimm version, of course) sequel follows the beauty’s daughter, Aurora. Her mother killed herself to grant Aurora her fairy gifts. Her gifts make her fierce, brave, strong and compassionate. It also has the unfortunate pattern of sending anyone she kisses into being completely and utterly under her control. This part of her gifts, Aurora hate. Set out to find her brother who’s been captured by the evil queen she runs into Prince Niklaas who becomes her side kick. A sexist, amusing, pig of a side kick. He’s also cursed to turn into a swan like his eleven brothers before him if he doesn’t marry. (YAY FOR FAIRY TALES)
Onto what I think. I adore the relationship that Niklaas and Ror have before he knows that she is, in fact, not male. They’re like two brother and friends and partners in crime and their conversations are some that I’m pretty sure that I’ve had with some of my friends before.  The characters are well formed. For example, Ror eats like a man and pretty much acts like one and only most of it is part of her disguise. She’ll do anything for the one’s she loves. She is capable of making mistakes and recognizing them and learning from them. I hate it when a character doesn’t acknowledge their mistakes. Makes me feel a bit stabby. She’s just so freaking noble.

I’ve already destroyed one strong, clever, beautiful boy. I won’t destroy another” (ARC).

And then some of the things that the princy dude says. . .

“ “And sometimes we’re the ones who do the breaking”, I say, cutting off her protest, “But that’s what searching for love is like. You keep pushing on, breaking and being broken, until you find the person you want to hold safe, the only one who knows how to keep you in one piece” “ (ARC).

I guess my main point in this is that this is a book worth reading. Keep your expectations even and wait till the last fight. The last fight is totally the most kick-ass.
Quick note. Any of y’all heard I Wanna Be Your Man by Endeverafter? It’s basically the Prince’s theme song through the majority of the novel. If not, the songs awesome. Go forth and listen. 

ARC Review: Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons

Dating Down by Stefanie Lyons
Goodreads / Amazon /  
Publsihed: April 8, 2015
Review Copy Via NetGalley + Publisher


When a good girl falls for a bad boy

She thought she loved him. She thought she could change him. She thought if she just believed in him enough, his cheating and his drugs and his lying would stop, and she’d be his and he’d be hers and they’d love each other forever.

But for Samantha Henderson, X-the boy she will not name-is trouble. He’s older, edgier, bohemian . . . and when he starts paying attention to Sam, she can’t resist him. Samantha’s family and friends try to warn her, but still she stays with him, risking her future and everything that really matters.

As moody and vivid as it is captivating, Dating Down is told in scenes and bursts of poetry that create a story filled with hurt, healing, and hope.

DNF at 38%

What I expected: I freaking love the whole lyrical writing style and poetry (oh lord I freaking love poetry) and romance. Especially romance that shouldn’t be or has something seriously messed up about it. I mean hello? Who doesn’t love the dramatic and messed up love? You? Oh, oops. Anyways, this book was written in the lyrical style so I expected flow and magic and a lovely story progression. I expected characters who jumped in and jumped out and who I was able to connect with. I expected a story line that I’d be able to sympathize with. I expected to be rooting and cheering and booing and throwing rotten tomatoes. You know, feeling emotions other than boredom. I also expected to know what the hell as going on.

What I got: No cohesion. I’ll just tell you now, I am a huge fan of cohesion. Like, ginormous. I really like knowing what’s going on. I like knowing the plot from the book and not just from reading the summary on the goodreads page. I like a story plot. I find them useful when trying to depict one scene from the other. I believe that most humans (as well as extraterrestrial beings) also find these two things really important. Too bad, I didn’t really find much of either in this beautifully covered novel. Here’s what I’m trying to say: I love poetry. Love, love, love it. But it didn’t really work in telling this particular story. It’s not like it was bad really. A story like this (as I soon figured out) needs to have a bit more structure that poetry allowed it to have. I also wasn’t able to form a connection with any of the characters.

The whole progression of the story I found to be really slow. Which was really frustrating because I had high hopes due to the fuh-reaking gorgeous cover and amazing summary. I had high expectations, maybe too high. Maybe I quit too soon. Did I? Someone please tell me if I did. Did I quite right before it was going to get amazing?

Anyways, this one wasn’t my cup of hot chocolate.

Can you believe it’s almost April? Holy crap, where did the school year go? And how have y’all’s lives been? Busy? 
Do you love poetry? Have any recs for me?

ARC Review: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Goodreads / Amazon
March 31, 2015
ARC via Bloomsbury

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for two years, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

This book is a cute, spring feeling romance novel with a story of overcoming disaster, fear and yourself. The Start of Me and You is a YA contemporary by Bloomsbury that deals with a common theme in young adult novels- the death of a family member, a friend, a loved one. This story is a tale of second chances, and in this book, they’re seriously in abundance. From love to friendship to promises to hope and to fear- there is second chances for them all. Unlike a bunch of novels in the genre, this one is set in the school year. Something I didn’t particularly think I would enjoy. 

The setting was the perfect set up for the entire story to take place. The school year brings real life situations that enhance the novel. Okay, so basically after her four-ish month boyfriend drowns all she sees in the faces of other people are pity, she has reoccurring nightmares of downing and now she doesn’t know how to live. Honestly and completely, she has forgotten how to live. Then, at a back to school event she meets a guy that gets it. Granted that it’s not the guy that I really want her to end up with, but that’s a whole different story. 

So, y’all, let’s have a chat about characters. Can I just say who ardently I admire Max? Because I do, I really love him. In all his gentle nerdiness and knowingness and he sounds sweet.  This was a story about self-growth in the loveliest way. He wasn’t quick to judge and he kept his promises. I think he was the main part of her self-growth. 

So who is the girl I have not named? Paige. And as much as she frustrated me with her list, I understood her reason for it and ohmigod her reasons are totally valid and heartbreaking. Her mom and dad, the boy she hardly knew and basically everything else. But her healing was magnificent. MWAHAHA. I mean, there was no kissing involved what so ever. *giggles like a schoolgirl* And her friends are the absolute bestest. There like this awesome Nutella and marshmallow sandwich with strawberries and raspberries. So basically pure awesome. 

My one complaint, and this is the reason for the 3.5 stars, is that I found this novel to be pretty predictable. It didn’t really have anything that seriously stunned me or left me breathless. And I like a bit of sunshine-in-my-eyes stun when it comes to books. This one, really, was vanilla with some hot fudge drizzled on top. Delicious, but average. Now I want ice cream. 

So, overall, this book was saccharine sweet and had the qualities we readers all know and love. But that’s the thing- we all know them. I’d have liked to have a wow moment. I enjoyed reading it and totally recommend it though. It’s a getting-to-know-yourself story that has a very spring-renewal-y feel. 

So, that cover. And I’m thinking about giving away my copy of this book. Tweet me or message me on FB if any of y’all are interested. 

Review: After the Rain by Renee Carlino

Goodreads Profile 
ARC via publisher in exchange for an honest review
Published November 11, 2014

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.

Under the bright arena lights of a rodeo show, young Avelina Belo falls for a handsome cowboy with a larger-than-life personality. After a whirlwind courtship, she happily moves away from her family in northern California and settles into married life with her cowboy on a seven-thousand-acre cattle ranch in Montana. One freak accident later, Avelina’s hopes for the future come to an end.

Nate Myers graduated from UCLA medical school at the top of his class, ready to follow in the footsteps of his father, a superstar cardiothoracic surgeon. Six years later, Nate’s career is being ruined by a malpractice suit. Questioning himself for the first time, he retreats to a Montana cattle ranch to visit his uncle and gain perspective. There, he meets a beautiful young woman named Avelina who teaches him more than he ever knew about matters of the heart.

So here’s a sort of kind of maybe confession that is not really a confession but more a statement of fact: I freaking adore sad books with heartbreak and make me feel something. Those are my favorite. Now, here’s a real confession. It’s something that has never happened to me in all my years of living: this book made me cry before the second chapter. Not just cry. Nope. It was full on body trembling sobs with snot and tissues and coughing and trying to breathe. Ava’s story is one of my worst nightmare and Carlino’s ability to capture the emotions of not only Ava, but everyone else around her as well, was captivating.
“After the Rain” began with love: heart stopping, all consuming, head over boots love. It was Ava and Jake along with the world and their horses in the Rodeo Circuit. God, I want a love like that. Before the accident, Jake worshipped the ground Ava walked on. He would do anything for her, go anywhere for her. After the accident, everything changed. The way it changed is what made me cry. Jake’s story end with suicide after a final goodbye/ I love you / apology.  Five years pass before Ava opens up her heart to emotions other than guilt and fear. Five years.
‘Everything reminds me of you’ has never meant so much.
I love that Nate had issues too. Is that sadistic. I love the letters. I love that Ava was broken and how her story sort of kind of mirrored that of her mother. I love all the minor characters.
So I bet you’re wondering what I didn’t like. Honestly, not much. I love that Ava began to see her late husband’s flaws. I didn’t like her overreaction in this one scene. Yup, that one scene. Overall, I felt like the story development was epic and the characters were scarred and selfish and scared but they still had the capacity for hope and they still liked the sunshine and warm water and horses. That’s what made them them.

They’re what made this contemporary novel worth reading. “Sweet Thing” has been on my shelf for a while. I think I’ll go read it.