Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Double Review: Ten Tiny Breaths and One Tiny Lie

There are some books that take you to a place far away from reality, but once you're back, you don't really think about them that much. They were light, fluffy reads to give you something to laugh and smile about. And then there are books that make you think, keep your mind open, keep you guessing and using your intellect. Those mysteries and psychological thrillers that involve you only to the extent of your mind. And then there are those that involve your heart. They completely take you over and mess with your emotions, bringing tears to your eyes and hurt to your heart. They might even be those that you can connect with because of the experiences and events inside them. Those ones make you feel. They make you weep, with joy and with pain. They are more than just a book, more than just words on a page and fictional characters. They are real to you. And they are the ones that will always hold a special place in your heart.

Ten Tiny Breaths is one of those books that make you feel with your heartIt is heartbreaking, and real, and romantic. It is captivating, funny, and even painful. It is everything else, and so much more. It is one of those books that only comes around every so often, so you hold onto it, and savor those feelings and the reading experience you had with it. 

Rating: 5 Exquisite Stars

It's almost eerie how well I could relate and connect with the main character, Kacey. Our personalities could never be more different, how we deal with grief could never be more diverse. Kacey is loud, mean, and cold, while I'm quiet, contemplative, and slightly distant. But it is not her personality I felt a connection with; it's her choices. To cover her grief and smother it within the confines of a box in her heart. To build up walls to keep people out, to distance herself from others so she won't form connections and relationships. It's easier, isn't it? To not give a shit? The more you don't care, the more you won't get hurt. But the more you shut yourself out, the more you keep the real you locked up, the harder it is to recognize yourself. And the harder it is bring yourself out of it and move on. I should know; I've been through my share of tragedies. And that, coupled with my connection with Kacey, made this a truly different reading experience.

I once read this quote: "When you shut out pain, you shut out everything else too." And I find that it especially applies to Kacey's story, to her journey. She shut out everything after the accident. But when you shut out pain, when you shut out the grief, it only builds up. Threatens to tear down your carefully built walls and expose the deepest part of yourself. It's what happened to Kacey; until she realized what she was doing, how it wasn't just hurting her but hurting others, and that she needed help. Kacey's journey from beginning to end was beautiful to watch unfold. And I loved every single second of it.


Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.
Kacey Cleary went through an unimaginable tragedy when she was only 16. One stupid mistake, too many drinks, and careless individuals results in the deaths of six people. Among them, Kacey's parents, her boyfriend, and her best friend. How she was able to survive that, I have no clue. It took real strength to even move on from that. Except.. Kacey hasn't really moved on. She's only been pretending to be okay, is content for that grief and pain to stay locked up in that box in her heart. Until one man steps into her life and makes her face her past.

From the first moment he stepped onto the pages, I fell in love with Trent Emerson. And, I think, so did Kacey. Their chemistry was there from the moment they met, and I absolutely loved their playful, definitely flirty, and real dialogue. But Kacey was determined to keep him at a distance, because she can't handle relationships. She can't handle connections. She can't even handle shaking people's hands. She's spent so long running away from everything (metaphorically speaking) that she doesn't even recognize herself anymore. Her sister remembers the real Kacey, but Kacey only remembers the after-accident one. Her character was snarky, cold, and sometimes even downright cruel. But it didn't turn me off, because I understood why she was like that. That tragedy shaped her, molded her into this person that, once she starts opening up and letting people in, shames her. And with it, begins a journey that Kacey's not even sure she wants to be on. Because, with it, comes the pain and grief and rage. With it, comes everything she's worked so hard to put past her. And she doesn't know how to deal with all of these new emotions.

But she's got people in her corner. Her sister, Livie. Her neighbor Storm, and Storm's daughter, Mia. She's even got her new boss, Cain, and his trusty bouncers. Most notably, though, she has Trent. Her next-door neighbor with the hotness, charm, and most beautiful blue eyes she's ever seen. He pushes past her touch barriers (that scene at the club where she holds his hand broke my heart), breaks down her walls with a sledgehammer, and starts bringing out the real Kacey. Who wouldn't succumb to his charm and totally fall in love with him, this guy who could toss out dirty comments like no one's business and manage to toe the line between good guy and bad boy?
"Give me your heart, Kacey. I'll take everything that comes with it."
Talk about swoons! Oh, be still my beating heart! I loved how he never gave up on Kacey, how he let her set the pace and still managed to shake her will. However, he's not as perfect as he seems. 

Normally, I'd be so damn mad if I managed to guess the big mystery early on. You can't just put "even if means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both their worlds" in the synopsis and not expect me to guess! It's like dangling a friggin' treat in front of a dog's nose and expecting it be good and obey you (I don't even know if that metaphor works, but whatever. I'm going with it). I knew, early on, exactly what that secret was. However, it didn't lessen my enjoyment whatsoever and it didn't piss me off. When it came out, I was relieved. I was relieved that it was finally out in the open, though the implications of what it meant were not so easily known. 

The plot focused on Kacey's journey; her finding the strength to let go of the grief and rage, to move on and let herself heal. The last, like, fifty pages were some of the best out of the whole book. It brought a different side to Kacey, one who finally stops fighting everything and everyone. One who accepts her vulnerability and accepts the fact that people aren't perfect, that they make mistakes, even if those mistakes have irreparable consequences. And she finally understands what her mother was always trying to tell her: Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them. But most of all, she needed to learn how to forgive, because forgiveness sets us free. And now Kacey finally knows what it feels like to breathe again.

The secondary characters were all so brilliant, and I can't wait to read Livie's story, and Cain's and Ben's. They were an integral part of Kacey's journey, just as Trent was. I was a little sad that this was told in one POV, but ultimately, it was exactly as it should be. Also, I applaud the author for how she handled the sensitive subject of PTSD and drunk driving. It was so wonderfully written that I absolutely loved the ending result. :)

Everything about this book was pretty much perfection for me. I don't think I've ever had this kind of reading experience, one where I was so attuned with the story and so connected with the characters, especially Kacey. Ten Tiny Breaths was exquisite. It was my favorite type of story; grief and tragedy intertwined with love and healing.

P.S. Not to mention Kacey and Livie are from Grand Rapids, Michigan! I don't live far from GR. Ah, what are the odds? :)


***

*I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As you can see from my above review, I absolutely loved Ten Tiny Breaths! And ever since Livie stepped onto the pages of it, I've wanted to know her story. I've wanted to get inside her head. She's seemingly perfect; warm and kind and always looking out for others. She seems to have it all together, but as much as people try to be, they aren't perfect. And Livie had to let go of her preconceived notions of who she is and what she wants out of life to find out exactly where she belongs.

Rating: 4.5 Freeing Stars!

I've already said how much I can connect with Kacey, but I can also connect with Livie. I loved her POV and how she told the story. It was fresh, innocent, and fun. But it was also heartbreaking, heavy, and confusing. On the outside, Olivia Cleary is perfect. She's not afraid to talk about her parents, seemingly has overcome that grief, and is on her way to becoming a doctor in pediatrics (specifically, oncology). But it's Kacey, and Dr. Stayner, who notice that maybe she's holding onto her parents in a dangerous way. Not like Kacey's self-destructive nature, but in a way that is much more subtle and hard to detect. It's dangerous because Livie has spent so much time being perfect, that anything less sends her spiraling. And she's been hiding so much of herself away for fear of straying from this path she's on that it makes her question everything about her life.

Ashton makes her question everything about her life. I fell so hard for Ashton, maybe even harder than I fell for Trent. He's a womanizing, arrogant male with no regard for how he hurts people and who doesn't care what anybody thinks of him. But there is more to this guy than anyone knows. Ashton's story broke my heart, made me cry, and gave his character so much depth that I found myself absolutely loving his development. It was beautiful and heartbreaking; it was just so damn good. He was such a complex character. He was arrogant, cocky, and a cheater. But he was also caring, protective, and even sweet.
"I can't ever undo all of the mistakes that I made with you, all the lies I told, all the ways that I hurt you. But...can we please just somehow forget all of that and start over?"
It took a long time for the real Ashton to come through, but it was so believable. What he went through, what he's still going through is not something that a person can get over completely in a few days. And Livie never gave up on him, giving him whatever he needed, because she understood. He was flawed, and she got that.

The relationship between these two was so wonderfully written; their chemistry so strong and so passionate. It was amazing to see how it unfolded. From their drunken first kiss to the on-and-off romance, I loved watching it develop (even if I disliked it at times). But their bond was so deep. 
"How can I help?" -Livie
"Make me forget." -Ashton
The way these two interacted, from their teasing to their passionate exchanges, I was captivated. That scene in the bathroom after Livie hurt her ankle was one of the best scenes I've ever read, in any book. It was simply exquisite. It showed that they are flawed individuals who feel with their entire beings. It showed the depth of their relationship. It was subtly romantic. They gave each other what they needed. They understood each other in way that no one else could. God, I loved it.

BUT. It was hard to like sometimes, because of certain circumstances. I'm not a fan of cheating, in any sense of the word. I really wish Livie had done things differently, but I found myself not caring that much. This wasn't about cheating or just wanting to give into the passion you feel for someone else. This was about Livie and Ashton. This was about a girl who never explored who she really was and who never let herself feel or think or do anything that would challenge that perfection. This was about her making mistakes and trying new things and letting herself just... live. This was about a guy who shut everyone out to make his life easier and who was going to accept that he'd never be free. But Livie became his freedom, his Irish girl. She became the catalyst that would help him decide to break free of his father and just be himself.

These two characters were so complex, and I loved their development. The emotions were intense, the level of depth shown brilliant. One Tiny Lie was a truly wonderful and beautiful read.  

What more can I say that I haven't already? This series is truly one of the best I've ever read. The characterizations, the plot, the actual story, the emotions, the depth of feeling, the incredible writing. I love everything about these two books. And I seriously can't wait for the rest and more of K.A. Tucker. <3

5 comments:

  1. This series is on my TBR with any luck I'll get to them this year. :P Great reviews!

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  2. This two books were really-really cute but meaningful reads, like you I could relate to Kacey even if we have completely different personalities, I could guess the twist too pretty soon but it was still shocking seeing it from Kacey POV.
    Livie and Ashton were an amazingly perfect couple, I loved them to the moon and more even if Livie's personality bugged me sometimes, I don't like people who pretend to be perfect even when they look into the mirror, I can see why she did it but it was just so far away from my way of thinking that I couldn't accept it.
    Loved your review, by the way. :)
    http://www.reading-is-dreaming-with-open-eyes.blogspot.hu

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    Replies
    1. Isn't always so much better when you can relate to the main characters? Yeah, it was hard to accept Livie's choices. But, in my way of thinking, she was trying to find herself. Trying to let go of her perfect facade and just live her life. She made mistakes, but she found her way. I loved her development as a character. It was so genuinely real. :)

      Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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