Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Series of Mini Contemporary Reviews

I've never done mini-reviews for an ARC, but there's a first time for everything. I've gotten so behind on writing my reviews that it's all piled up and has created stress I don't need. So, for the sake of wanting to still talk about these books but not wanting to write up full reviews, I am going to do minis. And, to be honest, I just don't have much to say about these books. Not that they weren't good. Just not spectacular. 


*all of these eARCs were provided by the publishers via NetGalley*
*all of these, except for Chasing River, have been released*


The Truth About Jack
I wanted to read this book because the synopsis reminded me of Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, which is funnily enough the only novel of his I've actually ever finished and loved. And this book was cute enough, fluffy bordering on cheesy (way too much at times). The romance was sweet, though it felt pretty forced in the beginning. The start of their relationship felt a little unbelievable to me, and I wish the whole message-in-a-bottle part had been played out differently. But I liked that it showed how different the worlds the two MCs came from and how it did (and didn't) shape their characters. And that the two of them figured out what they wanted out of life and decided to go after their dreams.

RATING:
  


The Secrets We Keep
Twins have always fascinated me, and I love reading about them. I was intrigued by the idea of a girl taking over her sister’s life, though I felt the execution was lacking in this book. I didn’t necessarily believe Ella’s motivations behind it. And she never wholeheartedly tried to become her sister. We didn’t really see her trying to take over Maddy’s life that much, so it wasn’t that hard for people to figure it out (even if they didn’t want to believe it). But it was so awful that Ella really did believe friends and family loved Maddy more than her and would have been glad if they’d switched places. That low self-esteem was heartbreaking to see, especially with Ella in the midst of grieving for a sister she didn’t really know that well. I’m glad, so glad that she pulled herself through that awful mess and realized that people loved her for her. And that they would never ask for Ella to trade places with Maddy. This was a quick, pretty emotional read about one girl’s journey of moving on from her twin’s death.

RATING:


What Remains
*This is a pretty spoilery one!

An emotional, and sometimes heartbreaking, journey told all in one boy's POV. A guy who has two best friends but is ripped away from one of them forever. A boy who has to come to terms, not just with Lizzie's death, but with the beat of her heart in his chest. I found his journey to be full of growth and acceptance. But I have to say, I was a wee bit disappointed with the romance. I would have liked it if the author had explored Cal’s sexuality, and I felt that his friendship with Spencer had been left unresolved. I think it would have felt more genuine, to me, if it had become something more than what it seemed. Ultimately, I enjoyed this book though and would recommend to people who like emotionally tragic but healing stories.

RATING:


Trust the Focus
This is an NA book, and the first true M/M romance I've ever read. I liked Justin's POV, though sometimes it was hard to connect with him. Maybe it's because I don't have his issues, or maybe because I didn't care for how he treated Landon at times, but whatever the case he wasn't always an easy-to-like character. But I did enjoy the journey that he went on, and I could understand how hard it was for him to be proud of his identity and to accept it. I also kind of wish this had been in double POV. I was missing Landon's side, and I loved him as a character so it would have been nice to see what he was going through when his best friend since forever told him that he was gay and that he liked him. But overall, I didn't mind it so much being only in Justin's head, because I knew he had more of a journey to go through. And I was so glad that the romance started quickly, because it felt more realistic to the characters and their relationship. I think it was also meant that way so Justin could work through his identity crisis to accept who he is. And to accept that he was in love with Landon. Oh my, these two were so adorable! I loved their relationship with each other and how supportive and understanding Landon was toward Justin. It wasn't without its angst, but they had a wonderful foundation of friendship and love built up from there and made it much stronger.

I loved how this book didn't shy away from the emotions, and the realness of not knowing one's identity. The author captured Justin's combination of feelings so well, from fear of coming out to the elation of finally kissing his best friend for the first time. And, subsequently, back to the fear again when he realizes he has to let his mom know, who is campaigning for political office (and I can't remember her stance on the issue, but I *think* she was against gay marriage). I liked how everything turned out nicely, even with all of the problems and angst. It did feel a little unbelievable that it all came out perfect in the end, but I really enjoyed this story. And I will definitely be reading more of Megan Erickson's books. :)

RATING:
   


Chasing River
I’m not gonna lie, I am pretty disappointed with this book. It is, so far, my least favorite K.A. Tucker book. I did enjoy it, but I was not sold on the romance or the story as I usually am. I could not stand Amber. I don’t know what it was about her, but she rubbed me the wrong way. And it’s not that she’s not nice or anything. She’s actually really sweet; she’s pretty close-minded, but she’s grown to believe that not everything is black and white. That the world, and people, are not always what they seem. However, there were many things said in her inner dialogue that rubbed me the wrong way, and I ended up being indifferent toward her. But I LOVED River! Oh my gosh, he was such a fascinating character. He had personality, he had a background, he had a lot more characterization. He was just so darn adorable. And I loved his relationships with his family members, especially his little brother, Rowen (except for when he made a rape joke WHICH WAS NOT COOL OR FUNNY AND I REALLY DISLIKE HIM FOR THAT). I also loved the addition of Ivy; she’s such a cool person, and I cannot wait for her book! The romance was… okay. I didn’t have strong opinions on it, probably because of how much I didn’t care for Amber. And it was kind of sacrificed for the real problems happening in Ireland. I’m glad all of this was in the book, because I learned something new and it made the story-line different and unique. But it overpowered the characters’ development (except on River’s side), and the romance. I mean, I liked Chasing River, but it’s definitely not my favorite in this series.

RATING:
  

*****

Have you read any of these? What did you think of them?

7 comments:

  1. I agree with you about Ella's motivations in the secrets we keep. It felt selfish to me. But that book was SO emotional for me! lol

    I also enjoyed Trust the Focus! I wanted Landon's POV too but did enjoy the blog posts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It didn't really feel selfish to me, more like just her being really insecure? Like, she thought people would rather have Maddy instead of her, which is heartbreaking. But yeah, her motivations beside that were hard to understand. And she didn't really try hard AT ALL to step into her sister's life. It kind of felt unbelievable. This book was so emotional, though! I teared up a few times.

      WHAT BLOG POSTS WHAT LANDON POV WHERE IS IT TELL MEEEEEE. I need more Landon in my life!

      Delete
  2. YES to What Remains. YES YES YES, all the yesses. I wanted to say all that, but of course, spoilers, but come ON, that is totally the way it should have gone down. Gr, I am still mad, that would have been a 5 star for sure otherwise.

    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YOU UNDERSTAND MY WHAT REMAINS FEELS. YOU DO.

      Delete
  3. Great reviews, lady! I felt the same way about Trust the Focus - Justin wasn't always easy to like, but his journey was so moving. And the romance was very, very convincing. It was my first m/m romance, too. :)

    P.S. SO great finally meeting you! <3 <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly! It was all about his wonderful journey, so those moments of his GRRR actions didn't change anything for me. :)

      PS: I AM SO HAPPY WE GOT TO MEET!!! <3

      Delete
  4. Aww...I hope the next book in the Burying Water goes better for you! Now I'm even more curious about how Chasing River will go for me. I'll let you know how it goes.

    I'm glad you liked Trust the Focus! I'll be reading that one soon. :)

    ReplyDelete

Comments always make me smile. :) Seriously. Even if you comment on the post weeks or months later, it makes my day! So don't hesitate to leave your thoughts even if it's been a long time since the post was published. I'll try to reply to you, especially if you ask a question, but sometimes life happens. But I do read and appreciate every single one of them because I know how hard it can be to find the time or energy to comment. So a heartfelt THANK YOU for brightening my day when you do. <3