Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

29th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Jess, Series Review

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatCaptive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 270
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.

Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…

I was beyond grateful and excited when I recived this series in the mail from Berkley publishers. I’d heard so many people just losing their minds over it. So I was ready to join in the fun. :)

Captive Prince started out really strong for me. I was instantly intrigued by this Prince (Damen) who was being carted away as a slave and being delivered into the hands of another Prince (Laurent). These guys aren’t friends, btw. Damen killed Laurent’s brother, so he’s always been out for his head, but when they finally come face to face with Damen as a slave, Laurent doesn’t know that he’s looking at his brother’s killer. Or does he?! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

I was warned that this series would be “pretty dark with some serious sexual slavery portrayals” and it was! And I think a lot of the reason why this book is my lowest rated in the series is because I felt too much time was focused on showing us how bad it was for slaves in Laurent’s kingdom when what I really wanted was just a lot of Damen and Laurent period. But I get that why it was set up this way.

Also, expect nothing to happen between these two. Settle in for the long haul. They have a lot of crap between them before anything romantic or physical can happen between the two of them.

I was worried that since I didn’t love this book I wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the series, so I continued on with tamped down enthusiasm….

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatPrince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #2
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: July 7th 2015
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3 Stars

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Prince’s Gambit takes us out of the castle and into the lands and already I liked it so much better! For one, the Damen and Laurent pagetime increased, so YAY! Secondly, with their countries about to go to war, there’s so much scheming and stratergizing that goes on and I really loved that. It made it exciting again.

Something more was building between Damen and Laurent and tension started to get delicious. Will they, won’t they, WHEN, DAMMIT!! All I’ll say is, settle in for the long haul with these two, because the payoff will be worth it.

There’s also the question of will Damen reveal his identity to Laurent. It feels he’s on the cusp of it throughout the book and you won’t get an answer to that until the end either.

There’s this EPIC battle scene near the end that left me saying “whoa” and after it’s over EVERYTHING IS REVEALED! That was a scene I was so looking forward to and it left me so surprised. Definitly not what I was expecting, but in a good way.

Overall the second book made me excited to continue reading. It took away my worries that I wouldn’t enjoy the series after all.

 

Series Review: Captive Prince by C.S. PacatKings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #3
Published by Berkley
Pub Date: February 2nd 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult, Historical, LGBT, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity - can it stand against the Regent's final, deadly play for the throne?

I was a little nervous going in because I didn’t know how Damen and Laurent’s dynamic would be affected by everything being out in the open and oooooh, was it ever affected. But the best part is that even though they were at odds, they still had to work SO CLOSELY together in this one to get their countries in order and out of the hands of usurpers.

I loved that we got to see Laurent in situations where his true self could finally shine. Before this book he’d kept himself really private but I knew there was so much more to him and we finally got to see it. Damen on the other hand was always pretty much an open book throughout the series, aside from the hiding his identity thing. He never wavered, while Laurent wasn’t a sure thing. I always felt he was very cunning and would somehow betray Damen in the end. But I worried for nothing. These guys are loyal!

The ending was really gratifying and when I closed the book I was happy I’d read it and stuck with it. It’s been a very long while since I’ve binged a series like that.

gwtw-separate-line

Some general thoughts on the series as a whole that I wanted to mention:

So much of the story is Damen and Laurent and their quest to take back their kingdoms… I didn’t feel like we got a good sense of what the people of thier land are like. I often wondered why it was that being love slaves was such a high regarded position, or why slavery exsisted at all. It was never really explained. And why mostly men? And why young men? There’s hardly any women in this series, and the ones we do meet aren’t that great.

Obviously none of these things affacted my overall feelings but they are thoughts I had that I wanted to share with you all.

Series Rating: 3.5 Stars

 

Have you guys read this series? Is it one you’ll be reading soon? Let me know in the comments!

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Morgan Loves the WWE

28th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Morgan Loves the WWE

I’ve wanted to explain to you all for awhile why I love WWE so much (I’m catching up on the Ten Reasons I Love X prompt!). I never thought I’d be someone who likes wrestling and it was barely on my radar until 3 years ago. I’d read while my husband watched but I started peeking at the screen and got wrapped up in the spectacle. Before I knew it, I was asking Chris to show me his favorite childhood matches and now I watch WWE almost every day! Also I’m really trying to lure you in with the first point on my list ;) Without further ado, here are the Top Ten Reasons I Love The WWE.

  1. Real life YA fairytale romance

The story of Stephanie McMahon and Triple H is like a YA rom com come to life. Steph’s father Vince is the owner of WWE and she herself is a fourth generation wrestling promoter. Like her brother Shane, she started working for the company behind the scenes at an early age doing reception work, television production, and creative work.

This is where she met Paul Levesque aka Triple H, one of the rising stars of WWE at the time. She had a huge crush on him but her father forbade her from dating any wrestlers; Vince didn’t want to cause locker room problems or get his daughter’s heart broken and Triple H was dating someone else at the time, which led to a messy love triangle. But then in 1999 she was put into tv storylines which led to an onscreen storyline marriage with Triple H a year later…. which then blossomed into real life romance! They began secretly dating in 2000- fake dating for the win!!!!!! When it finally came out, her mother Linda was supportive but Vince was pissed and the locker room was mad because they thought Triple H was getting special treatment (he wasn’t, presumably. He was just that damn good.). I learned most of this from Triple H’s fantastic documentary Thy Kingdom Come.

Longer story short, they got “married”, “divorced”, “back together”, etc all on tv (oh the drama)… there was backstabbing and family drama for their characters, all while getting married in real life in 2003. They’ve been married for 13 years now and have 3 daughters and are truly the power couple of the WWE.

Triple H is a 14 time champion, creator of NXT, and the Executive VP of Talent, Live Events, and Creative. He’s always had a deep passion for the business side of pro wrestling, which is one reason he and Vince got on so well to begin with. Stephanie is the Chief Brand Officer, a former Women’s Champion, and they both still appear on tv in storylines and wrestle occasionally as part of the villainous Authority. They’ve still got it ;)

I LOOOOOOVE everything about their real and “WWE” relationship! And I ship them SO hard, especially when you watch older shows. You can tell how in love they are and how much everyone respects their business sense (even if people don’t always like them). As Stephanie’s twitter bio says, “I play a bad guy on tv.” There are quite a few wrestling couples (which makes sense with the lifestyle and all the travel), but Steph and Triple H are the original power couple and the ultimate YA love story come to life.

  1. It’s entertaining

“Wrestling is fake.”

I’ll be the first person to tell you, wrestling fans know that WWE is scripted. And we don’t care. That’s different from fake by the way ;) Do you know what else is choreographed and scripted? Movie fight scenes. Broadway dance numbers. Reality tv. It’s no different from any of those. Just because the outcome is predetermined doesn’t mean the action is fake. These athletes train 24/7 to stay in the best shape and to continually learn the business of wrestling. They go through continuous athletic training, public speaking, and acting classes; they hone their craft in a myriad of ways and put their bodies through so much.

The best rivalries have amazing chemistry- you have to trust the other person implicitly because these manuevers ARE dangerous. They have to be executed perfectly; many wrestlers have gotten concussions, broken bones, and torn ACLs. It’s like a dance. You want to feel the intensity and emotion, and you can tell when two wrestlers don’t have chemistry. 

  1. Year round sport

Monday Night RAW, the flagship 3 hour live show on USA Network, is actually the longest running television program in history– it’s been live on air once a week for over 30 years! There is also SmackDown on Tuesday nights, non-televised shows all over the country and world every week, and pay-per-view specials once a month. There’s no off season in wrestling! It’s all week long, 52 weeks a year, which is pretty awesome especially in the summer when I’m waiting for basketball and football to start again.

  1. Holy s*** athletic moments

I’ve watched these men and women do some truly spectacular stunts, for lack of a better word. The beauty of their movements is really cool to watch; the best wrestlers are fluid, moving from move to move, corner to corner. Locking up, beating down, jumping off and twisting like divers. Sometimes you see a move that puts all of their athletic talent in sharp focus and it takes your breath away. And that’s besides all the surprise RKOs, Rock Bottoms, and Super Kicks.

  1. Figuring out storylines

It appeals to the nerd in me and my puzzle solving/clue gathering brain. Sometimes things go off script, and there are surprises. That’s what makes it so much fun! It’s sports ENTERTAINMENT. There are good guys (babyfaces) and bad guys (heels), and people can turn at any time. It’s FUN to try and guess what will happen next, based on your knowledge of the athletes, their rivalries, patterns in the past, gossip in the news, what would be the most exciting/crazy/awesome outcome. I’ve gotten very good at predicting over the past 3 years ;) And storylines come into play because sometimes athletes do need a break (see Year Round Sport). Sometimes they are genuinely injured, sometimes they’re written out of the story, and then comes the anticipation of when they’ll come back!

possibly the greatest storyline since I’ve started watching. This promo video encapsulates the WWE perfectly and the match 2 years ago was amazing!! I’m really sad Daniel Bryan had to retire this year for medical reasons :(

  1. There’s something for everyone

recognize anyone in this picture? :)

“WWE combines all these different genres [action, romance, comedy]… and culminates in live action.”

Do you like reality tv drama? There is LOTS of drama. Do you like sports? These are some of the best athletes in the world: former Olympic champions, NFL stars, models, dancers, soccer players, body builders, national champion college wrestlers. Do you like humor and biting wit? You’ll hear some of the smartest, sickest burns and in-ring promos. I guarantee you, you can find something to like about the WWE even if you don’t think you like wrestling (which is what I used to think!).

  1. Diversity

The roster is wonderfully diverse is a multitude of ways, including type of character and personality, as well as physically. Some superstars are quiet and intense, others are boisterous and funny, or serious, or goofy, or flashy, on and on and on. Some have cutting wit, others rely on their in-ring skills. One of my favorites has a PhD in biology and a YouTube gaming channel! It takes a lot to make it to the main roster and stand out, and there is a potential favorite for everyone here.

  1. Women’s Division/Total Divas

Maybe my favorite part of the WWE is the women’s division. I started really watching right when Total Divas began airing and it got me so invested! These women were so much more than I expected and it was a great introduction to their lives and wrestling careers. I loved the Bella Twins and Paige, and the new crop of talent is extraordinary.

The #DivasRevolution last year kickstarted this amazing movement: we’re getting more matches, longer matches, more storylines, and some of the best female superstars since the late 90s. Bayley and Sasha Banks put on a 30 minute Iron Woman match and headlined an NXT pay per view, which had never been done before. And as of April this year, it’s no longer the Divas Title: it’s the Women’s Title, which is so cool. It won’t be long before they’re headlining the biggest event of the year: Wrestlemania.

  1. WWE Network

The WWE Network, which launched in 2014, is possibly the greatest thing ever for old and new fans alike. It’s basically wrestling Netflix, a streaming service that encompasses every single pay per view special in addition to original programming. There are prank shows, interviews, podcast specials, Total Divas reruns (which airs on E! Network), and Breaking Ground, which is a behind the scenes look at their training division NXT.

You can search by year, by event (Wrestlemania, Money in the Bank, etc), or by favorite wrestler. If you love The Rock as an actor or a person (his Instagram is hilarious and inspiring), WAIT til you see him in a WWE ring. I didn’t get to see The Rock in his prime but I’ve seen allllllll his greatest moments by now and there are a lot! It’s really awesome to be able to catch up on the Attitude Era and other things I’ve missed.

  1. Giving back to the community/fan interaction

WWE really encourages their employees and talent to give back to the community in a number of ways. They participate in anti-bully rallies at schools, reading events, hospital visits, leadership conferences, etc. I actually got to work on the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge and We Give Books events! And John Cena has granted over 500 Make A Wishes, more than double of any other celebrity. They meet with fans before shows, take selfies, and interact on twitter and IG. They’re always connected to the WWE Universe, as the fans are called, and it’s really cool. It makes them seem approachable.

Bonus fact: Abraham Lincoln was a skilled wrestler and trash talker, going 300-1 in his pre-presidential career. He’s even enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame!

Thanks so much for checking out my post! Have you ever been surprised by a hobby you didn’t expect to like? What appeals to you most about WWE? Let me know!

 

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

27th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten WhiteAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Series: The Conquerors Saga #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Pub Date: June 28th 2016
Pages: 496
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, LGBT, Retelling, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4.5 Stars

NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL. 

And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.

Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.

But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.

From New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White comes the first book in a dark, sweeping new series in which heads will roll, bodies will be impaled . . . and hearts will be broken.

And I Darken was incredible. I thought this was amazing alternate history because it felt SO real. Kiersten White took details of real countries, people, religions, and politics and twisted them just so. And the characters! Oh my god. From the opening pages, you are painted a very stark picture of brutal Lada and her scared little brother Radu. They ensnared me immediately. But as with any good story there are layers and twists in every relationship. It’s all so complicated in the best way, sometimes loving and sometimes toxic. 

The story is definitely slower paced but not boring; this is a long haul kind of story and we’re setting the scene. The political machinations, the attention paid to religion, and the moral grayness of characters, the sometimes Machiavellian attitudes, really do bring A Game of Thrones to mind. Every action has a reaction. I also loved the diversity in every aspect, from culture (Turkish/Wallachian/Ottoman/etc) to religion (I learned a lot about Islam!) to sexuality (an unexpected but very welcome surprise). Everything was woven into the story seamlessly. I can’t say enough about the writing, I thought it was wonderful. White really knows how to weave a complicated web.

There are also some excellent kisses, a few ships, and some complicated romances, though not in the ways you might expect (no spoilers here!). It was also interesting to watch how Lada and Radu’s characters shifted over time, learning to soften and strengthen in turn.

The book faltered slightly in the middle just because it is a looong book and it can’t keep up the pacing the whole time. And it some ways I expected plots that happened later in Lada/Vlad’s life. But where the story leaves you is perfect and I can’t wait to follow Lada, Radu, and Mehmed to see how their lives intertwine; loyalty (to family, to yourself, to your country) are big themes throughout. If you love historical fiction, and a lot of political cleverness mixed with action, violence, and romance in a non-Western setting, you should read And I Darken.

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

24th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Bitsy Words: A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon ThomasA Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas
Series: A Wicked Thing #1
Published by HarperTeen
Pub Date: February 24th 2015
Pages: 337
Format: Hardcover | Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
3.5 Stars

Rhiannon Thomas's dazzling debut novel is a spellbinding reimagining of Sleeping Beauty and what happens after happily ever after.

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairy tale.

Her family is long dead. Her "true love" is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. 

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her. With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

Rhiannon Thomas weaves together vivid scenes of action, romance, and gorgeous gowns to reveal a richly imagined world … and Sleeping Beauty as she’s never been seen before.

I enjoyed A Wicked Thing a lot! It was the perfect fairy tale feel that I’m always looking for and I loved the twist, thinking about what would happen to Sleeping Beauty when she woke up. It was well done and felt believable. I really liked the setting at the castle, and the snippets of history, as well as watching Aurora come to terms with her predicament. I loved Aurora as a character but I didn’t feel very connected to anyone else. Rodric is sweet but bland, the king is cliche, and I’m verrrry interested in Finnegan but he was almost too smooth. Banter is always a plus, though. I also wish more happened but it did get exciting in the second half. I can’t wait to read the sequel! Overall, I loved the detailed setting, Aurora’s love of books, and the language; I just wanted more connection to the characters (aside from Aurora, who I thought was fleshed out nicely). If you enjoy fairy tale retellings, it’s worth a shot!

 

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Just a Girl by Ellie Cahill

22nd Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Just a Girl by Ellie CahillJust a Girl by Ellie Cahill
Published by Loveswept
Pub Date: June 21st 2016
Pages: 277
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2 Stars

After getting kicked out of her own band—by her own boyfriend—Presley Mason finds herself back in Wisconsin, helping her parents run their renowned music store. Instead of belting out powerhouse vocals to sold-out crowds in L.A., she’s stocking shelves and inspecting rental violins. But the shop isn’t all bad: When she’s vacuuming up late one night, she bumps into the guitar teacher with the smoldering amber eyes and the killer tattoo. And that’s when things take an interesting turn.
 
Presley soon finds that Paul Kellerman is as good in bed as he is on guitar. So why isn’t he stoked to share his band, Jukebox Bleu, with her? Turns out Paul has crippling stage fright, which he’s been self-medicating without much success. But when Jukebox Bleu’s lead singer gets called for military service, the other members beg Presley to front them. Even though she swore never to mix men with music again, the temptation to perform is almost as intense as her chemistry with Paul. Now Presley must decide what’s more important: a second chance at love . . . or rock stardom.

Just a Girl is the story of 21 year old Presley who’s entire life is worked around music. Her parents own a very popular music store in Wisconsin and that’s allowed her to meet some of the greatest musicians. For the past couple of years, she has been living in Los Angeles and is the lead singer of a successful band she started along with her boyfriend. Presley finds herself having to move back home to Wisconsin after her boyfriend and band-mates kick her out of the band.

Presley is less than thrilled to be back in Wisconsin, but while working in her parent’s music store she meets Paul who also happens to be in a band of his own, Jukebox Bleu. Life happens and Jukebox Bleu is suddenly in need of a lead singer. You’d think Presley would be perfect for the gig, but history has her dead set on not dating a band member ever again.

The Good:

Music was the central theme for this entire story and it was easily my favorite part of Just a Girl. Ellie Cahill seems to have definitely done her homework and it gave a very realistic feel to her story. The way the music store was described made me want to take a trip to Wisconsin for one of their late night private concerts! Imagine being in a room with some of music’s legends while they play live and intimate performances just for fun! I also really liked the idea of different playlists of popular songs that would correspond with the different chapters. It was something different and really added to the story.

The Bad:

Unfortunately, the music theme is the only thing I really enjoyed. The conflicts were too over dramatized and parts of the story seemed to drag while others were rushed. Most importantly, I could not bring myself to care for any of these characters. Presley came off as dramatic in general, cold towards Paul, and rude to authority (police – which is a pet peeve of mine). I also didn’t understand her relationship with her parents. They had a very “hippie” parenting style that I found puzzling, specifically her mom. I’m all for having open communication, but her mom would ask her things like “Is paul good?” and at some point even told Presley about how good her dad was with his fingers. Umm, wtf?!

Sadly, Just a Girl didn’t seem to be the book for me, but I plan to give Ellie Cahill another shot since I’ve heard good things about Call me, Maybe. Check out Jess’s review of it here!

 

About Ellie Cahill

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat.

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

21st Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Top Ten Tuesday

 

Favorite Reads

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase – Review coming in August!
Fly With Me (Wild Aces #1) by Chanel Cleeton – Review
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3) by C.S. Pacat – Series Review coming soon!
Listen To Me (Fusion #1) by Kristen Proby – Review

 

Favorite Audiobooks

The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski, Justine Eyre (Narrator)
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin, Tom Phelan (Narrator) – Review
Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter, Mariska Hargitay (Narrator)
Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach, Francisco Pryor Garat (Narrator) – Review

 

Not So Favorite

Since I didn’t have ten great reads, I wanted to include the two that didn’t work for me just to have ten books listed. Haha I’m weird like that.

Stone Cold Cowboy (Montana Men #4) by Jennifer Ryan, Coleen Marlo (Narrator) – The narrator for this audiobook was so over the place. I couldn’t listen to much of it.

Finding Fraser by K.C. Dyer – I had such high hopes for this Outlander-centered story but I could not get into the story at all. And it made me really sad. :(

 

What have been some of your favorite 2016 books so far this year? Did any of mine make your list too?

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

20th Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: Unbreak My Heart by Nicole JacquelynUnbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn
Series: Unbreak My Heart #1
Published by Forever
Pub Date: June 7th 2016
Pages: 368
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

What do you do when your soul mate marries your best friend?

If you're Kate Evans, you keep your friend Rachel, bond with her kids, and bury your feelings for her husband. The fact that Shane's in the military and away for long periods helps-but when tragedy strikes, everything changes.

After Rachel, pregnant with her fourth child, dies in a car accident and the baby miraculously survives, Kate upends her entire life to share parenting duties. Then on the first anniversary of Rachel's death, Kate and Shane take comfort in each other in a night that they both soon regret.

Shane's been angry for a year, and now he feels guilty too - for sleeping with his wife's best friend and liking it . . . liking her. Kate's ability to read him like a book may have once sent Shane running, but their lives are forever entwined and they are growing closer.

Now with Shane deployed for seven months, Kate is on her own and struggling with being a single parent. Shane is loving and supportive from thousands of miles away, but his homecoming brings a betrayal Kate never saw coming. So Kate's only choice is to fight for the future she deserves - with or without Shane. . .

Shane and Kate have known each other since they were teenagers and she’s been mad crushing since. He, on the other hand, has never seen Kate in that way and has actually allowed her feelings to push him away. Over the years, they’ve gone from being best friends to barely on speaking terms. With Shane being on active duty in the military, he can really use all the help he can get to try and give his kids a sense of normalcy after having lost their mother. Kate and the kids have grown a special bond over the years and nobody is better qualified for the job than her. But with so much tension and mixed emotions, what could possibly go wrong?

I absolutely loved Kate’s character! Sure, I wanted to hit her upside the head with her own book at times, but she just has a heart of gold and I couldn’t hate her for that. I loved seeing how much she cared for those little ones and how much they loved her back. I’m the only girl out of my siblings who doesn’t have children of her own and I could really relate to her on the “aunt Kate” moments. I, too, am a proud member of the “spare car seat” club! With such a selfless attitude and the constant ability to want to please others, she’s easily a character that you’ll really find yourself rooting for.

However, Kate was only one half of the couple. The other half was Shane, and oh boy did he work my nerve! Going into this book I expected him to be a broken man who’s lost his wife at the age of 29 and is surprised by his sudden feelings for her best friend. I really wish the book summary had at least mildly prepared me for the virtual reality slap heading my way! I can’t think of the last villain I hated as much as I did Shane and the problem is he’s meant to be the male protagonist of this story! He was just so entitled and such an asshole that I just knew early on he would not be my cup of tea. There was no redeeming him in my eyes and I badly wanted a a random love interest, someone who was worthy of Kate, to come barging in and sweep her off her feet.

The supporting characters were incredible! I loved the feeling of a tight, dysfunctional, but tight family. This was a blended family that really worked and their closeness felt very realistic. As I was reading Unbreak My Heart I found myself wanting to get more of their stories. Needless to say, I was over the moon when I realized the second book in this duology, Change of Heart, would be based on Anita and Bram!

As for the writing, I wish the author had done a better job at transitioning between the chapters. One chapter would end in a heated argument and the next would pick up with birds chirping like nothing had ever happened and that was extremely frustrating. I was still angry with Shane for jerk move #24 and I expected Kate to also be enraged. It took me a while to realize that although only mere seconds had passed for me between the ending of one chapter and the beginning of the next, Kate had had a few days to cool off.

Nicole Jacquelyn‘s way of describing the heart wrenching moments was something really special! I love a book that makes me feel and this book really did that. I found myself crying, cursing, laughing, and angrily hitting my kindle to read the next page. (True story! lol) The only reason I couldn’t love this book more is Shane, but I look forward to checking out other books by Jacquelyn in the future!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti

17th Jun 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah BiancottiZeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti
Series: Zeroes #1
Published by Simon Pulse
Pub Date: September 29th 2015
Pages: 546
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads
4 Stars

Don’t call them heroes.

But these six Californian teens have powers that set them apart. They can do stuff ordinary people can’t.

Take Ethan, a.k.a. Scam. He’s got a voice inside him that’ll say whatever you want to hear, whether it’s true or not. Which is handy, except when it isn’t—like when the voice starts gabbing in the middle of a bank robbery. The only people who can help are the other Zeroes, who aren’t exactly best friends these days.

Enter Nate, a.k.a. Bellwether, the group’s “glorious leader.” After Scam’s SOS, he pulls the scattered Zeroes back together. But when the rescue blows up in their faces, the Zeroes find themselves propelled into whirlwind encounters with ever more dangerous criminals. And at the heart of the chaos they find Kelsie, who can take a crowd in the palm of her hand and tame it or let it loose as she pleases.

Six Californian teens have powers like super heroes only not, which is why they call themselves The Zeroes. Their quirky dysfunctional group consists of:

Ethan (a.k.a. Scam) whose power affectionately is known as “The Voice”, can scam Ethan out of any situation, or into the arms of any girl. The Voice knows things about people even they don’t know.

Kelsie (a.k.a. Mob) has the ability to project her feelings into a crowd, so when she is happy and upbeat, so is everyone around her, but when she is sad or angry…so is everyone around her.

Riley (a.k.a. Flicker) is blind, as in she can not see, with her own eyes that is. Flicker has the ability to use the eyes of those around her to navigate through her surroundings.

Chizara (a.k.a. Crash) has the ability to shut down any electronic device in her general vicinity including cell phone towers, medical equipment and cars that heavily rely on electronics to operate.

Nate (a.k.a. Bellwether) has the ability to bend the will of individual people as well as groups of people and crowds, he is also the groups leader.

Thibault (a.k.a. Anonymous) Thibault’s ability is to remain unmemorable to everyone he meets. You could see him walk into your house and rob you but moments later you’ll have forgotten he existed.

After a year of not speaking, the Zeroes are thrust back together when Scam’s Voice gets him into some big trouble with some major mobsters; he accidentally stole a duffel bag full of money. Once Scam discovers the money, he decides the only way to hide it is to deposit it into the bank. Wouldn’t you know it, the bank gets robbed while Scam is waiting his turn in line flirting with a girl. Since someone triggered the silent alarm and the bank vault wasn’t unlocked as planned, the bank robbers decide to start taking money and jewelry from the hostages. Just before a robber tries to look into Scam’s bag, Scam unleashes The Voice on him and turns all the robbers against each other ending the robbery with gunshots and a dead robber. This is only the beginning of Scams troubles as he is hauled down to the police station for questioning. The story plays out as expected, the Zeroes come up with a plan and they begin to execute it but mobsters and police detectives keep getting in the way.

Told from 6 POV’s, I was pretty confused at the beginning of the book, especially because each chapter is named for it’s characters code name. For example: the first three chapters are called Scam then the fourth is called Mob. It doesn’t become clear until later that Scam and Mob are characters in the story.

I enjoyed this book for several reasons but I really like the zero vs hero storyline, it was different. The group has the ability to help people, they just lack the knowledge to make it happen without hurting themselves or others. Though I gave the book 4 stars, I did think it was unnecessarily long. I would have enjoyed reading more about characters individually. I’m not sure if this is a stand alone or not but it could definitely be made into a series and I would probably read the next installment.

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Thursday Tracks: True Sadness

16th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Thursday Tracks

GUYS! This weekend I’m going to see The Avett Brothers in Dallas with my main squeeze, who has never listened to their music by the way. I’m so very excited about him seeing them live, even if the temperatures are going to reach 99 degrees, y’all! That means that it’ll feel more than 100 degrees at a certain point in the day! WHOA.

So anyway, The Avett Brothers’s TRUE SADNESS album will be released June 24th, but we’ve gotten four songs from it already, and this track is one of them. They’re all great so far, btw. SO GOOD! As always.

One thing to always take note of with their songs is the lyrics. Their songs always have such raw honesty to them:

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness

And then it has this other part about not objectifying women that just made me tear up a little:

Angela became a target
As soon as her beauty was seen
By young men who try to reduce her down
To a scene on an X rated screen
Is she not more than the curve of her hips?
Is she not more than the shine on her lips?
Does she not dream to sing and to live and to dance down her own path
Without being torn apart?
Does she not have a heart?

Take a listen and tell me what you think!

You were a friend to me when my wheels were off the track
I know you say there is no need, but I intend to pay you back
When my mind was turning loose and all my thoughts were turning black
You shined a light on me and I intend to pay you back

When I was a child, I depended on a bottle
Full-grown I’ve been known to lean on a bottle
But you’re the real deal in a world of imposters
And I’ve seen the program make men out of monsters

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness

Adam and Eve must have really done a number
On that garden when the apple was finished
Leaving behind them a den made of sadness
A damage that can’t or won’t be replenished

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness

Angela became a target
As soon as her beauty was seen
By young men who try to reduce her down
To a scene on an X rated screen

Is she not more than the curve of her hips?
Is she not more than the shine on her lips?
Does she not dream to sing and to live and to dance down her own path
Without being torn apart?
Does she not have a heart?

I cannot go on with this evil inside me
I step out my front door and I feel it surround me
Just know the kingdom of God is within you
Even though the battle is bound to continue

‘Cause I still wake up shaken by dreams
And I hate to say it but the way it seems
Is that no one is fine
Take the time to peel a few layers and you will find
True sadness
True sadness
True true sadness

THURSDAY TRACKS Spotify Playlist

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski

15th Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: The Moment of Letting Go by J.A. RedmerskiThe Moment of Letting Go by J.A. Redmerski
Published by Forever
Pub Date: August 11th 2015
Pages: 432
Format: eBook | Source: Gifted
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Buy the book! | Goodreads
2.5 Stars

Sienna Murphy never does anything without a plan. And so far her plans have been working. Right after college, she got a prestigious job and gained the stability she'd always craved-until work takes her to the sun-drenched shores of Oahu and places her in the path of sexy surfer Luke Everett. For the first time, she lets her heart take control. Drawn to his carefree charm, she makes a spontaneous and very un-Sienna-like decision to drop everything and stay in Hawaii for two more weeks.

Luke lives fast and wild. When he meets Sienna, he's convinced that some no-strings-attached fun is just what she needs. As their nights quickly turn from playful to passionate, Luke can't deny the deep connection he feels. But there's a reason Luke doesn't do long-term. He can't promise Sienna forever, when the enormity of his past has shown him just how fragile the future can be . . .

This story is told from the alternating POVs of Sienna, a 22 yr old successful event coordinator from California, and Luke, a 24 year old surfer/thrill seeker living in Hawaii. The two meet while Sienna is working a wedding in Oahu, Hawaii! I’ve been wanting to travel to Hawaii for what seems like forever now so I was really excited to read all about it!

After meeting Luke, Sienna knows that just a couple of hours is not nearly enough time and she makes the decision to cash in on her saved up vacation time. She decides to stay an extra 2 weeks and make the most out of her time getting to know Luke better.

Side Note: Coincidentally, right before I started reading this book I had been obsessing over the Investigation Discovery channel so I could’ve sworn Sienna’s body was going to wash up on shore and a big murder mystery would ensue! ha ha

Spoiler Alert: No such murder occurs and Sienna lives!

I was able to extremely relate to their love story because I too have dated the guy I met while on vacation and extended my visit! Having said that, I couldn’t really connect to the characters themselves. Sienna seemed to only value herself by the size of her bank account and few things put me off in a person more than that. As for Luke, I didn’t really get what the big deal was with him being a thrill seeker. That part of the plot was heavily played up and it just didn’t seem like anything too crazy. He was skydiving, for God’s sake, not jumping off a plane while wearing a Target grocery bag for a parachute.

I honestly think I would’ve enjoyed The Moment of Letting Go a lot more if it hadn’t dragged on for so long with nothing really happening. However, if you’re the kind of reader that likes tons of detail than this might be a cute contemporary that you’d enjoy!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

13th Jun 2016 Ashley @ Gone with the Words 2016, Reviews, Reviews by Ashley

Review: The Girls by Emma ClineThe Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Random House
Pub Date: 14 June 2016
Pages: 368
Format: ARC | Source: Publisher
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical
Goodreads
4.5 Stars

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.
 
Emma Cline’s remarkable debut novel is gorgeously written and spellbinding, with razor-sharp precision and startling psychological insight. The Girls is a brilliant work of fiction—and an indelible portrait of girls, and of the women they become.

When I first opened the ARC of The Girls and read the editorial note from Random House (it basically says the book is amazing and the editor couldn’t put it down) I thought “yeah, that’s what they all say”. Then I flipped the page and began reading, before I knew it I was half way through the book, completely entranced. On the back of the book there is a blurb that says something about “Clines first novel…” I kept thinking there was no way this is a debut author, NO WAY! I love the way Cline writes, she is such an amazing story teller. I don’t consider myself a picky reader by any means, but if a book doesn’t move quickly, if something doesn’t grab my attention in the first 50-60 pages, I’m out. I don’t want to sit and read about nothing, I want to be intrigued, mystified, scared SOMETHING or I will simply put the book down and never think of it again. The Girls is not a fast paced book, but Cline gives you just enough from chapter to chapter to make you want more. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about cults and susceptibility of impressionable young girls, myself at that age, the shit I got myself into, what I did to feel like I belonged. I even spent a few hours down a Charles Manson rabbit hole, then a few hours down a Emma Cline rabbit hole as well. I was VERY excited to discover this will not be a stand alone novel, it has been bought (for a very handsome sum) to be a three book deal including a second novel and a short-story collection.

As it turns out, the Random House editor (Kate Medina) was right (are you surprised? Me either.) This book is unputdownable. It’s weird too because this novel isn’t that surprising really, we all know what happens in cults, we know how crazy it was in 60’s, yet there is something about the way Cline develops the story of these women, their bond, the friendships, it’s simply amazing. I drank the Kool-Aid and I think you should too!

 

Ashley @ Gone with the Words

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Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

10th Jun 2016 Morgan @ Gone with the Words 2016, Bitsy Words, Reviews, Reviews by Morgan

Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Bitsy Words: The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Published by Ecco
Pub Date: August 28th 2012
Pages: 378
Format: Paperback | Source: Purchased
Genres: Adult Fiction, Historical, LGBT
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. Despite their difference, Achilles befriends the shamed prince, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something deeper - despite the displeasure of Achilles' mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess.

But when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, Achilles must go to war in distant Troy and fulfill his destiny. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus goes with him, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear. 

The Song of Achilles is an absolutely striking novel. The writing is exquisite and lovely; it’s sparse but uses the most wonderful descriptions and turns of phrase. I’ve read and watched my fair share of Troy adaptations but this is the best. It felt fresh and original, accessible, and brought to life these magnificent doomed characters. Ohhhh how you feel for them. The relationship between Patroclus and Achilles is everything you could wish for in a tragic romance. Whether you know the story or not (I did), you can see the twists of fate that bring them closer and closer to impending doom and ugh, it’s horrible not being able to do anything about it!!!

(source)

Madeline Miller humanizes Achilles and makes him a compelling hero worth following, while she raises Patroclus to new heights. There are traces of the gods but it doesn’t feel hokey or intrusive, any more than it is supposed to. Odysseus, Thetis, and Briseis also shine as characters. I felt transported back in time to this incredible story. The emotions are overwhelming and burrowed into my soul. The language is evocative and the action is fierce, the romance tender. Historical fiction fans must read this; I’m so glad I did. I hope we don’t have to wait much longer for Miller’s next novel!

Tumblr is a treasure trove of mood boards, fan art, and on-point fan reactions to The Song of Achilles. Here are a few links to check out:
The Song of Achilles aesthetics
Achilles/Patroclus moodboard
Modern Patrochilles AU aesthetics
The Song of Captain America
Spoilers for Disney fans

Morgan @ Gone with the Words

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Thursday Tracks: Kiss This

9th Jun 2016 Jess @ Gone with the Words 2016, Thursday Tracks

I’ve been wanting to feature Kiss This for WEEKS now, but have been slacking on the Thursday Tracks front (sorry about that, friends!). Anyway, this song is just kickass and it makes me want to dance. *shimmys around in chair* Enjoy!!

Thomas said stay home,
Get away from me,
Saying I was bad for you,
He got his way,
I’m gone for good.
Making up stories,
Keeping it secret,
Taking your word for truth,
You were bad for me,
So I’m gone for good.

I,
Did all I could,
So kiss this one more time,
‘Cause I’m gone for good,
You,
Misunderstood,
So kiss this one last time,
And I’m gone for good.

Thomas said sorry,
Coming home crawling,
Didn’t give a shit before,
He stole from me,
So I’m gone for good,
Getting back from these no second chances,
Another phone call ignored,
You are back for me,
But I’m gone for good.

I,
Did all I could,
So kiss this one more time,
‘Cause I’m gone for good,
You,
Misunderstood,
So kiss this one last time,
And I’m gone for good.

Can I get it all?
Kiss this,
Kiss this.

Kiss this,
I,
Did all I could,
So kiss this one more time,
One more time!
I,
Did all I could,
So kiss this one more time,
‘Cause I’m gone for good,
You,
Misunderstood,
So kiss this one last time,
And I’m gone for good.

Can I get it all?
Kiss this

THURSDAY TRACKS Spotify Playlist

What song are you obsessing over this week?

 

Jess @ Gone with the Words

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Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

8th Jun 2016 Rubi @ Gone with the Words 2016, Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge, Reviews, Reviews by Rubi

Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins ReidOne True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press
Pub Date: June 7th 2016
Pages: 352
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Women's Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads
5 Stars

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I knew going into this book that Taylor Jenkins Reid was gonna have my heart pulled in two different directions, but I couldn’t have imagined just how engrossed I would be by the entire story! First chapters are meant to get your attention and make you want to keep reading, but TJR achieved this with just the first sentence! I knew I wanted needed to know what would happen next!!

My True Loves is the story of Emma who has suffered a great loss and has since slowly began built herself back up. After having lost her husband in an accident, she has moved back home to Massachusetts. Fast forward a couple of years and Emma is now engaged to Sam. Just when things are finally starting to settle down for her, Jesse is found alive and he is ready to resume the life they were meant to have before his accident. Now, Emma finds herself stuck between a husband she loves but thought to be dead and a fiancee who has shown her how to love again after loss. Does it get any harder than that?!

Although Jesse and Sam were so different from each other, they were both great and they each had a way of bringing out the best in Emma. I had no clue how this story would end and what possible ending could accomplish a “happily ever after” for everyone, but TJR did an excellent job! Some people might be torn about whether they are #TeamJesse or #TeamSam, but I knew early on who I was rooting for and I was very happy with the outcome!

My favorite part of this entire story were these characters! I connected with every single one of them and each felt so real. Since Jesse and Emma were high-school sweethearts, we were able to get some chapters from the POV of teenage Emma! She was my absolute favorite!! From the way she would crush to her friendship with Olive – I loved it all. Emma grew immensely throughout the story and although she made some mistakes along the way, it only made me love her more. Those mistakes made her that much more realistic and I just could not get enough.

Nobody can question how amazing and unique TJR’s writing style is! I could’ve seriously highlighted half of the book because of quotes that I loved and/or could relate to. The way she describes emotions, good and bad ones, is just remarkable. She does it in a way that makes the reader feel what the character is feeling even if you’ve never been in the same situation yourself. She does that throughout the entire book, but there’s one chapter in specific that really had me fighting back tears! It was a chapter on grief and the process that someone goes through after losing a loved one. Whether you’ve experienced grief or not before going into this chapter, you will walk away with a feeling of having just experienced it after having read it. The feels are just insane!

Taylor’s writing is just magical and I fell in love with it since Maybe in Another Life. If you’ve read that one and loved it, than One True Loves is a must-have as well! Check out my review for it here!

 

Rubi @ Gone with the Words

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