Book Review: I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory

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The tense, tender must-read book of the summer – perfect for fans of Louise O’Neill and Sara Barnard

‘You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?

Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like

 


 

My Thoughts 2

 

Puuh! * scratches forehead * That book definitely wasn´t what I expected it would be.

You know the feeling when you see a book title and you think “meh” but then you read the tagline and think ” Oh?”

`When does love become possession?`

Oh? indeed. Seriously, I had so many things going on in my head. Young adult with the promise of a true crazy character?  I wanted the crazy. The full-on stalker, bat shit loon from our worst nightmares. Well, I got more than I asked for, I can tell you that much. And I fully enjoyed every minute I spent reading.

`I Hold Your Heart` by author Karen Gregory sounds relatively harmless but the story… The way it starts and how it develops and the way it ends… I´m impressed.

 

A powerful story about an abusive relationship between college students.

 

I´ve read many young adult novels that had abusive characters or were about abusive relationships but hardly any of those novels come close to `I Hold Your Heart`. I hold your heart

You meet Gemma / Gem, a young college student, who is your everyday young woman and shortly after you meet the wonderful Aaron, also a college student attending the same college as Gemma. They have an insta-attraction and from there on, their story unfolds. And boy, does it unfold. It unfolded downhill for everyone involved in the story.

This is not one of those stories that try to make you fall in love with the Hero. There´s no chance for that because from the get-go you have this indescribable ill feeling that you can´t shake off. That certain something that sets off all alarm bells although nothing terrible has happened ( yet ). You like the Hero ( Aaron ), you might even put up with his odd ways or even wave his behavior off, dismissing it and blaming it on true love. But then you quickly get sucked in and realize how systematically he works and it´s painful to witness. You know this. The Hero knows it. All the sub characters were aware of it and sometimes Gemma was aware of it, as well. You can understand how easily Gemma overlooked the warning signs.

This is what makes this story so fascinating. A reader witnesses the excruciating slow burn abuse inflicted upon the Hero´s one and only true love, Gemma. Is it pretty? Absolutely not. It´s spooky, actually. And come to think of it – It´s all realistic. You suddenly realize that this could have happened to someone near you. Or perhaps it´s happening now and you´re not aware of it.

And the writing? Well, you won´t hear me complaining. It´s clean and sharp.


 

Would I recommend this book? I would. I think there should be more novels about abusive relationships and the effects they have on the victims and the people around them.

Would I reread this book? I would. I will. This gem is going to be placed on my sacred top bookshelf.

 

 

The Cover – 4 Stars:   Not exactly what I would call fantabulous but it was enough to grab my attention.

The Story – 5 Stars:  Well paced. Gripping. Nail – bite-worthy. Emotionally brutal. Powerful. What I loved most was how a reader doesn´t get a sugar-coated happily ever after. A reader gets a realistic ending. One I appreciated.

The Characters – 5 Stars: Aaron is perfect until you see his coercive and controlling behavior. He´s manipulative. I couldn´t have asked for a better developed character. As for Gemma,… Her character has proven that no matter how level headed or strong-minded you are, you´re not immune or safe from an abuser. I loved Gemma for being `only human`.

My emotional state after finishing this read – Emotionally pooped beyond words.

5 stars


 

You can purchase `I Hold Your Heart` by author Karen Gregory on Amazon.com

I hold your heart

 

 

I Spied With My Bookish Eye: Catchy Book Covers

`I need to check something out at the book store really quick.`

 

Only someone with immense self-control would ever say that. I don´t have self-control when it comes to book stores. In fact – I wouldn´t be able to keep a straight face while saying that. Twelves words – All a lie.

I´ll have you know, though, that my last book store visit was truly a quick visit. I was on a tight schedule and only had an hour to spare. Better than nothing, right? I agree. * waiting patiently for your approval * Besides- I truly just wanted to check a few books out.

So I rushed through the aisles and let my eyes scan through the rows of books. I figured that there would be a book cover that would catch my attention. There had to be. There were actually two covers!

This is what caught my attention.

 

 

 

`City Of Girls` by Elizabeth Gilbert and `Stay Sexy & Don´t Get Murdered` by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark.

The cover for `City Of Girls` is, for me, more about the colors than anything else. I like the combination of a saturated pink and a cool teal shade. The feathers- Well, I´m not too fazed about them. Many book covers have decorative feathers. Many fantasy novels use feather images for their covers. `City Of Girls is historical fiction, though.  Who would have thought?! See how deceiving book covers can be? This cover could easily pass for a contemporary romance but it´s not. I totally love this.

The reason why I grabbed, `Stay Sexy & Don´t Get Murdered` was because of the stark contrasts. Black is always an eye-catcher. And when the title fills the cover, substituting an image, it´s an even larger eye catcher for me. I like these types of book covers because they´re not too revealing. You are forced to use your imagination. And with a title like that, your mind will most likely run wild. The story possibilities are endless. `Stay Sexy & Don´t Get Murdered ` is a non – fiction/biography I can´t wait to purchase.

Yes, I haven´t bought either of these reads. Not yet. Don´t you remember? I was in a hurry.  Ain´t no one got time to purchase books on a whim and on a tight book budget.

Maybe next month.

Would I buy these books based on the covers? I would.


 

What do you think of these covers? Would these book covers grab your attention? Let´s chat! ❤

 

Sending out much bookish love.

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Being A Compulsive Book Finisher

What a title for a blog post, huh? Sounds terribly sinister. It´s almost as if I see this as some chronic disease- The book finishing disease. Hmm, okay. Sounds more like a first world problem than anything else, to be honest. But hey- Trust me on this one… It´s a true struggle. I just never gave this much thought because you sometimes don´t think about these things, you know? Not until you see something on the internet that reminds you of a problem you once had.

I stumbled upon an article the other day with the title It´s Okay to Give Up on Mediocre Books Because We´re All Going to Die.  

The second thing that made me stop was the tagline:

 

`Life’s too short to force yourself to finish books you don’t enjoy`

 

I can advise anyone who loves to read to take a few minutes to read this because it´s truly interesting.

The title and tagline, both, had me thinking about my own reading habits. Do I finish every book I start even if it´s really not my cup of tea?

I was that person. I was a compulsive book finisher. I forced myself to finish a book even if I wasn´t feeling the story. And I know why I did it. I know exactly how this reading habit started, too.

If I dig deep enough I find that I can put the majority of the blame on book blogging, or with the way I blogged.

I wasn´t always a compulsive book finisher. But I quickly became one through the book blogging business.

To make a long ( a very long ) story short: Sometime during the first half of my book blogging career, I noticed I was reading fewer bestseller books and more books from indie/self – published writers. Not at all what I had planned on doing. This eventually led to me accepting ARCs and even beta reading for authors. My book blogging schedule was filled to the brim, folks.

One can´t be too mad about receiving free books, right? But one can develop an unhealthy reading habit by accepting many advanced reader´s copies & agreeing to beta read.

“It´s amazing how you can read three books in a week!”

People would say this to me all the time. There were two things these people didn´t know and still don´t understand:

 

  1. Reading an Arc isn´t always fun. It´s an exchange. You receive an advanced copy of a book and have to present a review afterward. Beta reading for an author can be even less amusing because they need your detailed feedback.
  2. It´s even less amazing when you don´t like what you´re reading.

 

It´s actually comparable with watching a movie or a TV show you´re just not that in to but you force yourself to keep watching because you want to be able to talk about it afterward. Only, you have no agreement with the actors or directors. There´s no one eagerly waiting for your opinion. You do have an agreement with publishers and authors, though. Even if it´s a simple verbal, via chat agreement- You read and give feedback. You pay attention to what you´re reading.

Skimming wasn´t even an option. Some authors wanted to know specific thoughts regarding their book for whatever scenes they wrote. Imagine an author asking for your opinion on the 67th sex scene and you can´t give feedback because you skipped that particular part. Dreadful.

This is when I made it my mission to force myself to finish every book I started. And that has stuck with ever since.

So, through book blogging, I turned myself into a compulsive book finisher.  No matter how awful I thought the ARC or beta copy was- I pulled through, all for the sake of… I can´t remember. Was it because I had a shining reputation I couldn´t afford to lose? Maybe because I hate breaking off agreements? Who knows.

Am I mad about this? Well, I´m certainly not happy. As it is with any unhealthy habit- It´s hard to kick. When I realized what I was doing to myself I pulled the breaks.  Because who in their right mind would force themselves to read a book they don´t enjoy?

 

 

Me

 

 

Even though I´ve somewhat freed myself from needing to finish every book I still catch myself continuing a book I´m not enjoying ( then end up finishing it because I´m too far in ).  As I said before – It´s a hard habit to kick. Sometimes I have no trouble stopping a book on page 50  and sometimes I don´t realize what I´m doing until it´s too late.

 

`Life’s too short to force yourself to finish books you don’t enjoy`

I wholeheartedly agree with this tagline. Books are meant to entertain us. We´re meant to enjoy what we read. We´re not meant to push ourselves through something we don´t like.


 


 

 

On A Kind Note:  I don´t blame self – published authors nor do I blame beta copies for my own stupidity. I made a conscious choice back then without fully understanding the possible outcomes. It was a mistake easily made.

On Another Kind Note:  I also don´t see being a compulsive book finisher as a life-threatening issue. In my case, it´s just another annoying habit. It doesn´t affect my life in a negative way nor does it keep me from enjoying other things. I don´t accept ARCs anymore, though. Same with beta reading.

 


 

Let´s chat:

Do you finish books you don´t enjoy? Are you a compulsive book finisher? 

Share away in the comments below.

 


 

As always, thank you for taking the time to read my post. I really appreciate it.

Much book love,

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Surviving `Beautiful Creatures`The Movie

Oops. I guess I´m 6 years too late for this one.

 

 

I remember how I got all excited in 2013 when I found out about the book to movie adaptation but it somehow slipped my mind that one of my favorite YA Fantasy reads was in theaters. The perks of being old- You automatically turn into Dory from Finding Nemo. Thanks to the suggestions based on my daughter´s Netflix movie tastes I was reminded once again that `Beautiful Creatures` had been made into a movie.

 

Beautiful_Creatures_movie_poster

 

Let me give you a walkthrough on how my `Beautiful Creatures` movie experience went. It all started with the husbutt actually wanting to watch the movie with me. Oookay. Fine by me. So, we started. And the first thing husbutt says is:

“Wait a second. You have that book, don´t you?”

How very observant of him. Yes. I have the book. I actually have `Beautiful Creatures` ( book #1 ) and `Beautiful Darkness`( book #2) on my bookshelf. One is a paperback and the other is a hardcover ( which really doesn´t sit well with me ).

“What´s the story about again?” He asked.

My inner Dory then made another appearance again because I only had a rough idea of what the story was about. Who can blame me after having first and last read the books after they were published back in 2010 ( give or take a year )? Exactly.

“Uuhm, Young Adult. Teenagers having witchy issues.”

My communication skills can´t be topped. But to my defense- I was munching on Doritos. Speaking too much could cause a chip flake to go down the wrong pipe. Death by Doritos doesn´t seem too bad. Knowing `Beautiful Creatures` would be my last movie if I had choked on a Dorito? I wasn´t willing to take that risk.

So, we started the movie knowing it was about witches. And we watched. And watched. Turns out, I didn´t forget all too much about the book. How did I know?

Because I was constantly complaining about the things that weren´t included in the movie. Small yet significant details that made the book great- The things that made the characters great.

beautiful creatures
The book.

Without wanting to spoil the movie ( or book, for that matter ) I won´t get into details but I will say this: That library scene, the first of quite a few, had me rolling on the floor gasping for air.  And that curse threat? I can gladly inform everyone that it was not all too life-threatening. Not for me, nor for the movie characters. In fact- It felt like some useless side info.

What I did appreciate was the tiny `Carrie` moment the female lead had in the beginning. A little more of those scenes would have done wonders for this movie.

So, with all that being said, I didn´t like `Beautiful Creatures`, the movie. Like – At all. It was as dry and very non-curse driven. It was far less mysterious or magical.

My husband´s final words were:

” Imagine going to the butchers and asking for a nice slab of ribs then watching the butcher slam the meat very unlovingly on the work counter. That´s how this movie felt: A book to movie adaptation thrown unlovingly to the crowd.”  And he didn´t read the book.

The book, though, is really great. Much darker than the movie. It has depth and keeps a reader in an upright position until the very last page. One of the few YA Fantasy reads I truly adore.

Let´s keep our fingers crossed for the next book – to – movie adaptation!


 

Did you watch `Beautiful Creatures`? Did you read the book? Let´s discuss it. ❤


 

I hope you all have a wonderful day. Feel hugged and share the book-love!

 

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Mug Monday Without A Mug

Greetings, my lovely bookish Padawans. Welcome back to yet another glorious Mug Monday.

As you might have guessed from the title of this post, there won´t be a mug feature today. Why? Because I seriously can´t be bothered.

The reason for this is – The excruciating high temperatures and unwanted sweating.

 

 

I kid you not- I´ve reduced my movements to a minimum and I still have sweat on my eyelids. Is this normal? For countries without air conditioning – sure. With temps reaching close to 35 degrees I feel like I´m being prepared for my future trip to Hell.

A little useless fun fact about myself: I don´t like to sweat. You´re welcome.

As for bookish news: There aren´t any. No reading updates or anything else I can offer you. Just an update on my current water intake. 3 liters a day, including the occasional glass of ginger ale or coke. I´ll still humor you, though, with a glass I prefer to use when not drinking hot chocolate.

coke

 

Here´s another fun fact: I´m not only an avid coke drinker I also collect coca – cola drinking glasses. Yup, I´m one of those people. My obsession started when I was a teenager and it has stuck with me ever since. From pink to purple to red and gold… I have ´em all. And today I´m using the turquoise glass.

If you´re curious to know what´s hanging on the wall in the background… I can explain.

It´s a mega-sized post – it / sticky label for my youngest daughter, Lillian. Since she´s having difficulties with maths ( and the teachers can´t seem to find time or energy in their busy schedules to help my kid ) I´ve taken matters in my own hands. What you see is a small portion of what´s actually hanging on almost every wall of my house. From metric units to small multiplication, double-digit addition, and subtraction and estimations- things she has to know at age 8, it´s hanging on my walls. So, what we´re doing at home is, aside from the regular homework ( which she has difficulty understanding without the basic knowledge ) we´re teaching her the basics starting from the very bottom.  She´s the type of person who learns visually best, meaning: She has to see to understand or else she´ll have a hard time. It´s not a disability. It´s just a struggle.

For example: Telling her 1 meter is 100 cm won´t stick. Showing her what 1 meter is and how that can be converted into 100 cm by giving her examples / finding 1-meter objects will give her a sense of the measurement.

A bug can be a cm. A car is measured in meters. Distance in km. The table is likely 1 meter high. The door frame most likely 2 meters tall, etc. If you line up 100 bugs you have a meter. So, yeah… That´s that. Now you´ve got a small take on what life is like for a book blogger offline. Add all the school meetings, school fests ( and the elementary school my kid goes to loves to throw parties for everything ) you can say we´re a busy bunch. Why am I doing this when there are teachers who are capable of teaching my kid? Well, with today´s teaching speed it´s hard for some children to keep up. Mine can´t keep up.

Okay, I´m going to stop right here before I bore you any further.

I guess that´s it for today. It´s time to step away from the heater I call laptop and take another refreshing shower.

Until next week ❤

Enjoy your Monday. Feel hugged. Share the book love!

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