Book Review: Before We Were Strangers – Renée Carlino

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From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M


 

My Thoughts 2

 

From friends to lovebirds. From lovebirds to strangers. Then from strangers to “Wow, that went quick.”  And this is not me spoiling anything from the story.

I have to let out a loud sigh and throw my hands in defeat because I´m at a loss for the right words.

If I ask myself the same question three times in a row I can give three different answers.

Did I like this book?  T´was okay.

Did I like this book?  Meeh.

Did I like this book?  Maybe if I sleep another night over it.

 

My emotions are a tad scattered when thinking about `Before we were strangers` by Renée Carlino.before we were strangers

From reading the synopsis I could tell the story was exactly what I was looking for. A slow burn romance that starts off in college and ends with the characters in their mid 30´s. I was right. Wasn´t disappointed in that department.

I wasn´t prepared for the ( what felt like ) eternal slow burn, though.

Good grief, at times I thought I´d never see the end of the 303 pages.

But then things happened so fast. Before I knew it the story found it´s end.

You get a glimpse of an unhappy Hero in the present. His love life had not gone the way he had planned it. Then he sees her- The woman who stole his heart in college.

Then the flashbacks begin….

Before I go any further I´d like to say that this wasn´t a terrible read. I liked parts of it but some other parts…. I developed a love / hate relationship with everything. For example:

  • The characters. I loved their chemistry but I so disliked their journey.

 

  • The general vibe. I liked that this story wasn´t an in – your – face romance. I felt the there was a gray fog looming over the characters. This was a unique experience for me because I was able to feel the sadness. But then again this fog wasn´t lifted at the right time, making this feel like more of a depressed read even when it shouldn´t have been that way.

 

  • The threat. There always has to be something that jeopardizes a relationship. An evil villain on a mission. I liked the villain in this romance. The ex-wife from the Hero was truly a piece of work. Sadly, she wasn´t there enough for me to appreciate her cruelty.

 

  • The slow burn. This is something I usually appreciate because I like to see things develop. A fictional relationship feels more authentic when things move along at a slower pace. These characters took the term `slow burn` to a whole new level.  There were some moments when I felt like the kid who asks their parents when they´ll reach their destination, repeating “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

 

  • The characters ages. Again, I love to see things develop. Being able to watch characters grow is something I enjoy. Only I didn´t get to watch anyone grow. It was college then mid 30´s. Achievements accomplished during their 20`s  were mentioned and that was it.
  • The end. I love me some good endings. Good. Not rushed. Nice, smooth gradual endings. Not so much the type of ending this book had.

 

If I had to sum this review up with a few lines I´d say: Decent romance with a hard focus on the extreme slow paced relationship development.

 


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. I can see many readers falling in love with this read. It is romantic. It´s filled with love and hope.

Would I reread this book? I don´t believe I will.


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:    It definitely fits the story and the image is actually linked to the story, which I approve of. It´s not my prefered style, though.

The Story – 3 Stars:    Decent. I would have liked a little more spark.

The Characters – 3 Stars:    The mid 30´s versions felt like the college versions of the characters.

My emotional state after finishing this read:   I have mixed feelings.

3 stars


 

You can purchase `Before We Were Strangers` by Renée Carlino on Amazon.com


 

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed.

Much love,

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Mug Monday & Reading Log

Mug Feature:    Beige with mint dots

Book Topic:    Reading Log / Journals

 

Hello, my dear ( nearly forgotten ) Mug Monday friends. It´s so great to be able to welcome you back to my quirky world of mugs and random book topics.

The problem with being away for so long is- You have to wiggle your way back into the routine you slipped out of. You know, catching up… and shit.

But (!!!) during my time away from my precious Mug Monday I did spend time actually using my mugs. Even used real tea. Yes, tea. Not hot chocolate this time. Shocking- isn´t it?

 

 

I had to lay low with the milk this time because my body, the stomach bug ( kindly brought home from our local elementary school ) and milk don´t agree with each other.

Don´t worry. I plan to spare you the gory details on what went down ( or out ).

 

 

So, yes… Tea. From peppermint tea to ginger tea, I drank so much that I now feel healthy.

This unwelcome and highly annoying body situation provided so much time for me to give my beloved neglected amazon shopping cart some love. I went book shopping. What did I buy? Well, it wasn´t books, I can tell ya that much.

March´s book shopping spree turned into a journal shopping marathon. Because I don´t have enough journals as it is. Of course, I need more. And I feel no shame by admitting it.

 

 

So, we have a Mug Monday feature AND 2 little journal moments going on. Behold!

 

muggy
 NOTE: Mug used for short term decoration purposes. ( ain´t nothin´in dat mug )

 

I´m loving this SO MUCH that I´m afraid to touch it. I mean- It´s white and cute and pretty…. * sigh *  I´m obsessed with disliking Mondays and I don´t drink coffee, but that´s not the point. I´ve never had a white journal before!

Then I bought another reading log, or book log… or whatever you like to call it. The thing you use to keep track of the books you´ve read. That thing.

A little before New Years I bought my very first reading log, hoping it would bring some organized system in to my reading. And it worked! Well… sort of. I was on a great path of success until I spilled coke all over it and ruined it. So, I bought another one. the exact same one.

Voila!

read log 1
Center – Reading log, Upper left – Great book 

 

 

Simple in the design and easy to maintain. It has all the bits a reader would need to make notes for possible reviews. All that for little money ( $ 5.50, 4.99 euros )

 

read log 3
Kindly turn a blind eye on the right page. Thank you. 

 

  • Page / book count  ( Told you I´ve been slacking )
  • Title, Author,Publisher, Pub-date, Page count, Book format, review, quotes,
  • Nice nifty side bar for adding additional info
  • Has room for 100 books

Perfect for my personal reading notes ( and shopping lists from the looks of book #7 )

Now, do I think reading logs are a must have for readers / book bloggers? No. This is what I like to categorize as bookish “knick- knacks”. A reading log is fun to have, great if you need it but not a necessity.

I like it and think I´ll be able to stick with the book protocol.

 

Do you use a reading log? How you do keep track of your reading? Let me know in the comments below! 

 

 

I guess that´s it for today, my dear bookish Padawans. It´s time for me to get back to my new tea drinking habit.

I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Monday.

Feel hugged and loved,

 

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Thank The Books It´s Friday

I´m going to skip all pleasantries and head straight for the Thank Fuck squirrel.

 

squirrel fuck

 

You´ll never guess what a week I´ve had. Seriously. Especially yesterday. Jesus Christ on a popsicle…. Remember my last post? Well, it caused quite a stir.

 

 

I guess I struck a chord with my discussion post. Apparently, fake coffee and a somewhat neutral opinion can do that.

 

 

 

Oh! * waves hands enthusiastically * Guess what? I started reading again.

 

 

I thought I´d never find my reading mojo again. But it´s back and I´m more than thrilled about it. So thrilled that I started 2 books. You know, sometimes I truly believe I can´t be helped anymore. Instead of concentrating on 1 book I dive right in to 2.

 

 

But, I´m reading again and that´s the only thing that matters. Now I´m concentrating on `The Kiss Thief` by L.J. Shen.

 

The Kiss Thief

 

You know I love me some great cover image. I thought this was just one beautiful piece of princessy pretty. The lace, the crown, the filters…. Now that I´ve had a closer look at the actual print version I can´t say I´m rooting for the cover as much anymore. There appears to be an antique filter over the image and now everything looks too overdone. Or am I imagining things? Help a book babe out!

 

 

 

 

See what I mean? My print copy ( right pic ) is a little more blurred and yellowish.

Needless to say – I decided to continue `The Kiss Thief` and hope to all that´s pink and fluffy it´s worth the money I spent.

 

The other book I started is a dearly beloved hyped read I´ve been avoiding for years! All I´m going to say is that it´s by Sarah J. Maas and I´m terrified.

 

I also spent some time questioning what went wrong with my ability to be a parent. Because when an angry parent calls you and tells you what their kid heard my daughter say at the playground is not always great.

“Your daughter told my daughter that her dad, your HUSBAND, said that only great songs have the word fuck in them.”

 

 

You know, you sort of try to learn from the mistakes you made with your first kid. I guess husbutt didn´t get the memo.

And I did what any respectable parent would do in that situation.

I told the parent that their kid must have misheard my kid. Speaking with missing front teeth can be adventurous then proceeded to give both husbutt and my youngest death glares.

 

 

From now on  husbutt can deal with angry parents. I have officially retired. I tried my best and decided that the universe needs more cocktails.

 

So, that´s it for this week. Angry comments, angry parents, and a book I truly hope will knock the wind out of my sails because I need that positive blow.


 

How has your week been? What are your plans for the weekend? 

 

Hope you all have a safe and wonderful time.

Much love,

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One Book. Different Covers. ( Foreign Editions )

We´re slowly ( oh, ever so slowly ) moving in the direction I´ve been raving about all this time. Book cover discussions.

As weird as this may seem… I´m feeling more and more inclined to talk about the one thing that makes my heart explode with love or my blood pressure rise.

If you so happen to be new to this blog then you probably haven´t had the pleasure of finding out what my general opinion on book cover images / book cover art are. I´m sure none of you have scrolled that far back to search for my apocalyptic ideas and thoughts on certain covers. And that´s perfectly fine.

To save you time ( because I´m THAT extra ) I´l give you a quick bullet point rundown on what I prefer to see on a book cover ( not genre fixed )

  • non character images
  • bold color contrasts
  • large images
  •  non busy

As long as the book cover is an eye catcher in a positive way I´ll stop and take a look.

Now, we all know the saying `Never judge a book by it´s cover`. There isn´t a saying that´s more annoying to me than that one. Because of course (!!!) I judge a book by it´s cover. Who doesn´? It´s the first thing we see before reaching out for a book ( unless a book has been recommended and said person spoiled 1/3 of the story for me beforehand… in that case it´s then book purchase by recommendation ).

An eye catchy book cover is a silent invitation to take a closer look at a book. And when you like what you see you´ll take your time to check the book out and read the synopsis on the backside. It´s as simple as that.

To judge a book by it´s cover is okay. There´s no crime committed when saying a book cover has caught your attention. Because book covers are important!

With all this being said- I went on a book shopping spree the other day and noticed a few book covers that I haven´t seen before. Now, most of you probably figured out that I live in Germany, and that my german language skills are * cough cough * for shit. This also includes my reading skills. It takes me F.O.R.E.V.E.R to read a 200 page novel written in german. This is the reason why I´m Amazon´s best customer because I order all my english editions on there.

Back to the book shopping spree:

The book store I like to shop at does have a small aisle with english published books. Yes, the fantasy and horror corner takes up much of that aisle but that´s okay. I can live with that. It wasn´t until I was searching for books for the girls when I noticed the different cover images for the books I already have.

 

A Court Of Thorns And Roses by Sarah J. Maas. Now, while I wasn´t a fan of the cover ( or the story, for that matter review here) from the english edition, I did find myself drawn to the german cover. It just speaks to me more with its light cool colors.

This got me thinking…. What other book cover treasures were out there for the books I already have. I went on a foreign edition hunt…. and I was successful!

 

 

 

Cinder & Ella by Kelly Oram is a cute romance written for people who aren´t me but I must say that while I love the cover for the english edition ( left ) I´m not so sure what to think of the german edition ( right ). It´s plain and simple but… maybe too simple?

 

 

Yeah, not digging the english edition for Sarina Bowen´s The Ivy Years #1 but I do fancy the german cover. I blame it on the backside of the guy´s head in the left image. Uugh.

 

 

Love the color theme on the english edition for Monica Murphy´s Never Tear Us Apart ( Never #1 ) but I hate seeing the faces. The german edition, though…. Good Lawd, the orange bits on the cover reflect in a bronze tone and it´s just stunning. Would rather have the german cover on my shelf. * sigh *

 

 

This one rubs me the wrong way. The left image is the english edition for Slammed by Colleen Hoover. The cover image was perfect for when it was published. Now it´s outdated. The german edition ( right ) might be more trendy but it doesn´t really fit the story. I still prefer the german edition, though. Would look impressive on my bookshelf with all the other black outdated book covers.

 

 

Hands down, the english edition ( left ) of Maybe This Time by Jennifer Snow is nothing I´d ever purchase in a book store. Not with that cover. If only the book had the cover from the german edition….

 

So, there ya have it. One book. Different editions and covers. I can´t really say if the germans are far better at creating book covers but I can say that it´s nice to see what a difference a cover image can make.


Which book covers / forgein editions do you like or prefer?


 

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a lovely bookish day,

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Mug Monday & Birthday Month

Welcome back to Mug Monday! So glad you decided to pop in and see what new news I have in store for you.

Let´s get my well-being out of the way before we start this explosive post.

I have the flu…. again. It´s like this never ending nightmare that comes back. I´m a clever one, though. I figured out WHY i´m being attacked by viruses or germs. My girls drag it home from school. I swear on all that´s pink and fluffy, some parents need to learn to NOT send their little angels little shits little precious mini me´s to school when they´re sick. I´m slowly fed up and will probably end up contacting the school principal if this shit continues. Not that she will do anything…. But complaining does improve my mood.

I´ve been successfully living off soup, crackers, dry toast, tea, water and of course… I live in a sea of Kleenex. Fun times.

I wish I had a bathrobe like that.

Back to the topic:

It´s February. This might not mean much in general, other than it´s still winter. But for me, February means much more. It´s my birth month. In a few days from now I get to spend the one and only day of the year being pampered and get showered with Amazon gift cards ( because for some reason my family doesn´t believe in gifting Amazon gift cards on Christmas ).

It´ll be a one man fest ( until the kids come home from school ) and I will make sure to enjoy every single minute of my day without my mother in-law and her absurd demands for cake.

A little private fun fact from my trusty private treasure chest:

My mother in-law truly demands I serve cake and coffee on my birthday. She once explained that it´s not only polite but it´s also sort of an exchange. She gifts me something and I serve cake in return.

In other ( unspoken ) words: I don´t deserve a gift if I don´t have cake. Good thing I didn´t marry her * snorts *

As for books:

Forgive me if there hasn´t been much of that lately ( please re-read reasons above ). It´s been kind of rough for me. And you know what sucks even more? I have untouched book mail I haven´t had the energy to open yet. 5 Amazon and 2 Book Depository packages. I´m gutted.

Nevertheless- I´m determined to get back on track because I´m bored out of my wits.

So, my piss poor attempt at a Mug Monday Feature will hopefully be the start of something better. Voila!

mug stipe

 

See? I have my Kindle fired up and ready. * sigh * Maybe after my nap. And after I tried getting a review scheduled. God, haven´t done one of those in ages.

Okay, that´s it for today. My deepest apologies for boring the bejesus out of you all.

Have a wonderful day, my dear Padawans.

Much love,

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