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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Book Review: The Silver Swan ( Elite Kings Club #1 ) – Amo Jones

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Riddle me this…
“I am neither dead, nor alive, and I’m not something little Madison can hide.
But you will be dead, by the time this is done…
the timer starts now, and the games have just begun…”

Madison Montgomery comes from money and power, but when someone close to her commits the ultimate crime, Madison must live with her tainted name for the rest of her life. When she begins Riverside Preparatory Academy, the private school her father has swept her into in The Hamptons, she hopes for a fresh start. What she wasn’t hoping for was the pack of bad boys who run the school; ten, to be exact. When Madison gains the attention of their leader, Bishop Vincent Hayes, a whole new world that she didn’t think existed is exposed to her. A whole world that starts and ends with The Elite Kings Club and these boys, are about to flip her world upside down. Secrets are overflowing and family lies are about to be exposed. Is there more to Madison Montgomery than even she knows?

ººººº

Note From Author Taken From Goodreads

About this book: 
I need to admit something right now. The Silver Swan is f*cked. It might be the most insane story I’ve ever written with equally insane characters. Who knew? You know, when I started this book, it was supposed to be YA. I wanted to write a book that my sisters could read. A book that won’t have people look at my mum like “damn… what sort of messed up shit happened to your kid?”. The angst, the assholeness, the games, the f**kery, the WHAT THE F**KING F**K ARE YOU DOING???!!!…
I cannot even…. anyway, this is a warning (and the only one I’ll give you). It’s crazy. I don’t compare my work to my others, but this book is f**ked. It will most likely stomp all the f**k over people’s hard limits (and not give a sh*t while it’s doing it) and will make you second guess all the morals you thought you had.
This most definitely is not looking like a love story right now… more like a….. I don’t even….*shakes head* anyway, I apologise now. You asked for it……….

 


 

My Thoughts 2

I must be one weird screwed up chick because I didn´t find anything insane or da fuq worthy about this book. The note the author left beneath the book description on Goodreads got me all excited. Even had me squealing with anticipation. Hard limits? Looks like I have none. Make me second guess my morals? `The Silver Swan` ( Elite Kings Club #1 ) did nothing of the sorts. Well, at least not for me.

It is true- `The Silver Swan`by Amo Jones cannot be compared to other books. But I can The Silver Swandefinitely compare the vibes I got from this  read with a particular movie – Cruel Intentions. Remember that one? Yeah, the story is so not the same but the vibe it gave off ( and still does ) is similar to what I felt while reading this book.

Judging by the description this book sounds a lot like a dark romance with a good dose of mystery. After having read the story I can say there is, indeed, mystery. The romantic aspect? Not sure. The lines are blurred.

 

 

What I appreciated most about the story:

 

  • The Flair. I´m a sucker for dark settings. Put a blue filter on the story and I´m happy. I liked the overall feeling I had while reading `The Silver Swan`.

 

  • The Characters. Although I wasn´t completely on board with half of these wackos I definitely appreciated how individual they were.

 

  • The Writing. This has been my first rodeo with the author´s work. I´m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the unique writing. It´s smooth and easy on the mind.

 

Unfortunately, there are parts I didn´t enjoy.

 

 

What I didn´t appreciate about the story:

 

  • The dragging mystery. Hear me out on this one. I was a fan of the secrets and all. Until they became boring. It´s almost like the case of the boy who cried wolf. The secrets are mentioned quite often but it isn´t until the end when a reader gets a glimpse of the entire disaster that´s Madison´s life.

 

  • Madison Montgomery. The Heroine of `The Silver Swan`. In the beginning I enjoyed her character very much. Until I reached the point where I was like

 

“Here, sweety. Let me call the cops for you because you´ve clearly forgotten how your phone works.”

 

I´m not sure if her character will grow much more in book #2 and book #3. In this one, though, she wasn´t what I would call a powerful young woman with a good head on her shoulders. She was fearless but that, alone, doesn´t make a character great.

 

  • Enter Bishop. The Hero of the story. When he was first introduced I was game. When he popped in to the picture every now and again, I became more curious. But then he turned into this figure who didn´t do it for me at all. What a shame, really. Instead of rooting for him I found myself wishing he´d just leave the picture. There were definitely others that felt like a more suitable match for Madison.

 

  • My Inner Dialogue. This is something I love to rely on when writing my review. Why did I think? What were my initial thoughts during certain scenes?

– Hmm

– Huh?

– What the….

– Oh.

– Do we have any waffles left?

 

All in all, I wasn´t tickled senseless. There were parts I enjoyed immensely but then there were parts that made no sense to me. Without wanting to disrespect the author or the story- I didn´t feel the awesomeness this book offered me.

 


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes. For readers who like a good drawn out mystery will probably enjoy this type of YA / NA dark romance. I´d also recommend the author because the writing is really nice. Will definitely be checking out other works by Amo Jones.

 

Would I reread this book? Probably not. I like a little cat and mouse play in my dark romances. There can be a whole lot of mystery for all I care but there has to be something that holds on to my atention. Reading a book and calling it a day ( as I did with this book ) will not move me to invest more time in further books that belong to this one.

 


 

The Cover – 3 Stars:    It´s okay. Not necessarily my cup of tea….

The Story – 3 Stars:    The idea is great. The way it´s written is great. It´s just that the exciting parts weren´t as exciting and these dragged on a little for me.

The Characters – 3 Stars: Hands down- The sub characters were great. The main characters, though, they could have had more positive traits. Something to make a reader fall in love with.

My emotional state after finishing this read:  Indifferent.

3 stars



 

This book can be purchased on Amazon.com

10 Most Bizarre Religious Book Titles

ATTENTION

This post includes religious content. What you are about to read contains explicit language, perhaps an unwelcome opinion and may not be suitable for an audience who takes religion far too seriously. In short: I have a thing or two to say so if you are religious and easily offended you´re welcome to leave in silence. You are not welcome to pray for me, though. 

 

Religion – What a touchy subject. People, pro religion and anti religion, are so opinionated and most will stop at nothing to try to convince the other of their truth. The truth is, though – We all just have to wait until we die to find out what the exact truth is.

In the meantime, Christians ( and other religions ) have done their best to “spread the word of God”. Although I´m an atheist I do ( despite popular belief ) respect religion. What I can´t respect are the book covers and titles for these religious books.

To say these gems are absurd would be an understatement.

 


 

#1  `Anyone Can Be Cool… But Awesome Takes Practice` – Lorraine Peterson

anyone can be cool

First Thought:    Oh for Christ´s sake.

Let´s Talk:    Here´s a quick life lesson: You become your own special type of cool and awesome when you´re older. In the meantime, read a science book.

 

 

 

#2    `Mommy Drinks Because You´re Bad` –  ?

mommy drinks because you´re bad

First Thought:    No. Mommy drinks to survive the day preserve her beauty.

Let´s Talk:   ( preparing a drink for myself ) Aside from the EXTREME high pedagogical value the title has- I´d say this book/booklet deserves to be bashed and the person who wrote this “Quality religious book for children” deserves to be tarred and feathered.

 

 

#3  `God´s Masturbation Solution`– Rev. M. L.  Brown D. D.,  D. C. L

god´s masterbation solution

First Thought:    There´s a solution?!

Let´s Talk:    Okay. Say you don´t like masturbation, or even the thought of it. Fine. But this book makes hands on hanky panky sound like a sin. Or, maybe God is sitting up on a cloud looking down at Egor thinking

“Okay, fine. If you can´t stop then I´ll give you some pointers on how to masturbate the catholic way.”

Perhaps God´s like: “You´re all doing it wrong! Left hand, people Left HAND.”

Or wait! I have another one!

I bet God´s advice would be to sit on your hand until it´s numb then start masturbating. That way, it´ll feel like you´re not touching yourself. Cheat the system, bro!

 

 

 

#4   `Helping The Retarded To Know God`

–  Hans R. Hahn

Helping the retarded to Know God

First Thought:  Fucking hell….

Let´s Talk:    Okay. I have my limits and they´ve just been reached. I had to check for publication date for this gem because I was positive no one in their right mind, not even the hardcore Christians, would be politically incorrect. Sure enough – Published 1969. All jokes aside… This is one of the reasons why I don´t like religion. I couldn´t really care less about the political correctness of the title… It´s more the fact that something like this exists in general.

 

 

 

#5    `Jogging With Jesus` –  C. S. Lovett

jogging with Jesus

First Thought:    Jesus doesn´t have to go everywhere with you.

Let´s Talk:    A life with Jesus can give comfort. A daily jog with Jesus can give you more comfort. I don´t jog, so I wouldn´t know.

 

 

 

#6    `Jesus Calling` –  Sarah Young

Jesus Calling 2

First Thought:   Don´t pick up!!

Let´s Talk:    It seems harmless, right? More the reason to dig deeper. 🙂 From my understanding the author claims to have received messages from Jesus and has written down what HE had said to her. She´s the “mouthpiece” so to speak. I don´t know about you but I find people who claim that ANY voice ( one that doesn´t belong to a solid form ) has spoken to them creepy as fuck. I swear, this makes Carol Anne from the 1982 Poltergeist movie seem less creepier.

 

 

 

 

#7     `Religious Gals Can Play Naughty Too!! `

–  Jamie M. Jones

Religious girls can

First Thought:  There was never a doubt in my mind * wink *

Let´s Talk:    I´m not sure if this was written for hopeful religious men or if it´s supposed to act as an invitation for non religious men. The “No Jezebel Here” made me laugh, though. That gives this whole weird thing a nice touch. What does the author consider to be naughty? Socks on? Socks off? Bra off? Lights on? Do I want to know?

 

 

 

#8    `The Beginner´s Guide To Sex In The Afterlife`

– David Staume

Sex

First Thought:   PRAISE THE LORD

Let´s Talk:   And all of the sudden religion doesn´t sound too bad ( just kidding ). I hope this is true. Would hate to miss out, you know?

Hold on a second…. With who would I be having sex with after life? Please don´t tell me I´d have to deal with afterlife dating, as well? Where´s the `Dating In The Afterlife` book? Is there an afterlife Tinder? A Ghost Anonymous program I can visit in case of a sexual emergency? DAVID!!!!!

 

 

 

 

#9    `How Should Christians Vote?` –  Tony Evans

How Should Christians Vote

First Thought:    Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and you shake it all about….You do the Christian Voting and you turn yourself around. That´s what it´s all a-bout.

Let´s Talk:    This is by far the most idiotic thing I´ve seen in a long shot. The description reveals that Christians shouldn´t ask themselves for WHO they should vote for, but rather ” equip you with solid biblical principles that will challenge you to vote with a “kingdom perspective”- informed, compassionate, and aware of Who is really in charge. ” 

 

 

 

 

#10    `Weekend With Jesus` – Michael Edwin Q.

weekend with Jesus

First Thought:    Did he bring any wine? He better have wine….

Let´s Talk:    It says in the description that this book is written in Christianese. But the title does suggest a wild house party with Jesus. What am I missing here? And why can´t Jesus start wearing Bermuda shorts?

 


 

On A Friendly Side Note:

Although I am not a friend of religion ( at all ) I will not ignore that there are a few religions that actually do good for the world we live in. This post was meant to enlighten and not bash on a specific religion for their extreme and often unexplainable beliefs.

 

Many thanks for taking your time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed ❤

Have a wonderful day,

much love,

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The Reason Why I DNF´d `Throne Of Glass`- Sarah J. Maas

As a book blogger I feel it´s important to talk about what I´m passionate about- Books. And with my self-proclaimed responsibilities as a book blogger I actually want to discuss every aspect of book blogging. The good, the bad, and everything else in between.

It´s actually important for me to share my thoughts ( or else why blog, right?) Totally misses the point if I don´t at least give my readers insight on my opinions.

Opinions. Yes. Those pesky things that get people in to trouble sometimes. With all the social do´s and don´t´s it´s hard to keep up on what etiquette demands / allows these days.

 

 

I read somewhere that it´s frowned upon to upload a review for a book that´s been DNF´d. The reason for that was / is simple. Didn´t finish the book? Then you can´t fully judge it. Makes sense, right? Sure it does. But what if someone DNF´d a book and still wants to talk about it? To give a deeper explanation on the why´s? Is that frowned upon, as well?

Technically, if a post isn´t stamped as a book review then it´s safe to share ones thoughts. At least that´s how I see it.

Not too long ago I decided to give some hyped books a go. Books I´ve successfully avoided for a very long time. One of those extremely hyped books is `Throne Of Glass` Throne of GLassby Sarah J. Maas. And there were a few reasons aside from the hyped issue for me to not go near this read.

 

  • I dislike the cover image ( yes, I´m petty like that )
  • It´s  a Young Adult fantasy romance ( an interesting combo )
  • The author has a certain story telling style I wasn´t able to warm up to

 

But I kept reading the praises and listening to a few of my friends rave in the highest notes about this book. With that in mind and knowing full well that different books from an author can be better ( or worse ) I finally caved. I´m a sucker for romance, so… why the hell not?

I was prepared for everything. What I wasn´t prepared for was my fast growing disinterest.

 

 

I get bored really fast. This isn´t the best basis for reading, I admit. Yet, I do have a reading system that works well for me. If the first 100 pages don´t grab my attention enough then it´s time to move on.

With `Throne Of Glass` I did just that- moved on. As much as I wanted to give this book a fair shot I just couldn´t continue the story. I´m not saying the first 100 pages were total shit… All I´m saying is:

  • It´s a story that´s made its rounds before. For me, this means I´ve already read close versions of this story. Some of these versions were better, some worse. I dislike sitting here thinking “Oh, not this again.” while reading. I´m aware that no one can reinvent the wheel but I would have liked a little more spark in this one or anything that would have separated this read from others in a positive way.

 

  • Celaena, the assassin. Yes, I know. She´s a fantasy figure. Trust me when I say I really tried to see the beauty of her character. I don´t think I can consider myself open minded enough to accept the awesomeness of her annoying attitude. I´m all for being bad ass and going against the mainstream but Celaena? The ungrateful slave / assassin / slave? Nope. I don´t have the energy to appreciate her. I saw so many comments on how mind blowing her character is. Celaena is powerful, awesome, etc etc. Yupp, nope. I hope this isn´t the new YA fantasy Heroine standard.

 

  • Tongue clicking. I´ve mentioned this before in my review for Sarah J. Mass´s `A Court Of Thorns And Roses` and now I´m convinced the author´s whole imaginary universe has tongue clicking characters. I really should have counted the tongue clickings from page 1 – 100 because there were more than enough. “He clicked his tounge”

Being repetitive isn´t a good thing.

 

  • The boring bits. Okay, so here´s the thing- Sometimes parts we consider to be boring often add value to a story later on. By giving up early a reader´s probably missing out on something great. The key word is: Probably. There´s no guarantee my expectations will be met and I won´t stick around to find out it that happens. For me, the boring bits felt like one big boring word salad.

 

As I´ve said, I tried. I truly did. And I failed. Or, the story failed me. Either way, I don´t believe I´ll give another Sarah J. Maas book a try. Her books aren´t for me.

Throne of GLass

 

That wasn´t so bad now, was it? A pseudo review for a hyped book.

And because I chose not to continue `Throne Of Glass` I will also not rate it or publish this anywhere else as a book review.

 

 


 

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed. ❤

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Book Expectations

For over a solid month I´ve spent my time living in the reading funk world completely unable to touch another book or even think about reading ( Well, I was sick, as well, so….).

Book slumps / funks (or whatever y´all wanna call it) happens to us all, even the best of us lot.

I can´t really speak for others but the main reasons why I land in Reading Funk Land are probably the same reasons why others  land there.

  • Reading Overload  Blasphemy! I shall burn in Hell for even thinking this could be a reason.

 

one does not

 

Seriously though… One simply needs a damn break from reading once in a while.

 

  • Previous Books  Whether they´re good or bad, some books can cause major reading slumps
  • Time  Because ya either have it, or ya don´t.

 

But this isn´t about me whining about how unfair life is and why it can´t give me the strength to read at all times… This is about book expectations. Right.

My latest reading funk has exploded my personal reading funk record. In 3 weeks ( !!! ) I haven´t been able to touch another book. Why? Because the last story I read exceeded my expectations.

 

Weird, I know. Can hardly believe it myself with the luck I´ve had the last 2 years with romance novels. I can literally name a handful of books from off the top of my hat that have either changed the color of my undies / pulled the rug from beneath me / blown my mind.

 

I think the whole problem with me and reading is:

 

It´s not the book´s fault. It´s my fault. 

 

I always have high expectations when it comes to books. Call me spoiled if you like, but I expect to receive the whole package when I pick a book. Unfortunately, what I expect and what I´m 100% aware of are two pairs of shoes. It´s always a sad day when I come across a book that got my hopes up then shattered my dream of being able to add to my collection of sacred reads.

 

 

The latest private book discussion with my book bestie told me I´m too picky. That I also might be the only person who even has expectations for a book before reading. Well, after a half a bottle of wine I started questioning my approach towards books.

 

What would happen if I didn´t have any expectations at all for a book? Is that even possible? Isn´t there always something a reader expects before buying their next read? Is it bad to expect?

But then I dismissed the whole topic because of how ridiculous it is. Of course, readers have expectations!

Even if it´s something as simple as ” Okay, I want a romance. The book endorsements say it´s a romantic romance.” then I expect the book to be a romantic romance and not some early 90´s Peter Jackson splatter flick.

 

The reason why I can´t eat takeout while watching splatter films anymore.

 

Am I asking for too much when I say I want the whole bookish package that will most definitely reach my expectations? Is wanting a nice cover image, decent print quality, fairly acceptable editing, and a great / gripping story too over the top?

Well, I can easily say I don´t mind being picky. Books cost money and I don´t have it ( money, nor books ) growing on trees. But having oversized expectations might be a little too much for this time and era, considering how many hobby writers have the power to create a beautiful package and a less than great content.

Maybe having expectations isn´t entirely wrong. Perhaps this is a case of screwing down my personal bookish standards so I can avoid constant disappointments.

Either way- Let´s see what gems 2019 has in store for us romance readers. May the book Gods shower our heads with meaningful and deeply emotional love stories.


What about you? Do you have high book expectations?

Feel free to leave a comment below to discuss this gruesome topic. ❤


 

That´s it for today, dear bookish Padawans. I hope you have a lovely day / evening. Share the book love.

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