Book Review: I Hold Your Heart – Karen Gregory

synopsis single

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

 

 

Book Review: Reason To Breathe ( Breathing #1 ) – Rebecca Donovan

synopsis book 1

“No one tried to get involved with me, and I kept to myself. This was the place where everything was supposed to be safe and easy. How could Evan Mathews unravel my constant universe in just one day?”

In the affluent town of Weslyn, Connecticut, where most people worry about what to be seen in and who to be seen with, Emma Thomas would rather not be seen at all. She’s more concerned with feigning perfection while pulling down her sleeves to conceal the bruises – not wanting anyone to know how far from perfect her life truly is. Without expecting it, she finds love. It challenges her to recognize her own worth – but at the risk of revealing the terrible secret she’s desperate to hide.

Reason to Breathe is an electrifying page turner from start to finish, a unique tale of life-changing love, unspeakable cruelty, and one girl’s fragile grasp of hope.

 


 

NOTE: Read in 2012. Opinion hasn´t changed since.

 

My Thoughts 2

`Reason To Breathe`( Breathe #1 ) by Rebecca Donovan is one of the most depressing Young Adult romances I´ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Reason To Breathe

 

Sad. Deep. Hard to get your head around. Messed up. Deep. Confusing

 

 

I´m well aware that this is just fiction . But even if it wasn´t and the author chose to incorperate real life events in to the story- It didn´t make this whole sad blob any better.

 

 

A disturbed young woman making idiotic decisions at every turn because she´s a victim.

Emma-  The shoved around, barely tolerated living being who just existed. Living in an abusive household she´s determined to pull through. To win at life and save whatever is left of herself ( which isn´t much to begin with ). But she wants to win on her terms.

I felt a slight burn in my soul from the choices Emma´s character made and how determined she was to stick with her ill choices. This trait of hers made me dislike her instead of feeling bad for her and her life situation.  I would have loved to be able to see Emma as the victim she truly was but because of her questionable choices I just couldn´t.

 

The author tested my limits with the story.

As with any sociology / abuse, YA, romance ( the genre and categories, alone, are quite a stunning combo ) it´s not too difficult to include drama in a story. With `Reason To Breathe` the author went all in, making an already tough subject extremely painful to digest. Because to include abuse isn´t enough. Every cruelty needs to be amplified and every painful situation needs to be 10x more gruesome. Well, in my case… I didn´t care much for the abuse because it was too Cinderella´s step mom´s gone ape shit for me.

 

Now, i bet you´re thinking there can´t possibly be a romance in such a book, right? Right. No, wait. Wrong! So wrong!

There has to be a balance in a story or else it´s just one huge sad black hole with no ending. There was some good to give readers hope that not everything in Emma´s life was shit. And that hope was named Evan. But hey, he was only a tiny spark in a pitch black universe.  What good can a spark do when there´s nothing but darkness and Emma continues to make terrible choices? Exactly, an endless cycle of depressing events happen.  It felt like Emma´s nightmare would never end because Emma didn´t want it to end.

 

That was about the story. Let´s get technical now.

Although I didn´t really enjoy the full on sad story as much as I hoped I would I thought the writing was fantastic. I had absolutely no troubles with the pace. There was a great balance between dialogue and details.

 

However… I will say this: The ending had me sold. I don´t know how the author did it but I wanted to continue the story. Usually, if I don´t like a story I won´t bother with the next books in a series. For some damn odd reason I wanted to find out what Emma´s next move would be. What direction will she take? Will she ever want to stop the madness?

 

`Reason To Breathe` shows a reader how awful and painful life can be if you don´t take help that is offered to you, and that the choices you make are the ones you have to live with.


 

Would I recommend this book? I wouldn´t recommend this book to anyone who is emotionally unstable. It´s a tough read and so depressing. If you think you can handle the abuse in this book, then go ahead. Buy the book and put yourselves through it all. This book will get under your skin and it won´t leave you alone for a while.

Would I reread this book? Nope. One round is enough.


 

 

The Cover – 2 Stars:    Nope. Not doing it for me at all.

The Story – 2 Stars:    I´m torn. It´s an awfully depressing read but it´s also a story well told. Can´t fault a good story telling.

The Characters – 4 Stars:  As much as I disliked Emma I have to admit that she was a pretty picture perfect ruined YA character. The author created messed up characters and wonderful, charming, loving figures.  A world of good people and terrible people and little Emma stuck in the middle.

My emotional state after finishing this read – miserable AS FUCK.

2 stars



 

You can purchase `Reason To Breathe`( Breathing #1) by Rebecca Donovan on Amazon.com

Reason To Breathe

 

 

Mr. Male Protagonist, Why Do You Growl?

Romance readers will know about this. Erotica fans are familiar with it. Even Young Adult lovers have seen this occasionally in their beloved innocent books.

 

Growling male protagonists

 

A reaction from a male character in fiction novels triggered mostly by jealousy and / or approval.  But why?

Let´s do a quick run down on living beings that growl

 

  • animals

 

That´s it. Growling is a low, guttural vocalization produced by predatory animals as an aggressive warning but can also be found in other contexts such as playful behaviors or mating ( thanks Wiki * wink * )

So, why are we reading about CEOs, lumberjacks, bad boys and the hot quarterbacks in contemp. romance / young adult / erotica novels growling when it´s clearing an animalistic behaviorism?

 

 

(Warning: Interesting short fun fact ahead)

If you hadn´t known already, there are similarities between human body language and animal behavior. It´s actually interesting to know how human body language resembles the non verbal communication of animals. We can be cocky like cats, we signal aggression like dogs by baring our teeth and we gesture like apes. ( end of fun fact )

And this is okay. To describe a man´s movement by comparing him to a panther isn´t a problem. Sounding like a panther is.

Do we growl? Like actually growl? And what has authors thinking growling is an acceptable reaction? And why is it only male characters who growl?

I´m one of those readers who can get completely lost in a book. Once I´m invested then that´s it- I´m all in. I´m also the type that reads and fails to see someone else´s logic no matter how poetic it may be.

 

“He let out a growl…”

 

A line that has come up in almost all of my novels that have territorial Heroes. Aah, that word: Territorial. Another word that´s often associated with male protagonists. They are territorial. Sure. Why the hell not, right? It´s supposedly hot to read about a guy growling his way in to a woman´s knickers.

10 years, people…. I´ve spent 10 years of questioning this in romance novels and have only recently asked myself what I would do if a male would growl near me. Would this even happen in real life?

 

My first thought and facial expression would be, without a doubt, this, should a man ever growl in public:

 

The thought alone of the husbutt growling his approval when seeing me in a dress would definitely earn him this reaction from me:

 

And should he ever growl because he´s jealous then I might have to use physical education:

 

This is not to say that growling should be banned from all modern romance literature. Growling works beautifully for fictional characters in paranormal romances and fantasy novels or (!!!) for contemporary romances that involve male characters who´ve once been feral children that have had been forced by nature to adapt to wildlife and animals- Technically, they´re allowed to growl.

“I heard a low threatening growl from somewhere in the room. It was him.”

 

Me when I read that line in a contemp. romance novel

 

So, my question is:

Mr. Male Protagonist,

Why do you growl? Why not just smile with pride, use a great comeback line,.. or how about moaning? If you´re going to do something during your less animalistic sex then you shouldn´t growl.


QUESTION Of The Day:

Am I alone with my thoughts? Do men these days growl? Have you ever heard of a female character in novels growl? What are your thoughts? Does a growling male protagonist bother you? What do you think about growling in general?

Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments below. ❤


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Love Song – Sophia Bennett

A million girls would kill for the chance to meet The Point, but Nina’s not one of them.

Winner of the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2017

She’s the new assistant to the lead singer’s diva fiancée, and she knows it’s going to suck. She quickly learns that being with the hottest band on the planet isn’t as easy as it looks: behind the scenes, the boys are on the verge of splitting up. Tasked with keeping an eye on four spoiled rock stars, Nina’s determined to stick it out – and not fall for any of them …

The new novel from the popular and highly-acclaimed author of You Don’t Know MeThe Look, and the Threads series.


 

It happened when I commented on one of Paige´s  @ Bookish Paige blog post. It was where she revealed her Top 10 Fictional Boyfriends when I got into a short chat about Jamie, one of her book boyfriend choices. I don´t recall what exactly moved me to buy this book but I ended up putting it on my book shopping list. 

And I´m glad I did. 

 `Love Song` by Sophia Bennett was a pleasant surprise. If I could sum this book up with 2 words I´d use cute and innocent. A perfect Young Adult romance rock star novel.

love song

There´s plenty of angst and drama, which is mandatory for a Young Adult romance. `Love Song` is a little too far fetched at times for my taste and it does have more drama than romantic scenes but all in all an enjoyable and entertaining read.

I wasn´t bothered by how predictable the story was. Yes, I knew what would happen but that didn´t ruin my reading experience because `Love Song` is a story well told. 

The characters felt real, the details were spot on and the reading flow was fab. 

I can see why so many readers would fall head over heels for this romance because it has everything a YA romance reader could ever ask for. 


 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would. Although this might not have met my rockstar romance standards I can definitely see why others would enjoy this book. 

Would I reread this book? Probably not. But who knows, I might have another go at it in a few months. 


 

The Cover – 4 stars:       The cover image is a little busy but it´s still cool. Definitely fits the genre. 

The Story – 3 stars:        Rockstar romances are my THING… My go – to reads when I want drama and heartbreak / heartache / gut wrenching romance. But this was a YA read and had only a shadow of what I´m normally used to when it comes to rockstar romances. 

The Characters – 4 stars:     Realistic, 3-D, and lovable. 

My emotional state after finishing this read:      Completely satisfied.

3 stars

 

Get your copy of `Love Song `by Sophia Bennett now on Amazon.com 

 

Book Review: A Quiet Kind Of Thunder – Sara Barnard

synopsis single

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn’t a lightning strike, it’s the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life – she’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. 

From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.


My Thoughts 2

Nevermind the fact that I had the song `Thunder`by Imagine Dragons stuck in my head while reading this book…. Just ignore that. This isn´t about my own person torture ( although, I do find that song cute. Just not while I´m trying to concentrate on a story)

Let me just say one thing:  LOVE!

That pretty much sums up my feelings for `A Quiet Kind Of Thunder` by Sara Barnard.

a quiet kind of thunder

She doesn´t speak. He´s deaf. They connect. And from there on a reader is put on a ride that´s so cute it stinks to high heaven!

By all that´s pink and fluffy, I wasn´t able to handle so much awesomeness all at once. It´s like seeing a box filled with kittens and you just adore them to bits from afar but when you get closer you want to take all of them home and love them for the rest of their lives!

That is how I felt with these characters.

The idea of the story is perfect. Take flawed characters and have them fall for each other. Have them learn how to deal with their fears and learn how to appreciate themselves.

There is no exaggerated drama or evil threat involved in this book. It´s about love.

This isn´t an instalove story. It´s a story about a first love and the obstacles that come along with that first love while having disabilities.

I´ve read quite a few romance novels that had carried the same theme but none of those books come close to `A Quiet Kind Of Thunder`.

Now, let´s shove the fluff aside and begin with the nitty gritty. The real message the story wants to deliver ( and successfully does, in my opinion ).

While this is an absolute cute read it isn´t lighthearted. In fact- this book has themes included that aren´t so lovey dovey. Death and anxiety. And it´s also super educational. It wasn´t hard for me to tell that the author did her homework. Very detailed but not in a medical way. The author took great care in describing the Heroine´s feelings, which I appreciated. I don´t suffer from anxiety or panic attacks but when you accompany Steffi on her journey you can´t help but feel the reality of her pain. It feels realistic. I felt for her. Just as much as I felt for Rhys, the Hero. The author did a wonderful job and for that I cannot thank her enough.

As for Rhys…Dear Laawd, I loved that boy ( okay. That sounds creepy coming from Mrs. Robinson here ).

I think what I appreciated most was how true to life the whole story was. That when young people deal with their firsts in life, nothing goes smoothly. Because the reality is: when going through your firsts ( I´m refering to everything a teenager can experience for the first time ) there´s going to be a truck load of awkward moments. The author should receive a standing ovation for trying to “tell it how it really is” instead of painting out awkward situations to be something that has to be perfect.

Being in love feels awkward. Having sex for the first time is awkward. Fighting for the first time is awkward. This couple..they were awkward and lovable and just… perfect, despite their imperfections.

This is a story about how love does NOT conquer all. This is a story about growth and change. It´s about having a voice even if you can´t speak. It´s about the ability to listen even if you can hear.

Bah. * throws kitchen towel * I´m in love. That´ll have to do for now.


Would I recommend this book? Yes! Anyone up for a YA feel real teenage romance with imperfect kiddos… DEFINITELY! If you love fluff, ABSOLUTELY!

Would I reread this book? I most certainly will.

`A Quiet Kind Of Thunder is a gem!


The Cover – 5 stars: Matches perfectly with the story. Pink and hearts with gold highlights.

The Story – 5 stars: I have absolutely nothing to complain about other than it took me a bit to fully get into the story. But that didn´t bother me. It´s a love story. I love love stories.

The Characters – 5 stars: Perfectly flawed. Imperfection at it´s finest.

My emotional state after finishing this read: I might never shut up about this book.

5 stars


 

Get your copy of `A Quiet Kind Of Thunder`here.