Tag Archive | life drama

Review: The Secret History of Us by Jessi Kirby

the secret history of us -jessi kirbyGorgeously written and emotionally charged, The Secret History of Us explores the difficult journey of a teenage girl who must piece her life together after losing her memory in a near-fatal accident.

When Olivia awakes in a hospital bed following a car accident that almost took her life, she can’t remember the details about how she got there. She figures the fog is just a symptom of being in a week-long coma, but as time goes on, she realizes she’s lost more than just the last several days of her life—she’s lost her memory of the last four years. Gone is any recollection of starting or graduating high school; the prom; or her steady boyfriend Matt. Trying to figure out who she is feels impossible when everyone keeps telling her who she was.

As Liv tries to block out what her family and friends say about who she used to be, the one person she hasn’t heard enough from is Walker, the guy who saved her the night her car was knocked off that bridge into the bay below. Walker is the hardened boy who’s been keeping his distance—and the only person Olivia inexplicably feels herself with. With her feelings growing for Walker, tensions rising with Matt, and secrets she can’t help but feel are being kept from her, Olivia must find her place in a life she doesn’t remember living.


3.5 Drink Me Potions


**The Secret History of Us came out August 1, 2017**

Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

A heartfelt and fast-paced read, The Secret History of Us had me guessing along with Liv as she tried piecing her life back together without her memories. I’ve enjoyed many of Jessi Kirby’s previous books for their grit and ability to make readers think about the deeper questions in life, and likewise this one has been another interesting novel to ponder over.

What if you lost 4-5 years of your life’s memories? Do those experiences shape who we are today or is there something about you intrinsically that defines you?

The emotional journey Liv takes captured me. How loved ones who have your best interests at heart may still want to define you in a way that they think is best. How some relationships may come out of a single moment that might not be reformed in the same way again. These were things plaguing our protagonist and I’m glad that it was the focus of the book.

Relationships were a huge deal too. I liked that her family wasn’t your typical dysfunctional group, but your average American family with 2.5 kids. The family dynamic was still real as they too dealt with the loss of those years almost as personally as Liv did. The exploration of changing friendships such as with middle school besties was also interesting and posed the real question about how one can lose people without really intending for that to happen.

But the highlight of this story was on finding ones identity. Whether that be with what Liv loved to do or the guy she was dating, what made her her? The romantic aspect was present as she couldn’t remember her boyfriend, and there seemed to be a new love interesting forming, but this added to everything else the book was exploring. Can we find our way back to someone we fell for without the relationship history there?

It’s so hard to explain still, but the feelings and emotions reading Liv’s story was truly thought provoking. The only thing that could be improved was the length. Everything happened quite fast and organically, but I kind of wish that the ending was developed more. The romance with Walker was almost non-existent. Honestly, I would’ve been fine if she had decided she needed some quality time alone and single in order to better find herself again.

Whatever it may have lacked near the end, the journey throughout the rest of the book was quick and deep. Jessi Kirby is a master of producing stories that tug at my heartstrings with her almost-lyrical prose and expertly weaved plot that makes the romantic in me sigh.

Overall Recommendation:
The Secret History of Us was a compelling story that I flew through, a story about a girl finding out who she was again. Liv had lost 4 years of her life’s memories, crucial years in high school where so many things had shaped her into the young woman she was. Forgetting both people whom she loved and how she lost a best friend, the emotional journey she takes in figuring out what made her her was poignant and heartfelt. Though the story was a little short and the ending could’ve been developed more, Jessi Kirby makes another thought provoking book, and I’m still a huge fan of hers.


Reading this book made me really think. And the below is a question I’d like to pose to you too.

What events in your life do you think defines who you are? What if you one day lost them? Would you still be you?

Advertisements

Review: Everything All At Once by Katrina Leno

everything all at once -katrina lenoFrom the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.


3 Drink Me Potions


Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Everything All At Once came out July 25, 2017**

[Books] help with everything. Books can make you live a thousand lifetimes, a thousand different lives. Books make you immortal.

Everything All At Once was a poignant novel that took a deep look at life, or rather, how short one’s life can be. Lottie’s aunt whom she was really close to had passed away, leaving her with 24 letters instructing her on different tasks to carry out after she was gone. This was a unique concept that really drew me in. The voice of Aunt Helen was so real, it didn’t matter that she had technically never breathed a single breath during the time span of this novel. Her fears and hopes for Lottie were made clear and her love for those she left behind was written everywhere, both explicitly and implicitly.

Besides that wonderful fact, Aunt Helen was a novel writer, a famous one akin to J.K. Rowling in this world. The little snippets and excerpts from her children novels at the end of each chapter was so cute and the story of Alvin and Margo Hatter drew e in as much as the main story did. In fact, sometimes I looked forward to those little paragraphs more than the book itself.

Now, I absolutely adored Katrina Leno’s writing and prose. It was heartfelt but simple. The characters came to life. From Lottie’s funny but smart brother who had the most realistic sibling relationship I’ve read in a long while, to the family dynamic with the parents, I came to know this family. Not only that, but I bled for Lottie as she struggled with her anxieties, what made her different from the rest of her immediate family aside from her aunt, and the aftermath of the loss of a loved one.

Panic attacks and anxiety wasn’t made the forefront of this story, but its presence was still just as crucial as Lottie learned to take a risk occasionally, to be brave, and to seek help when needed. This was powerful. Especially with the way it ended.

And what an ending. I did not really see that strange aspect coming. The big secret Aunt Helen had kept from everyone. And likewise, how this interesting boy who came into Lottie’s life would also be more meaningful than just a love interest to check off for the protagonist. That brought up my excitement for sure.

That being said, I felt the book dragged a lot. I loved the idea of the 24 letters, and there’s one chapter for each task that Lottie embarked on for that specific letter. Occasionally, I just wished it went by faster so we could get to the exciting parts. At the end of the day, this book was 100% heartfelt but 20% suspenseful in carrying you through all of Lottie’s pain. It just needed something more in the beginning and middle to really get readers excited.

To close, I did enjoy this book no matter the crazy slow pace. It made me think a lot. About life and death. Big themes like immortality and what we leave behind when it’s our time. I think they’re important to discuss and this book did it beautifully.

The possibilities [of death] were endless, and it didn’t matter if you played it safe or not. Here one minute, gone the next.

Overall Recommendation:

Everything All At Once is one of those books that just seems to have a little bit of everything that may attract different audiences. It was heartfelt and real about loss, while also being a little bit explorative and fun with the letters Aunt Helen had left behind for our protagonist, Lottie, to carry out. With a cast of down-to-earth and genuinely real characters, this book would’ve had it all if not for the EXTREMELY slow pace it was set at. While I encourage you read this book for its overall big themes such as death and life, it may not be the easiest book to get through. But the little book within a book element may just be the thing to keep you going.

Note: all quotes are subject to change when published

Review: Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

Series: Rock Harbor #6

beneath copper falls -colleen cobleUSA TODAY bestselling author Colleen Coble returns to her beloved Rock Harbor—but both danger and romance hide in this idyllic small town.

Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff’s dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams “He’s going to kill me too” before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it’s too late. Allyson’s death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn’t believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson’s cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana’s ex-fiance locates her, she’s caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.


3 Drink Me Potions


Thank you NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for this copy in exchange for an honest review

**Beneath Copper Falls comes out July 11, 2017!**

Ah, another mystery set in Rock Harbor. I will confess. I’m a huge fan of Colleen Coble and while that still remains true, I always found myself enjoying her historical fiction works a little more than her contemporary ones. Even still, I wanted to see how her latest story back by popular demand in the town of Rock Harbor would do.

And it didn’t necessarily disappoint (which is a win!).

Dana is an emergency hotline operator. That’s one tough job, but apparently the story trope of witnessing a tragic murder while on the line isn’t all that uncommon anymore. Nevertheless, Colleen Coble made this her own story.

As I was saying, Dana was a good protagonist. She was relatable, albeit not too memorable. She faced similar challenges as I do, trying to speak up when you’re afraid of rejection or being reprimanded by others. With the challenges she had to face due to the murder of her friend Allyson, it gets somewhat overlooked in the grand scheme of things, but she does grow a little in character. I think her character mostly shone through with the craziness that came from her ex chasing her around the country. I will get back to this later.

The romance was predictable. Boone has faced rejection from a previous relationship and didn’t want trust women, yada yada yada. But of course, Dana’s goodheartedness and inner beauty made him change his mind. Okay, it didn’t quite sound so simple, but it kinda felt that way. I wanted to believe in their blossoming love, but I felt it was all a little too cliched and it just didn’t hit me in a way that made me say “aha, my heart is hurting with them”. ‘Cause of course that’s the sign of true love in my eyes 😉

So maybe the romance wasn’t great with the typical strong male character wanting to save the girl who gets in trouble. But the mystery made up for it.

Except for the fact that I guessed who the unlikely culprit was before the halfway point. I was thinking to myself, “hmm, why do I get this crazy feeling it’s *insert name*? No, that can’t be right….”. And guess what?

I was right.

But I’m sure most of you won’t see it coming (I blame it on reading too many mysteries growing up – and the amount of crime shows I binge watch). So that aspect should still be suspenseful and exciting for most readers. I enjoyed the way the pieces fell together. I was hoping it would be a little bit more creepy – like Colleen’s Abomination – but alas, it wasn’t quite as psychologically twisted as I initially thought it would be.

Other little things made the book better. Appearances by fan favourites Kade and Bree put them in roles – particularly Bree – beyond cameos in this story, and the familiar feeling of being back in Rock Harbor was pleasant. The plot was a little all over the place following different POVs, such as the killer’s and Boone’s and Dana’s, but it wasn’t to the level of chaotic so it felt like a good mix of omniscient narrative for us readers.

To sum it up, the romance wasn’t the best, but the mystery was still Colleen’s best. I liked being back in Rock Harbor, and I’m sure many more diehard fans than I am would really enjoy seeing familiar sights and characters. I may just be a bit picky (although I do love her historical mysteries!) but I believe this book falls in line with all the other works in this series and make for a good addition to fan favourites.

Overall Recommendation:
Beneath Copper Falls was a present to diehard Rock Harbor fans and I think Coble did a decent job with this new book. Witnessing the murder of her friend over the line, Dana was a relatable character who struggled with her own past relationship abuse while trying to figure out who killed her friends before the killer got to her. The budding new romance with Boone could’ve been better – he was a little cliched in personality and backstory – but that’s okay as the mystery more than made up for it. Mostly suspenseful (no matter if I predicted it a little early), this book is bound to satisfy some Rock Harbor fans and also make some new ones.


Know of any other good mysteries similar to this storyline?

And if you read this, do YOU think the culprit was predictable or not? I feel like I’m just an anomaly, but I could be wrong.

Next up: reviews on I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski, and Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh; and my June book haul ❤ Until then, lovelies.