Books, Reviews

Second First Impressions Book Review

Have you ever been caught off guard by the sound of your own heartbeat? Maybe you’ve pressed your ear weirdly on your pillow, and now all you can hear is your own proof of life. You are confronted with your mortality in a base, clock-ticking kind of way: you have an engine room, and it has a finite timeline. What a miracle and a privilege. – Ruthie

After reading two intense adventure books, I thought this book was really slow when I first started it, but it was the best surprise!

Plot Summary

I’m not great at describing book plots, so enjoy the one provided from the back of the book:

Ruthie Midona has worked the front desk at Providence Retirement Villa for years, living on- site at the beck and call of the wealthy residents – and the rare tortoises that roam the manicured lawns. She has her routine, and not much ever changes. Until she lays eyes on Teddy Prescott, the son of Providence’s new owner and her new neighbor. Tall, tattooed, and with the most magical on Earth (just ask him), Teddy’s in town saving up money to pursue his dream of opening a tattoo shop. He’s the definition of risky, and Ruthie’s dazzled at first sight – until he mistakes her for a little old lady.

Luckily, Ruthie has the perfect revenge for Teddy’s insulting first impression. Her most eccentric residents have just places (yet another!) ad seeking a personal assistant to torment. The Parlonis are ninety-year-old, miniature menaces, and not one of their assistants has lasted a week. Ruthie knows a quitter when she sees one and is more than happy to offer up Teddy.

To Ruthie’s surprise, Teddy proves to be the ultimate hire, charming his way through the entire villa and into her heart with his joyful, never-serious outlook on life. But with the future of Providence hanging in the balance, and Teddy’s family’s plans threatening to shatter Ruthie’s safe little universe, will Teddy be there when it really counts?

What I Thought

This book pleasantly surprised me and gave me all the sweet and good feels!

After skimming some of the reviews on Goodreads, this book has gotten a bit of dislike… mainly for not being relatable or for the main character being to meek and blah. I find that assessment very unfair, because I happen to relate to Ruthie in so many ways – it’s kind of sad actually. At one part, I took a screenshot of the page and highlighted parts that sounded like me and sent it to my husband and best friend who laughingly agreed. I think discounting a book for a character not that all around relatable or someone you want to aspire to is silly, because everyone is different and I think it points out that she has reasons for her behavior as well as recognizing where she needs to grow. For those curious, here is the excerpt that describes me: “ID,” the bartender calls out in a forbidding voice when I reach the top of the stairs. “Wow, okay,” I reply and hand it to him. “I’m twenty-five.” He checks it, rechecks it, then chuffs a laugh. “You look about twelve.” I’ll take being mistaken for twelve over a Golden Girls cosplayer any day. As I tuck my ID back into my purse I briefly consider getting wasted. Maybe I’ll drink straight from that bottle of green stuff back there. I’ll leave my car here all night and order my first ever Uber home. Like no joke, I’ve had these very thoughts and conversations. So, in Ruthie’s defense, she is relatable to sheltered, sweethearts like myself. 🙂

I’d like to take a second and just say that I adored Teddy. I thought he was fantastic, adorable, and charming. I like how misjudged he was because of his appearance as a rich, confident, bad boy because of his tattoos, motorcycle, family, but as you learn more about him and see how he interacts with literally all the characters, you see that he is so much different and more than that. The “bad boy” trope is just so big right now, but most real girls don’t actually want a bad boy. We want someone to respect us, adore us, cheer us on…. so I reeeeeally appreciated that this book took a different route. I loved the explanation as to why Teddy was interested in Ruthie – because girls like Ruthie can be a catch for all you haters. And I felt that he truly treated her well and their friendship-turned-relationship was so so so sweet and it felt like something out of my very own dreams. I feel like the author got into my head from a few years ago and wrote a feel-good book just for me!

Let’s talk the love scene. I’ve already said that this book was basically written for me and the love scene was no different. It was hella romantic! But let me back up and say that this is chick-lit, not new adult or romance, so keep that in mind. The book is a love story, but it’s more about the getting to know you, becoming friends, accepting the feelings, and the love scene isn’t until the end. So getting back to the scene itself – I appreciated it, because of how sweet and realistic it was compared to a lot of the raunchy scenes out there. It is described as playful and affectionate. They chat a little in the beginning and laugh. There are kind compliments sprinkled throughout. Not to mention consent is present multiple times through phrases like “Want to keep going?” and “Can you keep going?” It was female positive (is that the word?), because the woman is treated as more than just an object or toy – “I never thought about my body as anything other than an instrument for him to find pleasure. All Teddy wants to do is make me smile and shiver, and his own body doesn’t seem to concern him.” It is obvious that feeling safe was a key in this scene from the way they communicate – “If I ever thought touching him in return would be awkward, I was wrong: we are friends above all else, and we can talk about these things: I can tell him how I want to try this, and this… He lets me.” And last but not least there was aftercare which you rarely ever see. All in all, this scene is spectacularly written. It was kind and sweet and vulnerable and sexy. I loved that the author showed you can write a wonderful love scene without making it dirty and raunchy.

The supporting characters grow on you as well. I wasn’t sure about Mel in the beginning, but as the story moves forward, I ended up really adoring her. The Parlonis were quite funny and I could picture them perfectly in my head. I really like elderly people too, so I found them very endearing.

So the book did start out a little slow. It took maybe 3 chapters before I started to really understand where the story was going and care about the characters. But I am SO GLAD I stuck it out, because this might be one of my favorite books now.

My Rating: 5 Stars

I loved this book and really appreciated how a lot of things were written. It was nice to finally have a main character I could relate to and see parts of myself in. It was fantastic to see a beautiful, kind love scene. I could go on and on. Anywho I recommend to those who enjoy chick-lit – a light-hearted, sweet romance.

Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

Books, Reviews

Fangirl Book Review

… And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off. -Cath Avery

Do you like realistic college feels, boring fanfiction about a fake series, and unfinished romantic relationships? Then this is the story for you!

Plot Summary

A nerdy, inexperienced, and introverted girl enters her freshman year of college expecting to go through it with her twin sister. When her twin sister bails, she is left to fend for herself with her dominant roommate, her roommates boyfriend/best friend, a professor who is against the one thing she loves more than anything, and just figuring out the whole college thing. Is she ready to grow up? Can she do it alone?

What I Thought

I absolutely expected to love every bit and piece of this book aftering hearing about and seeing it everywhere over the past five years, but I found the story – especially the ending – to be incredibly disappointing.

The first third of the book was great! I was sucked in from the undeniable relatability of Cath’s college experience and her overall personality to my own. I laughed a few times at jabs about what it’s like to attend a big university and have a random roommate. But then the second third of the book took a very slooooooooow turn. I was bored out of mind and irritated with the main character’s whininess. I honestly couldn’t even tell you what happened during those chapters. I had no desire to read the book and eventually forced myself to keep going. I was glad I did, because the third third of the book was much better and I was able to get back to that cute relatability with what she was experiencing in her practically first relationship ever – and I just adored Levi, so I was glad he was getting a bit more page time. And then – boom! – ending.

So kudos to Rainbow Rowell for finally writing a story with a realistic college feel. She completely captured what it is actually like to go to college as a freshmen and feel completely out of place. She shows you the two extremes that freshmen take between the two sisters and I appreciated that. I also liked how realistic Cath was about her first relationship. She was a total inexperienced nerd and I was glad that showed in how their relationship progressed.

Now onto the biggest peeve I have about this book. WHAT WAS UP WITH THE STUPID FANFICTION SECTIONS?? I wanted to bang my head up against the wall or just drop the book in my bathtub everytime Cath would read her story to Levi. Those sections were long, incredibly boring, and completely unnecessary to the story. They added nothing! Plus it was painfully obvious that the Simon Snow series was basically Harry Potter. I just felt like she could be into a fandom and write fanfiction without us actually having to read it. The little pages of the actual book and fanfiction before each chapter were awful enough.

Lastly, this book was no ending. It just ends. It ends with literally all it’s ends left untied. We don’t find out if Cath finished her fanfic – by her deadline or at all. We don’t find out much about her final paper – it alludes to what happend, but not very well. We don’t get a wrap up on her budding relationship – such a tease! So disappointed and confused on what the plot of this book actually was and why this book was over 400 pages.

My Rating: 3 Stars

This book isn’t that bad if you take it for what it is – plotless – and skip over the boring parts – fanfiction pages. I won’t say I necessarily recommend it, but if you are thinking about reading it, I wouldn’t tell you not to. I enjoyed the first and third thirds of the story, I just wish it had more of a plot and a conclusion.

I’m curious, what did you think of the ending?

Let’s be friends on Goodreads!

Books, Reviews

All Your Perfects Book Review

When you meet someone who is good for you, they won’t fill you with insecurities by focusing on your flaws. They’ll fill you with inspiration, because they’ll focus on all the best parts of you. -Graham Wells

All Your Perfects is a story about how a seemingly perfect couple can find themselves in such a broken marriage.

Plot Summary

Quinn and Graham meet under the worst circumstances, but they soon find out that awful situation may have led them to something even greater than what they had before. Flash forward seven years. Can something that seemed so perfect withstand some of the hardest blows that life can send?

What I Thought

The first time I attempted to read this book, it was early August and I made it about two chapters, when I realized this book was about infertility. I have always been a fan of Colleen Hoover and was on a reading kick, but due to my emotional state at the time I couldn’t keep reading. Now, I’m off work for the holidays and in a much better place, so I picked the book up off the shelf and gave it a second try.

All Your Perfects alternates between the past and the present through “now” and “then” chapters. Not all books need flashbacks or alternating point of view, but I felt that the flashbacks added a little something extra to this story by showing you where the couple started from to further explain the depth of what they are going through now.

Although infertility and difficult marriages aren’t topics I enjoy reading about, I liked the raw honesty of the “now” chapters. It’s easy to write a story about a happy couple, but not so easy to write a story about a couple struggling to connect and trust after suffering through such an ordeal many of us can’t even comprehend.

I have to say that I didn’t particularly like the characters… Graham – the main guy character – came off as a little too perfect. Everything about the “then” chapters comes off a little perfect as the couple never seems to fight or disagree or deal with anything negative. I don’t care too much for characters that you can’t relate to and perfection is something I definitely can’t relate to. BUT I wonder if their past was written to be over the top perfect to make their present seem all the more devastating. I can’t quite put my finger on what about Quinn – the main girl character – rubbed me the wrong way, but I just felt like she accepted being broken and didn’t care to try and fix anything in her life until she got what she wanted.

To really understand this story, I think you have to have dealt with infertility or pregnancy loss. It’s hard to get inside the head of a woman who has lost a child or cannot have a child unless you’ve been there yourself. It is a heartbreaking, brutal time that can shake you to your core and shatter your world. I understood that part of Quinn. I understand her hurt and her anger, but I think the main issue is that she chose to push her husband out. Taking time to grieve alone is important, but it is just as important to remember that your spouse is just as involved in losing a child or losing hope of a child and to lean on him and let him lean on you. You can’t properly heal when you choose to keep your grief hidden away.

One of the things I didn’t particularly like is how quickly and easily the issues of this book get resolved. Literally, in like three chapters, their entire broken marriage is just… fixed. It was one of those books that you have to remind yourself is just a book and not to compare your real life situation to the story. Most marriages – especially ones that are as messed up as the one in this book – take a lot longer than a night to become whole again.

My Rating: 4 Stars

All Your Perfects received 4 stars, because I didn’t like either character nor did I like how quickly the story got summed up. I do appreciate Colleen Hoover’s attempt to bring light to such a taboo topic, but I think it needs to be described and explained in much greater detail – and I think the husband’s grief should be explored much more thoroughly. I would not recommend this book to anyone who has suffered with infertility or pregnancy loss recently as it can be extremely triggering.

Did you think this book did a good job highlighting such a taboo topic?

Books, Reviews

Without Merit Book Review

It annoys me when people try to convince other people that their anger or stress isn’t warranted if someone else in the world is worse off than them. It’s bullshit. Your emotions and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You’re the only one who feels them. -Sagan

Honestly, this book was not what I was expecting at all, but if you stick it out, you might like what you find towards the end.

Plot Summary

Merit Voss is a peculiar, misunderstood girl in a crazy, misunderstood family. One day she meets Sagan who brings a fresh perspective into her life and she begins to fall hard for him before realizing he isn’t available. After seeing something she can’t let go, Merit goes from being slightly interested in life to zero interest and decides to find a way out. When she is unsuccessful, she has to face the consequences of her actions.

What I Thought

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover was not the story I expected. Colleen Hoover is known for writing swoon-worthy romances, but this is not a romance. Don’t get me wrong, there is some attraction, but that story is an understudy to the bigger picture. Now let me complain about how confusing and misleading the synopsis of this story is. The synopsis makes you think this is about romance and so does the first chapter… I don’t know if this was to keep readers interested in the story she really wanted to tell or just coincidence.

Mental illness is being talked about a lot more, but still not enough, so I commend most anyone who tried to share information about it. I don’t necessarily think this story was the perfect fit for it though. The characters were really blah and didn’t make me want to root for them at all. I hated just about every character except for Sagan and Luck, but even they had their flaws. I didn’t think any of the characters dealing with a mental illness were explained very clearly on what they were dealing with, why they were dealing with it, or how they were dealing with it. One thing to always note about mental illness is to always make the story positive and helpful. I felt Colleen spent too much time describing the incident and not enough time on moving on and getting help.

Although it wasn’t the fantastic story, it was still good and I’m glad it is out there. Stepping out and being open about depression is close to my heart, so I appreciate the goal behind this novel. I especially appreciate this quote: “Your emotions and reactions are valid, Merit. Don’t let anyone tell you different. You’re the only one who feels them.” This is so true and not said enough!

I think that if you go into reading this book with an open mind, you just might find that you get something out of it.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Do you like Colleen Hoover books that aren’t love stories?

Let’s be friends on Goodreads!