The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

I was drawn to this book after reading books like If I Stay. I always try to go into reading a book without drawing too many comparisons between books with similar ideas. I’m sure if I were to compare The Beginning of After to If I Stay, I might find it lacking or not up to par, but instead, I view it as its own book as found it to be an emotional ride that didn’t feel fake or contrived.

Castle wrote the emotions of her characters so well, that even when she didn’t explicitly say what a character was feeling, as I reader, I could still tell. I could feel the confusion and hurt and anger of her characters. She was able to give them depth and a dimension that is rare to find in books. Where I usually find myself getting annoyed with characters that become selfish and seemingly lose themselves, I didn’t feel that way at all during this book.

Something else I enjoyed was just followed Laurel’s journey, from wanting someone to blame for the accident, to realize that she needs to find acceptance and live her life for her. That journey was easily placed into the novel, but wasn’t obvious. It made it feel extremely real. Things didn’t happen overnight for her. She came to realizations, but there weren’t many lightning bolts of reason, and when those did happen, they made sense; they fit.

Where If I Stay dealt with more of the emotional aspects of life after losing your family, The Beginning of After dealt with the emotion side, as well as the reality that the world goes on and you go with it. It’s a strong, amazing novel, and I’ve very glad to have read it.

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Count Down to Love by Julie N. Ford

This book was a pretty quick read, and fit the genre well. I have to say that I’m not the biggest fan of romance novels, but this was one of the better ones I’ve read.

As much as I understand that this book was about Kelly and her growth, I wish there was more focus on the secondary characters. At least in which ones were still around and which had left. It was slightly confusing not knowing which girls were still on the show, or how the rose ceremonies went.

There were also a few moments when character personalities seemed to do a 180 in a matter of seconds. I’m not a fan of those in any book. People don’t suddenly realize their many years of thinking one way is wrong and start thinking the opposite unless there is a huge life altering event. There wasn’t one of those for the moment I am thinking of. It was simply a sudden change in personality that felt fake and like it was done for the sake of making everything perfect.

I can’t say I’ll be reading this book again, but it was a decent late-night read.