Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins

I struggled on what to rate this book. I finally decided to just go with what Goodreads has as the 2 and 3 star descriptions. 3 stars say “liked it” and 2 stars is “it was ok.” In the end, it was just okay for me. The writing itself was good, and the storyline had a lot of potential, but the characters aggravated me too much to really enjoy the book.

The idea of a forbidden love set in the modern times and not as a retelling of one of the many forbidden loves out of history. Hopkins had the potential for a great story here. Rose is a modern girl forced to move to a place where modern isn’t the norm. Noah is the Amish boy she starts to fall in love with. There are so many obstacles that could get in their way and make their love a challenge, and Hopkins focuses on the largest one possible. I did like that part. However, that brings me to the thing that bothered me most about this book.

Noah and Rose are both teens and act like it. That would be fine if their romance was treated as a teen romance. But because Noah is basically an adult in his culture, it makes that nearly impossible. This makes him seem arrogant and condescending at times towards Rose, as he expects her to drop her own life and conform to his life, without giving strong consideration to leaving his life for her. I would have been fine with this had Rose met his stubbornness with her own. Unfortunately, she doesn’t and her unwillingness to have a backbone and stand up to Noah made me increasingly frustrated. Love does not mean having to give up everything in your life because your significant other decides that the only way for you to be together. Relationships are about balance and give and take and the fact that Rose and Noah’s relationship was so incredibly unbalanced without either of them seeing it really took away most of the enjoyment I could have felt from this novel.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to read the next novel without having an idea of if Rose grows a spine and starts to stand up for herself. Sadly, this isn’t really a book I’d recommend to my friends, but I can see why some people would fall for the romance of the book without realizing just how weak the female characters in it are. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people.

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What I Didn’t Say by Keary Taylor

I read the summary of this book and I thought it had a lot of potential to be a great novel. There was obviously the romance side of the book, but I felt like the struggle Jake would go through after the accident and losing his ability to speak would make for a great character exploration. Unfortunately, more of the book was focused on Jake and Sam’s relationship than on Jake trying to find his way after something so tragic.

I found Jake and Sam’s characters to be a bit flat and slightly too stereotypical. Their relationship felt a little too cheesy and clichéd and some of the plot twists felt like they were thrown in to extend the length of the novel. In my opinion, this book could have been amazing if it had been cut in half. I felt there was a good, solid ending to the love story right in the middle of the book, and yet there was still another half to read.

I really do wish Taylor had explored Jake more and his life after the accident. The few moments I really enjoyed in the book were the times when Jake’s frustration with his new life came through, but those were few and far between. He seemed to shake off those problems faster than he should. If those emotions and struggles had been explored more, this could have become a great, emotional novel.

One other minor thing that bothered me was the complete open end of the homeless man brought in to teach Jake sign language and ended up living in their house for a while. It seemed to just be there without a purpose or a point and it bugged me a little bit as I read.

Overall, this book just didn’t do it for me. There wasn’t enough emotion or growth in the characters to make it a stand out and I ended up just skimming the closer I got to the end of the book.

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Wow.

This was a hard book for me to read, and yet I feel so much better after having read it. I have not gone through anything as traumatic as rape, nor have I ever cut myself. However, I have dealt with depression and reaching such a low point that it’s hard to envision being able to find a light.

Scars is a book about sexual abuse and how Kendra deals with the memories she can’t fight off. Rainfield did an amazing job in showing that Kendra was not cutting to kill herself; she was cutting because it was a way to control the immense pain she was feeling. There’s a distinct line between having an outlet and suicide and Rainfield had clear control over showing this. I commend Rainfield on finding the courage to write this novel, given the author’s note at the end of the book.

I also loved the characters Rainfield created. They’re real people and I felt so many emotions over Kendra. She was dealt such a horrible, horrible set of cards, and ye she’s still able to face the world. She knows what she needs and she’s not afraid to fight for that support. Meghan, as the best friend and romantic aspect of the story, are perfect. She gives Kendra the support she needs and doesn’t turn away, even when Kendra thinks she will. Carolyn is the mother figure Kendra’s mom isn’t. She provides that unconditional love and support Kendra craves so badly.

There is no doubt the Scars is a difficult book to read, but it is a book people need to read. It doesn’t gloss over things and try to paint them in a better picture. It’s real, gritty, and one of the best books I’ve read all year.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

There wasn’t anything necessarily wrong with Revolution, but there was something that kept me from connecting with the story. I don’t usually have as much trouble finding something to tie myself to in a book, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get into this book.

Andi is basically a mess, and even though she knows it, she refuses to acknowledge just how bad she is. She’s suffering greatly, but fights against that to maintain at least a slight resemblance to okay. It’s because of this that her father takes her to Paris and she starts a search in the pages of an old diary that ends with her finding a way to live the life she’s been given. I wasn’t in love with Andi’s character, but I understood her a little bit. I’ve never had such a loss as she had, but I still understand a bit of her desperation for something else in life besides the pain it is now.

There’s a tiny bit of romance in here, and I do think it’s just the right amount. Any less and Andi wouldn’t end up where she needs to be. Any more and it would have taken away from the main point of the story. Donnelly did do a fantastic job when it came to this.

I’m usually a huge fan of anything with historical context, but it wasn’t until the last 50 or so pages I actually became interested in the story. I felt like the novel dragged a bit and could have been a little bit neater, cleaner, and tighter. It took a long while to build up to the exciting part of the novel and I wish there either could have been more of the history or less of everything else. I’m not really sure which I’d prefer.

Overall, Revolution was not a bad book. I just didn’t find the connection I needed to fully enjoy it. I’m sure this book is loved by many for a reason, but for me, it just didn’t cut it.

Until I Die by Amy Plum

I’ve spent the past several minutes, sitting in stunned silence, with my mouth gaping, and strange inhuman sounds occasionally coming out of me. That is what Plum has reduced me to.

Until I Die has managed to be a tie-together for the first and second books, while still being its own, amazing story. It not only avoided the “second book sinkhole” that plagues some trilogies, but it built a wonderful, fantastic, gold encrusted, jeweled bridge over it.

Everything that I loved in Die For Me was here in Until I Die, and somehow Plum added elements I didn’t even know I wanted. There’s romance, supernatural and regular human problems, Paris, action…it’s all in there and Plum has found the magical formula to make it great.

There’s no shortage of romance between Kate and Vincent, although the tone has changed just slightly. They’re no longer trying to figure each other and their situation out; they’ve come to a workable solution that works for everyone and I really loved that. There’s just a little something different about their relationship that I love. Vincent is still there to sweep everyone away with his words and actions, but there’s more between them than just that.

The story builds on the action of Die For Me and adds even more layers to the already complex plot. It makes for an extremely interesting novel that never feels slow or like Plum was simply writing this book to get to the action of the third book. It seamlessly ties in the story of the first book with the setup for the third, and leaves such a cliffhanger that I’m more anxious and excited for the next book than most normal humans should be.

Until I Die was a fantastic, amazing book that has me hanging on the edge of my seat for the next book and in love with Amy Plum and her words. It’s definitely a must read for anyone that wants a book with love and action with a supernatural twist.

Rippler by Cidney Swanson

I wanted to like this book, I really did. It has an interesting idea behind it and I was really hopeful, even after the first few chapters being a little slow. But something held me back and I just didn’t enjoy it as much I had hoped I would.

Sam is a typical teen with an interesting ability. I did like Swanson’s ability to blend these two pieces in a way that was believable and made Sam into a very real person. She has to deal with the typical teen problems with friends, parents and relationships. But she also has to deal with her ability to turn invisible, or ripple. She learns more about her ability and starts to work on controlling it as she goes along. I did enjoy that aspect of the book.

However, I felt like the romance side fell a little flat and usually I wouldn’t have a huge problem with this, but within the book it seemed that Swanson was trying to make something happen that just wouldn’t happen. I didn’t understand Sam’s love for Will and where it came from. I didn’t swoon and I don’t really have an opinion of Will either way.

I was also a little put off by the Nazi tie-in. I’m not sure why, but I do feel like it wasn’t necessary. I was fine with the idea of secret tests being done sometime in the past, but for some reason, the idea that the experiments the Nazis conducted during World War Two were tied to the rippling ability kind of squicked me a little bit.

All in all, I’m not very invested in this series. Maybe if I get bored with my usual books and feel like finding out the rest of this story, I’ll pick up the next books, but I was a little disappointed by this first book and don’t really have the desire to find out what happens next.

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

I wasn’t quite prepared when I started reading this. I wasn’t expecting this book to be this heavy. I thought it would be a lot like the lighter novel that deal with tough topics. You’d feel sorry for the main girl, sad for the choices she makes, and elated when in the end, she falls in love with the right person and everything is tied up in a pretty bow. Nothing Like You was nothing like I thought.

Holly recently lost her mother to breast cancer and she thinks she’s okay now. She didn’t have a dark time of depression after her mom’s death, but it’s easy to tell by the nearly robotic way she thinks about life in the first few chapters that she hasn’t dealt with losing her mom. She hasn’t really faced her grief; she’s found a way to live while pushing the sadness back.

Holly reaches out to Paul as a way to bring her out of the numbness she’s felt since her mom died. In doing this, her problems begin to grow and snowball until she’s finally forced to confront them. It’s a very realistic look at Holly’s journey from the numb, needy girl she starts out as to the more emotionally stable person she becomes at the end. Everything isn’t solved by the end of the book, but there’s hope written in those final pages. My only wish is that we could have seen if Holly came to terms with who she is and found a way to stop comparing herself to others and deciding what she does or doesn’t deserve based on what she sees.

Nothing Like You is a heavy, but fantastic read that tackles the tough topic of loss and what it can do to a person. Even though it’s on the shorter side in length, Strasnick packed a lot of valuable words and meaning into these pages. It’s definitely worth a read.