#RockMyTBR: NOWHERE BUT HERE

ROCKMYTBR

So, this will be another unconventional review- one for the #RockMyTBR challenge, hosted by Sarah! I’ve completed my first book (actually, it’s been about a week now) and I’m proud of that feat! The first book I decided to read was….*drumroll*

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Well. I’m glad I got through it, in anticipation of Walk the Edge, which releases on March 29th of this year (I’m pretty sure). While I still plan on reading that one, I’m afraid Nowhere But Here didn’t do much for me- not as much as Take Me On, which remains my favorite of McGarry’s books. Here’s my quick review, as posted previously on Goodreads, for all you lovelies waiting to see my reaction!

THOUGHTS

Finally made it through this chunky little baby! Not sure what my thoughts are yet- definitely a little slow in places, and I can’t wait for (hopefully) more information on Chevy and Violet. Emily got on my nerves more than I usually tolerate, and there were some weird personality morphs it seemed like, but I’ll have to ponder it more.

Update (added 3 days later):

Upon reflection, what really stands out to me about this book is how sexualized it was. It seemed like every two sentences one character or the other was thinking about various physical characteristics of the other person, and not in a ‘hey, he/she is pretty’ way. A ‘I want that person naked’ way. It got tiresome quickly, and it didn’t stop. Although it was by no means insta-love, it almost seemed like they got carried away by their physical wants and then decided to be in love after the fact. I know McGarry always writes romance, but this one was definitely the most romance-dependent- which is saying a lot. For a 500 page book, I thought there would be a lot more substance, especially as it was so hyped. I was really hoping for more of a blowout with the rival motorcycle gang, etc. On another note, the language was atrocious. I know most people don’t mind, and yeah, they’re a motorcycle gang, but Oz said it himself ‘We aren’t thugs.’ Anyhow, it was seriously chock full of f-bombs, which made more of an impression than a lot of the other parts of the book.

When you get right down to it, the underlying plot was really interesting- the secrets about Emily’s past and how everyone seems to have their own agenda really was what kept me going. But the romance was pretty off to me, maybe because I didn’t really like Emily or Oz all that much. I’ll still read Walk the Edge, because McGarry usually makes me happy, but this one was more of a miss than a hit for me.

WHAT TO WATCH

I think I would rate this one for older teens and up, although I won’t be recommending it for more reasons than one. As mentioned, there was a lot of foul language, a lot of not-so-innuendos, and all this hot and heavy hate-love-hate-love stuff that got pretty tiring after 500 pages. Maybe it’s just been too long since I read a McGarry book, but this one seemed more adult than the others. But obviously these are my opinions, and it’s all up to you.

Overall, I only give this one 2 stars. It wasn’t a strong start to the series for me, but my loyalty to the author (as well as my intense interest in a few select characters) will keep me reading.

IN ANY EVENT

Make sure you follow me on TWITTERbecause I’ll be giving away my hardcover copy of Nowhere But Here a little bit close to the release date of Walk the Edge! 

 

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QUICK REVIEW: FIRST AND THEN

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SUMMARY

Devon Tennyson wouldn’t change a thing. She’s happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon’s cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn’t want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.

MY THOUGHTS: 

DISCLAIMER: I’m experimenting with dropping the blog thing- I’ll miss Netgalley, of course, but I’m so busy that it’s hard to find time to read, let alone write the type of reviews that I love the most- long, exhaustive, full of rants and feels, etc. So I’ve been taking a little bit of time off and will continue to do so (my reviews, when I write them, still go up on Goodreads, but are often very quick and address concerns I see from other readers). This is an example of a very quick goodreads review I wrote after reading First and Then. 

Exactly what I needed. A light, quick read that takes you back home to high school football and daydreams about those brooding heroes. Definitely going on my list of comfort books to read when I’m down.

I’m seeing a lot of reviews bashing First & Then because of the issues it doesn’t go into detail about- Foster’s Mom, Marabelle, etc- but I think it’s okay that we don’t get into the gritty details of their messy lives. This isn’t meant to be a serious discussion of the issues that people face- it’s a fun, easy romance, one to sit down and smile at, to enjoy the growth of a few characters and that hometown feel of community even when things get bad. I, for one, was glad there weren’t pages upon pages of the mess. Sometimes, that’s what we need to escape when we read, and that’s why I live books like First and Then. It helps us all to remember that sometimes, it’s not wrong to just take a few hours and relax and not think about all the horrible details and underlying trauma-we can just enjoy the love of football and family.

I’ll add my What to Watch as well: 

This is your basic high school scene, so there is mention of drugs, some brief underage drinking, and some innuendos. But there is nothing graphic and I would have no problem recommending this to a high-school age teen (maybe not a freshman- they should worry more about their GPAs :D)

So, not a huge review and not very in-depth, but I’ve been really enjoying my time off, even though I have been working (slowly) on my 2 challenges for this month. I completed a book for #RockMyTBR, and expect to see a post on that soon! Thanks for reading!

AUDIO REVIEW: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

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SUMMARY:

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

MY THOUGHTS:

Okay. I’m going to be brief about this. I listened to the audio, and first things are first: I loved the narrator’s voice and the way that, even though he was only one person, he brought each character to life. I loved, too, Frank Volkheimer. The entire time. I loved the strains of piano that concluded the reading, and the way each piece of seemingly random information clicked into place as you reached the climax. I can see why it took Doerr ten years to write this novel, and I can see why it won the Pulitzer- the writing was so elegant and the words wrapped around you like old friends or a worn favorite blanket. When I tried to read it, I got lost in those same words, but hearing them let me concentrate on the cadence and the tone rather than how to pronounce them.

What I did not love:
I became difficult, at times, to decipher who, what time period, what place each chapter took on, because there were so many, and there were few indicators. Reading would have been better for this, I think. I ended up spending a lot of time with my mind occupied in figuring out what had happened the last time we were with this character, in that place, in what time.

The convergence of Werner and Marie-Laure left something to be desired. You spend this entire book waiting, waiting for them to meet, and once they do….it’s only for a moment. I suppose that is meant to mimic the lives of real people, how one person or so many tiny coincidences can lead up to a single moment, and that can be beautiful, but in a book, it made everything I had wanted so badly to happen so fleeting and so lacking.

I also was frustrated by the ending. Like many adult books I have read, this seemed like a book written just for me- and then the other shoe drops. For me, with the limited scope of adult books I have picked up, be they critically acclaimed, award winners, or what have you, they seem to be the unhappy endings of an open-ended YA novel. Adult books seem to be written by the realists of the world, even when their imaginations have sparked beautiful worlds and legends and tales. All the Light We Cannot See was one of these. A lush, rich climax that left me excited to keep listening was replaced, not by an aching, open end, or a vague epilogue, but the harsh reality of life, the drudgery of the middle-aged left after the war and the hollowness that enclosed them. And maybe that’s beautiful to some people, maybe they like to read about the real lives of people, but I didn’t want my time to be so spent. It troubles me that now, I can’t even imagine a world where Werner and Marie-Laure even know each other, let alone where they are happy and bold and strong.

Obviously I had a few issues with this book. But Volkheimer, the rich historical details, and the beautiful writing made this book worth my time. I will give it four stars, simply because of those three things.

WHAT TO WATCH:

(SPOILERS) This is an adult book, so there were a few instances to look out for. With regard to violence, this was probably the most prevalent, since it is set in wartime. There were a few gruesome descriptions of deaths, and the training for Hitler’s army of youths is brutal. Werner is trained with regard to triangulating radio signals, only for his comrades to go in and kill the broadcasters.

There are also some sexually explicit jokes made by one of the soldiers in Werner’s company, and his younger sister, her guardian, and a few of her friends are raped by Russian soldiers.

The same man who makes explicit jokes also uses some foul language in a few instances, but the scenes with that person are not frequent.

 

So tell me what you thought of this Pulitzer! It wasn’t really my type of book, but I know it is well-loved by many. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all soon!

REVIEW: THE MASKED TRUTH

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SUMMARY: 

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.

Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

MY THOUGHTS:

PLOT: Mrmgh. Eh. Sigh. I didn’t reread the summary when I picked this one up. My interpretation (aka what I remembered) was that it was one of the kids, picking off the others one by one, you never know who you can trust.

Nope. From the start you know who the dangerous ones are, and then it’s just a lot of running and hiding and running and people being absolute idiots. And then it’s just a lot of self-doubt and wandering around a hospital and that’s where I stopped. So I guess this is more of a baby book review, because I skimmed just about the last 50 pages. I guess the end was kind of a surprise? But not…really? Honestly, there were about a hundred pages that were really interesting, and then I just…wasn’t feeling it. It was too fast a climb in action that led to too fast a fall in action.

CHARACTERS: I hoped a lot from these characters. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t connect with them, and I wanted a lot more. From Max and his schizophrenia, I wanted more hallucination, more of that unreliable narrator, instead of thinking it MIGHT be unreliable, but probably not really. I understand that it’s much more realistic this way, but I would have loved more drama from him.

As for Riley, I just…couldn’t get behind her trauma. The survivor’s remorse and the PTSD, once again, I realize were crafted for the realism, but I wanted…more. More than just her calling herself a coward every five paragraphs.

As for secondary characters, I really liked Sloane after the entire incident. Brash and confident, she was just my kind of character. I did think Armstrong did a great job writing an interesting and varied group of characters. (even if a lot of them did bite the dust).

Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for a thriller, or contemporary, or…I don’t know. This one just didn’t strike me, but maybe I’ll revisit it when I know that’s what mood I’m in.

WHAT TO WATCH:

Violence. This one was pretty graphic, too, lots of descriptions and shooting and fighting and just…violence. So this one is definitely not for young or sensitive readers.

What did you think of The Masked Truth? I heard a lot of great things about it, and I want some reasons to try it again someday!

NAMELESS

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SUMMARY:

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

THOUGHTS:

PLOT: I don’t have a lot to say about this book. I think I went into it with too high expectations from the rave reviews I had seen before the release date. I don’t know what changed between the ARC and the finished copy, but I didn’t see the kind of excellence I wanted to. The idea, in and of itself, is great. It’s a different take on a sort of cult life, futuristic fantasy faction land, and I loved the originality of the idea. The execution, however, felt like too much of the author trying to make elements of other popular YA books fit into her novel. The Prim (Hunger Games) little sister in danger situation? Check. The factions that all excel in one field or another, a la Divergent? Check. A love triange? Check. (But, to be fair, it wasn’t much of one). It saddened me that the execution fell so flat for me, and I wish that even the pacing had been better. There was a lot of talking, talking, talking, each character thinking, feeling guilty, feeling torn, and then all at once a flurry of action that made sense, but with no buildup or anticipation. The cliffhanger at the end was good, although abrupt, and I’ll probably at least skim the next book, since it’s only a duology.

CHARACTERS: Eh…I don’t want to talk about them. Honestly, it’s been a week since I finished this book, and I don’t even remember them. The girl was Zo, someone whose name started with a G….Gryphon? I don’t have the book, and now I can’t check. I think it was Gryphon. Anyway, they all did a lot of thinking- mostly about how betrayed everyone would be if they knew the truth. It was all so roundabout, and it got tiresome quickly, especially with so much potential for other things. I don’t think I can really say anything more about the characters- just that they were all intending to do something selfless, and ended up only seeming self-absorbed.

WHAT TO WATCH

This one was pretty clean, with only a few references to sex- one of the gate guards is particularly disgusting, and takes what he wants from many of the girls in the community, and intends to do so with Zo as well as her younger sister, but (SPOILER) nothing happens. That’s all.

OVERALL: I’d give this one two and a half stars, maybe. It was only okay in some parts, but there were a few occasions that I really enjoyed it. So of course, these are all subjective opinions, and I’d love to hear yours if you’ve read it!

REVIEW: ILLUMINAE

SUMMARY

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

THOUGHTS

This is just going to be a bunch of gifs, because what can you really say about a book this good?

So then, I’m sitting there, nearing the end of the book, and I kid you not- for the last 150 pages or so, this was my expression:

But then, just as all was winding down, the final blow was delivered, leaving me feeling like

So that’s that. Illuminae one of the (if not THE) best book I’ve read all year. Go read it now. You won’t regret it.

ARC REVIEW: INHERIT THE STARS

SUMMARY

Three royal houses ruling three interplanetary systems are on the brink of collapse, and they must either ally together or tear each other apart in order for their people to survive.

Asa is the youngest daughter of the house of Fane, which has been fighting a devastating food and energy crisis for far too long. She thinks she can save her family’s livelihood by posing as her oldest sister in an arranged marriage with Eagle, the heir to the throne of the house of Westlet. The appearance of her mother, a traitor who defected to the house of Galton, adds fuel to the fire, while Asa also tries to save her sister Wren’s life . . . possibly from the hands of their own father.

But as Asa and Eagle forge a genuine bond, will secrets from the past and the urgent needs of their people in the present keep them divided?

Author Tessa Elwood’s debut series is an epic romance at heart, set against a mine field of political machinations, space adventure, and deep-seeded family loyalties.

THOUGHTS

I’ll be completely honest- I didn’t remember a lot about this book when I started it and since I hadn’t heard a lot, I didn’t expect much in terms of ‘Everyone says I’m going to love it!’

All of that was blown away.

The writing was amazing- not in the fantasy-elegant way that we’ve been seeing a lot of, but clean, fast, and engrossing. The characters- oh, my heart. Each one was round, dynamic, and nothing you could call stereotypical. There was good and bad in each of them, and you never could quite tell which was going to take over in any given situation.

Every time I thought the plot was going to veer in a direction that most stories of this kind do, it changed, twirling off into a completely different universe and making me excited and surprised all over again.

The romance is understated, subtle, and presses ever closer before you realize it, because you’ve been holding your breath waiting for the other shoe to drop on Eagle and Asa. Gosh, Eagle. Imperfection and wonder in a gorgeously damaged being- but not damaged like you might think. I won’t ruin the surprise, but don’t think that it’s another of those messed-up relationships where the girl still loves the guy even though he’s awful. No, the romance sets the background and keeps everything in motion even when you don’t think it will, and has that sort of quiet tension without 80 pages of teenage angst. I loved it. LOVED IT.

Inherit the Stars is a book I’m already eager to read again, and if there’s no more, I’ll be crying, for sure. I’ve fallen in love with the characters, the universe, and the potential for greatness only hinted at in the first book. Five stars, wholeheartedly.

Release Date: December 8, 2015 by Running Press Kids

I was provided a digital ARC of this book before the release date through NetGalley and Running Press Kids, but this in no way affected my review of the work.

BABY BOOK REVIEW: COURT OF FIVES

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JUST LET ME SLEEP

So, I’ve been reading more lately. And I’m trying to catch up on a few reviews, and this one is the latest. Now, I was really excited for this book, especially because it came in a dry spell of releases I wanted. Once again, I found myself disappointed. This book is HUGE. Not, Game of Thrones huge, but for a YA novel, it was a monster. Therefore, I expected even more.

WHAT I ACTUALLY GOT

First of all, there were immediately way too many characters and way too much filler. I understand that you’ll have that sometimes with a large family scene, but Jane Austen’s Elizabeth had four sisters, and it never felt flat or boring to read scenes where they all conversed. There was too much information and backstory being poured into that first few pages/chapters, and even when I got to the Fives race, my attention waned. And the characters didn’t spark anything in me- they were all irritating, and I didn’t feel like they would get any better. I didn’t get through the Fives race- and that was why I stopped. When I couldn’t even get through the event the book seemed to be named for, or the preliminary trials for it (I really don’t remember) I decided that I had better things to read. I’d give it 1.5 stars, maybe two because it may have gotten better and the world-building had some solid elements, but I didn’t stick around to find out more.

BABY BOOK REVIEW : NEVER ALWAYS SOMETIMES

SUMMARY

Never date your best friend.

Always be original.

Sometimes rules are meant to be broken.

Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids—the ones who sit at the same lunch table every day, dissecting the drama from homeroom and plotting their campaigns for prom king and queen. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they’d never, ever do in high school.

Some of the rules have been easy to follow, like #5, never dye your hair a color of the rainbow, or #7, never hook up with a teacher. But Dave has a secret: he’s broken rule #8, never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school. It’s either that or break rule #10, never date your best friend. Dave has loved Julia for as long as he can remember.

Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. He even dyes his hair an unfortunate shade of green. It starts as a joke, but then a funny thing happens: Dave and Julia discover that by skipping the cliches, they’ve actually been missing out on high school. And maybe even on love.

THOUGHTS

I liked the premise, I liked the characters….but then I didn’t. It seems to linger too long on the in-between stages, with more focus on Dave- poor, conflicted Dave- getting to know another girl, and less of what I expected- a long list of Nevers, a cute best-friend romance, and a happy ending. Isn’t that what the summary implies? A story that’s almost cliche in itself, maybe akin to Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Asher, a perfect story about how love can change you, one that makes your heart happy and leaves you excited for what’s next for the main characters? But this was not that book. This was a book for cynics of longtime love, maybe more realistic in nature, maybe more for those who have little faith in relationships, but not for those who want to escape the realistic drudgery of high school and the routines that every high school person goes through.

The ending is less than satisfactory (okay, yes, I flipped to the end to see if it was worth continuing) and DNFed at about 120 pages in. This book wasn’t for me, and I wish I could have liked it, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The love triangle was unexpected and kind of frustrating (mostly because I had no emotional investment and I hate love triangles) but it was an applaudable effort, and I can’t find any fault with the writing, just the execution.

BOOK REVIEW: ANOTHER DAY

“Most of the time when we think we’re looking for death, we’re really looking for love.”

SUMMARY

Every day is the same for Rhiannon. She has accepted her life, convinced herself that she deserves her distant, temperamental boyfriend, Justin, even established guidelines by which to live: Don’t be too needy. Avoid upsetting him. Never get your hopes up.

Until the morning everything changes. Justin seems to see her, to want to be with her for the first time, and they share a perfect day—a perfect day Justin doesn’t remember the next morning. Confused, depressed, and desperate for another day as great as that one, Rhiannon starts questioning everything. Then, one day, a stranger tells her that the Justin she spent that day with, the one who made her feel like a real person…wasn’t Justin at all.

In this enthralling companion to his New York Times bestseller Every Day, David Levithan tells Rhiannon’s side of the story as she seeks to discover the truth about love and how it can change you.

MY THOUGHTS

I don’t know how to get into this. I really enjoyed Every Day, way back when it first came out and I didn’t know anything about the story. I remember loving A, loving Rhiannon, loving the bittersweet, unsatisfactory ending that left me wanting more, but not too much more. I wanted to know if he ever got to have his own body, and if Rhiannon found someone else to love, because loving A was impossible.

Then I found out Another Day was a thing. I was excited, yes. Nervous, yes. But this was not at all what I had expected, or wanted, from it. I didn’t think I would have such a problem with seeing the story from Rhiannon’s point of view, but her story took all the romance and mystery out of it for me. In fact, I don’t know why A liked her at all. She’s a complete stereotype, and without sounding insensitive, I can’t go into why. Suffice to say that I don’t like people who can’t stand up for themselves, who let themselves be trampled all because they don’t think they’re worth enough to be treated right, and I certainly don’t want to read about them.

The entire book, after every encounter with Justin, I felt more angry with Rhiannon, and after every encounter with A, I was more confused as to why he was so determined to be with her. It just didn’t make sense, unless A has some kind of hero complex.

In addition, I found this book to be less about the story of A, Rhiannon, and the mystery of why A changed every night and more about the ever more controversial subject of gender and the role it plays in relationships. Too many long monologues about why ‘gender doesn’t matter’ and ‘love covers all’ for me to be comfortable, because to me, gender does matter.

But I digress. Another Day fell flat for me, and I’m sorely disappointed that it ended in the same place as Every Day, with far fewer answers and far more questions.

WHAT TO WATCH

Oh, you know. Homosexuality and transgender characters abound, so if you don’t approve of that, I wouldn’t pick this one up. Heterosexuality is also casually thrown in, with sex happening frequently. There is underage drinking and partying, and drugs are mentioned a few times. I wouldn’t recommend this for those with a sensitive conscience, and definitely not for young readers.

OVERALL

I’ll give Another Day two stars for the writing style- it kept pace, for the most part, and rarely dragged, though I did skim some. But I didn’t like the content- I’m not interested in reading about people, knowingly or not, experiment with their sexuality while at the same time be driven into depression and desperation by their boyfriend, his actions, and their unwillingness to step away from the situation. To me, Rhiannon was the bad guy, and I know that wasn’t the point of the book, but that’s where it ended up for me.

I received an ARC of this book thanks to NetGalley and Random House. This has not influenced my review in any way.