Saturday, 13 April 2013

Back to You by Priscilla Glenn

Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.
Make (something) completely free from faults or defects, or as close to such a condition as possible.
The perfect tense.
adjective.  complete - absolute - consummate - utter - thorough
verb.  improve - complete - finish - accomplish

Fair warning, I like the word perfect, and I'm going to overuse it in this review. To make things fun, I will send a printed copy of Back to You the first person to tell me how many times I used the word 'perfect' (or any form of it). It might take me a while to get it to you, because it took me two weeks to get my copy.

A perfect book is one that I will stand on a soap-box and hand out to the masses. It's a book I think everyone should read. It's a book that changes you; makes you look at the world just a little bit differently. It's a book that gives you hope, and one that you constantly think about. A perfect book is one that you turn to when other stories have let you down. A perfect book has you crying ugly tears from the sheer pain or hilarity of the story. It's the one you send overseas as a birthday gift so you and your best-friend can talk about it over Skype. And in the case of hopeless romantics, it's a book that you wish would be made into a movie starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams.

I read a lot and almost anything. There are books that I would read for the next 30 years, and others that I wish I never picked up. I've experienced a 'perfect' book only a handful of times. As of 11:05pm EST on Apr.12th, Back to You became one of them.

This has to be one of the best stories of friendship and love that I've read in a very long time. The retelling of Lauren and Del's story through glimpses to their past was executed perfectly. What made this story so complete and believable for me was that Ms. Glenn really developed the relationship between Lauren and Del. I felt like I understood Lauren, and even at times when he was an ass, I couldn't help but see Del the way she did. Del broke my heart, but I never pitied him. I just wished he would have figured his shit out sooner.

The past and the present worked perfectly in parallel to each other to bring the reader to the pinnacle of the story. I started to hesitate as I sensed that crucial moment growing closer. I was hoping and praying that it wouldn't be a let-down. The turning point in Lauren and Del's friendship happened when they were teenagers, and quiet honestly, I was hating the possibility of an anti-climatic-angst-filled-typical-high-school-drama issue. I wanted something that had purpose. Something that made sense, especially given everything I now knew about these characters. I know one should never be happy about gut-wrenching heartache, but I think exceptions can be made when there's substance behind it. Lauren and Del were not some wishy-washy teenagers so their heartbreak shouldn't be fleeting either.

Just when I couldn't love this story more, I read the lyrics to the song. That song was Lauren and Del because it was so honest and simple. If I was an author, I would write endings like this. The only thing finishing this book made me want to do was re-read it that very moment.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Connected by Kim Karr

Where to start...


Ok, I feel marginally better.

This book was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I hold in high regard. And now all I want to do is have a ‘discussion’ with her to find out WHY in god’s name she would inflict this kind of turmoil on me. WHY?!?

I finished this book in 6 hours and I can honestly say that I loved every second of the 360 minutes that were dedicated to the amazing story of River and Dahlia.

The beginning of the story tested my patients. Every moment after the bar, I wanted Ben gone. I didn’t necessarily wish death upon him, but he was trying my patience because every moment that he was with Dahlia meant that she wasn’t with River.

Then something shitty happens, and I feel bad for one nano-second (and only because it hurts Dahlia), but I know in my gut that what’s about to unravel will be the epitome of all that is delicious-rock-star-who can-love-like-no-other-and-makes-the-readers-want-to-kick-their-husbands-out-and-drive-to-LA awesomeness!

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that River and Dahlia are still insane for each other even after all these years. I can only speak for myself, but I really appreciated how Dahlia still had some internal struggles being with River. I think is she had been like ‘well, Ben’s not here but River is’, in a very nonchalant way, I would have actually hated this book. Sure I thought Ben was an arrogant d-bag (btw – LOVED that!), but no one deserves to be tossed aside like a banana peel after one’s demise. Even if it is for River Wilde

As for River...

Swoon. Sigh...more swooning. Looking at flights to LA. Wondering how to explain a trip to see a completely fictional character to my husband. Sigh. Swoon some more. Sigh a lot more. Try to sleep. Think how hard is it to play a guitar. Sigh. Wonder if sitting near a river this summer while re-reading about River will be poetic. Try to sleep again but realize that Holy Hell! River Wilde is now on my list of ‘Fictional Characters Who I Get a Hall Pass For’. This is huge because I’m very picky about who goes on this list.

I’m reading, and reading, and I’m starting to pick up on things that I was content to be in denial about. My mind started telling its own story about some of the things that seemed to have happened, and I didn’t like the direction it was going.

I have the paperback, and as the remaining pages begin to dwindle, I was getting frantic. Shit was about to hit the fan – I could feel it in my bones. But surely, the person who recommended this book doesn’t wish ill-will on me so there’s no way that she told me to read something that would cause me serious heart palpitations, dizziness, and nausea? WRONG!

Then Dahlia’s cell phone rang with Amazing Grace and I think ‘well, there are a few more pages to go...’, and as I flip the page and I see the chapter, I lose my effing shit! Or at least as much as I could on public transportation during rush-hour. I still hold out hope that it doesn’t go as far as it does. But it does and I’m convinced that the book-gods are conspiring against me (and all others who adore this book).

I’m so utterly angry that I love this book with such fierceness. If I felt luke-warm lust towards it, I might be able to make it through until the fall, but as it stands right now, I’m a lost cause.

*tamed the string of expletives as not to offend anyone.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

This was a difficult book for me to get my hands on. I was told in Texas I needed to read it. I was told in Boston I needed to read it. No one told me why, just that I had to do it. My problem was that neither Chapters or had the paperback, and Kobo...well, it's Kobo so lets leave it at that. Then one fateful day, instinct told me to check Amazon again, and lo and behold, there were paperbacks in stock. Fast forward almost 2 weeks, and it finally arrived on my doorstep.

This will contain a few near-spoilers, so please don't read on if you haven't read this book yet.

Some of you might disagree with the next paragraph, but it should be noted before you decide to burn me at the stake that this is a definite 4 stars on Goodreads since I don't have a numerical rating system.

So there are tragedies that have the reader reeling and feeling like they've been hit by a Mack truck. It's excruciating to breathe; absolutely difficult to concentrate; feeling of utter loss washes over you and your body experiences unreal pain that you couldn't fathom having over fictional characters in a novel.

Then there are 'tragedies' that feel like paper cuts. You feel nothing for the first three seconds, then it stings for a minute or two, and after the Band-Aid is applied, you forget about it. This is how the beginning of the story started out for me. I was honestly expecting Cam's issue to be soul-crushing. I think if there was more of Ian's story, I might have understood Cam a bit better. In the beginning, I just didn't get her.

Then about four hours before Denver, I noticed that I was devouring the pages faster, and my anxiety levels were beginning to increase. Oh thank God! The way that people speak of this book, I didn't want to be the one that didn't get it. And four hours before Denver, I began to think that this was not about Cam living with her tragic event but finally growing a figurative pair and living her life.

Andrews constant shouldn'ts gave me whiplash. I was convinced he was a psych-ward escapee. I was certain that he was a wanted man in certain states. I was sure that he somehow caused Ian's death. Then when they were in Galveston, I actually thought he might have been Ian's long-lost (but never written about) brother. Great writing causes my mind to run wild. I was so exhausted and angst-ridden. I didn't see 'it' coming, and that made me appreciate the story even more.

There are so many moments after Denver that I realized that this was going to be an epic kind of love. The story was no longer about Cam and her journey, but rather Andrew and Cam together as a single entity. New Orleans seems like the ideal setting to have significant change take place. Maybe because the city itself persevered.

When Andrew gets the call, I see the headlights in the distance. When he leaves, I finally see the 18-wheeler. I know I'm going to be crushed (I had this image of myself running down the streets of New Orleans trying to find him, and dragging his ass back to Cam - maybe my effort would keep the Mack away...). There is the moment of reprieve when the truck swerves and you sigh with relief. But something is wrong because you still hear that very distinct engine. Over breakfast, it crashes into you. It breaks you. Your lungs are about to give up and you can't breathe.

In the end, I thought it was very fitting that two people who have had their share of blight have their relationship solidified by another 'catastrophe'.

I knew there was going to be a follow-up to this novel. I finally read the synopsis to The Edge of Always after I finished The Edge of Never. The way the first book ended would have been enough for me. It gave a perfect sample of the kind of life they would have, and I was content with that. After reading the synopsis, I'm tied up in knots.

I finally get this story and the effect it has on people.