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review 2015-11-15 20:12
Review: Young Widows Club by Alexandra Coutts
Young Widows Club - Alexandra Coutts

Initial reaction: So, for the record: this was a huge improvement over "Tumble and Fall" in my opinion. Even with a story over such a difficult subject and the potential for connections, there were times when this book had me and other times it lost me. I think Tamsen's insecurities and feelings of loss were palpable, and certainly it wasn't an easy spell considering what she'd been through, but there were other things about this narrative that just didn't sit that well with me. I'm going to give myself a little bit to meditate on it and then write my full review, but it won't be posted here until closer to the book's release.

Full review:

"Young Widows Club" is definitely a book I've never come across in the scheme of YA before, and by the very nature of it, it's a unique premise and something worth reading about. But it's also a touchy topic because...it showcases a teen who marries very young, her new husband, Noah, unexpectedly dies in his sleep, and leaves her behind grapping with both her grief and wondering what to do with her life in the aftermath. I struggled with Coutts's last narrative because of a startling lack of intimacy with the character experiences and gravity for the scenario, but this book did marginally better with showing Tamsen's experiences and adjusting to so much change after the loss of her husband. (Notice I say "marginally" - more on that in a little bit.)

I really appreciated the focus on the grief group and Tamsen's coming to terms even while moving back home with her father and stepmother (which set up an interesting parallel because Tamsen's father married young, and her mother also passed away unexpectedly). Noah's parents are also involved in Tam's life, because they were helping Tam and Noah build a house for themselves. She returns to school reluctantly, but also tries to manage Noah's former band and finds that so much has changed since Noah's no longer part of the band that it gives her a significant amount of grief. And I'll admit, I felt for Tam because of the nature of her loss had not only changed her, but things around her. There's a caveat to this though - I feel like on one hand, Tam's narrative voice still felt at an odd distance. On the other, she's naturally humored and tries to pass off her grief with a distance in her humor. Realistic yes, but the narrative still felt like it didn't give an intimate eye to some of her experiences. Even Tam's memories of Noah were shortchanged and while I could feel her loss and coping, I couldn't fully connect with her relationship with Noah because of the way this narrative chose to narrate that part of her life.

The other thing that bothered me in this narrative was that I couldn't ship the "shipped" relationship here at all. She's 17, the second LI is 26 - that's a huge age gap. Granted, I'm not going to say that aspect isn't realistic because Tamsen's experiences had her mature very quickly in the grander scheme of things. I could also accept - to some degree - that her meeting someone in her grief group whom she connected with was plausible.

But dude, I still didn't really *get* the relationship between Tam and Colin. Colin - at first - seemed to be a nice guy, and I figured "Okay, maybe they'll have a point of connection because they unexpectedly lost someone and maybe be lifelong friends. I've even seen this happen with people in my personal circles, even one where the age gap was just over 10 years." But in this narrative, the overt shipping just didn't...work. Or feel acceptable to me for that matter. It felt awkward, even borderline creepy at times based on Colin's actions. I don't think the narrative treated it realistically. Considering also this is a YA book and not an adult book - you have to be careful about how you portray these kinds of relationships with your audience in mind. If this were an adult novel, and more vetted out with the relationship history, backgrounds, and coming to terms, I'd probably be more likely to see through it without judgment, but there was so much about this narrative that felt lacking despite bringing a different topic, even one in its nature controversial, to the table.

It's a mixed bag of a story for handling and portrayal, so I felt on the fence about it. I definitely appreciated the eye to Tamsen's grief and how it showed her moving forward in the aftermath of Noah's death while grappling with changes in her life and relationships, but there's so much working against it for lack of background, sensitivity to the relationships and mindfulness in how such tough subject come across, that I feel like the narrative didn't completely sell me on everything it was trying to do.

But at least this narrative makes me want to see what else Coutts has up her sleeve storywise.

Overall score: 3/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.

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text 2015-07-07 02:30
NetGalley Haul: Recent Approvals 7-6-2015
Hexomancy (Ree Reyes) - Michael R. Underwood
Another Day - David Levithan
Young Widows Club - Alexandra Coutts
Love Lies Beneath: A Novel - Ellen Hopkins
These Shallow Graves - Jennifer Donnelly
Has to Be Love - Jolene Perry
Rome in Love: A Novel - Anita Hughes
The Guest Room: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman
Rescuing the Bad Boy - Jessica Lemmon

I haven't done a post like this in a while, and notably because I haven't kept up with as much of my ARC stack as carefully as I'd like, but I'm hoping to change that in the coming months as I get back to bases.  


So I'll give you this for now, some of my more recent approvals from NG, but I have a long way to go to get to 100% feedback.  I'm working on weeding down my stack, but the reason why I haven't tackled it as much is because: 


1. I've been reading more books from my library as a "break" from ARC reading.


2. Reading books that I've bought in more recent notations. (Even books that I've ended up regretting "taking one for the team" on).


3. Doing a few re-reads for the sake of keeping my reading mojo in check  (and they were fun, though some of them I haven't reviewed yet, so it was just as well that I re-read them).


4. Time, man.  Not enough time in the day and I wish I could spend it all day reading (and writing, really).


I'm excited for these though.  Most of them don't release for a while, so it'll be on my progressive to do list.

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review 2014-03-17 21:34
Tumbler & Fall - asteroid is headed to Earth and three different teens handle it differently
Tumble & Fall - Alexandra Coutts

In Tumble & Fall we fall three characters as Persephone is circling back to earth’s orbit with its intention of wiping out the planet. NASA is sending up a nuclear rocket to blow up this asteroid in an attempt to deflect it from hitting Earth and with it being the only option left, it is risky but it’s the only way.  Caden has been tracking this asteroid for years as he has been following the news. Living with his mother, Caden is accustomed to his meager lifestyle since his father walked out on their family for a younger woman.  When suddenly Caden is kidnapped, he is face-to-face with his father which he has not seen in years. Fantastic accommodations and a lavish lifestyle are his now for the taking.  Caden is overcome with emotions. Sienna is hanging out with Owen, who has teamed with a group of individuals working on a boat which they hope will save them from the impending disaster when it strikes.  Going against her father wishes, she finally feels like she belongs to something as she sneaks out to be with Owen and do something rather than just wait for the impending disaster to strike. Zan is helping Nick research a receipt she found in a book in the remains of a car accident that took the life of Leo, her boyfriend. Nick is hoping that the mystery girl Vanessa and her connection to Leo will answer some questions she has about the last days Leo was alive.  With only three days before the missile is released, a few individuals are on edge, while others party and others live like it is just another day.  It really makes you think, what would you do?


I think the author did a great job with character development.  I liked all the characters and sometimes, I had to remember who was connected to whom but I knew them and I could relate to them. What I didn’t care for was the impending disaster.  I didn’t think it really needed to be in there.  I waited for something big or tragic to happen to bring a couple of the individuals together in the book and it didn’t happen till the end and I just did not get it. I think it would have been a better book if it would have been a fiction book without the asteroid feature.  I’d read another one of Alexandra’s book but please no asteroids, give me a fiction book with just great characters and some catching drama.  The cover of this book caught me this time.

Thanks Fierce Reads for the copy of this book.  I appreciate it!

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review 2013-10-16 13:47
ARC Review: Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts
Tumble & Fall - Alexandra Coutts

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts


Published September 17, 2013 by Farrar, Strauss & Giroux


Source: ARC from publisher in exchange of an honest review.


My Thoughts

I have read a few reviews lately on this book and I was surprised at the amount of people that rated it low!!!!! Personally, I thought it was brilliant and the writing was beautiful. It captured my attention and held it through the whole book. The characters were well written and likeable to the point that I was saddened when the end finally came.


Firstly, I must talk about the cover! This was the first thing that I had noticed about this book and I knew that I wanted to read it even before reading the blurb. The cover is uh-mazing!!!


This book was written in 3 POVs following three seperate teens. There is an asteroid about to hit the earth and obliterate our planet. The whole book revolves around the issues that are going on in the teens lives and how they spend their last week alive. They each have their own story and they learn something about themselves and those they love by the events that are happening. Many may think that the book’s main focus would be the asteroid and the chaos that goes along with it. It most definitely is not. The book is really about the lives of these lost souls.


I was having a hard time trying to figure out how all three main characters were going to intersect and it doesn’t happen until the end of the book. The ending really was left up to the reader on what we think may or may not have happened. I am not sure if there will be a follow up to this book and honestly, I don’t think it needs one.

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