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review 2017-08-17 21:55
Wish You Were Here: A Novel - Renée Carlino

Oh, this book. There were times I was SO frustrated with Charlotte and times she actually had me crying. I actually cried through several parts of this book. And, when I finished, I cried some more.

This was such a heart rending story. I absolutely LOVED it. I knew something was up with Adam almost right away, but my guess about his issue was totally wrong. Yay!! The characters were so real and had me totally mesmerized and engrossed in their world. 

A story about love, loss, growing up, and somewhat cheesy at times, that I absolutely loved and enjoyed.

Huge thanks to Atria Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2016-09-01 09:10
Top Pick of the Year (So Far...)
Swear on This Life: A Novel - Renée Carlino

Swear on This Life is an absolute masterpiece. A work of art. A romance so grand and epic that it will have you smiling while you sob uncontrollably at how sweet, sad and tender it is. I’m talking ugly-crying here folks! But after all the smiles, sighs, whimpers and tears, I’m ready to zip right back to the beginning and go through it all again. It’s simply that wonderful.

‘If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you. It found me.’

I know we’re only a little more than halfway through 2016 but I’m proclaiming Swear on This Life to be a Top Pick of the Year. It has to be, thanks to the incredible storytelling ability of Renee Carlino. She had me completely wrapped up in Emiline and Jase’s relationship to the point that I felt like I was not just an observer, but a part of their story. It’s not often that I feel that fully invested in a novel.


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review 2016-08-26 20:12
Swear on This Life
Swear on This Life: A Novel - Renée Carlino
ISBN: 9781501105791
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: 8/9/2016
Format: Paperback
My Rating: 5 Stars +
A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 5 Stars +

Hauntingly Beautiful. Soul-Wrenching. A tender, and moving love story! The complexities of human relationships gracefully portrayed.

Talented and prolific author and screenwriter, Renee Carlinoreturns following Before We Were Strangers (2015-highly recommend), with her latest emotional bittersweet hit,SWEAR ON THIS LIFE — when a struggling writer sees her past before her very eyes, in a published bestselling novel.

“When you read a story or a scene where exactly what you think should happen, does happen. When the events are too perfect or precise. But in real life we have a hard time recognizing serendipitous moments because we’re not making the story up as we go along.  It’s not a lie—it’s really happening, and we have no idea how it will end.”

Emiline is a writing instructor at UC San Diego with a stalled literary career. She is having a hard time with her writing and does not want to be in her current career forever.

Trevor the guy she has been dating since their senior year at Berkeley seven years earlier, has put her short story aside and recommends a book for her to read. He says Emiline is not writing what she knows. Their relationship is strained.

J. Colby, a new writer everyone is talking about. A Columbia grad. A new book: All The Roads Between. Cara, her friend is in love with this book. She gives it to Em to escape her own flawed love story.

From the moment she begins reading the second line in the first paragraph, her heart rate tripled. Instantly, she was sweating. By the end of the first page she was almost hysterical.

Flashing back and forth from a "book within a book", readers hear tidbits of the past, from the emotional book, All the Roads Between. She had examined the book jacket and copyright page carefully with no photo or bio.

Emiline knew exactly who had written this book. The only mystery to her was where the author had been for the last twelve years. Jason. Her first love. The chapters alternate between Em’s current life and her childhood, with the most compelling parts of the book being the retelling of her youth.A complicated history.

From the first line she saw herself in J. Colby’s story, because she was in his story. The long dirt road, the hour and a half long bus ride to school, the alcoholic dad, the mom who vanished, the secret lunches and meals in the shed.

These were the intimate personal details of her own life. Emerson was none other than her. And Jax, he was definitely Jason Colbertson, the boy next door who had once been her everything. Her first. The same person she had not talked to in over a decade.

Even though some girls might be flattered to be the source of inspiration for the protagonist of a bestselling novel, she was too busy planning out his murder in detail. A million questions:

Why did he write this book? Why is he telling it from her perspective? Was he hoping she would read it, or did he just want to use her story for his own bestseller? She needed answers. She demanded answers. These wounds won't seem to heal. This pain is just too real. There's just too much that time cannot erase.

Of course, he would write a book before her. He was brilliant at the age of ten, so why wouldn’t he be at age twenty-seven? He even quotes that even though the book was a work of fiction, he credits his childhood in rural Ohio for his biggest inspiration.

He was benefiting from her pain and horror. She will send an email via his website, tell him what she really thinks and then drink more wine, write more, and delete it. He wrote just one book. The book about her. Them.

"She thought about Jase and their history, and wondered if it would always be there, lingering like a creaking wood slat in the floor, to remind us of what we had endured.”

J & E Forever. She thought loving someone meant fighting for them. Was it too late? It was him, her old friend, her protector, the love of her life. Will they ever be able to make their own stories together? Will fate step in for a reunion? “There once was a boy and a girl . . . ”

“We can’t always control our circumstances, who our parents are, where we live, or how much money we make, but in those rate moments when we can shape our fate, when we do have the power to make our own happiness, we can’t be too scared to do it.”

I was fortunate to have been introduced to this extraordinary author with her last book, and was delighted for an opportunity for an advanced reading copy of SWEAR ON THIS LIFE. Both 5 star+ winners! Carlino has proven she most definitely knows how to tug at your heartstrings.

Not typically a chick-lit romance fan; however, there are certain women’s fiction contemporary authors which are on the top of my list, being Renee Carlino, Colleen Hoover, Sarah Pekkanen, Jennifer Weiner, Nicholas Sparks, and Emily Giffin.

Bridging the past and present, from childhood joys and pain to adult complications— a poignant tale of young love, a painful past, torn apart by life and circumstances, united once again by fate.

The pacing was perfect, the unraveling of the precious moments was beautifully told and revealed. A voice lends it a surreal, magical quality, and the prose- poetic. A couple separated by years and experience.

Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys to the farthest reaches of the human heart. First love is always powerful, and for some people, that love really does last forever.

For fans of Colleen Hoovers’ It Ends with Us. Both, are on my Top Books of 2016.

Absorbing! A book you will want to savor like sweet dark chocolate, from sadness and beauty--and at the same time you will be hooked, glued to the pages, addictive-while driven to read in one single sitting.

Movie worthy—move over Nicholas Sparks!


Before We Were Strangers


By: Renee Carlino

ISBN:  9781501105777

Publisher:  Atria Books 

Publication Date:  8/18/2015

Format: Other

My Rating:  5 Stars 


From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.


To the Green-eyed Lovebird: Read More


Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Swear-on-This-Life/cmoa/570724920cf2ecf50ee7b3e6
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review 2016-08-04 18:49
Swear on This Life
Swear on This Life: A Novel - Renée Carlino

Emiline is just trying to figure out her life after a childhood of tragedy.  She is now a writer, still unpublished and and adjunct writing professor at UC San Diego.  Her boyfriend, Trevor was an up and coming football star until his shoulder injury and now floats along in life.  One day, Emiline's roommate Cara introduces her to a new bestseller called All the Roads Between by a mysterious new author.  From the first sentence Emiline is blindsided, somebody has written about all of the nitty gritty ups and downs from her childhood.  Only one person could have written something so specific about her life, Emiline's best friend, first love and the person who she has spent the last twelve years trying to get over, Jason.  Will reading his book about her experiences help her get over her past or just bring back the memories that she has been repressing?

A story of love, loss, getting over it, and beginnings and endings.  As soon as Emiline realized that a book had been written about her by her childhood friend, I went through the rollercoaster of emotions with her; anger, sadness, disappointment, love, relief, forgiveness and realization.  Much like the book infers, I had no idea how anything would end. I really did like that there was a story within a story to tell of Emi and Jason's childhood adventures, instead of just flashbacks.  This book made me feel so much, so quickly and I devoured each page just as quickly.  This is a deep love story, but so much more.  For anyone who has ever had to get over something from their past, Emi's emotional journey will seem all too real and familiar.  Overall, a unique, powerful story that will have you gasping for air the entire way through.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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review 2015-08-25 23:55
Before We Were Strangers
Before We Were Strangers - Renée Carlino
ISBN:  9781501105777
Publisher:  Atria Books 
Publication Date:  8/18/2015
Format: Other
My Rating:  5 Stars 
A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Talented Rene Carlino delivers a breathtaking contemporary love story BEFORE WE WERE STRANGERS, one of missed connections, and fifteen years later, a second chance---from time, distance, and life. Can these two find their way back? A moving story of love that spans fifteen years of separation.

“Life goes not backward, nor tarries with yesterday--Khalil Gibran

Matt and Grace met at NYU over fifteen years earlier. They start out as friends and their newfound relationship falls into love. Barely making it with little money, they found their happiness with small little things, being carefree and spontaneous.

However, when they finish school, Matt, a photographer receives an opportunity with National Geographic, taking him away from Grace. Grace has majored in music, she also has an opportunity travel with an orchestra for a year and a half.

As most couples, they think they can make it work and stay together long distance. They lost touch in the summer Matt went to South America. When he came back, she was gone; to travel and see the world.

"Time passes, life goes on, places change, people change.”

Matt cannot get Grace off his mind after seeing her on the subway one day. A Wednesday, waiting for the F train. He did not know it was Grace until it was too late, and she was gone. He knows she said his name, he saw it on her lips. He tried to stop the train; so he could reach out.

Five weeks after seeing her, in a quick glance on the subway, he found himself looking for Grace, going to their old haunts in the east Village and even hung around the NYU dorm rooms where they had lived. What was her life, like now?

With all the technology, web, and social media out today he decided to pull up a Craigslist on his computer. Something called “missed connections.” You can post about an experience and hope they find it. You write where it happened, and what you were wearing, so the other person knows it’s you. He does so and leaves his phone number.

Flashing back and forth from today to fifteen years ago, we learn about when Grace and Matt met. We hear from both, and how each changed one another. The, what ifs? Does everything seem better in a memory? The past does not belong to them anymore and the future is just a fantasy, never guaranteed. But the present is theirs, to own. They have to embrace it. They have to re-create what they once had. They met at the wrong time.

The Green-eyed Lovebird. Grace’s student tells her about a post on Criagslist. She knows it has to be Matt, meant for her. Matt is now working for a magazine and Grace teaching high school music classes in the same city, living close to one another. However, there are complications, secrets, betrayal and shocking news. Can they forgive one another and find their way back?

A beautifully written, poignant love story with well-developed characters drawing you into a world of young love, lost love, reconnected and adult love—with all the flaws, loss, heartbreak, insecurity, passion, jealously, fears, and emotions.

In the theme of Jennifer Weiner’s, Who Do You Love, second chances for love lost. Chick-lit and romance fans will be glued to the pages of talented Carlino’s contemporary look at love from both sides. Sometimes you can go back and possibly it may just be sweeter, the second time around, if you are lucky enough.

A “love, interrupted” story inspired by a real Craigslist missed connections post about a guy who sees the “girl who got away” on an NYC subway after fifteen years.
Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!Before-We-Were-Strangers/cmoa/558dd2170cf2ef0f928daff1
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