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review 2017-05-03 00:08
Book 25/100: My Story by Elizabeth Smart
My Story - Elizabeth Smart,Chris Stewart

Like many of these, "I went through something harrowing" memoirs, this isn't something you read because you want great writing. The writing here is stilted and oftentimes repetitive, and I'm willing to be forgiving of that because it's important to tell the stories of regular, non-writer people who have been through extraordinary experiences, in as close to their own words as possible.

With that said, much of the storytelling in this recounting of the tale seemed to come from someone whose perception of the world had been stunted at the moment of her trauma -- not an unusual phenomenon, but one that Smart does not seem to acknowledge at all. She keeps referring to how she was "just a little girl" and "so innocent," which seems disingenuous to me since most teenagers don't actually think of themselves in those terms. She also seemed to hold on to a lot of very black-and-white thinking -- her captor, Mitchell, was "pure evil," while her family was seemingly perfect, nothing but loving and good all the time. There were also moments when she came across as somewhat self-righteous, but at the same time, I think it's the prerogative of a trauma survivor to hold onto some self-righteousness. It was clear that her faith in God and her beliefs about purity were deeply embedded parts of her psyche when she was kidnapped, so although it sometimes comes across as saccharine, I also felt that if this was true to her own experience of coping with the ordeal, it was appropriate to include.

I think that some people might be disappointed by how modest Smart was about the sexual stuff that took place while she was kidnapped -- she never goes into detail about the things that Mitchell did to her, made her do, or even the pornographic images he made her look at. I would say to those that are disappointed by the lack of detail in this regard should ask themselves why they are reading a book like this in the first place -- someone else's sexual exploitation should never be up for any onlooker to gawk at, and readers of this book are not "entitled" to peer in to every aspect of Smart's private hell. Instead, she went into great detail on many of the other aspects of living as a captive -- periods of starvation, conversations she had with her captors, stories they told her, all of which conveyed a clear enough picture of the desperation and hardship of her situation.

Although she insists again and again that she never developed any sort of feelings for her captives, it is interesting how Mitchell had brainwashed both Smart and his wife into total dependence on him. At one point he disappears for a week, and they go hungry during that time rather than venture into town on their own in search of food, even though nothing is really stopping them. (While Mitchell was around, he forbid them from going out in public, but he had such a hold on them that even while he was gone they obeyed this edict despite the fact that it could have literally killed them.)

The times when Smart comes close to being recognized or rescued only to remain in captivity are heartbreaking, and a good reminder to the rest of us to speak up or push back when she encounter something that seems "just not right." One of the best parts of this story, though, is that Smart plays a critical role in "saving herself" in the end. I wish all kidnapping stories could have endings that involve family reunions.

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review 2017-04-29 17:52
Review: "Olive Juice" by TJ Klune
Olive Juice - T.J. Klune

"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."

 

 

All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".

 

So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.

 

But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:

 

1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.

 

2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:

 

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts

(spoiler show)

 

So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.

 

Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.

 

Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.

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review 2017-02-02 19:20
Review: "Looks Over" (Gives Light, #2) by Rose Christo
Looks Over - Rose Christo

"It's not blood that makes us who we are," Dad said. "It's family. And it's not blood that makes us family. It's love."

 

This was even more beautiful than the first book. Because there was more of EVERYTHING!

 

  • more emotions
  • more family love and dynamics
  • more relationship moments
  • more sweet kisses (but no sex, though I don't expect that in a YA novel anyway)
  • more education on Native American culture
  • more wonderful secondary characters
  • more drama (NOT relationship-related!)
  • more surprising plot twists
  • and more BEAUTIFUL WRITING

 

 

And yet, I STILL can't give this book the highest 5-star rating, because I was missing Rafael's POV here more than ever.

 

 

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review 2017-01-09 03:17
The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr
The Royal Inquisitor - Megan Derr

why is there never an edited book from Megan? WHY????

 

 

Could have easily been 4.5 stars rounded up, but - no. I had to claw myself out of a ditch, where nothing makes sense and you have to double/triple check to verify you're not legally insane. I am sorry, Megan. I really am. I loved the story but re-reading and re-confirming got on my nerves this time so much, that I, in good conscious, cannot do better than 3 stars.

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review 2016-11-09 21:01
Book Review of Falling Star (Combustible Book 2) by Brandy L Rivers
Falling Star (Combustible Book 2) - Brandy L. Rivers,Kathy Lapeyre

One day of hell changed her forever.
Ella Cross wanted to bury her on-screen persona even before her abduction. Being in the spotlight grew worse after the ordeal. She left Raven Star behind to find herself again.
A fresh start.
No ties to her past.
In a small town where only her oldest friend knows who she was, she believes her secrets are safe. But secrets never stay hidden forever. Sooner or later the past always resurfaces.
Then she meets him.
Trent Ward can’t resist his new neighbor. Ella is familiar, but he can’t place why. He knows she’s running from something. As much as he wants to protect her, he wants to unravel her mystery.
Between his demons and her past, Trent may not have the strength to explore the growing connection to Ella.
Will he save her from her worst nightmare?

 

Review 4*

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

This is the second book in the Combustible contemporary romance series. I loved it!

 

Ella Cross is a wonderful character. I really liked her. She is a well known actress and goes by the stage name Raven Star. Even before being kidnapped and escaping her captor, she had become tired of the media circus. She grabs the opportunity to get out from under the spotlight and moves to a small town where her best friend from childhood (Mila from the previous book), lives. She was not expecting romance, but when she meets Trent Ward, her new neighbour, the chemistry between them is undeniable.

 

Trent Ward is also a wonderful character. I liked him a lot. He is a loving, caring man. It doesn't hurt that he's a fireman either. When he meets Ella he's intrigued with his mysterious new neighbour and is attracted to her. However, he also has his own family problems. But, when danger threatens Ella, his protective instincts are triggered. But can he protect his heart?

 

Having previously read paranormal romances written by this author, I was eager to read this contemporary romance series. I started to read this book and quickly became hooked. The story is told through the eyes of both Ella and Trent, which allowed me to see what they were both thinking and feeling. I found myself on a roller coaster of emotion from beginning to end. I am a sucker for contemporary romances with sexy firemen, so meeting Trent's friends and colleagues was a thrill too. Trent's nephew, Blaze, is also a wonderful character and has had to grow up too quickly due to his mother's drug addiction. This made me sad.

 

This story felt a little predictable as it followed the traditional romantic theme, but there's a lot of heat between the main protagonists which made up for it. The characters themselves felt lifelike and likable. I love flawed characters, as they come alive on the page. This story has several flawed characters, which kept things interesting. I love the way the story unfolded, and some topics (such as Trent's sister's drug addiction) was handled sympathetically. The danger that Ella faces from her kidnapper/stalker lends a bit of suspense to the tale, but I didn't feel that the threat was as immediate as it should have been. Other readers may have a different opinion. However, having said that, I certainly wouldn't have guessed at who the culprit was, as there were several twists and red herrings.

 

I reached the end of the book (which doesn't end in a cliffhanger) and was left with a happy, satisfied feeling. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Sweet Tooth, as soon as possible.

 

Brandy L. Rivers has written an entertaining contemporary romance series. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow is wonderful. Her characters are lifelike and likable. With her ability to write in both the paranormal and contemporary romance genres, she is one of my go to authors when I'm in the mood for a sexy read.

 

Due to explicit scenes of a sexual nature, as well as use of bad language, I do not recommend this book to readers under the age of 18. However, I do recommend this book if you love hot erotic contemporary romances full of sexy firemen and determined women. - Lynn Worton

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