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review 2014-08-20 10:24
crush - Laura Susan Johnson

This novel was a bit hard to read because of the incest-rape and abuse. But, from someone who has read a bunch of sexual abuse stories, I think this captured the character reactions from someone who was raped quite perfectly. Usually, the character is just sad in the aftermath. But Jamie was: scared, timid, confused, anger, aware, shy and depressed because of what happened. THAT is how it really is afterwards. The time leaps were a little bit off putting but necessary in this story.

Source: darling4coffee.booklikes.com
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review 2014-06-06 00:00
crush
crush - Laura Susan Johnson description


She has a baby in her cart. He’s sitting in the baby seat like he’s supposed to be, his curly blonde hair like a halo, his soft baby legs dangling, one chubby little hand holding the railing in front of him, the other clutching a piece of Red Vine licorice. He’s looking at me, his face and hands coated in sweet, sticky licorice residue.

(…)

I stand on tiptoe again and kiss the baby’s licorice-coated cheek. He smiles, leans down over the safety bar in front of him, and kisses my mouth.

Love’s first kisses.

Then she takes him away from me.


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Jamie is a two-year-old kid when he meets a four-year-old Tammy for the first time. They were meant to be one, but fate chooses to break them apart several times along their lives.

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Two broken souls meant to be one.

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Time goes on, and Jamie is broken by a Daddy that abuses him and a Mommy that beats him.

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Time goes on, and Tammy is broken by his Uncle Price that abuses him and a Dad that behaves like he didn’t exist.

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Jamie is a sad boy.

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Tammy is an angry boy.

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Broken by people who are meant to protect them, they meet again in their teens. But they are separated again. By cowardice, by terror, by no acceptance. To never be happy and never feel complete.

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Destiny makes them meet again. And this time they are determined to not be apart never again. But hate is difficult to get over. Self-hate is even more difficult to erase.

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The story is compelling. Mesmerizing. Addictive. Pure cocain. I couldn’t get enough. It had my heart in a fist in the first two pages. I felt so absorbed by the words that I couldn’t leave them for long. I was lost in Jamie’s sad smile. I was lost in Tammy’s angry acts. I was disgusted. I was enamored. I was hooked. It’s a brutal story. With no shades of gray. It was ugly. It was beautiful. It was magic.

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I tried not to be dragged into sadness, but there were moments I really felt devastated. There were moments I could barely breathe...

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It’s one of those couples meant to be together even before they’re born. Like Garrett Hedlund sings, “You can call it fate, or destiny. Sometimes it really seems it’s a mystery…”, and you REALLY feel that, there is no way to deny it. They paths cross several times during the years. But obstacles and bigotry and pain get them apart from each other. Their inner struggles catch you to never let go. Their thoughts attract you like a moth to a fire. Their feelings hurt but also heal. It’s a battle of opposites. Black and white.

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The pov alternates between Jamie and Tammy. Although the episodes are repeated when the perspective is changed, I didn’t find it redundant. It felt right. You understand each of them from their own positions in the game. A game ruled by more than two players. The chess pieces are moved and we need to see the consequences on the two main victims from the perpetrators. The kings want to be together but their movements are aborted by other pieces, and by their own fears. Because two kings are not meant to exist in the same chess board. They are apart most of the game, and if they get to be together, jaque mate.

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Jamie had been pursued his whole life. He was a toy for his parents. He was used, manipulated, abused. He lives in self-hate, in sickness. He’s a shadow whose spirit had been chased to be erased. But he survived. He is sad.


Tearfully he whispers, “I have a crush on you…”
“Really?”
“Yes.”
“Big crush?”
“Very big… yes…”
“You love me?”
“Yes,” he nods.
It bursts quietly from my heart, like a bullet, “I love you too…”


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His life is dull but one day at church the most handsome boy on Earth takes his hand. That unforgiving minute ruins him. There would be no other than Tammy. He never missed anything until Tammy takes his hand. He is destroyed beyond repair and he knows it.


Every sound around us is suddenly muted, except for the water, splashing softly. His smile… oh my God… incredible… compelling… I’m powerless… My heart begins to tremble and skip as I feel my lips stretch wide in response. The palpitations tickle my ribs as we stare at each other, our smiles unchanging, but our eyes transforming. I see it in his, I feel it in mine. Our smiles follow the course of our eyes. Tammy gazes down at me, his eyes and lips gentle, soft, dreamy. He’s in a trance… it’s the same look I’ve caught in his eyes so many times lately… it’s here… now….

My eyes are locked with his, and this moment expands into a small forever…


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Tammy was a happy boy till the day his uncle stopped using him. Tammy loved his uncle, and loved his touch. He only craved his uncle’s attention, physical and emotionally. But one day his uncle says no, and his devastation makes Tammy chase his uncle pursuing other little boys. He feels replaced. He feels like trash. He hates those little boys. He hates his cousin. He hates everything. He writes stories marked with hate. He begins to harm animals. He is angry.

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His eyes paralyze me…
And he makes no effort to take his arms down…
He’s so close… too close…
I want to kiss him.
He’s trembling. I’m trembling.
Does he know how close I am…?
I see three terrifying words in his eyes as he stares up at me…
I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love with him.


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His life changes when he is ashamed by his Pastor, the one who doesn’t acknowledge him as his son. He is embarrassed. So he turns into girls to forget the violence. One day he takes Jamie’s hand and nothing would ever be the same.


The most subtle movement, a tiny contraction of his hand around mine, and my focus is fully stolen from Yvette in spite of her iniquitous attentions. I turn my head to the right, remembering the odd little flutter that happened inside me when his fingers curled just a little tighter around mine for that instant. Our eyes meet a second time as he looks up at me. The contact lasts for a few beats, but time is stretched like a rubber band. Those huge eyes open impossibly wider for a split second, and I see something I can’t describe in words. I feel my stomach quiver again and his eyes close, his fingernails gently dig into the palm of my hand…

…and I can barely breathe…

I’ve seen him… I know him… Where have I seen him before…?!


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There is very much hate in this book. Hate by people who don’t accept people who love people from the same sex. They talk about God a little too much. They talk about animal violence a little too much. They talk about abuse a little too much. I think sometimes it's excessive.

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This is a story about how hate and violence take two people apart. It made me sick that two souls meant to be one have to be apart because of what the people surrounding them believe. How they hurt them. Crush them. I know, nothing new, really, but it’s fucked up. There is enough sadness and there is enough hate in the world, and in their hearts.

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I don’t cry because of the pain.
I cry because I’m happy.
I cry because my dream has come true. Tammy is here. With me.
I cry because I’m afraid. Now I’ve given him my body. I’m his, and I know, deep down in a place I don’t consciously acknowledge, that if he breaks my heart, I’ll die.
If I fuck this up and lose him, it’s all over.


This book is brutal. Ruthless. Heartless. Cruel. Savage. Hopeless.

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I watched… that’s all I had to do.
And now realization avalanches onto me.
It is a video depicting two adults defiling the body, and crushing the spirit of a beautiful, innocent child.
It is a crush video.


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But it’s also beautiful. Precious. Compassionate. Inspiring. Heartening.


The cold penetrates every layer of me.
My hand tightens around my angel.
God, how I love you, he’d said that day.
I love you, Tammy, I said tonight. I’ll love you always. All my life.


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I felt like my emotions were being played by some kind of puppeteer the whole book. But in a good way.

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“I mean it, Tammy. I’m tired. I’m tired of living with this guilt. I can’t even have sex with you without remembering what they did to me. What they did gets into everything, taints it, ruins it. I can’t enjoy my life. I should never have gotten with you, because I knew, deep in my heart, something would ruin it. I should have stayed alone. At least I was able to get through my day without constantly reliving the torture…”

I can feel his pain, but my own is too great to cosset him right now.

“And I can’t even go back to being alone… not now. You’ve made your mark on me, Tammy. I’ll never again be able to live alone and semi-happy, able to push my mind past how it feels to be totally and pathetically in love with someone. I’ll never again be able to almost ignore how bad it hurts that I can’t have a normal life, ever.” I plaster my hands over my eyes and cry and cry. “Why did you have yo come home? I was doing okay… really I was…”

I’m breaking his heart… I know… but I can’t…


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It’s difficult for me to find words when I loved the book too much. It’s easier to talk about the ones I don’t. It’s just describing my feelings and put them into letters is sort of turning copper into gold. I don’t have a magic touch to make things shine. I just can melt the copper and with luck it would be similar to a prettier metal. But I hope at least I could make something similar and transmit what the book make me feel.

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review 2014-03-15 00:00
Our House: A Short Story/An Ace In Spades and Other Short Stories
Our House: A Short Story/An Ace In Spades and Other Short Stories - Laura Susan Johnson Kind of reminded me some of the more disturbing Criminal Minds episodes. Definitely my sort of read.
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2013-12-30 12:46
Top Ten Books of 2013

I must apologise for not having posted much recently. I have been going though some tough times in my personal life which has not given me any real time for blogging. I am hoping to rectify this at some point but for now, here are my top reads of 2013.

 

10: Angelfall by Susan Ee

 

angelfall

 

So many people have raved about this book I half-expected it to be a complete disappointment. Luckily (for me) it turned out to be an exciting, adrenaline-filled rush of a book – one I simply could not put down. Penryn was a great protagonist and I really ended up loving Raffe, the ‘fallen’ angel who becomes her companion when Penryn has to save her younger sister Paige from the clutches of a group of angels intent on harming her. 

 

9: The Tied Man by Tabitha McGowan

 

tied man

 

The Tied Man was an enthralling, unnerving and intense read. I felt positively battered when I got to the end of this book but it was well worth the emotional turmoil it put me through. This was a very dark read but was also incredibly emotionally satisfying.

 

8: Speechless by Hannah Harrington

 

speech

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Speechless and thought its overall message was a positive one. Protagonist Chelsea learns the hard way the damage passing on a seemingly harmless piece of gossip can cause. Seeing her go from being a rather thoughtless, unlikable character to one with remarkable strength and courage was a joy to read.

 

7: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

 

sweet

 

This book gutted me. I think it is one of the most heart-breaking books I have ever read. Managing to be both bleak and yet somehow hopeful – this book has stayed with since I first read it. This was my first Sara Zarr novel – it will definitely not be my last.

 

6: If I Die by Rachel Vincent

 

if i die

 

I loved the whole Soul Screamers series but this entry (book 5 of 7) was my favourite. This is where the stakes are truly raised for protagonist Kaylee Cavanaugh. When Kaylee discovers what fate awaits her, she finds herself turning to an unlikely source for help and comfort (and as a total fangirl of this pairing I couldn’t help but squee at this development!!). This was my favourite book series read this year and If I Die was the most exciting and emotional installment.

 

5: Dark Space by Lisa Henry

 

dark space

 

Lisa Henry is a new author for me. I was totally blown away by Dark Space – a truly fantastic space opera saga (and I am overjoyed to find out a sequel is now in the works!!). It was creepy and intense and had an almost claustrophobic atmosphere (being set primarily in a space station on the edge of alien territory) yet at the same time it managed to convey a sweetly compelling love story. The protagonists Brady and Cameron are two very different young men but the bond that grows between them was lovely to behold, even if there was an overwhelming sense of impending doom clouding their developing romance.

 

4: Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

 

sins

 

Karina Halle was another new discovery for me this year. Sins & Needles was the first book written by her that I read. I immediately tore through Karina Halle’s entire back catalogue once I had finished reading this.  Although overall I think I may prefer her Experiment in Terror series, I was totally sucked into this book and I loved the main character Ellie Watt. Her flaws made her seem all the more real and relatable to me (also Camden is one of the hottest love interests I have ever read – definitely my book boyfriend of the year – move over Adrian Ivashkov!!).

 

3: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

 

jellicoe

 

I had a bit of a Melina Marchetta book fest last year. I read all of her catalogue – except for this book – which I had heard from reliable sources was the best of all her works. I could not convey eloquently enough in words just how brilliant this book is. I would urge anyone who has not already read this to seek it out. It is a fantastic, beautiful, if somewhat initially confusing read. I saved it for a time when I most felt I needed to read it – and the book did not disappoint.

 

2: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

 

wanderlove

 

I adored this book with the strength of a hundred fiery suns. I stated in my original review that it is probably one of the best, if not the very best, YA novels I have ever read. I loved the story of Bria, a young girl who finds herself on a journey through Central America, and her friendship and eventual romance with Rowan, a young wanderer she meets on her travels. An evocative and inspirational book – I could not put it down. When I finished reading I almost wished I hadn’t read it yet so I could discover it all over again.

 

1: Suicide Watch by Kelley York

 

suicide

 

The number one spot was a close call for me but in the end I had to go with Kelley York’s Suicide Watch. This book has left a lasting impression on me and I have actually re-read it several times already this year. This book made me feel – it completely and utterly captivated me. It manages to be both depressing yet completely uplifting at the same time. Suicide Watch is a truly beautiful story that will haunt me for a long, long time.

 

Honourable mentions:

 

These books just fell short of my top ten but were exceptional reads that I would wholly recommend:

 

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Crush by Laura Susan Johnson
Know Not Why by Hannah Johnson
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

 

 

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review 2013-10-22 00:00
crush
crush - Laura Susan Johnson This book is free on Smashwords with code AY34Y until 10/26/2013!
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