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review 2014-03-11 18:51
The Deepest Secret
The Deepest Secret - Carla Buckley

I had NO idea what to expect when I started reading The Deepest Secret. Straight adult contemporary is not a genre I venture into often. I used to read a lot of Jodi Picoult, but it has been many, many years. And yet, I have always said that I read books based on blurb, not genre. If the blurb interests me, I am interested in reading it. First of all, I like learning things. I tried to read a book about XP last year (What We Saw at Night), but I didn't like it. I thought I would try again with this book, and I am glad I did.

I have never read a book by this author before, but I will be certain to do that again in the future. I really like Carla Buckley's style. She is great at building atmosphere, and it REALLY felt like the majority of this book was set in the middle of the night. It's not an easy thing to accomplish, making a reader be able to get lost in the book and forget about the world around them. But I sat up at night with this book in my hand for three days, reading and burning the midnight oil. The book gave off a Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock vibe for a little while there, and I was in LOVE.

The Deepest Secret is written in multiple POVs and I know some readers don't like that, but I was completely satisfied with the way they were handled. The voices of each character were different--Eve sounded like a troubled mother who was trying her hardest to keep her son alive, David felt like a disillusioned, lonely father trying to make the best of the living situation he has to deal with, and Tyler REALLY sounds like a restless teenage boy suffering from a terminal illness. I was convinced. And if an author can convince me that their characters really do exist, they can write in TWENTY different POVs, for all I care. The characters were all remarkably well-developed, and even if you don't like them, you will think about them and be invested and question their choices.

That said, I had a few small issues, and man they are really small because I so badly wanted to give this book 5 stars but I sat and thought on it for almost 24 hours, and I just couldn't do it. This is primarily a character-driven novel. And I know the blurb makes it seem like that is not the case, it just isn't so. That is not what I am marking the book down for. I had a few pacing issues. The book gets off to a bit of a boring start. There is all this exposition and getting to know the characters going on, and I was never bored, but I do think it could have been shortened. And then...I also felt there were some unnecessary scenes that really didn't add much to the story. It is a bit repetitive at times but I was really invested in the characters (mainly Tyler) so I didn't care about that so much. What I really would have liked to see is a bit of a shorter book by maybe 50 pages. But I don't think it's the type of thing that is going to make you not like the book, because I really still did love it despite that small issue. 

All in all, this is probably the best book I have read this year so far. It took me away from the world, made me question my moral choices, and wonder how I would react in the situations these characters faced. This is one of those books that I call a thinking book, and there is nothing more that I like than a book that makes me get all philosophical in my head. 

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review 2014-01-21 07:04
No One Else Can Have You
No One Else Can Have You - Kathleen Hale

You've probably read the reviews and heard the complaints. Clearly, No One Else Can Have You is a book that a lot of readers are talking about. Going into reading this, I was aware of how polarizing it was. I wondered which side I would fall on, if any, and how I would respond to the alleged offensive content and the tone of the book. I am happy, and a bit shocked to say, that for the most part, my response is good. 


Here's the thing. If you don't connect to Kippy, the protagonist, if you aren't feeling the tone of the book and the humor, I think you ARE going to be offended. But make no mistake. This book is definitely not politically correct. And though I'm stating that I did not have a problem with the content, there is some language here that I could have done with out. 


Examples? 3 instances of the R word. Things described as "so gay" twice. Yeah, a character even used the F word (that word we NEVER, EVER call gay people). I wasn't happy. The characters using these words were unlikable and supposed to be that way, but I still think the author could have made them plenty unlikable without using language that pisses off a large portion of the population. I also have to mention the scene where Kippy and Davey sneak into a support group masquerading as a couple dealing with domestic violence. I didn't like it and it kinda pissed me off. It's just not right to make light of domestic violence that way. It's not something to pretend or joke about. I imagine that if I was someone who had been abused by a significant other and I read this, I would be incredibly upset. And it just wasn't necessary in the larger scheme of the plot.


I told myself before I started this book that I was going to go into it with an open mind. That I was going to think for myself and form my own opinions. I wanted to read past the offensive content and analyze it for readers who might not be bothered by the previous paragraph. It is not my place to judge what people are/are not offended by, so that is what I did. And that's where we get into the good stuff.


I absolutely adored the characterizations. I thought they were brilliantly rendered. I loved Kippy. I thought she was ignorant and naive, but she was also precious and quirky. I loved her internalizations and I loved her voice. I loved her descriptions of small-town life in Wisconsin, and though this book was a caricature of what that was really like (and the humor really proves that as well), I still found it realistic and relatable. That's a really hard thing for a book to do. And aside from the offensive content, I really LOVED the writing too. The rest of the characters were well-developed and loaded with personality. From Kippy's dad (she calls him Dom) who is an eccentric high school counselor to their family friend across the street who is obsessed with video games and collecting random crap, I found the characters detailed and a lot of fun to read. 


This is a book loaded with humor (some of it very crude) and I found myself laughing out loud on various occasions. But this is why I say I get that this book is not for everyone. If you aren't relating to the tone as you go along (and honestly, I would say you will know this after the first ten pages), the book is probably not going to work for you. Some people found it forced and unfunny while I felt the complete opposite. I laughed a lot and I couldn't put this book down. There is a lot of talk of hunting and taxidermy and hitting animals with your car with humor related to that, and that's not something everyone is going to laugh about, and I get it. Maybe I was just in the right mood at the right time and I was ready to read this after waiting to be in the right frame of mind. It's a satire, a black comedy, but it also covers some very serious issues. Obviously I am only rating it three stars (it's more of a 3.5) and a lot of that is due to the content I had an issue with (I have to take off for that--personal ethics and all that), but aside from that, I totally adored this book. I do recommend it but I do think you should try a sample first if you can as it is not for everyone.


Reading is subjective. And that's the great thing about books. They can make us feel different things and reach us in various ways. This book happened to connect with me and hit on a lot of things I love. The humor was totally my thing. Kippy was someone I would have been friends with in high school. I was a misfit. Her behavior is out there and she's insecure, very real, and definitely not perfect. The characters were all flawed in believable ways. This book worked for me. And that's all I can say.

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