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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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review 2013-06-22 13:04
Review + Giveaway: In Too Deep by Michele Kemper Brownlow
In Too Deep - Michelle Kemper Brownlow
Gracie has just finished her freshman year of college in Memphis when she takes a job at a local pizza joint in her home town of McKenzie, Tennessee. She is the epitome of innocence when she meets Noah. Noah is unabashedly handsome, intriguingly reckless and just cocky enough to be sexy. Gracie’s instincts tell her to stay far away from him and based on the stories she hears from her co-workers he leaves broken hearts in his wake. But still, she can’t explain her fascination with him.

Noah puts aside his bad boy ways when what he thought was a summer crush has him unexpectedly falling in love. But soon after Gracie transfers to UT Knoxville to be with Noah, their unexpected love becomes riddled with anger, deceit and humiliation.

Jake, Noah’s former roommate and Gracie’s best friend, can no longer be a bystander. Gracie’s world falls out from beneath her and when she breaks she turns to Jake for strength. As Jake talks her through a decision she’s not yet strong enough to make, together they uncover a truth so ugly neither of them is prepared for its fallout. Will Jake pull her to the surface or is Gracie Jordan finally In Too Deep?

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes you dive into a novel and it touches you on such a personal level  that it changes your entire perspective. In Too Deep is one of those novels for me.

This may be when you decide if you're going to sacrifice what you deserve for something you settle for.

Grace falls under the spell of Noah, this bad boy with a reputation for treating girls like commodities. Somehow, though, he's different with her, or she lets herself believe.

The truth is, he treats her like crap, and everyone but Grace can see that. He manipulates her, making her believe that her pain is her own fault at times, so on top of her beaten heart, she feels guilt. It's mental abuse, and it sucks.

At times, I felt like I was Grace. I've been in her shoes, so while some may have seen her as weak, I could understand, to a certain extent, what she was experiencing and how she reacted.She was blinded by the belief Noah put into her mind that everything bad that was happening was somehow her fault. I'll admit, as the novel progressed, there were times I was annoyed with her. There were fleeting moments when I thought she'd finally stand up for herself, but she was always, always so afraid. She gave Noah way too many chances, and I was hoping she'd see she had a way out, but it took her a long time and an ocean of tears to get to that point. Grace, despite what Jake might say, was never a strong character. She always gives in despite her fears and better judgement, and even when there is a point when she was no longer blinded, she just keeps making stupid decisions that she knows will hurt her.  She feels like she can't stand on her own without someone holding her up, and it's this that made her weak. She refuses to face her fears, and if I was annoyed, it was because of that.

Grace is one of those characters that readers will either understand or won't be able tolerate. Unfortunately, and I hate to say this, but she may be what breaks the connection to this novel for some readers.

That being said, her character is not what touched me. It was the messages of those around her, those who loved her, that sucker punched me. Jake, for one, is an inspiration. He's too friggin' good to be true, and I love him for it. It's funny how long an experience like Grace's can stick with you. You're constantly afraid of letting people get too close for fear that they will begin to manipulate you - that you won't even know it until it's too late. You're also constantly on the defense, and you always feel like you owe people for their time.

Grace is one lucky girl to have someone like Jake who can make sense of the world she's become so lost in. He makes her believe that people aren't there just to take what they can from you. And in giving her his time, support, and love, that doesn't mean she owes him anything. That's what people who truly care about you do, unconditionally, and believing she's anything less than an amazing person that people would like to spend time with just to be around her is the work of Noah's poison.

The message really slapped me in the face, and at times, I had to put the book down and take a deep breath because of how overwhelmed I was. One thing's for sure: this book brought me to some realizations that never struck before, and I like to think I can see more clearly because of it.

I fell in love with this novel. It was tragic and extremely personal, but it was also hopeful all the way through. It's a book I would definitely recommend, but I would also remind you put yourself in Grace's shoes as you go along and have an open mind about how she's feeling. It can be frustrating, but more often than not, it rings true for a person who's been in her situation.

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Happy Reading Everyone :)



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