Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Without Merit - Colleen Hoover; Review

Book Details:
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (3 Oct. 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1471171922
ISBN-13: 978-1471171925


Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.

The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.

Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.

Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.

Links To Buy:


There was a lot of things that I really liked about Without Merit, and equally, things I really didn’t like about the book. I didn’t like Colleen Hoover’s usual books, which I know a lot of people absolutely loved, the contemporary ones such as the Slammed, Hopeless and Maybe series. The one that I did like though, LOVED - was It Ends With Us, which was probably one of my fav books of the year, last year. I’m more of a fan of her NA/adult books, and Without Merit is another one of those (I think?) - but I sense this is a hit or miss kinda book and I’m still not sure how it sits with me. 

This is darker than Hoover’s usual, evident in the content and the issues discussed in the book. There’s a very dysfunctional family dynamic going on, there’s issues about identity, sexuality, drugs, abuse. There’s basically A LOT going on - and I get what the author was trying to do in bringing these issues to light - but quantity over quantity. For me, there were too many issues trying to be jam packed into one and the risk of that is that there’s never enough time to properly explore the issues on hand and this is very very important. Because you run the risk of not talking about the issue properly, not representing it how it should in the story - it shouldn’t just be a tick-box case where you throw the issue in there just to get it out there - these issues are important and should be given time to be explored and talked about in a book. For me personally, picking fewer topics to discuss would have worked out better. Having said that, I really did appreciate Hoover’s inclusion of Sagan and his background - about his family in Syria and in highlighting the Syrian crisis - but again, there wasn’t enough time to really delve into what this issue means and the plight of the people. 

In terms of the characters, I’m torn between how I feel about Merit. There’s something about her that’s broken which I relate to and understand - she’s flawed, there’s a lot going on with her, but the more I read about her, the less redeeming qualities she seemed to possess. Her perspective, her views, were very narrow minded and started to get annoying. Likewise, her relationship with her siblings was irritating - I think midway through the book, I was pretty sure I disliked all of them, including Merit. 

I feel like this book could have been really, really good - as always in such cases, the idea was definitely there - but it could have been executed better. Fewer issues, more time spent exploring said issues, and an ending with a resolution because it didn’t feel like it was really resolved to me. I know there’s a lot of negative going on here, so let’s chuck some good stuff in - ok ok the story at the beginning about how they moved into what used to be the church and Merit dressing the statue of Jesus up every morning did make me chuckle. There was a fair bit of dry, sarcastic witty humour in the book - my fav type - but it was few and far between. I did however, love the message I took away from the book, and one of my fav quotes from the book:

“Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.” – Sagan

One of the few other things I did like about the book, was that it’s not all about the romance. The little that there was, I don’t think I enjoyed - Merit annoyed me and there wasn’t much about Sagan that I found likeable either - together, these two weren’t great. So I guess I’m glad there wasn’t much to endure, a blessing in disguise. The writing however, I really did like - Hoover knows how to write, that much is evident. I just hope the next book from here is executed better, because I know she can - she did it with It Ends With Us and I’m literally just waiting for another scorcher of a book from here. Please Hoover, SOON. 

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Lucas (The Preston Brothers #1) - Jay McLean; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (22nd Oct 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1539524965
ISBN-13: 978-1539524960


In a sprint, every millisecond counts.  
When you’re waiting for love, those milliseconds can feel like eons.  

High school senior Lucas Preston has it all: star of the track team, a scholarship waiting for him, an apartment to himself and a revolving door of girlfriends. He also has an older sister, five younger brothers and a father who relies on him to make sure those brothers don’t kill each other.  
His saving grace? Lois “Laney” Sanders, a girl he started to fall in like with when he was just eleven. 
A girl who became his best friend, his confidant, his courage.  

It took only sixteen clicks and eight seconds for Lucas to realize that his like for Laney had turned into love.   
Eight life-changing seconds.  
It’s also the exact length of time it took to lose her.

Links To Buy:


This book. Was INTENSE. I’m still scrambling over finding the words to review this and it’s been months since I read it (.. also a downside because I can just barely remember what happens in it, LE SIGH). But what I can tell you, is that it’s a packed, intense (there’s that word again) story with strong characters and though it’s a storyline I’ve read before, the writing and the execution really made this one stand out and draw out all kinds of emotions from me. I vividly remember pounding my fist on my pillow (no good came of that, I assure you) at certain scenes and much ‘WTFFF’ing throughout. 

Jay McLean really knows how to write a story - let’s start there. The main reason why this story, despite running your typical girl-boy-friendship-turns-to-love storyline we’ve read over and over, the authors writing turned this into an emotional rollercoaster which I enjoyed being on. The depth of the two main characters, Lucas and Laney - was one of my fav things about the book. They were both flawed, felt very realistic to me and above anything else, you can see how much these two love and care about each other. That stood out to me so much throughout the whole book - even through scenes where I wanted to punch one of them (sometimes both) for their choices and actions. 

Told through a dual narrative (which I loved) the story is told in flashbacks - recounting the key events in both their lives and what it meant to each of them, how either of them saw these events, either the same or differently. With time, you see their friendship develop and turn to love - and there was just something quite heart-breaking about it in the way we could see how much they loved each other, cared for each other, but were at a loss on how to move forward, how to be with each other, with everything they knew about one another. 

There was angst and romance, friendship - the development of these characters was another thing I really appreciated, especially that of Lucas. There were moments I wanted to punch him, but he’s meant to be flawed, meant to be a little broken inside - but we see him develop, understand, learn, act - for the better.  The supporting characters also helped make this book what it is, with the relationships and family bond *cough the Preston brothers* and *bigger cough, Logan, MY FAV* - all which helped round this book into something more than just your usual YA teen romance and contemporary. 

Why didn’t I give this 5 stars? I’m actually not sure of the reason, I can’t seem to pin-point the why factor but there was just something *throws fists up to the sky* just SOMETHING that stopped it from hitting that 5 star for me. But what I can say, that at 4 stars, this was still such a great read - full of angst, friendship, romance - and a story that will have you rooting for these two main characters that will have you forgetting this is a work of fiction. Pick it up, read it, love it. So many people do and you’ll see why. In the meantime, I’m off to read the second book in the series, which is about Logan :D my FAV. Adios for now.


“My own home doesn’t feel like home unless you’re there.” 


“You impress people with your mind. With your kind heart and humble attitude. And while you’re a beautiful girl, your looks or the way you dress shouldn’t be the reason people are impressed by you. And when you’re older and boys start to notice you, I want you to remember that. Because if it’s only your looks they’re attracted to, then they’re not the one for you, Lo. You can do better. You will do better.” 


“You can't control what people do or how they treat you. You can only control how you react to it.” 


“Take your time, but don’t waste it. Trust me on that one.” 


“I need you. I need to love you. And I need to love you right.” 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

What To Say Next - Julie Buxbaum; Review

Book Details:
Hardcover: 292 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (11th July 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553535684
ISBN-13: 978-0553535686


Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

Links To Buy:

This author had secured herself in my ‘when-a-new-book-is-out-by-them-you-MUST-read’ list after Tell Me Three Things which I read last year. Of course, as the title of the above list goes, as soon as I knew she had another book out, I was clicking my fat fingers away to get my copy. An added bonus - the storyline sounded great, and the cover was adorkable. As was the title - tick tick tick. I was not disappointed with this book, and neither will you be.

Buxbaum’s writing style is one of those that is straight up my alley - fluid, easy to read in one sitting, witty, sarcastic and at times, deep. I loved that about Tell Me Three Things and more so in What To Say Next. In this book we are introduced to Kit and David, both of who I ended up loving, one more than the other *cough, David - heart heart heart*. After the death of her Father, Kit no longer knows how to be around people, how to be ‘normal’ in the way people expect her to. She decides one day to sit with David - who, as recounted, has sat alone for 622 while he has been at Maple View High. His conversation opener? ‘So your Dad is dead’. What does Kit respond? You’ll have to read and find out!

This one action sparks a lovely story about friendship, about loss and healing. I loved both Kit and David, obviously David more so. David has ASD - Autism Spectrum Disorder - he’s a unique and brilliant individual in so many ways and the construct of this character is one of my fav things about this book. David reminds me a lot of Jacob Hunt in Jodi Picoult’s House Rules - if you’ve read the book, you’ll know why - but both these characters are ones I adored. There’s a particular quote which I’m so glad the author used in the book - which I love and appreciate. 

“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then…you’ve met one person with autism. So you met me. Just me. Not a diagnosis.”

What I adored about the friendship between Kit and David was that this wasn’t a friendship that would bring to fruition a popular David, or have him be accepted by the ‘popular’ crowd - instead that I gleaned from their relationship was that Kit never intended to change him in any way - but instead helped him be himself fully, openly. This, is a glorious, GLORIOUS THING. 

“Be normal I think. Be like the neurotypical, which is another way of saying “everyone else.” Be less like me. I no longer want to be less like me."

She helped broaden his horizon, helps him be who he is without apology. Their awkward, peculiar little friendship helped develop who they were well and truly, and seeing this blossoming was honestly lovely and touching. In turn, David’s friendship, who he is, how he is, helps Kit realise that it’s okay not to be okay.

There was romance, but it wasn’t the driving factor in this story which is one of the reasons why I like this book a lot. Instead, it was the act of David and Kit becoming friends, developing their friendship, helping each other grow, Kit not essentially ‘getting over’ her Father’s death, but finding ways to get through it, with the help of David. 

David takes things literally, and I swear some of his internal monologues in those moments had be snorting out loud in the most unattractive of ways. 

" I let her 'no shit' pass without comment, even though she knows it’s an expression I do not like. It makes me think of constipation, which makes me think about grunting, my least favourite noise, after squawking and chewing. I also have a list of favourite noises. It has one item on it: Kit’s laugh.”

This for me was such a lovely, funny, and somewhat heartbreaking read but still one that I’m glad I read. Buxbaum has done it again, I’m excited to see what she comes up with next - though I do know for sure I’ll be picking it up as soon as it drops. In the meantime, I’m leaving you with some lovely quotes. Be sure to pick your copy up soon. SOON. SOONER! You can thank me later.

“They seem to understand that the world is a big, diverse place, and that different is not the same thing as scary. It’s amazing to me how many people mistake the two.” 


“The thing is, sometimes people grow from breaking.” 


“Every happy moment from now on will have the lingering, bitter, heartbreaking aftertaste of loss.”