eARC Book Review: Time in a Bottle by Kathleen D. Tresemer 

Time in a Bottle

Goodreads Synopsis

Beth Frye wants what we all want: to be accepted, maybe even cool. But high school’s tough for a music geek.
Things start looking up when she discovers vodka. It gives her cool friends, a gorgeous guy, and the chance to perform in NYC: all her dreams are coming true.
But, as her drinking addiction gets worse, things get complicated. She ends up in the hospital, someone is stalking her, twin brother Teddy’s trying to fix her, and that cop keeps hanging around.
Get some help? No thanks. Beth just wants what she wants, when she wants it!
The book includes helpful resources and discussion questions.

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: Underage drinking, Assault, Rape, Being drugged, Underage Sex, Rehabilitation, Relapses, Near-death experiences, Attempted murder.

**When a book is not categorised as Fantasy that automatically includes the more dangerous and scary stuff…all Trigger Warnings apply.

When I requested this book, I had no idea that it was going to be focused on such heavy topics. Apart from the alcoholism…but that was in the synopsis. I feel like this book was so much more than what we were promised and that it encompassed everything. Nothing was sugar-coated.

Beth and Teddy are twins, brother and sister, and they have a system that they work with. Beth needs help and Teddy’s there, rushing in, ready to save the day. This works, until it doesn’t anymore. Beth enters this spiral that leads her further down a hole and she can’t pull herself back out mainly because she doesn’t realise how deep in she’s fallen.

I’ll admit that at the beginning, I didn’t like Beth. There was no love lost there and I wondered if I should even feel sorry for her. Her attitude was not something that I was a fan of. She was extremely rude and bitchy and didn’t regarded anyone’s feelings in any way, shape or form. She barely cared about herself. This story was told from two sides, Beth and Teddy’s. I liked that we saw how she thought nothing was wrong, and then through Teddy’s eyes, you saw how things were slowly falling apart.

I feel that this book greatly showcased what substance abusers do to their loved ones. Maybe it’s not on purpose, but who’s behind them? Either trying to help or unknowingly making things worse. Something I read a while ago talked about funerals and about how they’re not for the person who died, they’re for the family and people they left behind. To help them cope. To give them some sense of peace. I think it’s similar for the people in this book. What they do, or what happens to them, doesn’t just affect them only.

I was shocked the further I got into this book because as I said, I wasn’t expecting it to be so heavy. Would I have still read it knowing what it entailed? Honestly I don’t know. This is why Trigger Warnings are important. I think they would’ve played a part in my choice.

I’ve had this book sitting in my Kindle App for months and I was reluctant to read it. I forgot why I had requested it and I didn’t see the sense in reading it. I do think that the stuff mentioned in this book is very important and it could help a lot of people out there, so there is a silver lining to all this. Sort of.

I do like the way the author went about this book. Nothing seemed too forced and everything was done in stages. I liked that the book was separated in parts by why of months. It helped with keeping track of the time frame. At the start of each part, the author included a quote that related well to what was going on in the story at the time.

I try to stay away from books like this only because I never know how to feel when I’m done with them. I have to admit that realistic stories of this kind are way too scary for me to frequent.

I did really like the book though. My lower rating is because of the lack of overall warning of what this book contained and the fact that the book was on the shorter side but had chapters that were 2 pages long. That’s a bit of a peeve for me so I wasn’t a fan. Really great style from the author and I think she covered just about everything.

Read: 18 May 2017
Rating: ★★★.5

Publication Date: 19 June 2016
Publisher: Soul Fire PRess
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Kathleen D. Tresemer

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eARC Book Review: Wrecked by Maria Padian

WreckedGoodreads Synopsis

Everyone has heard a different version of what happened that night at MacCallum College. Haley was already in bed when her roommate, Jenny, arrived home shell-shocked from the wild Conundrum House party. Richard heard his housemate Jordan brag about the cute freshman he hooked up with. When Jenny formally accuses Jordan of rape, Haley and Richard find themselves pushed onto opposite sides of the school’s investigation. But conflicting interests fueling conflicting versions of the story may make bringing the truth to light nearly impossible–especially when reputations, relationships, and whole futures are riding on the verdict

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wrecked focuses on rape and the culture that surrounds it. There’s a lot that a person can say regarding this topic and it’s easy to jump to conclusions because in this case all anyone wants is justice and closure and more often than not, that is not delivered. In this book it’s ripped open and revealed for what could possibly be how it really is but I can’t say because I’ve never been in a situation like that and I think it’ll be like a slap in the face to say ‘I can count myself lucky’ because honestly, I think luck has nothing to do with it. Rape is not about who’s lucky enough to avoid it, because it’s not something that has to be avoided. People are a-holes and it’s people who do the bad deeds.

When people start blaming the victim, it reminds me of a popular saying ‘A good carpenter never blames his tools’ or something like that. A person shouldn’t blame the victim because of what they looked like, how they dressed or acted or even what they implied. A person can say ‘yes’ one minute and halfway through decide to change their mind. It doesn’t make them a tease, it makes them a person with the right to say no.

*I know I went off on a tangent there but I hardly find myself in a situation where I talk about this topic and I found myself with a lot to say.

This book really put things in perspective and I think what takes place in this book is real. Not that it’s a true story- someone might have experienced something a lot like this, I wouldn’t know- but this is realistic and I think that’s what scared me. I got actual chills while reading this book and I’ll be honest, the way this is written, how it’s from the POV of the roommate of the victim and also of the housemate of the accused, the story get’s mixed up quite a few times and I didn’t even know where I stood.

It’s honesty hour over here. My first instinct was to side with the victim and that was all well and good, I expected that even. But as the story unfolded I was so confused with my thoughts because I was put in that place that I’ve read some victims fear: I didn’t know whether I believed her story or not. See what I mean? I was scared because I knew where I had to stand but there was a part of me that kept screaming: ‘You don’t know the full story. Don’t jump to conclusion!’ This book was a real eye opener and I am so glad that the author didn’t sugarcoat anything.

Characters: Haley is the roommate of Jenny, who reports that she was raped on the night a party. She- Haley- has her own problems to deal with and she prefers dealing with them but she gets sucked into Jenny’s situation and at first she acts like she doesn’t have a choice. Who’d turn someone away when they’re clearly in the need of help? Haley does decide to actually stay not because she was coerced, but because she wants to. I think her main goal was to be as uninvolved as possible but that didn’t work out so well. She sleeps in the same room as the girl, for crying out loud.

Richard lived in the same house as Jordan, the accused, and I didn’t know what to make of this guy at first. He seemed weird and we were introduced to him with a bad start. Rape jokes are not cool. They shouldn’t made. Ever. Richard was creepy and bordered on being a stalker but I think his mind was a bit jumbled. This guy was bad with words so people disregarded him often.

Carrie was, well I didn’t like her much. She had her views and sure I respect her for that but I felt that she came on a bit strong and seemed forceful sometimes.

Jenny’s case, her life in general wasn’t an easy thing to deal with. I mean, the one time she decided to step out of her comfort zone, everything just gets flipped upside down. What I did admire about her was her constant vigilance. Not about the rape, about how she went about life. She didn’t back down and I liked that about her. She was in no way running away but she had a plan and continued going on.

Jordan was a d*ck really. Not for what he did/was accused of doing, but in general. He wasn’t a nice guy. He had absolutely no redeeming qualities.

Likes: I like the fact that this book exists. It’s needed especially with what’s going on in the world. I loved the writing style. This author has a way with words and I found myself drawn in with how well it was written. I liked how the author went about the plot. Giving both sides of the story but at the same time allowing the readers to make up their own mind about what went down.

Overall Thoughts: This was an important book that needed to be shared with the world. The pace was excellent and I think the author did a good job especially given the situation. I would definitely read other works by this author.

Read: 4 July 2016
Rating: ★★★★

Publication Date: 4 October 2016
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Maria Padian

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eARC Book Review: Knit Tight by Annabeth Albert

25937705Goodreads Synopsis

It’s no secret that Portland, Oregon, has some of best restaurants, shops, and cafés in the country. But it’s the hard-working men who serve it all up that keep us coming back for more…

One of Portland’s hottest young baristas, Brady is famous for his java-topping flair, turning a regular cup of joe into a work of art. Every Wednesday—aka “Knit Night”—hordes of women and their needles descend on the coffeehouse, and Brady’s feeling the heat. Into the fray walks a tall, dark, and distractingly handsome stranger from New York. His name is Evren, and he’s the sexy nephew of Brady’s sweetest customer, the owner of the yarn shop down the street. He’s also got a killer smile, confident air, and masculine charm that’s tying Brady’s stomach in knots. The smitten barista can’t wait to see him at the next week’s gathering. But when he tries to ask Evren out, his plans unravel faster than an unfinished edge. If Brady hopes to warm up more than Evren’s coffee, he’ll have to find a way to untangle their feelings, get out of the friend zone, and form a close-knit bond that’s bound to last a lifetime…

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Before I requested this book I did a bit of research -as we do- and found out that Knit Tight is Part 4 in the Portland Heat series but while it’d be better to read them from the beginning, it reads just as well as a stand alone. Okay, so the basis are covered.

Knit Tight focuses on Brady, world’s best barista, or so his customers think. Brady was an extremely likeable character and I fell in love with him immediately. The way he describes things, fawns over Evren and takes care of his family was so believable. Sometimes I forgot I was reading a fictional book and not going through someone’s real life. All the problems faced in this book, the situations the characters are placed in were totally realistic. This is what I want in a story like this. I have to be clear that this was romance and you all know I feel about that particular genre but this is what I mean when I say, ‘yes, let me continue turning pages’. There were your cliche moments, and I was babysitting while reading this (please do not babysit while reading this book. There’s some major adult content involved and it’s kind of inappropriate), there were your sexy times that was through the roof because of how amazing it was. My point is, and I cannot say this enough; this book was REAL!

Brady being openly bisexual has no problem admitting this and speaking his mind if he feels the other person is being unfair. There is some stigma that Bi people are untrustworthy and indecisive and boy am I glad the issue was addressed in this book.

“I’d choose the one I was in love with and wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I’m not picking an ice cream flavor. Not that it’s going to happen any time soon, but I’d pick a partner. Not a gender.”

And I think this quote right here deserves all the awards. I usually read LGBT stories where the character is either Gay or Lesbian, so seeing a Bisexual character was a welcome change for me.

The emotions I felt while reading this book ranged from ‘Oh no, you didn’t!’ to ‘Girl, grow a pair and face your problems’ with a little bit of ‘OMG I love you two!’. I was major fangirling and I’m not ashamed at all. I laughed a lot throughout this book, I ‘awwed’, I shed a tear or two and I just loved it so much.

When Brady would look at Evren and see perfection, I would think that yes, Evren is a pretty amazing character…of course everyone has flaws and this was dealt with as the story progressed. The author didn’t skirt around it and if a problem/obstacle was placed in front of a character, it didn’t go away. Once again, thank the book gods for realistic fiction!

At the beginning of each chapter after Evren is introduced, we get little snippets from Evren’s blog. I found these refreshing. They weren’t much but they made me smile. Knitter Evren who’s a totally family guy and cares is just perfect! What more could a person ask for?

The supporting characters were pretty great too. They had small roles but were pretty helpful to people in the neighbourhood and I liked seeing this.

This book was amazing and I’m proud to say I did not blush (much) when it came to those *ahem* scenes. I can’t wait to read more of Annabeth Albert’s books.

Read: 8 March 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

Publication Date: 12 April 2016
Publisher: Lyrical Shine
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Annabeth Albert

eARC Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

25689042Goodreads Synopsis

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.
On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.
As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Art of Being normal focuses on David and Leo, two teens who are trying to find their place in the world. Trying to find acceptance. David wants to be a girl and this he (I say ‘he’- not out of disrespect but he never makes it clear in the book that he wants to be called using female pronouns and has no reaction when people do call him a ‘he’) knows from the time he’s a little kid. He’s parents assume he’s gay so he goes with it because he’s scared to tell them the truth. Leo used to be a girl and I think the outlook of David, being pre-transition (assumed gay) and Leo, being mid-transition was clear and mostly precise of what it could be like. Everyone’s different and all families will react differently, and this is very well highlighted in this book.

Characters: David was a great main character. I liked that he really tried to be positive about life even though he hated everything about the body he was in. He was a loner despite the fact that he had two best friends. He says it a lot throughout the book that they’d do couple-y things and he was left to his own devices. The thing about David was that he wouldn’t get mad when people called him ‘he’ but he’d hate it when they’d think he was gay. There’s a quote where he thinks: ‘I’m not gay, I’m just a straight girl stuck in a boy’s body.’ David’s tendency to push made me not like him as much as I wanted to but the pushing turned out to be a good thing in the end.

I liked Leo a lot more than I did David. He started out as this mystery kid that everyone thought was weird but David immediately felt connected to him (as I was reading I said that David’s ‘trans’-dar was being activated). I loved Leo’s gloomy, ‘I’m not getting involved’ attitude but I didn’t like that he and his mom couldn’t have a closer relationship or talk freely without arguing.

David’s parents seemed like supportive people but David kept saying how he could see the disappointment in their eyes. He knew they loved him but he didn’t want them to hate him. I mean, how do you tell your parents that you were born in the wrong body?

This book had a bunch of amazing supporting characters. There were those that stuck up for both David and Leo and those that made life a living hell for them. This helped build the characters and I think in the end they came out stronger than before.

“Besides, who wants to be normal anyway? Imagine that on your gravestone. Here lies so-and-so. They were entirely normal.”

Likes: I liked what this book stood for. I liked all of the characters even though there were a few annoying moments here and there. I liked that this wasn’t a fantasy view. It was realistic and the real deal.

Dislikes: I don’t like that it took nearly halfway through the book for the ball to drop. It was clear that it was coming but it took a bit of a length to get there.

I’ve never read a book that focused on transgendered people before and I’m so glad that my introduction was so clear, and educational. Reading this and going through what the characters went through was almost like a day in the life. I know that this in no way allows us to fully understand what these people go through.

I loved the plot and the writing style was amazing. The characters were easy to relate to and I loved how we were able to see into both FTM and MTF transitions.

Read: 20 March 2016
Rating: ★★★.75

Publication Date: 31 May 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Lisa Williamson

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392Goodreads Synopsis

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning!
Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.
When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.
This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

This was a spur of the moment read for me. I randomly joined a buddy read for this even though this book wasn’t on my immediate TBR. It’s books like this, the ones that I never planned to read that takes me by surprise.

All the Bright Places is Jennifer Niven’s first novel in the YA genre and I’ll say that she took it by the horns and showed it what she’s made of. I loved, loved, LOVED this book. Violet Markey blames herself for her sister’s death because she told her to take the bridge instead of going the other way. It’s been months but she still can’t shake the feelings of guilt. Theodore Finch is in my opinion an anomaly. The second I thought I understood him, he changed. He had these different personas and would really get into it. Many thought it was an act, but it became clearer as I read on that he seemed to be bipolar.

Reading this book really made me want to reflect on life and everything. In here it’s shown over and over again how we have a choice. A choice to go on living or give up the fight. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is not an easy topic to talk about but we need to.

A quote from the Author’s Note:

“You are not alone.
It is not your fault.
Help is out there.”

This is true and people need to hear it more often. I myself was surprised when the question “What goes through your mind when you feel that way?” was asked. Sometimes we don’t realise it until it’s too late. Not everyone wants help and not everyone gets it when they do go searching. This book really went through me and hit me way deep down.

This book gave me goosebumps because it’s real. This is happening all over and I think that’s what makes the gripping more effective. I’m glad I decided to pick this up after all.

“I am forever changed.”

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of Suicide, Suicide Attempts, Mental Disorders, Physical Abuse

Read: 17 February 2016
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Publication Date: 6 January 2015
Publisher: Knopf
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Jennifer Niven

eARC Book Review: Cast Me Gently by Caren J. Werlinger

Goodreads Synopsis

Teresa Benedetto and Ellie Ryan couldn’t be more different, at least on the surface.

Teresa still lives at home. As much as she loves her boisterous Italian family, she feels trapped by them and their plans for her life. Their love is suffocating her.

Ellie has been on her own for years, working hard to save up enough to live her dream of escaping from Pittsburgh to travel the world. Except leaving isn’t that simple when she knows her brother is out on the streets of the city somewhere, back from Vietnam, but not home.

When Teresa and Ellie meet and fall in love, their worlds clash. Ellie would love to be part of Teresa’s family, but they both know that will never happen. Sooner or later, Teresa will have to choose between the two halves of her heart—Ellie or her family.

Set in 1980, the beginning of the Reagan era and the decline of Pittsburgh’s steel empire, Cast Me Gently is a classic lesbian romance.

I received this book from the publisher on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cast Me Gently is a book about family, love and what it means to overcome great obstacles that seem impossible at the time.

Teresa Benedetto comes from an Italian Catholic family who is set in their ways. She is thirty-four, still living with her parents and works in their family owned drug store.

We start out with Teresa experiencing the unfairness of what it is to be a women in the 1980s. She picks up on this and sometimes confronts the situation but is immediately shot down. Teresa was a very timid character and always did as she was told. I think that she had an amazing development of character as the story continued.

Ellie Ryan is twenty-six with nothing on her mind except finding her brother and saving up so that she can finally leave and travel the world. She too has her ups and downs and sometimes things didn’t always work out for her. Due to certain events, Ellie is left to face the consequences of her actions and Teresa tells her “It felt like you never had to face an consequences for your actions. It felt like I paid instead.” 

Teresa and Ellie become friends quite early in the story and it was beautiful seeing the way their relationship unfolded. I as the reader could pinpoint the moments they fell in love and I found that amazing. Every emotion they felt, I felt as if I were experiencing it along with them. Teresa’s family would notice that something was different about her and I’d smile because I’d know what it was.

“I know that someday, I am going to love someone so much that I will wonder how I ever felt whole without them.”

Ellie reminded me of a little puppy that I just wanted to pick up and hug and never let go of. I thought that she deserved all the love in the world. I’m glad that she found that in Teresa. Although, if you push hard enough, even those who you thought would never leave, might not return again.

This book takes you through the different cultures and how in this case, Italian families run and think. The family dynamic was strong and I think it played a huge part as a base for this story. The constant pull and push between family vs. love was just enough that I at one point thought that love should win because even though it’s not blood, you can find family anywhere. This choice is difficult for Teresa to make because family is all she knows.

There are little things that Ellie does that has a big impact on how Teresa acts and thinks. It seems small at the time but I felt that it changed Teresa as a person and that was what mattered.

“Life does not always give you what you want, but it usually gives you what you need.”

I loved reading this book and the emotions were so real. In all honesty, there was a moment when I cried. It was so beautiful. The writing style was amazing and I think this piece of work was perfect in every way.

This book could easily be one of the best books I’ve read in 2015.

Read: 17 August 2015
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Expected Publication: 1 October 2015
Link to Author’s Goodreads Page: Caren J. Werlinger