January 25, 2013

Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long

Sometimes you had to wait a little while for the good times to kick in. But when they did, you realized every moment and experience that came before was necessary… necessary to bring you here.
-from Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long

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Chasing Rainbows by Kathleen Long is a novel about choosing to put the pieces of your life back together when things seem to have spiraled to a point of no return. Bernadette Murphy’s husband has left her for another woman and her beloved father unexpectedly passes away at the beginning of this book, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg on Bernie’s brokenness. With the help of her family, friends, neighbors and some inspirational cryptograms her father left behind for her, Bernie unscrambles her life and works to put the pieces back together.

The universal theme of being overwhelmed by loss and discouraged by the difficulties of life makes it impossible not to identify with Bernie in some way. Despite her lack of motivation, Bernie is a very likable character and I found myself empathizing and finding more of myself in her than expected.

The most important part of this book to me is how it is very realistic which helped me to trust the author and trust the characters; Bernie faces some huge challenges and deals with a lot of negative emotions from her past that aren’t easily remedied by a quick fix. I appreciate that the author did not deliver any such easy resolution and instead has Bernie examine her emotions and deal with their consequences rather than continue to pack them away.

Bottom Line: This book is light enough to make you crack up laughing, deep enough to make you cry, and inspiring enough to help you reexamine your own choices in life without being cheesy. Great rainy day read. // 3.5/5 stars

January 18, 2013

Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

I was unique to him; a woman apart from his others in every way. I wished that could be enough to kill my jealousy
-from Reflected in You by Sylvia Day

Looking at the three stars above I feel totally guilty. Reflected in You really only deserves two-and-a-half stars at best, but I tend to round up because I don't enjoy being mean and I don't necessarily regret reading this book. But let me warn you: 90% is filler with enough repetition to make you lose a lot of love for Eva, the protagonist. However, if you do persist through the monotony, Sylvia Day delivers a powerful ending that will almost make you forget the last 300 pages and make you want to read the sequel as quickly as possible.

Reflected in You is the second in Sylvia Day's Crossfire Trilogy and follows Bared to You, chronicling the trials and tribulations of Eva and Gideon's complicated relationship and shedding tiny fragments of light on both of their troubled pasts. While series is often compared to 50 Shades of Grey, I have been a firm defender of Day's erotic novel because Bared to You is so much better written than its more popular predecessor. But this sequel does little to help my argument as, much like 50 Shades Darker, not much happens to move the story along unless you count all of the sex and arguments.

There is so little that actually happens in this book, I feel lacking in material to review. Day continues to prove herself as a proficient writer and I don't have any problems with her characters, but the plot (if you can call it that) makes me sad for this trilogy I thought would deliver. The only redeeming quality, as mentioned, is the ending. If you can make it that far I think you will be pleasantly surprised, if not impressed. 

Bottom Line: If you loved Bared to You and enjoy Eva and Gideon, this is worth the read. Otherwise, save your time and read a different Sylvia Day book (like Pride and Pleasure).

For the record, I am excited about the third novel in this series, Entwined in You, coming out in May. I guess that's got to say something about this trilogy if I still want more...

January 11, 2013

Bared to You by Sylvia Day

"I want there to be happily-ever-afters for the f*cked-up crowd. Show me the way, Eva honey. Make me believe." (Gideon)
-from Bared to You by Sylvia Day

If you're looking for a replacement for 50 Shades of Grey and/or want something that will make you blush even more, this is your best bet! Bared to You is a story about Eva Tramell, a recent college graduate who is trying to make it on her own in New York City despite the over-protection of her mother, the trophy-wife of a billionaire. Eva has some serious baggage {of which I won't spoil for you} and so does Gideon Cross, the billionaire who owns the building Eva works in. From the moment Gideon meets Eva he is fascinated by the emotions he feels for her. This book {the first in the Crossfire trilogy} chronicles the difficulties Gideon and Eva face as two emotionally damaged individuals working to create a healthy relationship.

If Sylvia Day was not inspired by 50 Shades of Grey and Bared to You is a completely original idea, I feel really bad for her for publishing this book too late; the similarities between the two books are uncanny but Day proves to be a much more proficient writer. Her prose is more articulate and succinct than the amateurish 50 Shades trilogy. Furthermore, Day's writing will have you blushing even if you're preconditioned to the erotic scenes in The Red Room. While there's no BDSM per se, your jaw will drop more than once while reading what Gideon says and does; this book is not for the faint of heart {you have been warned!}.

I admit to feeling a little "above" these books in that I think the story line is so cheesy and superficial; I totally judge myself for the enjoyment I get out of the romance{I feel like I need to say that to justify talking so seriously about it! lol}. That said, I really appreciate that this book had more depth than 50 Shades of Grey in that Eva was a protagonist that I could really get behind. Eva is smart and beautiful, but she works for much of what she has and doesn't take advantage of the opportunities she is given. Most importantly, she is emotionally damaged but doesn't let her past control her; she works hard through her therapy to free herself as best she can. Even with her therapy Eva isn't perfect; she admits to being insecure, jealous and in need of control. When the going gets tough, Eva flees {something I relate to which made me appreciate her more}. The layers of Eva make the book more intriguing than if she was a plain, innocent, white canvas for Gideon to obsess over. Instead she is realistic, colorful and relatable to readers.

Gideon is also an interesting and multifaceted character. While this book doesn't uncover the depths of his past, the layers that are slowly revealed make him just as entertaining as Eva, if not more so. In comparison to 50 Shades of Grey, Gideon resembles Christian more closely than Eva resembles Ana, but Gideon is a little more rough around the edges than Grey, seemingly less polished in managing his emotions. I didn't "fall in love" with Gideon the way I did with Christian, but it may be in part because I've only read 1/3 of the series {I read this in August; book 2 came out in October, book 3 comes out a week from today}.

While the story is more succinct than 50 Shades of Grey, there is still very little climax in the storyline {insert climax joke here} because so much time is spent back and forth with Eva and Gideon chasing each other in circles trying to figure out if and how their relationship can work. To some this may be too dull of a read, but if you enjoyed 50 Shades of Grey {which hardly had a captivating storyline between 3 books}, you'll be just as pleased with this book. If the writing and characters are any indication, I think we have a lot to look forward to in the sequels. I am anxious to see what darkness haunts Gideon's past and if Eva is prepared to face it.

Bottom Line: If you loved 50 Shades of Grey, you will love this one; this would also make a great last minute gift for the 50 Shades fan in your life. You might start off with a grudge {Team Grey vs Team Cross!}, but after a few chapters it will stop feeling like a 50 Shades repeat. Although if the erotic scenes in 50 Shades were too much for you, you may want to pass. ★★★½/5. {in terms of erotica/romance I'd give this 4.5 stars!}.

Next week I'll have a review for the sequel, Reflected In You!

January 4, 2013

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

In college, twenty-nine had seemed impossibly old. By now, she'd thought, she'd be married and have kids. But as each year went by, she didn't feel much different than she had before. Time kept going by and she was just here, the same. 
-from Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

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Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close is an entertaining and witty novel, weaving the coming-of-age stories of a group of girlfriends in New York City. The novel primarily navigates through their post-college decade of the twenties and beyond, examining relationships the main characters have with men, work, family, marriage, motherhood and each other.

My greatest complaint is that there isn't a clear cut conflict, climax or resolution which at times made the story feel a little aimless because of the lack of direction. If you're expecting a great, big, powerful bomb to drop in the middle of the book, you might want to read something else. Also, a lot of the supporting characters were forgettable making it difficult to remember where they fit in or who they were (thank goodness for the Kindle's search feature!); but eventually I was able to just sit back and enjoy the layers of stories for what they were.

Despite its minor downfalls, this book had an indescribable way of capturing reality so honestly that it kept me smiling throughout. I found myself relating to so many experiences that I couldn't put the book down; I constantly found myself reflecting on similar situations I have gone through, laughing and groaning in appreciation as I read. Some of the stories and anecdotes I don't think I even realized were universal experiences of women in their twenties (i.e. the quote at the top of this blog post!). This connection with reality evoked a sense of camaraderie with the characters that was both exciting and comforting.

Overall, I recommend this book as a lazy beach read for any woman who has experienced the ups and downs of trying to find who they are in their twenties. It's not the most sophisticated read, but it does have depth and a poignancy you won't expect for such a simple, easy-to-read story that makes it unforgettable.

Bottom Line: If you're a girl past your mid-twenties who wants to reminisce, read this to relax and reflect. // 3.5/5 stars