Stuck in the Middle Feelings: The Rosie Project and Night Film

The Rosie Project coverThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
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Release Date: October 1st 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Series: Don Tillman #1

Goodreads description: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

I’ve seen a lot of positive responses to The Rosie Project, but I think that maybe this just wasn’t a “me” book. I’m not sure if it was my mood or the writing, but I didn’t really connect with Don. I didn’t dislike it, but there were a few times I felt a little frustrated. Overall, it was sweet, if a little predictable. I actually really liked Rosie. I liked that Don learned about himself and learned that his strict way of doing things wasn’t always the best way. I like that he learned to relax and have some fun.

If you’re interested in this one, I would recommend reading it. If you need more encouragement, I would definitely read Jen or Christina’s review.  I think it’s a good book, it just didn’t click for me.

 

Night Film coverNight Film by Marisha Pessl
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Release Date: July 1st 2014
Publisher: Random House
Series: none

Goodreads description: 
Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn’t been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.
For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.
The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lost his grip on reality.

ONCE WE FACE OUR DEEPEST FEARS, WHAT LIES ON THE OTHER SIDE?

I learned about Night Film from a blogger who closed her blog since she posted about it, and then I saw a lot of buzz in general and my friend said it was a total mindfuck.

Ehhhhhhhhh. This one is more difficult, and while I didn’t hate it, it’s weighs slightly more on the negative side of the scale than neutral. It felt a bit slow to get into for me. The mystery was intriguing and drawing, but it wasn’t exactly thrilling for me. There were specific parts of the story that were thrilling and some that definitely got my heart racing, but as a whole, it was kind of tiring.

It’s been a while (a month, I think) since I read this one, so I can’t remember the side character’s names, but they were my favorite part of the story. They were more earnest and real. McGrath seems to think he knows everything, that he can expose the truth because the truth is in this small range of possibility. He isn’t open minded, which clouds his judgment. There was one part, regarding his daughter, that really enraged me and made me want to punch him. He doesn’t do anything bad, he’s just thoughtless and stupid.

I don’t want to say too much about the ending because I don’t want to ruin, but even though it was the only way it really could have ended, it was kind of disappointing for me. This book wasn’t a waste of my time, but it was a really big book and an investment, and enjoying it more would have been nice.

Should you check this one out? I would check out reviews on GR, and if you like twisted thrillers, probably. I do think I tend to be overly picky and impatient, and once I got annoyed with McGrath about his daughter my patience was very thin.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks cover
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart
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Release Date: March 25th 2008
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Series: Stand Alone

Goodreads description: Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14:
Debate Club.
Her father’s “bunny rabbit.”
A mildly geeky girl attending a highly competitive boarding school.

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15:
A knockout figure.
A sharp tongue.
A chip on her shoulder.
And a gorgeous new senior boyfriend: the supremely goofy, word-obsessed Matthew Livingston.

Frankie Laundau-Banks.
No longer the kind of girl to take “no” for an answer.
Especially when “no” means she’s excluded from her boyfriend’s all-male secret society.
Not when her ex boyfriend shows up in the strangest of places.
Not when she knows she’s smarter than any of them.
When she knows Matthew’s lying to her.
And when there are so many, many pranks to be done.

Frankie Landau-Banks, at age 16:
Possibly a criminal mastermind.

This is the story of how she got that way.

I like E. Lockhart’s Ruby Oliver series and I’m excited about We Were Liars. I’ve wanted to read Frankie for a while but actually happened upon it when I was looking for a book to check out with Not A Drop to Drink.

Frankie goes to a private boarding school and there’s a boys only secret club. After a summer of growing and transformation, she becomes involved with a member of the society, but she can never really be a part of the club. The club seems fun and tightly knit, so she isn’t happy they won’t let girls in. She mischievously becomes a player in the club while still being an observer.

I really liked this book. It was kind of nothing like I expected, and that only made me like it more. Frankie doesn’t hate herself, but she has confidence issues that seem common. She’s pretty but she isn’t exactly a standout, she is kind of in the middle. She’s smart and quirky. She wanted to be a part of something, she wanted more, she refused to sit back and let them tell her she couldn’t. She manipulated the situation and had to face the consequences of it. I liked that the story didn’t really go how I expected it to go, and I felt like Frankie did learn a lesson. I also liked Michael, but I won’t go into a whole thing about him, since it’s Frankie’s story.

There were things about Frankie that were annoying. She had some extreme moments where I wanted to tell her to calm down, and some of them were sort of normalish teen behavior, but some were out there. She might have pushed a few things too far. She wasn’t always fair to everyone, and some of her reasoning behind actions were probably immature. That being said, my annoyances weren’t major and I mainly enjoyed the book.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks isn’t perfect, but I found it enjoyable. Frankie is strong, makes mistakes, and can be selfish. I liked it. I think E. Lockhart is a fun author, and I plan to read whatever she writes (as long as it sounds interesting, anyway). I don’t think this one is for everyone, but maybe if the boarding school and secret group thing sounds interesting to you, you should check it out!

E. Lockhart’s website and twitter!

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill [book review]

Meant to Be coverMeant to Be by Lauren Morrill
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Release Date: November 13th 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Series: none

Goodreads description: Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

Meant to Be was on my Summer TBR list, and I finally got around to reading it!

Meant to Be is the story of Jules going to London on a school trip and maybe finding love. She miscalculated the dates of the trip, and none of her friends are able to go. The buddy system attacks her with a loud guy that she doesn’t really care for. His name is Jason. She believes in fate and that you’re “meant to be” with someone, and she clings to that idea.

I thought this book sounded sweet and fluffy, and it might make me happy like Anna and the French Kiss. But I was pretty annoyed through the whole thing. Jules is smart and determined, she’s excited about London, but she doesn’t have friends on the trip. She kind of just acts really ridiculous. She tries to take chances and make sure she’ll have fun. She does take some chances, but she also did things I just rolled my eyes at. The romance could have been cute, if predictable, but I thought there was a lot of contrived drama that didn’t feel realistic to me. The end seemed very bam! it’s over and unsatisfactory.

Jules and Jason were the only characters the reader gets a chance to know, and neither were very likable. Jules tried too hard and clung to ridiculous idea. Jason was almost a caricature of an annoying teenager. He had hidden depths, but they weren’t deep enough to compensate for the annoying surface he flings at the world.

two star rating

Meant to Be didn’t work out for me, but I didn’t hate it. I wouldn’t read it again. Shout out to Alli at Little Birdie Books because she didn’t like it much either, and her review is better than mine! I wish I’d paid more attention =) I’m still interested in reading Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill because ice skating = yay, but I’m a bit worried about the romance in it. I will see! I think a lot of people did enjoy this book, so if you think it sounds like something you might like, you should give it a shot! You might like Meant to Be if you like class trips to London, arguing, and questioning fate!

Check out Lauren Morrill‘s website and twitter!

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell [book review]

Fangirl coverFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
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Release Date: September 10th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Series: none

Goodreads description: Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind

I spent a while in a pretty big fandom. I wish it had been Harry Potter, but unfortunately, it was a bit more embarrassing than that! It was after I had dropped out of college and was having a rough time. I met people from all across the country and world. I made really good friends, many of whom I still talk to all the time. I read fanfiction, but I never wrote it. So, Fangirl book seemed like it might be something I could connect with. I wasn’t really a fan of Eleanor & Park (and I’ve seen other reviews that have confirmed I’m not the only one, so please don’t gasp at me) but I still felt optimistic about this one.

Cather is the main character and narrator of the book. She’s a twin, and her sister’s name is Wren. I actually kind of liked the name thing. Like other twins I’ve read about and some I’ve known (I’ve never actually known identical twins. I’ve met some, but I’ve been friends with sets and singles of non-identical twins), the twins are pretty different. The twins are going to college for their freshman year, and they have different plans. Wren plans to party and doesn’t want to room with her sister. Cath doesn’t understand and wants things to stay the same.

Cath is quiet and shy. She’s very anxious about making new friends. She’s too nervous to go to the cafeteria. She feels weird about her roommate, Reagan and her maybe-boyfriend Levi. There were some levels that I could really identify with Cath on, but I never grew to love her. I could relate to a lot of her anxiety issues, and some of it felt painfully close to things I’ve been through.  I loved the family interactions, and how difficult it was, it felt realistic. I really liked Cath’s roommate Reagan. A lot of the college experiences seemed realistic, and some of them were fun to read about.

Cath uses fandom to cope with things that happen in real life. She writes fan fiction, and she’s hugely popular. It’s obvious that Simon Snow = Harry Potter. I can completely understand using fandom or any online community to get away from real life. I didn’t really care enough about any of her fanfic to read it in the book. Cath did have a tendency to hide from her problems, and she definitely made some mistakes. She clung pretty stubbornly to things, and I think she knew she was making a mistake. I liked that she was able to deal with her problems and she had, support, plus she was able to give support to others when it was needed. I do feel like she learned a lot and made a lot of progress.

I’m not sure how I feel about Levi. But something about him just felt weird to me. Maybe it’s the cowboy thing that a lot of people seem to love. I’m from a small town in Oklahoma, and I’ve lived on a farm and knew tons of FFA kids, ropers and other kids that grew up on farms. There isn’t anything inherently better about them. They aren’t always nice. They’re just people. Sometimes they are really nice and charming, but it isn’t a given. In books, sometimes it feels like a given and that feels weird to me. Levi seemed genuinely nice to me. He was sweet to Cath, and there were some swoony moments. I never felt very attached to him, though.

3 star rating

I liked Fangirl. It was entertaining, and there were pieces I really enjoyed. I didn’t think it was groundbreaking. I actually think I might want to read it again at some point, maybe if I read it later and it isn’t uber-hyped anymore I might be able to enjoy it more. Even though I haven’t loved either of the Rainbow Rowell books I’ve read, there’s still something about the books that draws me in, and I want to read more of her writing.

Check out Rainbow Rowell’s website and twitter!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth [book review]

The Miseducation of Cameron Post coverThe Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
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Release Date: February 7th 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship–one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to “fix” her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self–even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules

I chose The Miseducation of Cameron Post randomly (like I choose so many of my reads) because it was a really hot day and I was tired of looking at the library. I had no clue what it was about.

I am really not sure how to review this book, and I feel like I say that all the time lately, sorry. There were moments in this book that I really enjoyed, and there were moments that were angering and painful. I felt so much for Cameron, and I was extremely invested in her story. I didn’t love the book, but I think it was important.

I liked Cameron Post as a character. She is dealing with the loss of her parents, the introduction of a new family system, the development of her personality and sexuality, and school and friends all at the same time. When her parents die, she’s relieved because they won’t know she likes girls. After that, she lives with her aunt and her grandmother. She kind of gets away with a lot for a while. She hangs out with a group of guys, she swims and she runs track. She watches tons of movies and connects with a girl from out of state who kind of helps her learn about certain things.

Her aunt, her main legal guadian, is extremely religious. She makes Cameron go to church with her, which leads to even more confusion and a lot of guilt. Cameron has to worry about people finding out about how she feels and not knowing if it’s right or wrong. She goes through different stages in dealing with her own acceptance of her sexuality.

Cameron faces some really heartbreaking things, and I just wanted to hug her. She’s already lost her parents, and then she has to face a lot of shit with her family and friends. She definitely gets an ugly glimpse of how awful some Christians can be about anything different, which is really disgusting. Cameron does learn a lot about herself and I liked learning with her. She was such a great character. The book has an open ending, and while I would have loved to know more about Cameron’s life, I think it fit the book pretty well.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a haunting look at how GLBT/LGBT teens can be treated. It is upsetting and uplifting. There were parts I enjoyed and parts that were difficult to push through. It wasn’t exactly an enjoyable read for me overall, but I’m glad I read it! I definitely think it’s a worth a read. I wouldn’t really want to read it again, but I’d happily read anything else by Emily M. Danforth in the future. You should check out The Miseducation of Cameron Post if you like a realistic look of what GLBT (or LGBT?) teens deal with in intolerant families and religions.

Check out Emily M. Danforth‘s website and twitter!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz [book review]

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
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Release Date: February 21st 2012
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship—the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be

I went into Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe with limited knowledge. I knew it was about friendship and GLBT subjects. I had seen some good things about it and I wanted another book for Bout of Books so I picked it up.

Aristotle or Ari is 15 and unhappy. He lives in El Paso, Texas. He is Mexican American. He speaks English and Spanish. It’s 1987. He doesn’t have many friends. He meets Dante, who also does not have many friends. They become friends and grow and learn things.

I will be honest: I almost didn’t finish this book. There was something about the writing and the beginning felt so slow to me. I’m so glad I didn’t stop reading it, because while it’s not a favorite, I really enjoyed it! It took me a while to get into the flow of Ari’s head and for me the writing didn’t feel lyrical (as the description states). Once I got used to the voice, I got more into the story and it flowed a lot quicker, which made me more interested in what was happening.

The whole story is in Ari’s point of view and it’s first person. Ari is lost, lonely, and confused. In other words, he’s a typical teenager. He has issues with his father, a quiet Vietnam vet with his own problems. His mother is always worried about him and he wants space. He misses a brother he doesn’t know. A lot of the story focuses on his relationship with his father and brother. I loved seeing how much his father loved him even though it was an obvious struggle for him to be open about his experiences and feelings. When they do open up to each other and talk about things, it’s so lovely and heartwarming. I liked Ari’s mom, too. She is a teacher and she has already lost a son to prison, so she’s worried about Ari’s teenage angst and wants the best for him. Ari’s relationship with her was reluctantly sweet and I loved it.

Dante is a fun character. He’s smart and he’s freer and more open about how he feels. I love that at first Ari wasn’t sure if the friendship was worth it, because he’s so sour. Dante is just a positive and hopeful person, which is refreshing. He’s crazy about his parents, which is so nice. He’s different and he knows he’s different. I like that Ari knows that Dante is different and while he thinks about it, it never gives him pause. I enjoyed when Dante was open about anything awkward and it kind of weirded Ari out.

Aristotle and Dante together are fun. Their story developed a bit differently than I expected. There’s a big emphasis on friendship, and I loved their friendship! There were a few things that felt off to me. I liked what happened in the end, but what led up to the ending was kind of weird to me. I also wanted a bit more from the ending, but it still left me happy!

The book does deal with difficult subjects and I think it deals with them very well. Fitting in, family, sexuality, growing up, and so much more.  It was heartwarming and heartwrenching. I had a few issues, but it left me feeling warm and fuzzy!

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For a book I almost didn’t finish, I really enjoyed Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. I had issues with pacing and a few other details, but overall I think it was a lovely book. I don’t see it being a book I’d read again, but I definitely think it’s a book worth reading! If you like discovery, growth, well-written families, friends and more, you will probably enjoy this book. I think most people will enjoy it!

You can learn more about Benjamin Alire Sáenz here!

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys [book review]

Out of the Easy coverOut of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
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Release Date: February 12th 2013
Publisher: Philomel Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street. Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

I knew Out of the Easy was set in New Orleans, but I didn’t know much else about it. I saw something about a murder on the jacket flap. It was sort of a random pick.

“My mother’s a prostitute” is such a great first line. Josie has grown up with a neglectful and hateful mother. People have judged her for her mother’s choice of occupation. She’s worked hard at two jobs and school to be something better and different. She has hopes and dreams to change her life and make it better. She wants more out of life than the same old dirty life where nobody really gets ahead honestly.

Josie is familiar with the mean and dirty side of the Big Easy. She grew up with a mom who cared more about the money and desire that came from prostitution than her child. Her mother resented her and blamed her for changes in her body and the decline in desire. Josie grew up interacting with whores and a low class type of people. She’s close-ish with Willie, the madam or lady who runs the brothel where her mom works. Willie is a businesswoman, she sells sex but she also deals in information. She knows what happens in her area and she has scouts watching for information on the street. She’s closer to Cokie, Willie’s driver.  Cokie is the warmest person in Josie’s life.

She loves books and works at a bookstore. She also lives above the store and is close with the owner and his son. The owner is sick and she helps the son take care of him. When she meets a wealthy girl who goes to Smith in the Northeast, she starts wishing for that life. She’s always wanted out, but now she has a more specific goal.

The setup of the book was lovely, getting to know the city and the people in Josie’s life. Throughout the story the reader gets to know Willie, Cokie,  along with some of the prostitutes pretty well. There are some pretty fun stories about the crazy things that go on in the house. Some are cringe-worthy and some are entertaining.

There was the murder mystery that Josie was very interested in. Along with the seedy parts of New Orleans, there was organized crime and Josie’s mother is dating a creep of a crook. Josie was left in some lurches and had to figure out how to handle some things. I thought some of the drama was almost overdone. I get that it’s a dangerous life and dark times, but it was just a bit much for me.

Jesse was my favorite character and I wanted more of him! He was charming and Josie expected the worst of him. Like a lot of things, Jesse wasn’t what she expected. She thought he was low class and wouldn’t amount to much, and she was surprised to learn he too wanted more from life.

Josie misjudged a lot of people in her life, which is a realistic mistake. A few times, I was frustrated and wanted to tell her to go with her gut instead of hiding everything away and being isolated. She made mistakes, but she definitely learned from them. She was such a likable character because she had such realistic motivations and responses to her mistakes. I think she learned a lot in the story.

I loved the completely unique subject. I haven’t read a lot of books set in Louisiana and not in this time period. It’s a difficult time in a difficult place, which is unique and fascinating. It’s a look at the side of society people look down on, even Josie looked down on them sometimes and she was a part of it. It’s not easy for people that are in ruts to get stuck, to not be able to work their way out. But sometimes, with enough hard work you can find a way out.

rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Out of the Easy is a good read! I don’t think I would ever read it again, but I will definitely read more by Ruta Sepetys and plan on reading Shades of Gray. This book has an average rating of 4.07 rating on Goodreads, so if it sounds like something you like, you should definitely check it out! I think Out of the Easy would be great for you if you enjoy descriptions of old timey New Orleans, some crime and risque walks of life, and a girl finding her own way even when it’s difficult.

Check out Ruta Sepetys‘s website and twitter!

Review: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

The Last Bridge coverThe Last Bridge by Teri Coyne
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Release Date: May 25th 2010
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Series: n/a

Goodreads description: For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to her Ohio hometown—and to the family she never intended to see again. Cat’s mother is dead, and she’s left a disturbing and confusing suicide note that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo

Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: Her tyrannical father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love? Taut, gripping, and edgy, The Last Bridge is an intense tale of family secrets, darkest impulses, and deep-seated love.

This book was on my Summer TBR top ten, mainly because I’ve had it a while and never read it. I found the receipt in the book and I bought it in 2010. It was just a book at Target and I’m not exactly sure why I chose it. The description sounds interesting but there’s also a quote about coping with abuse on the back of the book. Whatever reason I bought it then, I finally decided to read it.

“Two days after my father had a massive stroke my mother shot herself in the head. Her suicide was a shock—not the fact that she killed herself but the way in which she did it.”

I am not sure how I feel about this book. It was a quick read but it was also difficult to get through. I wonder if people who have been through abuse read stories about abuse to relate and if it makes them feel less alone. I don’t have any experience with abuse, especially nothing like this. When the story begins, Alex/Cat is still lost and living under the weight of her abuse. She isn’t just struggling emotionally, she’s an alcoholic and she’s barely getting by on purpose. She wants to spend most of her time in a haze so she doesn’t have to remember the bad things in her life.

She goes back home because her mother has killed herself and she’s confronted with every memory that she’s been trying to drink away. She’s been gone for ten years and hasn’t spoken to anyone in her family during that time, except once when her brother found her. Her mom is dead and Cat identifies the body by the missing tip of her finger which Cat’s father cut off once when she tried to leave him. Yeah, it’s pretty brutal.

The story addresses the simple note Cat’s mom left her, Cat’s memories of the past, and her relationship with her siblings, and her old “love”, Addison. The story switches between the current time and Cat’s past. In the present, Cat is trying to figure out what “He’s not who you think he is” means, and who it could be about. Cat’s siblings, especially Jared, try to reconnect with her but that isn’t something she wants. Her past shows how she met Addison and how their connection began while looking at Cat’s family life and how horrible her father was. 

The abuse in the story is really difficult to read. It’s not just physical abuse, you find out later in the story that her father touched her and sexually abused her since she was seven. One time she tried to tell her mom and her mom’s answer was “We all have our crosses to bear.” Can you even imagine? I mean, her mother was also being abused and Cat’s father had threatened her. I’m sure it would have been near impossible for her to get away, but I don’t understand how a mother could watch her kids go through that without trying every single way out. Jared is the oldest and gets knocked around, but he’s kind of learned to take it. Wendy is the youngest and her father’s favorite, which means she gets spoiled instead of abused. She makes excuses for her father’s behavior and I guess she kept in touch with him, even knowing he did horrible things to everyone in her family.

Addison is the son of Cat’s father’s best friend. He came to town to fix up a house but stays above Cat’s family’s garage. He sees a happy family, he doesn’t witness the abuse. Cat tries to tell him and he brushes it off, he doesn’t want to see the truth. He doesn’t want to know how bad she has it. Cat’s love for Addison results in her father freaking out (to put it lightly). She ends up in the hospital for a while and then she basically has to escape. They don’t have insurance and she has to leave town to get away from her father. Addison takes her to a friend’s house in a different state. She recovers there then sneaks away from them, too.

The writing is nice but the story is so dark and troubling. I was asking myself why I was reading this sad, awful story. It stays heavy and upsetting. Some of the descriptions of violence and abuse were crushing. Towards the end, there is finally some light. It isn’t an easy fix, which is nice. Cat has to find her way out of the mess of her life. She has to work hard and it takes hitting rock bottom to even get to a starting point. However, it’s worth it. While the journey is dark and rough, the ending was actually sort of nice. I can see why people might want to read about situations like this if the person can rise above it, which I’m sure a lot of people do in real life, too.

two star rating

It’s really difficult to rate this one. I didn’t like it very much and I won’t ever read it again. But it is a story that will stick with me, and it made me think and feel a lot of things. There’s an interview with the author in the back of the book and she talks about people with similar experiences telling her they relate to the story. Maybe for some readers it was a complex journey that they connected with, but this one wasn’t really for me. Even though I felt bad for a lot of the characters, I didn’t feel much else for them. The last few chapters were more engaging, but it wasn’t enough to save the book for me. I wouldn’t recommend The Last Bridge, unless you can stomach abuse and sad self-discovery.

Check out Teri Coyne’s website!