4 stars · Book Reviews · Reading · romance

Review | It Ends With Us

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It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Atria Books, 2016
Romance
385 pages
4/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Emotional Abuse, Homelessness, Physical Abuse, Sexual Assault.

GoodReads Synopsis

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

Review

Whoa. This book just… wow. I read it for book club, and until this month, the majority of our reads have been light fluffy reads.

This was the complete opposite. This was a heavy read that covered heavy topics. I went in pretty blind to this, so all that I really knew about the book was what the synopsis told me.

Despite it being a difficult read, it was a smooth one. I felt like I was devouring the book in no time at all. This was my first Colleen Hoover book, but I’ve heard that a lot of her books read like this.

As a survivor of emotional abuse, so many parts resonated with me, and I thought that Hoover did a fantastic job of showing why abuse survivors don’t “just leave” without victimizing the survivor or villainizing the abuser. Both Lily and her abuser are complex characters with flaws and strengths.

There was one part where the abuser reveals some past trauma, which shed some light onto why he does what he does. It was done in a delicate way, not excusing his behavior (there is never an excuse for abusive behavior), rather explaining it. This is a sad reality of abuse that I appreciated being mentioned in the book.

The one aspect that really made me laugh were the references to Ellen DeGeneres. Those aged like sour milk, unfortunately.

Perfect for late night readers who need a good cry.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

5 Stars · Book Reviews · Reading · romance

Book Review: “Red, White, & Royal Blue”

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Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2019
Romance
448 pages
5/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Sex, drunkenness, talk of drug addiction

GoodReads Synopsis:

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through?

Review:

I’d been hearing about this book for literal years, but I’d always hesitated to read it, because I usually think of my ideal genre as “badass women. That’s it.” I also sort of feel like gay relationships can be idealized and gay characters can easily be caricatures or stereotypes instead of well-rounded characters. So, for a while, I stayed away from it.

And then, I received a copy in the mail as a random act of kindness, started a book club with a few friends from home, and we decided to read it.

And ya’ll… I’m so mad at myself for staying away for so long. The story is heartfelt, the characters are lovable and fully rounded out, the banter is unbeatable, the romance is steamy… and yes, even though the love story didn’t include any badass women, there were still some very badass women featured as characters.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it also felt so good to be represented, not in a tragic, sad coming out story, (I’m looking at you, The Happiest Season.) but in a joyful romantic comedy. I’ve devoured rom-coms since I was a kid, and for the first time, I really saw a LGBTQ+ couple represented. This book felt like a love letter to the LGBTQ+ community.

One of my favorite parts of reading is when you get so engrossed in a book, you really are absorbed into the story. You stay up late reading, when you’re not reading, you can’t stop thinking about the book, you tell everyone to read it, you laugh out loud at the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, etc. That’s how it felt with this book. I was so enamored with everything about it, and it felt like I couldn’t stop singing its praises.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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4 stars · Book Reviews · Lifestyle · literary fiction · Reading · romance

Book Review: “Crazy Rich Asians”

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Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
Doubleday, 2013
Literary Fiction / Romance
403 pages
4/5 Stars

Trigger Warnings: Mentions of suicidality and infidelity, harassment.

GoodReads Synopsis:

Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn’t know is that Nick’s family home happens to look like a palace, that she’ll ride in more private planes than cars, and that with one of Asia’s most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back.

Initiated into a world of dynastic splendor beyond imagination, Rachel meets Astrid, the It Girl of Singapore society; Eddie, whose family practically lives in the pages of the Hong Kong socialite magazines; and Eleanor, Nick’s formidable mother, a woman who has very strong feelings about who her son should–and should not–marry. Uproarious, addictive, and filled with jaw-dropping opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is an insider’s look at the Asian JetSet; a perfect depiction of the clash between old money and new money; between Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese; and a fabulous novel about what it means to be young, in love, and gloriously, crazily rich

Review:

I actually received this book during my Cousins’ Secret Santa gift exchange in 2019 (thanks, Tina!) after seeing and loving the movie. I finally got around to reading it when I was doing a read-a-thon last month that required I read a book starting with a ‘C’ or a ‘G’, and I’m glad I did!

I really loved this book, and I loved how closely the movie followed the book! Obviously there were a few differences, but while reading the book, I could visualize the movie so well.

One thing I absolutely loved about the book was how supportive Nick was. One thing that bothers me in a lot of romance books is how the male lead can be possessive, or put his own interests before his partner. Nick was, quite frankly, the perfect partner. He put Rachel’s wellbeing before his own, did what was good for her, not what was good for him or their relationship. I absolutely fell hell over heels in love with the man.

Another thing I really appreciated was how much deeper Michael’s issues with Astrid and her family went. In the movie, it is shown that he is having an affair because of his insecurities and dissatisfaction with their marriage. In the book however, oh, it’s so much worse.

If you don’t want to be spoiled, I recommend you stop reading now.

Okay. So. Michael basically stages an affair to get out of his marriage. Like “the other woman” was actually his cousin and they set it up to make it look like they’re having an affair. Personally, I think that’s even worse than having an affair because of the effort he put in to hurting Astrid. Reading about it was absolutely wild.

One thing I liked better in the movie, though, was the ending. The movie ends with Nick and Rachel reuniting and celebrating their engagement with their families and friends with his mother’s blessing and ring The book, however, ended with some uncertainty, which I think is more realistic. After everything that his family had put her through, I can understand why Rachel wouldn’t want to jump right back into the relationship.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book! It made me want to travel to Asia, and find me a man like that Nick Young.

If you’d like to purchase this book for yourself, please consider purchasing from an independent bookstore, or if that isn’t possible for you, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate Link.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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