Friday, January 29, 2016

Review | This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publish Date: January 5, 2016

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.  (Goodreads)

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

My Thoughts: From the moment I started reading This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, I was holding my breath. I felt tense. I knew what was going to happen based on the synopsis - I just wasn't completely sure how everything would work out in the end. That feeling never left while I was reading this story and I'm sure that 'I need to take a breath, I need to breath' feeling added to my overall feelings about this book. 

Obviously, I do not like school shootings. But I like this story. The book was great. And actually, the longer I think about this story since I've finished it, the more I like it. 

Author Marieke Nijkamp uses a four points-of-view story structure; each chapter shares from these multiple POV's. These four students are at different places in the school when the story begins and each are tied to the shooter in some way. The entire story takes place over about 54 minutes, and each chapter covers just a few of those minutes. The book begins shortly before the incident happens. We know what is going on all over campus before the shooting, while the shooting is taking place, and immediately after the incident.  

It is intense and just, wow. 


As dark as this sounds, I have to admit that I loved this nearly 360-degree storytelling because this structure felt truer to the shock and terror while it was happening versus past-tense storytelling after the event has taken place. Many of us have unfortunately watched these real-life news stories as these scenes unfold, hearing reporters talk while we watch scenes of the outside of school buildings. With This Is Where It Ends, we are in there while this fictional occurrence takes place, and I appreciate the perspectives that these students bring as they are close to the shooter. I love that these characters keep talking to us (the readers) throughout the hour, as the incident transpires. I know some people may be thrown by the multiple POV's, and to be fair, it did take me a couple of chapters to figure out exactly who-is-who and what connection everyone has to everyone else. And everyone IS connected because this is a small town. THAT is ONE of the things that makes this story so riveting. 

The setting of Opportunity as a small town = MY town is a small town = this can happen anywhere.

While this is going on, everyone is struggling to understand the WHY of this event. Everyone knows the shooter - or they thought they did. So what did everyone miss? Is there something someone could have done or said to prevent this? Because people are dying and these young people are feeling the weight of it through their connection to the shooter. It is heartbreaking to read the thoughts of these young people, carrying around this guilt even before they have all of the information. These same young people are contemplating their futures and whether or not their friends and siblings are surviving at other places in the school, and WOW YOU GUYS, these are such heavy and intense things to be thinking on a regular school day. 


This is not a happy story, but it isn't supposed to be. There is not an entirely happy ending. There are characters that die in here, and it is gripping and heartbreaking and shocking and very sad. 

I liked This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp because it is a great story, because it is relevant to this day and age, and because I love issues-contemporaries. Without meaning to, I kept switching back and forth, reading as a regular-reader and as a mother, which honestly was a little bit eye-opening since my children are school-aged. But I LOVE that I was able to feel emotions on more than one level (if that makes sense) while I read this book. I appreciate what the author did here, telling this story in this way. I hope a ton of people read it.

I loved the differing and multiple points of view. For me, that was the icing on the cake in terms of giving me an overall, complete picture of what happened at the high school in Opportunity. I understand that it may be the thing that keeps other readers from connecting deeply with these characters, particularly if this book is read at a quicker pace. I personally did not have trouble connecting with the characters and getting into their heads -- except for the shooter. I would love to know more about the shooter, and more of the shooter's thoughts. (Is that weird? Maybe that is weird. Forgive me if that is weird, you guys!) This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is a great, eyes-glued-to-the-pages story for fans of those contemporaries that pack a punch and for those that love issues-contemporaries. 


This Is Where It Ends will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary with Issues
Romance: Light, no triangle. (However, this is not a romance story.) 
Multiple POV's
Issues: School Shooting

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
is currently available for purchase. 


I want people to read this one but I'm afraid they'll 
be scared of it because of the "school shooting" subject matter. 
It's really a great book! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review | With Every Breath by Lia Riley

With Every Breath by Lia Riley
Series: Wanderlust #1
Published by Forever Yours
Publish Date: December 29, 2015

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 


At the ends of the earth, Patagonia is a land where ambition trumps reason and the savage summit of La Aguja lures the most determined climbers. It's also the last spot a "play-it-safe girl" like Auden Woods expects to find herself. But she'll lace up her brand-new hiking boots and do whatever it takes to secure a dream job at an adventure magazine . . . even if it kills her. And it just might. When disaster strikes, her only chance at survival comes in the form of the surliest, sexiest mountaineer ever to come out of Scotland.

After a climbing accident cost him his brother, professional mountaineer Rhys MacAskill is at the end of his rope. Redemption is not in his future. That is, until a terrifying storm blows a budding journalist into his tent and it's up to him to make sure they both survive until morning. Despite the demons weighing on him, Rhys can't resist the temptation of the charming American and one wild night just isn't enough.

Auden and Rhys soon learn there are no shortcuts as they navigate their way between life, death, and atonement, and discover something they never expected—love.  (Goodreads)

With Every Breath by Lia Riley

My Thoughts: So! Books by Lia Riley have become a favorite thing for me. With Every Breath is my fourth full-length novel of hers and I had the. best. time. reading + listening to it.

Auden is a journalist interning with a well-known magazine, trying to write an article that will secure her a coveted permanent position on staff. While hiking alone up one of the more difficult Patagonian peaks, Auden has a pretty bad asthma attack and wanders over to Rhys' tent for help. Rhys assists her and shares his space so she can recover and rest. Rhys is grumpy and gruff, and more than a little closed off. Auden notices that he is also very good-looking, in a needs-to-bathe-because-I've-been-in-the-wilderness kind of way. Rhys is attracted to Auden as well, but he still guards himself, and the two are more awkward with one another than anything. For a while, anyway.

Rhys trusts no one, plus he doesn't want to talk to anyone about what really happened in his past. Auden is looking for a story, and she doesn't YET know that right there in Rhys' tent, she is practically sitting on the story that the entire world has been waiting for --  This is a story of mistakes and forgiveness, and of opening up to the possibility of loving and being loved. 

Hello, secrets! Hello, romantic tension! 


I loved Rhys right away. RIGHT AWAY. I'm certain that I would have loved him even if I only read this in ebook format because his broody, grumpy, guilt-ridden temperament was perfect in this particular story. However, adding the audiobook sealed the deal for me! For me, it was glorious to be able to listen to these narrators speak for Auden and Rhys. (Accent! Accent!) Auden was not initially as easy to love, in my opinion, but by the end of the story I was cheering for the growth she had made and also the growth these two had made in their relationship as a whole. I loved their overall story. 

With Every Breath was fun to read from a romance perspective and it was funny. There are a ton of little comedic moments in there to go with all of the swoons. There are romantic swoons, and there also the kinds of swoons that I personally feel when I read about beautiful scenery and hiking and travels. This book oozes wanderlust, so the series is perfectly named. I can't wait to see who shows up in the next book, and where it will take us. Great settings is one thing that Lia Riley does super well, and by golly, it enhanced the heck out of this story for me. She also does secondary casting well, and I loved the addition of all of the extra characters in this story, even if they weren't all extremely likable. 

Normally I read contemporary romances pretty quickly. When I have read previous books by this author, I've flown through them. But right now, I'm in the middle of a move with with my family. So I've been reading slower than normal. Honestly, I thought I would be really frustrated to be reading this book so slowly, but I loved it so much that I didn't mind being in this world for such a long time with this couple, and even being in the middle of their conflicts for a couple of days (because of reading so slowly) didn't bother me. I wanted the story to NOT END. I was a little sad when it was over. 

I recommend With Every Breath by Lia Riley to readers that enjoy fun romances with some humor and a kickass setting. You'll also definitely enjoy this one if you love brooding, grumpy heroes that love the outdoors. I'm on the lookout for more information about this series, and in the meantime, I need to head over to Lia Riley's Brightwater Series, because those are the only books of hers that I haven't read. 

Audiobook Notes
The audiobook format of With Every Breath by Lia Riley is published by Hachette Audio and is 8 hours and 19 minutes, Unabridged. It is narrated by Helen Wick and Paul Fox, and OH MY GOODNESS. Helen Wick is so convincing as Auden; I think she sounds like a young gal on the edge of leaping into her adult life. She does a great job of making Auden sound full of wonder at the scenery and at Rhys, and I love that. And Paul Fox - that accent! He read Rhys like the perfectly grumpy yet swoony outdoorsman that he is. I am ELATED that I used my Audible credit on this audiobook because I know FOR SURE that I will be listening to this one again. Both of these narrators are new to me, to the best of my memory, but I completely enjoyed these performances. Highly recommended to audiobook listeners. 


With Every Breath will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Setting: Patagonia 
Wanderlust! Mountaineering! Hiking! 
Alternating POV's

With Every Breath by Lia Riley
is currently available for purchase. 


More by Lia Riley: 

I've read (and loved) the series on the bottom row. 
I haven't read the series on the top yet. SOON. I can't wait!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Review | Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind

Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind 
Published by Forever Yours
Publish Date: January 12, 2016

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

Dear Mom & Dad, I dropped out of school. I’m going backpacking. Sorry. Love you both.

At nineteen, Nina has endured two lifetime’s worth of humiliation. Tired of waiting for it to get better, she decides to get going—across the globe to New Zealand. There she soon faces what she most fears: a super sexy guy ready to be Nina’s next mistake.

Once Sam’s life was all about having fun. That was before the accident. Now his friends have bailed and his world is broken. But when a gorgeous girl on his flight looks at him with passion instead of pity, Sam feels his old self coming back to life. 

Now traveling together, Nina and Sam know this isn’t just a fling. They’re falling fast, hard, and deep. More than anything, Sam wants Nina to forget her fears. But to help her do that he must reveal his own painful secret—and risk Nina never seeing him the same way again.

Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind

My Thoughts
Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind follows Nina as she spontaneously buys a plane ticket to New Zealand in an effort to leave her completely humiliating past behind. Nina has had a wildly traumatic past few years after something that she did was caught on camera (!!!) and went viral on YouTube. As a result (or maybe in addition to this), she has several odd phobias and has an awkward clumsiness that is nearly impossible to top. She just needs to get away, and now she is doing it. Nina's plane hasn't even landed before yet another humiliating thing has happened (hilarious!) and the "frickin hot guy" on the plane with her, Sam, witnessed the entire thing. 

Sam is also going to New Zealand. He is also trying to get away from home for awhile, although his reasons are vastly different from Nina's. While Sam has a history of being popular with ladies and of being a star athlete, he was in an accident not too long ago and, well, things have changed. 

On this trip, Nina and Sam end up being travel partners; early on, they find that they get along pretty well. They do not know all of the "flaws" of the other one. They do not know all that the other one is running away from. Little by little, the two release pieces of information to one another and in the process, they build themselves back up to the people that they used to be. The also lose their hearts to each other. 


So this romance? The tension and build-up is great. I just did not want to stop reading. These two have these incredibly awkward and humorous moments, and I love the way they handle them. They chuckle, they shrug, and they move on. And they were super swoony! These seem to have such a great time together, which is super romantic to me. Sure, they have little spats, and I love this, because this is healthy. They make mistakes with one another, and I love this too. The entire progression of their relationship - from strangers to travel partners, to crush, to something more - is set against the backdrop of a backpacking trip in New Zealand, complete with hostels, tents, hiking, and rain storms, and YES YES YES. I mean, really!

Also, the insecurities that these two have within the romance (those "flaws" that I mentioned)? YES. So wonderfully written. No spoilers, but I absolutely LOVE what the author did here. LOVE. 

The secondary cast is super fun, particularly Leigh, who ends up traveling with Nina and Sam for a short length of time. The setting: I've already confessed my love for it. This book is great for those of us with wanderlust and a love for nature and hiking! And the book is written in alternating POV's, which is really fun for some very specific moments within the story when we really want and need to know what is going on in both Nina's thoughts and Sam's mind. 

I just loved Chasing Crazy. I expected to enjoy it because of the travel theme, but I didn't realize that the book was so doggone funny! I was laughing out loud, right away, from the first chapter. The end is pretty great - not cookie-cutter, but definitely something I think we will all enjoy. High fives to Author Kelly Siskind. I have no idea if there are more books planned with these characters (I don't think so?) but if so, I want to read them asap. I've seen where this author has another series coming out this year and I'm excited to read it. 

Sidenote: I wish this was out in audiobook! I'd love to hear it, particularly since it was so humorous. 


Chasing Crazy will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 
Great Setting: New Zealand
Alternating POV's

Chasing Crazy by Kelly Siskind
will be available for purchase on January 12, 2016.  


If you love a little bit of non-cheesy humor in your romance,