ARC Review – You Are The Everything by Karen Rivers

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YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING 

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Publication Date: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Pages: Hardcover, 272 pages

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AMAZONBARNES AND NOBLEKOBOINDIEBOUND

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Can you want something—or someone—so badly that you change your destiny? Elyse Schmidt never would have believed it, until it happened to her. When Elyse and her not-so-secret crush, Josh Harris, are the sole survivors of a plane crash, tragedy binds them together. It’s as if their love story is meant to be. Everything is perfect, or as perfect as it can be when you’ve literally fallen out of the sky and landed hard on the side of a mountain—until suddenly it isn’t. And when the pieces of Elyse’s life stop fitting together, what is left?

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mythoughtsDelightfully Weird, Amazingly Unique, and Emotionally Engrossing 

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Wow! I don’t even know how to explain what I’m feeling. YOU ARE THE EVERTYHING was such an interestingly well-written and beautifully affecting story about love, loss, life, death, and everything else in between.

Having gone through losing someone recently and dealing with my own grief, this book was not an easy read. I was actually kind of afraid once I realized it wasn’t the lighthearted romance I was expecting. But, the author’s writing style and second person POV sucked me into the story. As if I was the character — going through everything, experiencing all these emotions and just feeling EVERYTHING. It was excruciating and quite overwhelmingly sometimes that I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but I had to keep going. I had to know what would happen next. I had to know that there’ll be a happy ending somewhere. I just had to know. And I did. I can’t say a lot about the plot without giving anything away, but it was very strange and surreal. The ending was just so INSANE. I mean I had my theories while I was reading, but I honestly never saw it coming. So so shockingly good it hurt.

Character wise, I really liked Elyse. She was quirky, funny, adorable and a beautiful mess. I had such an incredibly weird, but fascinating experience being in her head. I can’t say much about the other characters though. I feel like I’d spoil it for you and I just can’t do that. BUT, I will say this. I really enjoyed getting to know the supporting characters in every way.

YOU ARE THE EVERYTHING by Karen Rivers is a wonderfully written story about EVERYTHING. It was exciting and also terrifying. It was sweet, entertaining, and sometimes even funny, but also heartbreaking. Some parts were a bit slow and somewhat annoying, but that didn’t really bother me that much cause I was intrigued and really into the story. I found myself dizzily floating through a whirlwind of emotions and I LOVED IT. So, yeah, this book wasn’t without flaws, but it really got to me and had me feeling and thinking… about EVERYTHING.

If you’re looking for a quick addictive read that’s delightfully weird, amazingly unique, and emotionally engrossing, then I highly recommend you get this book right now. Definitely think it’s not going to be easily forgotten.

I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and fair review. All feelings, thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Spoiler Alert: Some may give away clues to how the story ends, so read at your own risk.

“You know it isn’t real, but it’s real enough.”

“We hold on to two types of memories the hardest – The good ones and the bad ones. It’s the ones that aren’t extreme that we lose most easily.”

“Two truths. Something is a lie. But which one is the lie?”

“The thing is that there isn’t a choice, there isn’t always a choice, sometimes the choice is made for you…”

“What could have been, what isn’t, what wasn’t, and what will never be.”

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abouttheauthorTaken from the author’s website. 

karenrivers

I was born, grew up, and currently live in British Columbia, where I take a lot of photos, walk a lot of paths, and write books for children, teens and adults.

The stories I tell are emotionally honest, but they aren’t about real people.   Fiction has a way of telling the truth though, don’t you think?

I believe that readers are always asking the question, “Am I OK?”  I write characters who suspect that they are not OK, but who eventually find inside themselves the strength to change that belief.

Growing up is harder than ever.  The world is often egregiously unfair.  Things can seem impossible.

How do we go on?

I believe in the power of stories.  I think that stories will save us.  They can show us the way.

Novels are magical.  Books can be mirrors or windows.  We sometimes need to see ourselves.  We always need to understand others.

Stories are all secret passages to alternate worlds where we can be safe to explore the unsafe, the unsettling or the unfair hands some people have been dealt.

In the pages of a book, we can be braver than we are, we can go further than we’d normally dare, we can understand more than we know.

Books make us better, period.

I believe in magic.  Do you?

Be brave.   Be kind.   And believe this:  You are OK.

I believe in you.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my review.

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

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Book Review – Valentine: Act I of II by Elliott Morreau

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Valentine: Act I of II

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Publication Date: April 21st 2018

Genre(s): YA, Paranormal/Occult, Crime/Mystery, Dark Romance

Pages: Kindle Edition 406

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Welcome to Coalfields. 
A Town where everyone fits in. From murderers to rapists to paedophiles. And you. Yes, you.
What? You think you’re so much different from them? That’s what Jack and Lia thought too. After all, what do two high school lovebirds have in common with a place like that?
Nothing.
Until one of them commits murder. But even then, who am I to Judge? After all, I’m merely an observer in the stars—a spectator. God.
So out of all the people in the world, why observe the life of two teenagers? Because it’s simple: They’re special.
One is the greatest high school quarterback in North America who’s slept with as many girls as the hairs on his head. The other? A child-like teenager who was abused by her now-dead father.
But it wasn’t the murder of Lia’s father, or the fact that Jack had fallen head over heals for a virgin, that interested me.
It was because of the fateful day that Lia looked me dead in the eyes. A mere mortal, looked upon me, God. It was then, for the first time I felt fear. In the reflection of her eyes—the dark figure. A manifestation. An It.
Something I hadn’t created.
And with his cherry red lips, It smiled back.

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mythoughtsPremise Seemed Promising and Story was Unique, But NOT FOR ME

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Valentine: Act I of II by Elliott Morreau wasn’t what I expected. Intriguing, but also disconcerting that I eventually and sadly had to DNF.

Let me start by saying that this story is absolutely not for the faint of heart. I thought it was a disturbing read and I had a difficult time getting through most of the 15% that I read. I’m not usually a fan of dark romances, but I have read them before and honestly, some of them were surprisingly really good and addictive. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think this book was horrible or not well-written. I actually thought the plot was unique in its own way. Yeah, I did cringe and ughhh at some parts, but I also wanted to know what would happen next. However, there were factors that bothered me a lot which made reading this novel unpleasant enough that I had to stop.

It was also frustratingly difficult to connect with the characters. I didn’t like Jack from the start. I know I don’t know his character that well yet, but I just couldn’t understand why Lia was staying with him. He acted pushy and a bit of a jerk which was a big NO for me and a total turn off. I also had a difficult time relating with Lia.  And the romance… DO NOT LIKE AT ALL. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve read dark romances before… and even though there were a few light/somewhat cutesy moments between Jack and Lia, there was something very off-putting about their relationship. Yes, I haven’t gone too far into the story and maybe their romantic relationship gets better, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I felt no chemistry between them and didn’t FEEL the swoons. .

But, the one thing that really affected my reading experience was the author’s writing style. Okay, so this one is a little difficult to explain. I did like some parts. I thought it was creative and original and I haven’t read anything like it before. Well, I also felt that the writing was overwhelmingly flowery. There were far too many similes and metaphors and imagery that it became extremely distracting. I felt like I was drowning in words and I wasn’t feeling/connecting with the characters or the story. I just can’t read books if I don’t have that. I want to feel like I’m part of the story.  And maybe I just don’t have the patience to read this book cause I’m not in the mood. Maybe I just want something happy and light and just easy to read.

This was not the book for me now and maybe even ever. I thought there were a few creative and intriguing parts, but overall, I just did not have fun reading the story. It was too flowery, too exhausting, and too heavy. But, don’t take my word for it. Give it a try and see if you’ll like the story. Maybe you’ll even love it.

I received an ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest and fair review. All thoughts, opinions, and feelings are my own.

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Check out this excerpt. I definitely did not get this far, but maybe you’ll get intrigued enough to take a chance on this book

Jack swallows hard, trying to stay as calm as possible. “What can I do to help you boys?”
The one with the newspaper looks up at him, then back down at the page. The one with the cigar stands up, drops his cigar to the pavement, twisting his black dress shoe on top of it. He removes his hat, revealing a full head of black hair. He walks towards Jack, places his hat on the trunk of the Cadillac, and extends his hand. He is shaved and well kempt and looks at least early thirties. His hands are beyond clean. Jack accepts the handshake, remarking how soft they are. Hands of a shady man.
“We have an offer for you, Jack Manuel.”
Jack’s jaw hits the floor.
“Shocked?”
“A little,” he admits.
“My name is Joe.” The man smiles and extends his hand out towards his companion reading the newspaper. “This is my friend, Pan.” Pan flicks the peace sign to acknowledge his existence. His eyes never leave the page.
“You’re not going to arrest us?”
“We’re Americans. Not law enforcers. We don’t care what you did or didn’t do.”
Jack licks his lips. “And you found us how?” He looks nervous, and he should be. He’s seen this from enough movies. Next thing you know, he’ll be proposed to join a gang, and what can he say? He’s a criminal now. But he knows from the movies all gangs’ members always end up dead.
“Let’s just say I have an Uncle named Sam who knows a lot more than you think. What if I also told you that a little bit of greasy palms and a lot of luck has us standing in front of you to propose this offer.”
“What’s the offer?”
“Well, if you mind getting your girlfriend out of the car, we can talk about it,” Joe says, pointing to Lia, a damsel in distress who has her face pushed up against the passenger’s side door like a young child wondering what’s going on in the adult world.
Jack waves her out, and like a good dog, she opens the driver’s-side door, lands on her bare feet, and runs to his side. “I’m hungry! Where’s my food? And who are these people?” She pouts, crossing her arms and flexing her hips.
“Lia, I’m sorry, but we had a little problem.”
“A problem? Whose problem? It isn’t my problem, is it? I didn’t know about a problem. Is it my fault? Oh, Jack, I’m sorry—”
He raises his hand, and like a dog, she shuts her mouth. “Don’t worry, it’s fine. It isn’t about you.”
Lia, with both hands, grips Jack’s shoulder and presses her weight down on him. “Is it about your friends here?”
To Joe she comes across like a little girl, so he nods and extends a friendly hand, the same way he would treat a princess. She looks down at his hand for a brief moment, investigating it like a native who stumbles upon a white man. She looks at Jack, unsure if she should accept it. Jack nods, and slowly Lia extends her fingers into his palm. In a matter of minutes, they finally shake hands.
“Lia, my name is Joe. This is my friend, Pan. We have been looking for you guys for a proposal.”
Lia’s eyes light up. “Oh, are we getting married? You shouldn’t have! But oh no, who can I invite? We don’t have any friends. Dad’s dead; mom and my annoying little brother left somewhere. So where do we get the money? Where did you get this proposal? Is this all—”
Jack and Joe start laughing, and even Pan can’t resist a grin as he flips to the next page.
“What’s so funny?”
Joe shakes his head, but grinning nonetheless.
“Shouldn’t you be happy about this, Jack? We are getting married!”
Jack shakes his head, tears of laughter trembling from his eyes. “No, not a proposal as in marriage. Joe means an offer for us!”
“An offer?” Lia asks. Her face fills with a confused complexion.
“Yes, he has something he wants to give us in exchange for something. Like a deal, like something for us to decide on, as boyfriend and girlfriend,” Jack says, emphasizing those two words.
“So we aren’t getting married?” Lia murmurs a little upset. She looks down at her bare feet and twiddles them, something she does when she is nervous.
He leans into her ear, whispering, “Don’t worry. We will get married one day, but not right now because you and I both know I can’t afford a ring.”
“And marriage rings are expensive!” she shouts, a smile ringing on her face.
“Yes they are, Lia. They are very expensive. That’s why you buy rings for people you want to be with forever.”
He playfully pokes her in the stomach, and she giggles like a newborn.
“I’m sorry for disappointing you, Lia. But I have something I think you will enjoy just as much as marriage,” Joe says, interrupting but leaving a friendly smile in the air.
“You mean it?” Lia lets out a mild yet ecstatic reply. “You hear that? He has something better for us than marriage!”
Jack blushes. He has heard it, but he loves hearing it from Lia. Can you say that again? he wants to say to her. He wants to kiss her.
“Yes, I heard it. Now let the man continue.”
Joe nods in approval. He picks up his hat, rotating it through his hands delicately. His eyes focus down to his thumb that follows the bend of the curve, the fan of his hat looking as sharp as a steel blade.
On his face, a smile escapes his lips. He’s thinking about how perfect this was—a young teen with potential and his sick puppy, a perfect couple for the mining operation down in Montana. He looks up at Lia, and in one swift movement, he puts his hat on his head at the perfect mobster angle. He takes out a packet of cigarettes from his front pocket, lifts the lid, and puts one stick to his lips. He closes the box and places it, this time, inside his breast pocket.
“We have a little blue house on ten acres of land, accompanied by an old brown barn, and a pond, among other small things. I promise you, if you come with us, it has your name on it. I’ll make ya another promise too. Two weeks time, tops, this red truck of yours will be down there with you. I’ll make sure of it! Until then, Pan can pick you up and drive you to your job.” Joe lights his cigarette, cupping his hand over his stick to light it, just like all smokers do. “Isn’t that right, Pan,” he yells, his words slightly eaten away by the cigarette in his mouth.
“I’m right here, you bastard. No need to shout.” He lets out a little sigh, folds up his newspaper, and places it on the passenger’s seat. He walks towards the party like a trained soldier.
Jack’s eyes lock to his instantly. He feels an odd vibe about this man. Not a friendly man, but not an evil one either. He looks early forties. His brown hair has started to gray, and his hair is cut off at exact shoulder length. It went all around his head, ear to ear like a curtain.
One thing that alarms Jack most is the butt end of a small revolver that sways up and down as he flaunts his right to carry arms, illegally of course. When Pan reaches his partner’s side two things come into Jack’s thoughts. One, Pan is significantly smaller than Joe, yet more intimidating. Two, Jack can’t figure out which scares him the most: the patchy goatee he’s grown out, the four solid-gold rings the size of small children on his knuckles, or the scar that runs from one side of his neck to the other. I assume that Jack understands it might be a concentrated whole of it all.
And now that it’s four of them at the back end of the black ’59 Cadillac, they are starting to draw attention. People are taking notice of a small-town hick, two gangsters, and a girl wearing nothing but a white muddied dress, all standing in the back of the parking lot looking awfully suspicious.
Lia grabs Jack’s left hand with her left hand and swings her right arm around his shoulder, rubbing small spheres with her thumb around the muscle it landed on. Jack is now between Lia and them. She gets up on her tippy toes, her breasts pressing up against his back as she places her head on his shoulder. Red spheres blush his cheeks leaving a small trace of a smile on his lips.
Joe, catching Jack’s smile, grins back.
Lia leans in, her lips to his ear, and lets out an opinion of hers. “Let’s do it, baby,” she says.
Jack swallows the word “no” that is on his lips and looks at his beaten truck that has left them stranded. Does he even have a choice? “We’ll do it.”
Later, Jack will wonder if they were better off running away on foot, ending up in jail, and being charged with murder. Maybe, perhaps in some crazy way, he could have explained the events, told about Lia’s father. Maybe the world would understand. This decision, right now, is the biggest regret of his life.
Maybe even her dead father will agree to that.
He just doesn’t know it yet.

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