It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

Book Review

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Ratings

5 stars

Plot: 10/10

Setting: 9/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 10/10

Enjoyment: 10/10

Overall: 10/10

My Opinionated Review

It has been several hours since I have finished reading It Ends With Us, and I am still unable to stop the train of emotions that hit me while reading this book. I am so behind my reviews right now, but I need to write this one right this instant. Not because I want to get everything out while it is still fresh because I am certain I will remember this story and all the feelings it brought out of me for a long time. But because it is not only the best book that Colleen Hoover has written to date, but it is one of the few books that affected me so deeply, that I think deserves to be read by every single person on this planet. The only other contemporary book that has affected me this much is In The Stillness by Andrea Randall.

I am not sure if I want to outline all my emotions in full detail, or leave it vague because I went into this book completely unaware of what the story was about, and it was an incredibly rewarding experience. So for those who have not read this book just yet, all I can say is just read it. It follows an incredibly mature, strong and wonderful character Lilly who narrates a tremendously deep storyline with many life lessons, love stories, terrible and wonderful actions, life-changing experiences, friendships, family bonds, and overall, the perfect outline of what is like to be human. It gives much-needed perspective on life and certain actions us humans often need to take. At least it changed my perception on quite a few sensitive topics.

The strength of the book comes from Lilly’s character, and the wonderful writing technique Colleen Hoover uses in telling her story. A first person’s point of view results in the reader sharing the same emotions with the main character. The story’s continuation throughout several years, also giving insight into Lilly’s past through diary entries addressed to Ellen DeGeneres, provides tremendous depth of the story. But mostly, it surprises the reader making them fall in love with all the characters, excusing their wrongful behaviour on several occasions, and seeing the reasoning behind it.

Not only it is an incredibly powerful story, it also is a great lesson. I believe every single person can find something relatable in this book. Colleen Hoover really outdid herself with this one. Although I have loved all of this woman’s work, when I think about some of her books now, I am not sure that the present me would like them as much as the past me. However, I guess with me maturing, I can see Colleen Hoover developing as a writer as well, and giving me exactly what I need with her every piece.

So if you have not read this book just yet, I could not recommend it enough as it is truly life-changing. But be warned of an emotional roller-coaster that is guaranteed to fall upon you. I have read this book during a long coach journey, and I hope not that many people saw me crying for a good couple of hours. So find a comfortable spot, preferably not in public, and read it.

Discussion

Now for those who have read this book or are not too bothered with some spoilers, I will continue with my ramblings since I do need to get all the emotions that I am feeling out right now.

Abuse and the romanticizing it has been a topic that really gets me worked up for quite a while now. I believe far too many books make the abusive alpha males into people who are supposed to be admired and desired. Whereas some texts show only the really horrible parts of the abuse. Coleen Hoover struck the middle of it, exploring the idea of the abuse when it is not just black and white. She completely changed my perception on abuse, towards the abuser, and especially towards the victim.

I am one of those people who see the victims of domestic abuse as stupid if they do not have the strength to leave this kind of life instantly after such incident occurs. Experiencing abuse myself on quite a few occasions, it was always hard for me to understand how this kind of behaviour can be excused. I have felt the physical abuse from my mother’s boyfriend, and abuse by words from my step-grandfather, and I could never understand how my mother and grandmother could be so weak and not leave those men. Especially since this abuse was directed towards me. I do not know if it affected my development as a person, but I always want to think that I dealt with it in the best possible way. I never took it, I never stayed silent, I was never afraid, and I always felt in the position of power. I did sometimes feel disappointed in the examples the women in my family were setting though.

Now I do understand that it is not that easy. I guess my thick skin and the ability to see reason comes from the lack of emotion towards my abusers. But this book has opened my eyes to the reasons why some women find excuses. Some abusers are not just bad, and with love involved, the good part can easily overshadow the bad. I have seen this example in my step-grandfather. He is an alcoholic, therefore has two personalities: when he is sober, he is good and caring, and when he is drunk – he is the meanest person on Earth. I always hear my grandmother telling everyone how good he is, but I was never able to excuse his bad parts just because he has good ones. I still do not excuse this behaviour, and never will, but I can see why she chooses to see the good instead of the bad.

Regarding this book, it was haunting how relatable I found Lilly’s relationship with her father and her mother. But what confused me profoundly was the way I felt about Ryle’s character. I believe that abuse is never excusable, and yet I found myself trying to find reasons behind his behaviour and hoping for a happy ending for him. I loved that character, and although it is impossible to compare real feelings, I do get it now why many women forgive their abusers. I liked the outcome of the book very much, and believe that Colleen Hoover has written the most touching, realistic, and informative story about domestic abuse, and how it is almost never as white and black as you usually wish it was. My perception has changed so profoundly after I finished reading It Ends With Us, my heart was shattered into a million pieces, and yet I think this book should be read by every single woman on Earth because it shows the true colours of life.

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

It really was a hunting story, it affected me on such a deep emotional level, and confused me in the way that allowed me to grow up some more. More books lie this should exist.

Sorry for my ramblings, but sometimes getting everything out is a necessary step you have to take. I am certain I will remember this book for a long time, therefore my thoughts will always by here to be read whenever I need it.

Book Playlist

  1. 10cc – I’m Not In Love
  2. Fool’s Garden – Dreaming
  3. Iron & Wine – Flightless Bird, American Mouth
  4. The Lumineers – Slow It Down
  5. Tom Odell – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today
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On Every Street by Karina Halle

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 8/10

Writing style: 7/10

Character building: 8/10

Enjoyment: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Note: This is a prequel in The Artist Trilogy series. You can find the review for the first book here

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle review

On Every Street is a book that left me utterly conflicted. I have not expected to like the story, however, it surprised me in the best possible way. This prequel completely changes the game, giving the reader a different kind of perspective by telling the whole story between Ellie and Javier. Now, understanding the reason behind Javier’s actions makes the story at the same time clearer and more confusing, and leaves me with more love for the character. Although this story did not change my feelings towards the bad wolf Javier by much (I do not want to see Ellie and Javier as a couple in the future), it definitely made me appreciate the character’s complexity and multi-layer-ism.

This prequel tells the story of Ellie when she was Eden White, and ready to get her revenge on the man who destroyed her life. But when she decides to play Javier, a dangerous drug lord, to get to Travis, she soon sees that her game is turning to real feeling. The story is not new, we see these characters’ older selves in Sins & Needles. But it gives a different kind of perspective, allowing the reader to understand the past much better.

First of all, the fact that I never like prequels, or side stories, or other characters’ perspectives, needs to be acknowledged. They just don’t do it for me. I like the main story and that is it. However, often, I find myself forcing to read them in order to be able to enjoy the main story better. I believed that I needed to learn about Ellie’s backstory when she was Eden White and in love with a villain of Sins & Needles. I was prepared to skim the book but happened to be pleasantly surprised how this story completely allured me and brought up new feelings. It probably was one of the best prequels I have ever read. I am so glad that I read Sins & Needles first because knowing Ellie as a strong and conniving woman has made her actions as Eden White more understandable. Also, it completely changed the viewpoint of Javier. He is portrayed as a complete villain in the first book, and here the reader can get insight on what drew Ellie to him.

So although I definitely enjoyed the story, and I felt the chemistry between two main characters, it still remained a dysfunctional relationship. There are many books that try to glorify those harmful love stories, but in this case, it wasn’t it. The reader is never misguided, thinking that Javier is some kind of hero, as well as made aware of Ellie’s reasoning behind her actions, making her naïve persona easily relatable.

In this book, Ellie is Eden, and at times it felt like I was reading about a completely different character. Although I prefer Ellie, the strong and smart con artist, it was quite easy to understand and relate to Eden. She grew up without love, filled with hate and thirst for revenge, and was never appreciated. She is also young and naïve, still an innocent girl trying to find her place in the world. So when Javier admires her, loves her, and is ready to give her the world, she decides to ignore the reality and live in a lie. It is easy to avoid reality, easy to believe the lie and forget the truth, especially when it makes you feels good. Javier works as an escape for Ellie. She escapes her life, escapes even herself, and these are such human emotions that everyone can relate to.

Javier really has the ability to make your heart melt. Being so loved, especially by a man who should not be able to love, would make anyone feel special. Javier definitely possesses quite a few redeemable qualities. However, he is also a killer. The scenes where he would open up about his feeling towards Eden, and towards himself, really made me feel for the character. Nevertheless, I never stopped seeing him as a villain. Therefore, knowing that the relationship was doomed and Ellie would soon be getting on a journey to becoming her best self, made me enjoy the ride without judgements and eye-rolling. Plus, the fact that the book is insanely does not harm at all.

There were moments where Eden’s actions were really unwise, but the author always acknowledged her stupidity, making the character human with a desire to love and be loved. Javier was never made into a ‘perfect’ boyfriend, Eden knew she was living an illusion, at times even questioning whether Javier’s actions were romantic or creepy. This awareness gives the reader a completely different perspective of this dysfunctional relationship – Javier’s bad actions and Eden’s willingness to ignore all the bad stuff are never glorified, but the ability to love a bad man is never judged as well. The voice of reason here was Gus, and he made both Ellie and the reader aware of the relationship being a delusion. And that, plus the horrible stunt that Javier pulls, allows Eden to turn back into Ellie, and become the character I love very much.

I feel there has to be more story to tell behind Javier’s actions. Now he is definitely a villain – a killer with an obsession. However, I still feel he possesses some redeemable traits. So off to the next book, where I hope to find more answers.

I definitely recommend reading this prequel after Sins & Needles, but before going into Shooting Scars

 

Book Playlist

  1. Dire Straits – On Every Street
  2. Nine Inch Nails – Wish
  3. Calexico – The Vanishing Mind
  4. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – People Ain’t No Good
  5.  Elliott Smith – Bottle Up and Explode

Sins & Needles by Karina Halle

Book Review

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Ratings

4 stars

Plot: 6/10

Setting: 6/10

Writing style: 6/10

Character building: 9/10

Enjoyment: 8/10

Steam factor: 9/10

Overall: 7/10

My Opinionated Review

Sins & Needles is a refreshing contemporary romance with a darker twist and well, who doesn’t love a great con artist story?

I was meaning to pick up this book for a long time. After seeing all the good reviews on Goodreads, my expectations were quite high. I guess that was my mistake, I expected too much, therefore finding a few problems along the way was bound to happen. However, despite that, I truly enjoyed this book, the story was captivating and intense, characters – so wonderfully messed up, and the romance – hot.

Meet Ellie Watt, she is a con artist, a very interesting character, who carries a lot of anger and a lot of issues. She is a criminal, a con artist, but has her set of morals, making her a complex and likable character. Her portrayal was so wonderfully human, I loved that she was not that typical innocent girl/perfection. She makes stupid decisions, blames the world for her misbehaviour, is smart and conniving, and has an entertaining inner voice about all her hormonal swings. Her problematic persona really made her a great female lead. Moreover, her cons are catching up to her, her past is trying to find her, and a criminal thriller twist adds so much to the story, that it ceases to be just a contemporary romance, and becomes a steamy intense ride, filled with twists and secrets and bad decisions.

Now meet the love-interest Camden McQueen. Bullied for his Goth appearance in high school, he grows up to be a tattooed sex-god. His character was really well-crafted. I was never able to understand him completely, and that results in a great multi-dimensional character construction. He has his issues, has his charms, made mistakes in the past, is very talented and passionate, and most of all, he is a true match for Ellie. Their whole relationship is a blend of love and attraction and hate and revenge. So when he catches Ellie in the middle of her robbery, things get really complicated and interesting.

So their relationship was a very refreshing portrayal of romance. I used to be a huge fan of contemporary romance, but lately, the genre just makes me cringe. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised. The weren’t any cliques, misogynistic ideals and creepy declarations of love that usually comes in some form of a male owning a female. Both these people were doing what they wanted to do, giving in to passion, but actually plotting their own schemes. Ellie – a robbery, and Camden – catching Ellie in the act. And what actually made me really start liking their relationship was the fact that Camden does not take Ellie’s shit. He calls her a bitch when she really deserves it, but never steps over the line. And even if their relationship has some major problems, I believe that both these characters are on equal terms, without one being better or worse than the other. And having so much passionate sexy scenes did not hurt at all.

Somehow I seem to express only my love for the book. I really thought that it was great, but in the beginning, I guess I just kept expecting more. And although I have been thoroughly enjoying the story, I did not think that it was anything spectacular. The characters were great, their relationship started on interesting terms, and they have shared a complicated past. But I guess this classic formula just stopped doing anything for me.

Moreover, I really had a bit of a problem with the writing at first. The sentences seemed a bit clumsy at times, and I had issues with actually getting into the story. It might have been because I have read so many spectacularly written works beforehand, or I just wasn’t used to the writer’s voice, but it was a troubling factor for me. Later in the book, I got used to it and it ceased to be an issue.

Lastly, the switch between first and third person when writing ‘then’ and ‘now’ chapters annoyed me a little bit. It always gives me an impression of trying too hard.

With all that said, I thought that the story really picked up in the second half of the book. Although romance still existed, it ceased to be the main focus, and the complicated line between trust and betrayal and love and hate just made me care about the characters much more. The suspense and fear that Javier brought to the table really changed the pacing and the concept of the story, and my opinion of the book went from quite enjoying it to really really liking it. The book was filled with so much action and horror and passion in the end. I cannot wait to see where the story goes next.

So overall, it was a really enjoyable read. I am a bit confused about the following books. When it comes to the series, I usually enjoy the first book the least, since it takes me a long time to start caring about the characters. However, when it comes to contemporary romance, I don’t think I have ever read a sequel that I really enjoyed. But since it stopped being only a romance and now has much more danger and suspense to it, I have hopes for a thrilling ride.

Book Playlist

  1. Calexico – Better and Better
  2. Dire Straits – Fade to Black
  3. John Paul White – Neon
  4. Radiohead – Last Flowers
  5. Nine Inch Nails – Only

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Book Review

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Ratings

5 stars

Plot: 8/10

World building: 8/10

Writing style: 9/10

Character building: 10/10

Enjoyment: 9/10

Overall: 9/10

My Opinionated Review

I enjoy a good superhero-supervillain dynamic, superhero movies are just wonderful entertainment. This book is about exactly that, and yet describing it just like a simple superhero story does not do the book justice. Some books just have a feeling that when you read them, they become something more. And this one was a masterpiece.

Just looking at the base of the story, the plot appears to be very predictable and cliché. It has the origin story, a hero’s journey, a fight between a hero and a villain, and how superpowers can be used for both good and evil. Yet the story is not that simple. There was no true hero in this book. Nor there was a true villain. It was about twisted, messed up anti-heroes, and about the importance of perception. How one perceives himself to be a hero, yet his actions are villainous, and a perceived villain, who is actually no worse than the ‘hero’. There was no good side in this book; no black and white. The thing that annoys me the most in  superhero stories is the drawn line between the good and bad. And this text eliminated the boring ordeal, making everybody grey. Well maybe more dark grey, since both sides have involved themselves in horrible mischiefs.

I was surprised how the author succeeded in crafting every single character in the matter that the reader tries to understand them, cares for them, and even sees the reason behind the actions. The jumps in the timeline guaranteed that the story was never boring. The multiple perceptions gave the reader an insight into every character’s thoughts and feelings. And all the dynamics were electrifying.

I have loved the twisted sisterly bond between Serena and Sidney, and the absolute power these two girls possessed. I have felt the dysfunctional, yet passionate and the captivating relationship between Eli and Serena. The unlikely team up on Victor’s side was the true heart of the story. And ,of course, the friendship turned to hate and revenge dynamic between the anti-heroes – Victor Vale and Eli Ever. This story is raw. It’s ExtraOrdinary, and yet it makes you wonder where is the line between the good and the evil, and how much everything is based on your perception.

V.E. Shwab has done a wonderful job in creating this messed-up world and truly captivating characters. Her writing style blew me away, and I am certain I will be checking out more of her work in the future.

Book Playlist

  1. Calexico – Para
  2. Stateless – Bloodstream
  3. The All-American Rejects – It Ends Tonight
  4. Nine Inch Nails – Hurt
  5. Imagine Dragons – Monster