Aug 19, 2011

Book Tour: Review | After the Party by Lisa Jewell

Title: After the Party
Author: Lisa Jewell
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publication: 08.16.2011 by Atria
Pages: 480

Summary: Eleven years ago, Jem Catterick and Ralph McLeary fell deeply in love. They thought it would be forever, that they’d found their happy ending. As everyone agreed, they were the perfect couple. Then two became four, and an apartment became a house. Romantic nights out became sleepless nights in. And they soon found that life wasn’t quite so simple anymore. But through it all, Jem and Ralph still loved each other. Of course they did.

Now Jem is back at work part-time as a talent agent. Ralph, a successful painter, is struggling to come up with new, hopefully groundbreaking, work for his upcoming show. But the unimaginable has happened. Two people who were so right together are starting to drift apart And in the chaos of family life, Jem feels like she’s losing herself, while Ralph, stuck on the sidelines, feels like he’s lost his muse altogether. Something has to change. As they try to find a way back to each other, back to what they once had, they both become momentarily distracted—but maybe it’s not too late to recapture happily ever after…

Cover: I think it fits the story well, except I can't imagine Ralph wearing too many suits since he's an artist and works from home.

Thoughts: Unaware that there was a first part to Ralph and Jem's story, I decided to join in on the tour when I was given the chance. It sounded like a not-so-romance novel that would interest me and I decided that I really wanted to read it. I was surprised at how quickly I got into the story and I was really glad that everything felt very realistic, and I was able to connect with the characters.

Ralph's Party starts off Jem and Ralph's story, when they become roommates and then fall in love. Of course, theirs is not a happily ever after ending...yet. After the Party picks up eleven years later, with Jem and Ralph living together in their home and they have two children. Jem is returning to work as an agent, and Ralph continues his art, but feels that he has lost something. Ralph decides to take a vacation to California and that is where the story really begins. Alternating between past and present, from Jem and Ralph's point of view, we are able to see both sides of the stories and how they got to where they are. Together, Jem and Ralph struggle to keep their marriage working, but it seems like they are not destined to be happy after all...or maybe they are?

I can't say that I liked either Ralph or Jem, but that's because they were so good at being the characters that they were. I mean, they were both so unhappy, but neither of the spoke to their spouse about it. They were good people and I wanted to see them work everything out, but they were selfish and at times, a bit immature. This made them both very real, and although I say I "didn't like" them, I think that's what the author might have been going for. I liked that I didn't like them; it made the book more real for me.

The entire book though I felt like smacking them in the head. As the story moves along, we learn a little more on how they met, how they fell in love and what they feel now. But they refuse to really communicate and when they do, they're arguing. This sounds like many couples with problems and I was glad that the author was able to write a story and situation where I felt like I knew what the characters were going through. When Jem was upset with Ralph, I got it. She had every reason to be upset with him. When Ralph was stressed out, it made sense because it seemed like his situation was difficult to deal with. I really felt like I connected with the story and was able to understand what was going on with the characters.

After the Party was definitely an emotional book with great characters. It is a very realistic story that will make you feel like you know what the characters are feeling, even if you have never been in such a situation. Although this story does have some mentions of the previous book, it can definitely be read and enjoyed as a stand alone. I do want to read Ralph's Party though, and I am looking forward to reading more on this author. I recommend this to others who enjoy adult fiction and/or chick lit. This is one you shouldn't miss out on!

About the author:

Lisa Jewell is the international bestselling author of nine novels, including Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing, and One-Hit Wonder. She was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Aug. 16 - Kristin @ Kritter's Ramblings
Aug. 17 - Forbidden Reviews
Aug. 18 - Heather @ Proud Book Nerd
Aug. 19 - Cindy @ Oodles of Books
Aug. 20 - Andrea @ A Chick Who Reads
Aug. 22 - Lisa @ Books in the Burbs
Aug. 23 - Molly @ Reviews by Molly
Aug. 24 - Rebecca @ Beck's Book Picks

Aug 2, 2011

Review | Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: Shiver
Series: The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: YA - Romance/Paranormal
Publication: 08.01.2009 by Scholastic Press
Pages: 392 (9 CD's)
Source: Audiobook Community

the cold.
Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—watches back. He feels deeply familiar to her, but she doesn't know why.

the heat.
Sam has lived two lives. As a wolf, he keeps the silent company of the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace...until now.

the shiver.
For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But once it's spoken, it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human—and Grace must fight to keep him—even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

Cover: A favorite, because it is so simple but different and catches my eye. Although, I think I might like the black one better :)

Thoughts: As soon as I pushed in the first CD of Shiver into my CD player, I couldn't stop listening. Shiver is written in such a beautiful and heartbreaking way that I couldn't not listen to it, and was captivated with every word until the very end.

Grace has spent many years watching one wolf, her wolf, who lives in the woods in her backyard. She's felt a connection to him since the day she was attacked at a young age, and survived. Since then, Grace has spent every year anticipating the winter because that is when she gets to see them. Soon, she finds out that her wolf, is in fact a young man...Sam. Once Sam and Grace finally meet, their love is finally able to be expressed after all those years of longing. As their love blossoms, they begin to share special moments that we know will eventually come to an end...because a future together is impossible.

The book is told from alternating viewpoints, and being able to see through both Sam and Grace's eyes, made me feel a connection with both from the start. Not too many author's that I have read can write from several viewpoints as smoothly as Stiefvater, and I loved that she was able to bring the reader into the story by sharing what both Sam and Grace saw. We were able to share what they both felt and it was really nice to understand both their thoughts, not just have to guess what was going on inside their head.

Grace is an instant favorite, a little different from most girls and not trying to be someone she isn't. A little obsessed with the wolves, she spends her days dreaming of winter and spending time with her friends. She is a very unique protagonist, not worrying about others, depending on herself to get things done, yet caring for those around her...I really liked her. Sam was a sweetheart and I totally fell in love with him (don't tell my boyfriend :]) I am a sucker for musicians and Sam made my heart melt with his songs, love of books (!!) and poetry readings. Together, Grace and Sam made a wonderful combination and I wanted everything to work for them.

The other characters in the book were essential to keep the story moving, and I really connected to each of them. I was happy that there was so many characters and I was able to keep track of who everyone was because they were all unique and played a significant role. Grace relationships with friends and family seemed a bit aloof and would have bothered me, except it made her closeness to Sam all that more real and easier to understand, which definitely made their romance all the better.

I really enjoyed the differences from the wolves Stiefvater created to the other ones that I have read about before. Instead of changing during the full moon, they transformed when the temperature became too cold, and then return to their human form during the summer. I found this both unique and interesting, and it was one of my favorite things about the whole book. I was captivated by the descriptions of the scenery and the wolves and I was able to really appreciate Stiefvater writing.

There are many difficulties that both Sam and Grace face during the book, and I couldn't help but want them to end up happy. There's a bit of mystery to what will happen, many sweet moments that'll make you smile, heartbreaking moments that might bring tears and many an ending that will leave you pretty shocked. I cannot wait to read her other books, including Linger and Forever, which I have heard many positive things about. I definitely recommend this to those that love young adult romance, paranormal, mystery and/or werewolves.

Favorite Quote: "Is this fragile love a way to say goodbye?"