One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“Maybe, if you’re the kind of person who’s willing to give all of yourself, the kind of person who is willing to love with all of your heart even though you’ve experienced just how much it can hurt . . . maybe you get lots of true loves, then. Maybe that’s the gift you get for being brave.”

One True LovesAllow me to have this moment of high fiving myself for picking amazing books to read lately. If you know me, I’m always, ALWAYS on the lookout for new-to-me authors and this time, I picked Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Let me correct that. I actually finished this book more than a month ago and I’m writing a review just now. Let’s just say that I was completely overwhelmed by what I have read and I had to let it sink in before gathering my final thoughts on it.

The premise of this story sounds a lot like this Pinoy afternoon drama series on TV but I picked this up mainly to know how you could ever pick between two loves?

I just got married recently and being my old fashioned self, I take my vows seriously. My vows were words I said that I truly felt and promised to live by.

However, One True Loves introduced us to Emma, Sam and Jesse. To make the story short, Emma married her high school sweetheart, Jesse who went missing on a helicopter accident on their first wedding anniversary. That part alone gutted me. I could feel the devastation, the depression and the helplessness. How Taylor managed to make those emotions come alive is beyond me. The pain is raw and gripping. I felt Emma’s pain and loss. It was all consuming and I could understand how it seemed like the world became a black abyss after the tragedy.

It was a painful process but slowly, Emma picked up the pieces of her life back and started to question what she really wants. By this time, I felt empowerment. I felt motivated and inspired. In my mind, I was saying “Go Emma!” because she was being bold and brave. She became alive again. It was a beautiful resurrection of sorts because she started reevaluating her life and what she wants out of it. She started reinventing herself and discovered a different side to her.

As she took control of her life back, she reconnected with Sam – former schoolmate and employee of her parents’ business. It was friendship and finding love all over again.

(Let it be known that I already prematurely picked a favorite between the two boys. As lovable as they both are, there was one who stood out more for me and made my heart really happy.)

This is a story of strength, acceptance and growth. It’s a story of finding love, losing it and finding love all over again. However, this time around – she found that her seemingly late husband is very much alive and instead of finding one love, she found two.

I fell in love with this book. But just the same, I hurt for the characters in this story. There’s no way you could wrap this one up without one or two hurting along the way. But I guess that is the beautiful yet painful thing that the author is teaching us – that love comes in all forms, it’s in staying but it can also be in letting go.

To be honest, I had a hard time accepting the ending but I understood it. In my heart, I knew that it was right. My mind was telling me that it was wrong but you cannot fight what you feel. It took a while for me to come to terms that the ending is logical, based on pure love and not forced. But in reality, I think I would be disappointed if the ending were otherwise.

You cannot fault Emma for her actions and decisions unless you have walked her shoes. It’s easy to judge and make quick decisions but if you really digest and think it through, Emma’s situation was a terribly tough one. You cannot salvage both hearts. You only have to choose one and in letting go of the other, you also lose a part of yourself. How could that be easy?

Taylor’s writing style is so flawless and beautiful. It just flows and touches your heart. It’s very easy to read despite her premise being very hard to digest. Being new to her work, I swear that this will not be the last TJR book that I will devour this year. And with that, I’m also positive that this is one of the few books that I will revisit and maybe reconsider my thoughts on.

Great book.

Beautiful characters.

Just get ready for the avalanche of feels.

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

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180 Seconds by Jessica Park

180 SECONDS

“We are engaged in a form of intimacy that scares the absolute hell out of me. It’s as if there is a weight on my chest that I want to shove off, and I’ve never been this terrified before.
Or this whole and hopeful and connected.
My body starts to tremble. I want more of what I’m feeling, and I also want none of it.”

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It’s imperative to say that this is my first ever read from Jessica Park and in just one book, she was able to make me rethink about some of my opinions about some very important things.

Not really a fan of insta-love and insta-connection, 180 seconds made me reconsider my stand on this and the possibility of this happening in real life. I can tolerate instant connections so long as it is cleverly written but with this book – I not only tolerated it, I embraced it.

I love how this story just flows and grows. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to continue because our main character, Allison, sounds a lot like a main character in one of the books I recently read and did not fully support. Broken, flawed, difficult past – I felt that she will be predictable. However, I was surprised by how different she is. Her character was not stagnant. She knew she has issues, she acknowledged them and worked on them. Then there’s Esben. I cannot begin to explain how special he is and I feel like he will be one of those main characters who will stay with me for a long, long time.

I appreciate the idea of performing social experiments and using social media to promote kindness and hope. I enjoyed how relatable this story is and I am grateful for the kind of hope it gave me. At the same time, I admired the author for being realistic enough to also show the negative side of social media and the monsters that lurk in the background.

This book is spectacularly written. The pacing is perfect, I felt that it was neither slow nor being rushed making it all the more believable for me.

180 seconds may have been the push Allison needed to evaluate her beliefs and her life. But for me, this book is a catalyst of hope and making me believe that though a lot of days may be bleak, there’s still so much goodness and positivity to look forward to. There may be parts in the story where my heart broke (Damn 70%) but I understand and can accept it as well.  I know how pivotal certain events play in our MC’s life and I like how the author was very delicate and sensitive in writing those scenes.

This book is for those readers who would like to feel good, escape harsh reality for a short while, doesn’t mind a few tears and just need more positivity to boost their day. I didn’t really read the blurb but after finishing, I realized that I needed this kind of read now. So thank you Jessica for giving me Allison, Esben, Steffi, Kerry and Simon.

And though this is just my first read from this author, I am quite positive that this won’t be the last.

5 #THISKISSTHISKISS STARS!

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Some people live their entire lives without changing their perspective. For Allison Dennis, all it takes is 180 seconds…

After a life spent bouncing from one foster home to the next, Allison is determined to keep others at arm’s length. Adopted at sixteen, she knows better than to believe in the permanence of anything. But as she begins her third year in college, she finds it increasingly difficult to disappear into the white noise pouring from her earbuds.

One unsuspecting afternoon, Allison is roped into a social experiment just off campus. Suddenly, she finds herself in front of a crowd, forced to interact with a complete stranger for 180 seconds. Neither she, nor Esben Baylor, the dreamy social media star seated opposite her, is prepared for the outcome.

When time is called, the intensity of the experience overwhelms Allison and Esben in a way that unnerves and electrifies them both. With a push from her oldest friend, Allison embarks on a journey to find out if what she and Esben shared is the real thing—and if she can finally trust in herself, in others, and in love.

The Gravity of Us by Brittainy C. Cherry

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“The woman who felt everything leaned in closer to the man who felt nothing at all. For a split second in time, I felt a little of her pain while she encountered my coldness, and neither one of us seemed to mind.” 

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Wow.

Can I just end this review at that because “WOW”.

Brittainy, you never fail to amaze me and pull my emotions out of me. It says a lot because I’ve been reading NA and contemporary and romance for so long that sometimes, all these plot twists, all these characters just get lost in a blur but you, YOU managed to craft story after story about friendship and honest to goodness love.

I cannot stress how important it is for me to feel connected to the characters because I’m that kind of reader who cannot fully appreciate a book despite superb writing and editing if I cannot really connect to any of the characters in any way. I don’t need to go through what the characters go through to have that relatability factor. I just need to really understand them and be one with them and I guess that’s a gift that not all authors can possess.

The author’s writing has amazed me since the first book from her that I have read and she continues to wow me book after book. This story is fresh and pure. It’s not the love story of a hot guy and gorgeous female who fell in love at first glance then proceeded to having intense, steamy sex. This story is beyond that. It’s a story of souls finding their way to each other. It’s a story of loyalty, family and diversity. It’s about acceptance and love and acknowledging what your heart is trying to tell you.

What’s amazing is that the storyline is not at all new. I feel like the strength of this novel lies on how much depth and humanity was seen and felt from our characters. The author was able to create different personalities without going overboard. We have seen how they were at the start of the story and witnessed their growth as the story goes on. And I’m not just talking about our main characters, Graham and Lucille. I felt equally invested in our side characters and I could definitely see myself reading spin offs based on them. I mean, seriously, it has become quite a trend already and Brittainy doing it would just be fantastic given how well written and developed her characters are. 

In a short period of time, Brittainy C. Cherry and her stories really grew on me. And you know what, Maktub.

Stars - 5


Review Headings -  Blurb

Graham Russell and I weren’t made for one another.

I was driven by emotion; he was apathetic. I dreamed while he lived in nightmares. I cried when he had no tears to shed.

Despite his frozen heart and my readiness to run, we sometimes shared seconds. Seconds when our eyes locked and we saw each other’s secrets. Seconds when his lips tasted my fears, and I breathed in his pains. Seconds when we both imagined what it would be like to love one another.

Those seconds left us floating, but when reality knocked us sideways, gravity forced us to descend.

Graham Russell wasn’t a man who knew how to love, and I wasn’t a woman who knew how to either. Yet if I had the chance to fall again, I’d fall with him forever.

Even if we were destined to crash against solid ground.

 

 

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

“Maybe love isn’t something that comes full circle. It just ebbs and flows, in and out, just like the people in our lives.”

It Ends With Us

THIS BOOK IS EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING, I’M TELLING YOU. IF YOU’RE GOING TO START READING THIS, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE LOTS OF TIME AND CAFFEINE BECAUSE THERE’S NO STOPPING ONCE YOU HIT THAT VERY FIRST PAGE.

Colleen outdid herself!

Too much hype surrounding a release freaks me out. But this book is one I have been waiting for since it was announced and with all the buildup and excitement surrounding it, I decided to go in blind. And it was the best decision. The best.

I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until I finished. It’s been hours but I still needed to regroup. I’ve seen many people say that this is now their favorite CoHo book but NOT me. I can’t say that since every single CoHo book is special in their own ways. Every single thing she has written stayed and left fragments of lessons. But this one, THIS by far is her best writing to date. It’s so different from the CoHo we got used to. It’s a step outside the box, a step outside her comfort zone. I felt pain after pain, ache after ache just by reading her words. The message in this story is strong. Listen to it.

“There is no such thing as bad people. We’re all just people who sometimes do bad things.”

I’ve never been a Lily. I’ve never been a Ryle. And for that I am already thankful. I didn’t realize how lucky I was until now. Reading this story gave me a different kind of empathy and understanding to the Lilies and Jennies of society. I used to wonder why people inside an abusive cycle would stay. I thought it was a no brainer. I thought the way out was easy. And today, I will try to judge less and understand more.

“Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen seconds that we’ll never get back.”

Only Colleen can perfect writing a story that hurts and heals at the same time. It is thought provoking as it is beautiful. It is raw as it is painful. The reality that she showed us is harsh but it is happening – it is happening every single day. And we need to acknowledge it. We need to be brave and bold. The characters are real and broken and flawed. I will not change a single thing about them. It’s a reminder that abuse can take any shape or form. It will look you in the eye under the guise of a beautiful man/woman, donned in the finest of clothing and armed with all the admirable professional credentials and you might not know what hit you. Pun intended.

I devoured this book. I read everything from the very first word down to the author’s note (which by the way is as poignant as the story itself). This story speaks to your mind but reverberates to your soul. Though it is a hard story to read, I finished this in hours. You just can’t put it down. There are no gaps where you can let the story rest. It demands to be consumed and understood.

“I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down, we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

This book is heavy on emotions and honesty. That it was written by Colleen Hoover made it an easy one click. But the power of this story is unlike any other. It is something that’s not often discussed or acknowledged. It’s a story, no matter how painful it is, that needs to be shared. And Colleen, you shared it so damn beautifully.You gave a voice to something that’s being forced quiet by others who chose to look away.

“But sometimes, the things that matter to you most are also the things that hurt you the most. And in order to get over the hurt, you have to sever all extensions that keep you tethered to that pain.”

This will change you. Whether you have experienced it yourself or know someone who did or even if you were just a bystander – it will change you and the way you think and feel. Read closely. And when you get to the part where Colleen dropped the title — you will know, you will understand why it’s perfection.

FIVE NAKED TRUTH STARS!!

5 star rating

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