Category Archives: Romance
Book: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker, Simon & Schuster Audio, May 14, 2013
Book Info: Contemporary Romance / NA, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 8 hrs, 58 mins. Read by: Elizabeth Louise. Also available in e-book format from Atria Books.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker is an emotional and addictive story about learning to breathe again when your world falls apart. I’ve read my share of angsty New Adult books so I could anticipate the twists and turns in TTB, but I still listened with rapt attention. I rooted for the physically and emotionally scarred main character to heal and to hopefully get her HEA.
Kacey is reeling from a traumatic car accident that turned her world upside down. All she has left is her sister Livie, and she’ll protect her with her last breath. The two sisters relocate from Grand Rapids to Miami to get out of a dangerous situation and try to make it on their own. Kacie has demons to overcome, and new friends and a handsome stranger are more than willing to help.
This New Adult book tackles the issue of PTSD. Kacey numbs her pain with one-night stands, kickboxing and alcohol. But now she has a chance at a fresh start and to find healthier coping methods. She has her fifteen-year-old sister relying on her so she gets a job to keep a roof over their head.
In the Melrose Place style apartment building, Kacey makes fast friends with Storm and Trent. Storm is the mother of a young daughter, and she gets Kacey a job bartending at the strip club she works at. Storm, aka Nora, is a sweet and supportive friend in Kacey’s corner and helps her to open up. Trent is the hot neighbor Kacey meets in the laundry room and they both have dirty laundry to air so to speak. Trent’s always around right when Kacey needs him, and literally and figuratively breaks down her door.
I liked the theme of healing and forgiveness and remembering to breathe in TTB. Each section of the book is titled with a stage in Kacey’s healing journey. Kacey’s progress is hard earned and realistic- nothing comes easy. The PTSD story is intriguing and handled well.
In Kacey we see a different New Adult character; Kacey’s not in college, but just trying to survive and provide a better life for her sister. Kacey is tough yet vulnerable and is a hard shell to crack. We see her at work, putting food on the table, and blowing off steam at the gym. Kacey’s sister Livie is a ray of sunshine and is working towards college. She also helps out with babysitting Storm’s daughter. It’s nice seeing the new family/friendship bonds that form for the sisters.
The romantic relationship in the story is an important part of Kacey’s journey, but it’s refreshing that the story is not entirely all about that. There are many issues that Kacey face on her own before tackling a relationship, and I like the way Tucker handles that aspect.
Elizabeth Louise reads the audiobook. I was pleasantly surprised to find I recognized this narrator’s voice. It took me a second to figure it out but she also narrates the Thoughtless series under the name Rebekkah Ross. If you’re an S.C. Stephens audiobook fan, you’ll be happy to hear Kellan and Kiera’s narrator again. Louise has an age appropriate sounding voice for New Adult age characters, and she captures the damaged voice of Kacey well. I really like Louise’s voice for the male characters too- they sound very natural. I got through this 12-hour audiobook in no time at all.
Ten Tiny Breaths is engaging with good, well-rounded supporting characters and relationships that take the story to another level. Tucker weaves a good story and I’m eager to read more about Livie in One Tiny Lie.
The author has an audiobook giveaway going on now if you’d like to give the Ten Tiny Breaths audiobook a try.
Book: The Program by Suzanne Young, Simon & Schuster Audio, April 30, 2013
Book Info: YA Dystopia, Audiobook received for review from Simon & Schuster Audio. Running time: 10hrs, 56 mins. Read by: Joy Osmanski. Also available in HC, 416 pages from Simon Pulse
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
The Program takes place in an alternate reality where suicide is a teen epidemic. If a teen aged 13-17 shows signs of depression they are sent to the Program for treatment, where doctors erase the suicidal thoughts with therapy and drugs. Once your memory is reset you are considered cured and can re-enter society. Sloane wants to avoid going into the Program at all costs, so she tries to avoid the attention of the watchful handlers and teachers. She lost a brother to suicide so her parents are especially attentive to Sloane’s moods. Her safe haven is with her boyfriend James, and with him she can be herself and not so controlled. But they are both feeling the weight of depression and it’s harder and harder to escape notice of the Program.
The future is pretty bleak in the Program. I was worried about how depressing this book would be to read, but it’s actually a really interesting premise. This book gave me food for thought about depression, therapy, and anti-depressants. It made me wonder, if I could, would I erase painful memories so I could live my life blissfully unaware of my psychological scars? I guess it’s tempting, but I wouldn’t want to have that decision forced on me like in the Program. It reminded me of the procedure in Delirium to cure the love disease, except this is more of a complete mind eraser/reprogramming.
There is a strong romantic side to this book, with an epic love story between James and Sloane. It’s pretty interesting and creative how we learn their backstory and how their relationship evolves over the course of the book. I was invested in their saga and wanted them to beat the odds.
A few side characters play a part in Sloane’s journey, most notably Realm. He’s someone a little sketchy who you’re never sure if you can trust. But mainly this is Sloane and James’ story, and they have plenty of obstacles to overcome all on their own.
Joy Osmanski read the audiobook. I listened to her narrate What the Spell prior to this book but I didn’t even recognize her voice this time around. Osmanski captures the essence of Sloane and her voice sounds like a teen. Her pace is good, and I had no trouble telling the characters apart. When I wasn’t listening to this audiobook I was thinking about it and wanting to get back to it. There is some trickiness in the storytelling with flashbacks and mind games and Osmanski handles that well and brings the reader along for the ride. So in terms of the unique nature of the book, the audio format enhances the reading experience, but I’m curious to see how it compares in print.
At the end of the audiobook there’s a bonus interview with Suzanne Young and she discusses how she came up with the story and teases the next book. There is one more book in the series, and I think it’s considered a companion book. The ending does make me excited to see what happens next, though the book works pretty well on its own too.
I think The Program will appeal to readers who like romantic dystopia like Delirium or Matched. For what it’s worth, I’m more into contemporary these days and I did get more of a contemporary vibe in this one than sci-fi/dystopia, and the author considers it to be alternate reality in fact. The Program is a book I wanted to talk about immediately after I finished it, so I think it would make for a good book club discussion. The book illustrates depression quite well, while not being depressing if that makes sense. It also strikes a hopeful note and I’m interested to see where Young takes it next.
Suzanne Young talks about The Program:
In honor of the paperback release of First Comes Love (out today!) I have a review of the book and the sequel Second Chance. First Comes Love came out a year ago with a very different smoldering-looking cover. The cover re-design sells a whole new image that I personally think match the tone of the story very well. Making up for lost time, I read the first two books in the series back to back.
First Comes Love is the story of Dylan and Gray, opposites in every way. Gray is drifting after suffering a loss; he’s depressed and lost focus, even giving up his college baseball scholarship. Dylan is a free spirit who loves to travel and live life to the fullest. She does not want to get tied down and is just into having experiences. Gray gets sucked into the bright light that is Dylan and against the odds the pair fall in love. But are they just too different to go the distance?
This is Katie Kacvinsky’s first contemporary series- she also writes the dystopian Awaken series. I think this is a seamless transition for Kacvinsky and I like that she wrote a New Adult book without even knowing it was a thing. After high school, life is not always easy for everyone with the perfect college and life, and this book addresses the messiness of it all.
I wanted Dylan to save Gray from his funk, and for Gray to help Dylan to settle down, but in this book there’s no easy answers or tidy ending. The way the two see each other kind of reminded me of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park. Gray is drawn to Dylan, but also a little embarrassed of her too. She marches to the beat of her own drummer with ill-fitting mismatched clothes, messy hair and impulsive behavior.
We get inside both Dylan and Gray’s heads with alternating POV. Gray’s character is a little easier to warm up to than Dylan’s MPDG type. Still, I kind of loved that the two got together- they balance each other out. Writing slow-burn romance is Kacvinsky’s forte and that’s my favorite kind to read. There’s emotion and romance along with some light, heart-warming moments.
The summer in Arizona setting is a nice backdrop to the story, and Kacvinsky makes you feel like you are there with Gray and Dylan on their hikes and adventures. They also take a little road trip to Los Angeles and that just sets a vacation like mood.
First Comes Love was written as a standalone, but Kacvinsky decided to extend the book to a trilogy. She self-published book two Second Chance. After reading First Comes Love, I felt satisfied by the ending as is, but was attached to the characters and glad to see Gray and Dylan’s story continue.
In Second Chance, there’s been a little distance between Gray and Dylan. Dylan is traveling around the world and doing her thing, while Gray is trying to go back to normal and reconnect with his college baseball goals. Where do the two fit in each other’s lives?
I like the angst and the opposites attract story- the two have chemistry, but they are such different people. I root for this pair and hope they make it work. In this book, there’s a new setting and new characters and stumbling blocks in the way of the couple’s HEA. Both Gray and Dylan still have some growing up to do and need to figure out what they want and if compromises can be made.
There’s one song Gray mentions listening to in the book (Missed the Boat by Modest Mouse) that kind of sums up the mood:
The laid back pace, setting and romance in this series makes for an ideal summer read to tuck in your beach bag. Dylan and Gray’s love story will leave you eager for the next book. (Write faster, Katie!)
I had the chance to interview Katie Kacvinsky recently about all her books, and you can check it out here and also enter the giveaway for your chance to win First Comes Love and Second Chance. I’m jealous of whoever wins! I borrowed First Comes Love from the library and bought a kindle edition of Second Chance but think I’ll have to pick up the paperbacks for my own library.
Find out more about the series here: