The Tear Collectors

The Tear CollectorsTitle: The Tear Collectors
Author: Billy Jolie
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 236
Published by Billy Jolie on 2014-11-14
ISBN: 978-1502811318
Format: eBook
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

THE TEAR COLLECTORS is the story of three teenage misfits whose lives entangle over the course of one summer; where secrets revealed give way to an explosive finale of love, angst, and casualty.

Changes that accompany divorce can be hard. For Farrah, she’s forced to spend the summer at Crystal Lake with her alcoholic mother, but this is just the beginning of her problems. As her new life slowly unravels, an inner demon from her past surfaces and threatens her sanity. Binge and purge – it’s a lot easier for Farrah to cope when she’s ten pounds skinnier. And by summer’s end, she discovers looks can be a real killer.

Being openly gay isn’t easy for 17-year-old Brendan White. When his high school guidance counselor all but demands his disenrollment, he knows he’ll be in trouble at home. Fearing his father’s wrath, Brendan flees and finds himself at the edge of a cliff, contemplating a swan dive. He’s lost all hope, but a redheaded stranger appears and begs him to reconsider. Their chance encounter alters his future irrevocably.

The best way to piss off your Upper East Side parents is to narrowly escape an arrest for drug possession. Blaze’s antics find him exiled to his grandmother’s lake house for some fresh air rehab. There, he meets a couple of damaged souls and assumes a new role – protector. But even Blaze can’t derail what’s inevitable.

My Review

Wow.  Just… wow.  The stories told in this novel are impactful and raw, the kind of read that sucks you in and makes you feel.

The book follows three teenagers… Farrah, Brendan, Blaze.  Their lives and their stories are very different from one another, but the connection between them is undeniable.  With the exception of Blaze’s grandmother, in all real ways, the three are without anyone who truly cares about them.  Their lives have intertwined before, but it is this summer at Crystal Lake that truly brings them together.

These characters are amazing.  Their stories are heart breaking and emotional, and you can’t help but to be pulled into their worlds.  I don’t want to say too much about their individual stories, because there is an odd sort of beauty in the way they unfold and weave together that I don’t want to spoil.  Jolie doesn’t shy away from tough subjects, doesn’t try to sugar coat them.  He meets them head on and writes them without filter.  The good, the bad, the ugly… that is the reality of life and he doesn’t pretend that it is any different.  I like that and I respect that.

Is this a happy read?  Probably not, although there are plenty of funny, even heart warming moments.  But it is a book about reality, a book about real issues.  There are times that it is hard to read because the issues are so raw that it scrapes at your heart.  But that is exactly why it should be read.  It is important to see the world as it sometimes is.

The book is set in my childhood stomping grounds of northern NY, which is something I appreciated.  It was all too easy to see the lake and there were scenes in towns I know very well, which was fun.  But that connection to back home was disturbing to me.  I didn’t want to think that there could be people as ignorant and cruel as some of those in Brendan’s life that close to home.  It’s a naive thought, and I know that, but it is what it is.

Things to love…

  • The characters.  These characters were brilliantly created and I was drawn to each one of them.
  • The issues.  As I said, Jolie doesn’t shy away from the good, the bad, or the ugly side of life.

My Recommendation

I truly feel that this is an important read.  The story is engrossing and full of emotion, and it will stay with you!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.9

About Billy Jolie

Billy Jolie graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Mass Communications. He lives in the Tampa Bay area.

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Rite of Rejection

Rite of RejectionTitle: Rite of Rejection
Author: Sarah Negovetich
Genre(s): Dystopian Fiction, Love & Romance, Utopian Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 322
Published by Sarah Negovetich on 2014-12-04
ISBN: 978-1500675653
ASIN: B00P26DB08
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Straight-laced, sixteen-year-old Rebecca can’t wait for her Acceptance. A fancy ball, eligible bachelors, and her debut as an official member of society. Instead, the Machine rejects Rebecca. Labeled as a future criminal, she’s shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.

A life behind barbed wire fences with the world’s most dangerous people terrifies Rebecca. She reluctantly joins a band of misfit teens in a risky escape plan, complete with an accidental fiancé she’s almost certain she can learn to love.

But freedom comes with a price. To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence Rebecca must embrace the criminal within.

My Review

Rite of Rejection is a beautifully written YA dystopian novel, the first from Sarah Negovetich.  I became thoroughly engrossed with this book from the moment I started reading it!  The characters were interesting, the story premise was disturbing in its potential reality, and the action was on point.

We meet the heroine Rebecca at a crucial moment in her life, the day that she is accepted or rejected as a full-fledged member of society.  It is society’s coming of age ritual, one approached with glitz and glamour and pomp and circumstance.  The actual day is kind of like graduation meets cotillion, yet so much more potentially life-altering than either of those events.  Although all of the characters are interesting, Rebecca is the most fully developed.  She is intelligent, more than a little naive, and totally out of her element for her new life.  Her new life is brutal and she is far too trusting.  It is fortunate for her that she falls in with the people that she does.  There is a clear message there that intelligence doesn’t make you infallible!

I do wish that we had gotten to know a bit more about some of the core group of characters.  We learned a bit about Molly, Elizabeth, and Daniel, but I would like to have known more about Eric and how he came to really be as he was.  There was also a less central character, Constance, whose part may have been small, but whose humanity showed through.  There was such a bittersweet tinge to her story and it was touching.

The world that the author created was rather terrifying, in and out of the PIT, the area in which those deemed undesirable were spent for the rest of their lives.  The idea of living in a society in which one’s entire future is in the hands of a machine that no one outside of those in the know understand.  No one really knows what it is that marks someone for rejection and the implications are scary at best.  The societal norms, too, were a bit surprising.  Ideas about relationships and functional families were throwbacks to a time in our own reality’s past.  Women were barely educated, outside of the domestic arts.  They were not expected to work, but to be housewives and rear children.  Men, however, were more educated and assigned jobs.  The belief was that these roles made for a more perfect, more ordered society.  Any deviation from these rules were likely to leave you rejected.

The PIT, too, was frightening.  It was Skid Row on a more epic scale.  All of society’s undesirables were housed here, treated horribly.  It was lawless and chaotic, every moment a trial of survival.  The author was able to so vividly describe it that I cpuld practically smell the rotting garbage and feel the dirt on my skin.

I have no idea if this is a standalone or there are more in store, but I hope for the latter.  The ending was satisfying, easily a cliffhanger but with enough resolution that I felt fulfilled.  Great read!

Things to love…

  • The world.  So disturbing with its potential for reality.
  • The society.  Whether you liked it’s values or not, it was well-created and established.
  • The characters.  Their stories of how they ended up in the PIT showed just how easy it was to become derailed in your life.

Things I wanted more/less of…

  • Eric.  I just wanted to really understand his motivations.
  • The story.  While the ending was good, I want to know what happened next!

My Recommendation

This is a great story about resilience, human nature, and the cost of a sseemingly utopian society.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4.2

About Sarah Negovetich

Sarah Negovetich knows you don’t know how to pronounce her name and she’s okay with that.

Her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it’s accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliché.

Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won’t read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life’s goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.

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November Wrap-Up

What the Diva read in November…

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Holiday Hat Trick

Holiday Hat TrickTitle: Holiday Hat Trick
Author: Catherine Gayle
Series: Portland Storm #5.5
Also in this series: Breakaway, On the Fly, Light the Lamp, Delay of Game, Taking a Shot
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Love & Romance, Sports Fiction
Pages: 67
Published by Night Shift Publishing on 2014-11-28
ISBN: 978-1942177043
ASIN: B00QBMHQUI
Format: eARC
Source: author

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

Mitchell “Q” Quincey, a journeyman playing for the Portland Storm, has three goals for his three-day Christmas break.

1. Move the rest of his gym equipment out of his ex-wife Mia’s house.
2. Get his lawyer to file a petition for joint custody.
3. Spend every last minute he can with his baby girl.

When he arrives on Mia’s doorstep, things don’t go as planned. With her whole family gathered for the holiday, the only way he can spend time with their daughter is to spend time with the whole clan. The compromise is doable, if not ideal, because he’s still in love with Mia and she won’t take him back.

Having her ex-husband show up completely unannounced at Christmas throws Mia off her game. The least Mitch could have done is called so she could have emotionally prepared herself to face him. Instead, the love and attraction she still feels for him combine to leave her fumbling for excuses. He’s always been able to leave her flustered, but now that he’s making himself part of the family again, she’s afraid she’ll lose her nerve and fall back into old patterns.

Things heat up on a snowy Christmas Eve, and Mitch decides to change his goals on the fly. With assists from Mia’s family and a bit of mistletoe, he might end up with a Holiday Hat Trick.

My Review

As always, I love this latest installment in the Portland Storm series by Catherine Gayle!  This is a shorter read, but it is a fantastic addition to the series!

Holiday Hat Trick is not on the ice this time, but takes place over the league-mandated holiday days off.  It centers on a newer player, Mitch Quincey.  He and his wife Mia have been divorced for several months, a decision that was Mia’s.  He is still desperately in love with her, but has realized that winning her back is a lost cause.  So his focus this vacation is to get the last of his things, file for joint custody, and see his little girl as much as possible.  I was in love with him from the moment he began to coo about his daughter!

I was prepared to dislike Mia, but I just couldn’t.  I didn’t want to understand her position, because this is a man who clearly loved her and their daughter and who was a legitimately good guy.  A good guy that she tossed aside.  But as we got to know her, I realized that there were reasons that she did what she did, reasons that I could wholy understand.

This is the thing I love most about these books, besides the hockey!!  That the stories revolve around real people with real issues.  The same kind of issues we all may face at some point in our lives.

Things to love…

  • Mitch as a dad.  The love he had for his daughter was touching.
  • Mia.  I related and I understood how she felt.
  • Mitch as an uncle.  I loved how he was with the other kids in the story.  As a mom myself, there is nothing sexier!

My Recommendation

While this could be read as a standalone, I love the series so much that I say… READ THEM ALL!!

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Catherine Gayle

Catherine Gayle is a bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

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Shadow Spell

Shadow SpellTitle: Shadow Spell
Author: Nora Roberts
Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #2
Also in this series: Dark Witch, Blood Magick
Genre(s): Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy & Magic, Historical Fiction, Love & Romance
Pages: 353
Published by Berkley on 2014-03-25
ISBN: 978-0425259863
ASIN: B00FFFNA1Q
Format: eBook
Source: personal purchase

FTC Disclosure: Regardless of how I received this book, this is an honest review based on my own opinions. Read my full disclosure here.

 
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From the back cover...

With the legends and lore of Ireland running through his blood, falconer Connor O’Dwyer is proud to call County Mayo home. It’s where his sister, Branna, lives and works, where his cousin, Iona, has found true love, and where his childhood friends form a circle that can’t be broken…

A circle that is about to be stretched out of shape—by a long-awaited kiss.

Meara Quinn is Branna’s best friend, a sister in all but blood. Her and Connor’s paths cross almost daily, as Connor takes tourists on hawk walks and Meara guides them on horseback across the lush countryside. She has the eyes of a gypsy and the body of a goddess…things Connor has always taken for granted—until his brush with death propels them into a quick, hot tangle.

Plenty of women have found their way to Connor’s bed, but none to his heart until now. Frustratingly, Meara is okay with just the heat, afraid to lose herself—and their friendship—to something more. But soon, Connor will see the full force and fury of what runs in his blood. And he will need his family and friends around him when his past rolls in like the fog, threatening an end to all he loves…

My Review

Much like the first, Dark Witch, I loved this next book in the Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy!  The stories are so engrossing and sweep me away to another place and often another time.

This book focuses on Connor and Meara.  I love both of these two, and much like Iona and Boyle in the first novel, one is a witch while the other is not.  I love that Meara, although without powers of her own, is a fierce warrior women.  She is loyal and strong and always fighting to protect those she loves.  But she has been hurt and it shows.  That part of her story was so relatable and I loved the vulnerability that it gave her character.

Connor is the book boyfriend.  He’s charming and funny, caring and compassionate, loyal and passionate… and Irish!  He is so patient with her, pushing her to acknowledge her own feelings without forcing it upon her before she was ready.  I love that he refused to give up and kept at with charm and humor.  As laidback as his character tends to be, however, he has a fierce streak of passion against any who would hurt his own.  A pretty sexy trait!

The weaving of the story through time and with the Dark Witches of the past mae made for a rich read.  The old and the new, the mythology, the magic… all of it created a novel that I could not stop reading!!  I can’t wait to start the next, and last Frown , in the trilogy.

Things to love…

  • Connor.  His patience, kindness, and compassion were all delivered with charm and humor!
  • Meara.  Despite her “warrior woman” persona, she was vulnerable and sweet when it mattered most.

My Recommendation

You definitely have to read Dark Witch first, but this is a fantastic series.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 5

About Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, the youngest of five children. After a school career that included some time in Catholic school and the discipline of nuns, she married young and settled in Keedysville, Maryland.
She worked briefly as a legal secretary. “I could type fast but couldn’t spell, I was the worst legal secretary ever,” she says now. After her sons were born she stayed home and tried every craft that came along. A blizzard in February 1979 forced her hand to try another creative outlet. She was snowed in with a three and six year old with no kindergarten respite in sight and a dwindling supply of chocolate.
Born into a family of readers, Nora had never known a time that she wasn’t reading or making up stories. During the now-famous blizzard, she pulled out a pencil and notebook and began to write down one of those stories. It was there that a career was born. Several manuscripts and rejections later, her first book, Irish Thoroughbred, was published by Silhouette in 1981.
Nora met her second husband, Bruce Wilder, when she hired him to build bookshelves. They were married in July 1985. Since that time, they’ve expanded their home, traveled the world and opened a bookstore together.
Through the years, Nora has always been surrounded by men. Not only was she the youngest in her family, but she was also the only girl. She has raised two sons. Having spent her life surrounded by men, Ms. Roberts has a fairly good view of the workings of the male mind, which is a constant delight to her readers. It was, she’s been quoted as saying, a choice between figuring men out or running away screaming.
Nora is a member of several writers groups and has won countless awards from her colleagues and the publishing industry. Recently The New Yorker called her “America’s favorite novelist.”

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