Book Review – The Change Room by Karen Connelly

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TITLE: 
The Change Room
AUTHOR: Karen Connelly
PAGES:  320 pages
PUBLISHED: April 11th 2017
PUBLISHER: Random House Canada
GENRE: Romance, LGBT, Adult Fiction

MY RATING: 3/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

Eliza Keenan is the mother of two boys, a business owner and wife to a math professor named Andrew. Her life is defined by her family and she only gets time to herself when she goes for her twice-weekly swim at the community pool. One day she meets a mysterious and intriguing young woman who she nicknames “The Amazon”. The weekly meet ups turn into an illicit affair between the two woman, which threatens her entire world but can something that makes Eliza feel so good, be really that bad?

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MY REVIEW

This type of contemporary story isn’t something I would normally pick up but I am trying to make an effort to read more novels by Canadian authors and when I saw this on NetGalley I was intrigued. There were aspects that I liked (the writing) and disliked (the characters/story) which lead to three stars.

I was conflicted about Eliza. I didn’t actively dislike her but it was hard to get behind the white, upper-middle-class whining. She complained about balancing work, kids and marriage in her white suburban life and it was really hard to give a damn. This isn’t to say that I don’t think her issues are legitimate to her but it was a bit boring to read over and over again. I also don’t have kids so I really could not relate to how much of the novel was focused on them, most of which was her complaining.

I also thought she was incredibly selfish and a bit ridiculous. For example there is a paragraph where Eliza is describing in detail how much she cleans (*yawn*) around the house and how her mother told her the way to ruin a good marriage is to keep score of who did what. So Eliza “did many tasks herself, resentfully, or in a state of resigned oblivion, often late at night after the kids had gone to bed.”

Yes…because resentfully doing anything in your marriage is super healthy, right? And then the next sentence is about how Andrew suggested hiring a cleaner, which he did himself, but in Eliza’s words after “a couple of duds and one klutz” she went back to resentfully cleaning everything herself.

Oh lord. First, just the fact that you can afford a cleaning should be enough. This is not a cheap service in Canada and I only know a few well-off family friends that have cleaners. Eliza sounds so uptight, even people that clean professionally are not up to her standard and she would rather “suffer resentfully” then work with someone. Then she wonders why her marriage is failing?

Stories like this are always a bit uncomfortable for me, personally. I have a pretty strict moral code when it comes to cheating so it hard for me to understand Eliza’s POV, even if we are told how bad of a husband Andrew is or how stressful her life is, I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t end things before cheating/having an affair.

I was also surprised at how much detailed sex there was in this. Now, if you look at the books I read on Goodreads you see I have read a lot of erotica, bdsm, LGBT stuff so it wasn’t that I am a prude, it just did not work for me. It was really distracting from the actual storytelling and it felt like the author added it for “shock value” which I did not like.

The Quebecois woman was also bit stereotyped in my opinion, and also the line about Eliza’s brother (I think?) who works in the oil rigs in Alberta and makes a ton of money, most of which “goes up his nose”. While that is true for some rig workers it’s a terrible stereotype and so cliché. It also makes other Canadians look down upon Alberta.

I would be interested in reading other novels by Karen Connelly, the writing itself was very well done and I wish I had like this more but unfortunately it just did not work for me.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Canada for letting me read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review -Him

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TITLE: Him
AUTHOR: Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
PAGES:  360 pages
PUBLISHED: July 28th 2015
PUBLISHER: Rennie Road Books
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Friends to Lovers.

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

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SUMMARY:

Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley have been best friends until a friendly competition turned into something more and Wes cut Jamie out of his life.Pushing the boundaries of their friendship was Wes’ goal but afterwards he regrets his actions.

Four years later after no contact, Wes is ready to apologise to Jamie, his very straight friend, who he is now facing off on the ice with their respective college teams. One look at Jamie though and Wes’ resolutions come to a stand still. His feelings have never changed but does Jamie feel the same way?

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MY REVIEW:

“I can’t fucking do this again. I can’t let myself want him or get my hopes up about the two of us. He’s my friend. He’ll always be my friend and nothing more.”

Jamie and Wes make such an adorable couple! I loved them right off the bat. The novel starts with flashbacks to one pivotal night between the two former best friends when they attended hockey camp that changes their friendship. Wes can’t deal with what happens and stops talking to Jamie. Years later, after they both graduate college and are looking towards joining the NHL, they see each other again. A friendship is rekindled but other feelings rise up that aren’t so easy to define…
This was quite the steamy read and I really enjoyed it!! It’s definitely a new favourite.
I can really see Elle Kennedy shine through in this novel with all the witty and funny dialogue and I loved it! For example:

“I’m attracted to women, no doubt about it.
I’m also attracted to men, apparently. Wonderful.
Complicated fellow, my dick.”

Anything to get my Kennedy fix after The Deal series haha. She seriously has a way with words though and makes men sound so realistic and age-appropriate. I don’t know how she does it! It really makes the entire novel though because I really haven’t read many M/M novels but usually they have a serious case of “chicks with dicks”, meaning the male characters all sound like the female author.

The chemistry between Wes and Jamie was off the chart. I was rooting for them from beginning to end. They treated each other so well, with love and respect but could easily banter and they obviously loved spending time together. even when they were younger and just best friends. These are my favourite stories, the friends that become lovers. I think this would be the perfect introduction to someone who was interested in m/m and had never read any before.

I seriously love this book. Even little things like what Cindy (Jamie’s mom) buys Jamie and Wes coffee mugs that say “HIS” & “HIS”:

“Mom!” Jess hollers. “The point of labeled mugs is so that they can tell them apart! You should have done their initials.”
“But then that wouldn’t amuse me,” his mother explains, grinning.

I also thought the discussion between Wes and Jamie regarding porn and what is expected of gay men was very well done. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be, on top of coming out to your friends and family, to even understand how to together with someone since you may not have a lot to reference in your day to day life. I mean porn for men and women is quite awful and unrealistic as well but as least in terms of a relationship you have many examples – generally your parents are m/w, friends, and everything you see on TV. Also sex ed classes when you are a teenager, as least when I was in school, did not discuss being gay all or how any of that worked.

And lastly I just LOVED the ending and I was really glad that the novel didn’t end after [after they finally decided to commit to each other (hide spoiler)]. I really like that the authors showed us their evolving relationship and what’s to come next. I also just love Jamie’s family.

Also, just a side note but did anyone else forget that Wes’ first name was actually Ryan? Haha maybe it was just me but he was referred to as Wes so much that I thought Ryan was his last name!

SO excited to read the next book Us (Him #2)!!

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