Book Review – Beautifully Broken by Laura Lee

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TITLE: Beautifully Broken
AUTHOR: Laura Lee
PAGES:  326 pages
PUBLISHED: November 15th 2016
PUBLISHER: LAN Fiction LLC
GENRE: New Adult, Romance, Forbidden Romance

MY RATING: 4/5 birds
rating-4-birdnew
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SUMMARY:

The story begins with our heroine Kat, drinking in a seedy bar on her 18th birthday when she meets Gavin. Or “Sparkles” as Kat dubbed him. We learn quickly that Kat has had a tough life. She has been in the foster system since she was a kid, never knew her dad, and has a heroin-addicted mother who is barely present in her life. Tonight she is trying to forget her problems and Gavin seems like the perfect distraction. Their attraction to one another is off the charts and neither of them can deny it.

Kat goes home with him and lies about her age and turns every question he asks –like what she does for work – into a game so he barely knows anything about her. Imagine his surprise when a few days later she is sitting in his classroom and Gavin a.k.a. Sparkles is also Mr. Cooper her English teacher! They both try to deny their attraction and know their situation is wrong even though he didn’t know she was in high school and she is eighteen, but fighting their feelings is harder than they thought.

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MY REVIEW:

When I first saw this book and all the 5 star reviews I was a little skeptical. The premise of a forbidden romance between teacher and student isn’t something I normally find appealing to read but something compelled me to pick this up and I am glad I did! This book definitely goes down as a guilty pleasure read.

Kat was really an amazing character. Life threw her so many curve balls and she took everything in stride. She was even more mature than Gavin in certain parts of the novel. And even though parts of her were broken, Gavin’s constant reassurance of telling her she is worthy of love and respect helped her feel whole again. It was such a feel good novel in that aspect even though there was a ton of seriously dark drama. This was definitely more real than I thought it would be from the blurb, which was a good thing. The dialogue was very well written as well. Their flirty banter was cute and believable and Kat and her friends acted and talked like real eighteen year olds.

I also liked the non-judgemental aspect of stripping in the novel. Kat described most of her coworkers as being college students just trying to earn a quick buck so they can advance in life. We find that some of the girls that have worked there have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, veterinarians etc. Although I think this is not the case for many strip joints, I think it is still a good lesson that you shouldn’t judge someone for where their life leads them.

I know some readers have a hard rule with cheating and I think this may blur the line….Just a forewarning but (view spoiler). Decide what you will about that. I didn’t mind but I know others consider once the two main characters have had any kind of physical contact another woman/man in the picture is unacceptable.

I was also really frustrated with the ending. I could completely understand Kat’s POV and why she chose what she did but Gavin really had no excuse.

Overall this was a really interesting and angsty read. If you are looking for serious drama but with a HEA then this is the book for you! Thank you Netgalley, LAN Fiction LLC, and the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) for providing this novel in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review -The Way I Used to Be

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TITLE: The Way I Used To Be
AUTHOR: Amber Smith
PAGES:  367 pages
PUBLISHED: March 22nd 2016
PUBLISHER: Margaret K. McElderry Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sad Topic(s)

MY RATING: 5/5 birds

Rating - 5 Bird

SUMMARY:

This is the debut novel by Amber Smith that explores one young woman’s struggles as one act affected her entire life. Eden’s world is forever changed when her brother’s best friend rapes her. We get to see Eden’s life from freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year and see the profound effects of her trauma.

An immensely complex and thought-provoking novel that demonstrates unbelievable pain, heartbreak, friendship, and the importance of survival.

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MY REVIEW:

Well, this book really hit me hard. Eden reminded me a little too much of myself…the self-destructive behaviour and I don’t want to put too much of myself out there but some of it reminded me of stuff I did when I was younger. I have never been raped but I still related to Eden in so many ways.

The books that really hit you are always the hardest to review! But besides my own personal connection to Eden, one of the things I really liked about the novel was how the author showed how not only the main character Eden was affected, but how that one single action changed the lives of so many other people around her. It makes you step back and think. Everyone is always so quick to judge. Let’s be honest, if you were or are still in high school and heard about all the things about this girl Eden did you probably won’t have a good impression of her right? The author does a great job of exposing slut shaming, not only by her peers but also by her own self-labelling as she struggled to figure herself out. It was wonderful to get to hear Eden’s side of the story, all of her shame, fear, guilt and suddenly we are less judgemental. As a reader, I mostly just wanted to hug Eden and tell her everything was going to be okay. It’s a good reminder to step back and realise that everyone around us is fighting some sort of battle.

I wish the novel had focused a bit more on Eden’s relationship with her parents though. That felt really lacking. I was really curious when Eden started calling her parents by their first name and not Mom and Dad and why/how that all happened. I was also a bit disappointed with the ending, as it felt really abrupt. Eden finally spoke about her rape and we don’t even get to see her go through telling her parents. I think that was critical because her mom was the first person she could have told and didn’t. I was really curious to read her parents reaction and see Eden go through her emotions of coming to terms with the sexual abuse.

This was also by no means a romance in any form but I just wanted to add that I really liked Josh. I thought he was very well written and in the end I was glad that the author didn’t have Eden rely on him too much and she realised that she needed to come to terms with herself on her own. I still hope that in the future, someday they get back together because I love the way Josh treats Eden. He was a complete sweetheart and I could see them being very good together.

Even though there was something a bit lacking in the story it still gets 5 stars from me because it made me cry in the end and it’s fairly rare for me to cry while reading a book. To invoke that strong of an emotion just makes it that much better.

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