Review: After the Fall by Kate Hart

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synA YA debut about a teen girl who wrestles with rumors, reputation, and her relationships with two brothers.

Seventeen-year-old Raychel is sleeping with two boys: her overachieving best friend Matt…and his slacker brother, Andrew. Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed after nightmares, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he decides she needs rescuing.

But Raychel doesn’t want to be his girl anyway. She just needs his support as she deals with the classmate who assaulted her, the constant threat of her family’s eviction, and the dream of college slipping quickly out of reach. Matt tries to help, but he doesn’t really get it… and he’d never understand why she’s fallen into a secret relationship with his brother.

The friendships are a precarious balance, and when tragedy strikes, everything falls apart. Raychel has to decide which pieces she can pick up – and which ones are worth putting back together.

review2.5/5 Stars 

+++Potential triggers for sexual assault, tragic loss

***Contains mature content

After the Fall feels like a draft. It takes several directions and doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The story is split into two parts, the before and the after-though the before is such a short duration that it’s like an underdeveloped Polaroid, a glimpse with huge, life-altering emotional development that there is no time to explore. And while that may be the point of the plot, a little more would have made the loss more potent. 

There are so many important discussions in this story-discussions that so many teens and adults could benefit from in regard to sexual assault and how it’s defined. Like the fact that if at any point during a sexual encounter you change your mind and the yes is now a no, you can take away your consent and the other individual should respect that. That’s not leading someone on, you have control of your body, you have agency, and you are the ONLY one who can give and take away permission to access what is yours. This includes ALL forms of sex. These discussions are between teenagers in the book and wise adults who approach the subject with respect, compassion, and righteous anger. Having these talks between adults and teens and with variety through the story was both thought-provoking and comforting. Sometimes knowing whether an encounter is assault or not can be hazy because of popular perceptions and how we view sex as a society. This book does a fantastic job both bringing up the subject and the commentary that follows. There is also commentary on prejudice and racial jokes, derogatory remarks, and gender roles. 

All of the characters were flawed and complex. While I normally enjoy the broken, confused, and wayward because generally these are coming of age stories and characters are going through a ton of stuff, these characters weren’t exactly likeable. They were self-righteous, blinded by their ideas, bull-headed, self-absorbed, and for the most part, didn’t have much of any redeeming qualities. Matt was a “poor me” character and some of the stuff he said was chauvinistic and demeaning and so near-sighted. How he could be a potential love interest was perplexing. Raychel is a mess. While it’s cool that she makes mistakes and embraces her sexuality, she’s not exactly a role model and doesn’t really learn anything. There’s no big resolution, it’s a cut off, hopefully things will be better in college situation. Does there necessarily have to be a moral to every story? No. But should the characters grow? Yes. 

The romance itself was short, fast, and development could have been stronger to build up to the tragedy. I would have liked to have seen more of them together, rather than the reference back to a time they had that the reader never saw. It felt like a summary and I wanted imagery. The emotions, the romantic ones at least, were muted because there weren’t enough scenes to reinforce the feelings. 

Secondary characters were in and out and there were so many of them that they didn’t make much of an impression, even if they were diverse and interesting, they didn’t have enough space. The book could have been longer, definitely, just to build on these smaller relationships. So much of the focus is one Matt and Raychel, that when anything happens to any of the other characters, it feels miniscule by comparison. 

The book was enjoyable to read because in some weird way, you wanted to see who Raychel ended up with. 

Side note: I also went on a tangent recently about this misleading synopsis.The way it’s initially worded makes you think this will be a romance or even a comedy. There’s a serious suggestion of dating two brothers, but this is not a romance, not really. This is a full-fledged drama and exploration of loss. I was thrown. After reading the synopsis, you go into the book with expectations and what the book really was felt like a stretch. 

If you like any of the following, you might enjoy this:

Introspective reading, 

Jordan

Blog Tour, ARC Review, & Giveaway: Any Boy But You by Julie Hammerle

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syn

Elena Chestnut has been chatting with an anonymous boy late into the night. It’s a very You’ve Got Mail situation, and she has no idea who he is. He can’t be Oliver Prince, hot-and-bashful son of the family running the rival sporting goods store. Their fancy sales strategies are driving Elena’s family out of business. Elena’s mystery boy has teamed up with her in their latest sales strategy, an augmented reality game, to help her win the grand-prize plane tickets. Money’s so tight Elena’s going to miss senior year spring break with her friends if she can’t win this game.

The girl Oliver’s fallen head-over-heels for online had better not be Elena Chestnut. She’s his angry, vindictive Latin tutor, the daughter of his dad’s business rival, and the one girl he’d never even think of kissing. She’s definitely not his online crush, because that girl is funny, sweet, and perfect.

When Oliver asks to reveal their names at the Valentine’s Day dance, their IRL relationship will either ruin what they have online, or they’ll discover just how thin the line between love and hate really is.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains swearing, snowball fights, and sexual tension that could melt the North Pole. Read at your own risk.

review

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled Crush

Any Boy But You is an adorable, feel good story that reads like a quirky ode to Pride and Prejudice. It’s full of that love-hate, push and shove, combined with a generations-long rivalry that keeps you on your toes and infuriates at the same time. 

Here’s what I loved about this story:

It’s fun. There’s a super creative competition going on that sets up a virtual meet cute for out main characters and it’s a rush. Sometimes it’s so much easier to be honest and open with a stranger and using the Stash chat has allowed Elena and Oliver to not only grow, but recognize their own shortcomings, the stupidity of their family hate, and cast off their prejudice. 

The love-hate is epic with these two. There are tons of barbs and calling each other out. They hit where it hurts and it’s not necessarily mean, but truths that the other needs to hear to see their flaws and work on them. Elena is a sarcasm queen. She’s got some insanely quick and pointed lines that will make out laugh out loud. 

The romance. No matter how hard they fight it, resistance is futile 😉 It’s weird, it’s awkward, and with the amount of animosity, it’s pretty explosive, but when it’s real, it’s good. 

There are a number of LGBT characters. I appreciated that it wasn’t a huge deal. So often in YA books, the fact that a character is gay is made a gigantic arc where it’s like they have the plague or something. Here, it is an exploration, a realization, and hey, no one flips out, so that was awesome. 

Here’s what I would have liked more:

The secondary characters were interesting. They had unique personalities and many times, they made the main characters question themselves. However, there was nowhere near enough of them. Regina and Harper. I would have loved to see more of them. Especially the friendship between Harper and Elena, the sibling relationship between Oliver and Regina, and while I loved Craig, it felt like he had more of a presence than Regina and Harper combined. More interactions.

This book could have been at least 50 pages longer. It moves at a steady pace and it goes by pretty fast. There were places that could have been more developed, like above comment, and the story would have had a stronger chance for the reader to form more emotional connections with the characters. 

I expected more conflict. When identities are revealed, it’s kind of a shrug. This made little sense. After all the hate and anger and effort to insult, flipped switch. It was too sudden. 

authorjulie-hammerle-author-photoJulie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list.

She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instragram | Goodreads

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Playful reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: #Meet by K.M. Pyne

 
syn
 When Ruby Knight’s best friend, Catriona Taylor disappears Ruby knows something isn’t right. 
Time is ticking and the race is on to find Catriona. Has she run away? Is she really on a holiday with her parents? Has something more sinister happened to her?
 
These are the questions facing Ruby. Can she find Catriona? Can she ask her detective Mam for help? Or will she leave it too late?
 
Follow Ruby on her journey to find her best friend!author
 
I like to write YA and NA with a bit of grit in them. I am new to this genre and look forward to releasing some books for you to read.

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Mysterious reading, 

Jordan