Hmmm… it’s been a while since my last CoHo read – must correct that immediately!
Hmmm… it’s been a while since my last CoHo read – must correct that immediately!
Messy can be beautiful… or just plain miserable. But there is also beauty in misery.
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 385
Not every mistake deserves a consequence. Sometimes the only thing it deserves is forgiveness.
The Voss family is anything but normal. They live in a repurposed church, newly baptized Dollar Voss. The once cancer-stricken mother lives in the basement, the father is married to the mother’s former nurse, the little half-brother isn’t allowed to do or eat anything fun, and the eldest siblings are irritatingly perfect. Then, there’s Merit.
Merit Voss collects trophies she hasn’t earned and secrets her family forces her to keep. While browsing the local antiques shop for her next trophy, she finds Sagan. His wit and unapologetic idealism disarm and spark renewed life into her—until she discovers that he’s completely unavailable. Merit retreats deeper into herself, watching her family from the sidelines when she learns a secret that no trophy in the world can fix.
Fed up with the lies, Merit decides to shatter the happy family illusion that she’s never been a part of before leaving them behind for good. When her escape plan fails, Merit is forced to deal with the staggering consequences of telling the truth and losing the one boy she loves.
What a train wreck of a family! ‘Without Merit’ is all about keeping secrets and putting up a front that contributes to this family imploding. But you don’t get the info dump of all the elements that have built up this tension – Colleen Hoover reveals them like peeling back layers of an onion in an organic way through the perspective of our protagonist Merit. It is a moderately paced book with a slow burn romance. It’s not overly traumatic, and has a cute ending but is very engaging. I completed it in two sittings and found the characters – and their arcs – delightful. It is just another novel that adds to the proof of Hoovers’ deft writing and stylistic flare.
We’re introduced to Merit as someone who is angry yet hopeful… and then slowly shown why she is both of these things. I related to her because she is both flawed, intelligent, and resourceful. She questions and challenges the world in her loner fashion.
The rest of her siblings each have a different dysfunction – their mechanisms for dealing with the repercussions of their parents’ divorce and parental style. Utah, Honor, and Moby were still connected enough to be a family unit, but had their own story arcs going on. It was great to read that all the characters were so intricately crafted.
Two other characters of note revolving around the family: Luck seems like a bright addition to the family, but is soon discovered as the grenade that starts the inciting moment of self-inspection the family desperately needs. And Sagan, who comes across as the tattooed brooding love interest with a touch of mystery about him – and while he is all of those things we soon discover there is more: an artist, a compassionate soul. I really enjoyed discovering him through Merits eyes, though the whole quiet brooding thing was starting to get a little tired towards the end.
We also get the neighbour’s dog that Merit adopts; who is by far my favourite character and a wonderful symbol of moving on from a painful past.
I like how mental illness is represented and discussed in ‘Without Merit.’ It doesn’t necessarily paint a pretty picture, but once brought out into the open and dealt with, can be treated in a way that is not destructive.
The novel really deals with how perceptions and assumptions are continually deconstructed and the truth revealed.
The first half takes a while in setting up the characters and plot, so the pacing feels moderately slow, but after the halfway mark, things really get interesting and I did not want to put the book down. It’s not really an angsty novel. More one of uncovering one sensational thing after another, like some telenovela, it was tragically juicy and I was hooked.
Hoovers writing style slayed me yet again, and it was hard to predict what was going to happen because the predicament Merit finds herself in is just so deliciously messy. It all made great reading and a novel I’d happily recommend.
Overall reaction: Knock me down with a feather.
© Casey Carlisle 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
It feels like I haven’t read a CoHo book in ages… this is one of my latest purchases that I’m hoping to dive into. Can anyone tell be what to expect?
Trashy tropes and shenanigans.
Genre: N/A, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 310
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.
I loved reading this book. The Drama! I was hooked from the first line.
I think this book is great in illustrating that we are all fallible. Everyone makes assumptions, mistakes, and it is how we recover from these that defines our character.
All the characters are great: fully realised, they jump from the page, warts and all! You get clear character development from the cast too, so by the end you feel like you’ve gone through a journey, and it has changed you.
I really liked our protagonist, Fallon – her insecurities can translate to any girl with aspects of her body that she does not like. It was also great to see her get over her wallowing and deciding to make something of her career. That get-up-and-go attitude really resonated with me, and I instantly became invested in her story. That and the hilarious and sassy conversation with her father at the start of the book had me hooked.
As for the worst: I found Fallon’s love interest Ben to be a little long-winded, a little whiny, and a little over-expository. But I loved his character. I think the failings I had with his personality is another reason I deducted half a mark… Though he is tenacious, altruistic, and incredibly romantic. After finishing ‘November 9’ I decided his good traits outweighed the bad.
‘November 9’ is an easy read with some great wit. I did get a little annoyed and the small amount of swearing – and Ben calling Fallon ‘babe’ – but that is just a pet hate of mine and I didn’t let is sway my rating. Colleen Hoover weaves angst and tension in there as seamlessly as she always does, and one of the elements in her writing style that always has me coming back for more.
I would have rated this higher if something about the story didn’t creep me out a little. But that’s all personal. And I won’t discuss it here because I don’t want to spoil your reading experience with giving away the best part of the plot.
The discussion of ‘insta-love’ and other bookish elements was a great touch, using them as an underlying theme had me cheering. The pacing is well done too, even though it takes place over many years, you don’t get bogged down with too many irrelevant aspects not important to the main storyline.
I will say I did not see, or remotely guess the plot twist. I revelled in the drama. For me the ending was sweet, if a bit meh… but that is my personal taste given the situation, not the writing, how everything was brought to culmination. Again all of the issues I had with ‘November 9’ stem from my own reactions to the situations faced by Fallon. Another great title from CoHo herself and something I’d recommend to all faithful fans and lovers of contemporary romance.
Overall reaction: Messy people make for a great read.
© Casey Carlisle 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
White spines… make me lose my mind.
A bunch of contemporaries on my TBR I’m desperate to make some time to read. Which pick do you suggest I start with first?
A stack of books – the first ones that come in for 2017! Aaah the good old days.
Still haven’t gotten around to reading any of them. See any you are eager to read?
‘Too Late’ – another CoHo addition to my collection! *happy dance*
Some great releases out last month with petal-tastic covers. Can’t wait to jump in to both of these beauties 🙂
Secrets and Art in an angsty contemporary tale
Genre: N/A, Contemporary, Romance
No. of pages: 306
Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.
For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.
The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…
I really enjoyed this. It had a certain type of interconnected symmetry. Some of Colleen Hoovers past novels have been gut retching, destroying – but wonderful. ‘Confess’ was beautiful without being soul crushing. It was palatable, artistic and heart-warming.
With alternating POV’s between hard working yet untrusting Auburn; and struggling artist Owen, as they both struggle to come to terms with events from their past and the feelings they share, it had a laid back narrative style which I read in two sittings.
Auburn was a great protagonist, she persevered. So many heroines possess strength and special talents, where Aubrun simply survived and battled on in any means she had. An understated kind of strength that not many see (especially in novels) today. It was a pleasure to share her journey and see her grow.
Owen was a little bit cliché – the quintessential hipster artist, but luckily we got to see more than just this trope. I have to say his sensitivity is what impressed me the most: but it was more about compassion for fellow creatures than being emotional (or emo). That too, has a special kind of quiet strength.
Trey, another person connected to Aubrun’s life, annoyed me from the first line I read about him – I can’t say entirely what it was that had me forming that opinion, but there it is. He also fell into a bit of a predictable cliché – but with Colleen Hoovers expert writing, she manages to breathe life into the story despite my first impressions of the cast.
As expected Hoover weaves an interesting narrative, slowly revealing secrets to uncover layer upon layer of complexity between the characters. I have to marvel at the reveals she performs in ‘Confess’ – I was literally gagging for more.
I also liked the occasional instances of humour that had me laughing out loud. I picked this up on a whim because I couldn’t get into another title and ended up finishing it in two days. I couldn’t put it down for long. It is so compelling and had me caring about Auburn and Owen.
Best contemporary that I’ve read in a while. And an added bonus was pictures of Owen’s artwork included in the middle of the book. A great novel to bust me out of a reading slump.
Overall reaction: A cool surprise.
© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
A cute contemporary that left me with a verve for life. You can expect misunderstandings, crossed lines of communication, teen angst and some laugh out loud moments in ‘Confess‘ by Colleen Hoover.
We all want to be bad a times…