Book Review – ‘Too Late’ by Colleen Hoover

A surprising departure from Colleen Hoover’s regular fare that brought all the negative feelings.

Genre: Y/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 394

Sloan will go through hell and back for those she loves.

And she does, every single day.

After finding herself stuck in a relationship with the dangerous and morally corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to get by until she’s able to find a way out.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the best thing to ever happen to Asa. And if you ask Asa, he’d say he’s the best thing to ever happen to Sloan. Despite Sloan’s disapproval of Asa’s sinister lifestyle, he does exactly what he needs to do in order to stay a step ahead in his business. He also does exactly what he needs to do in order to stay a step ahead of Sloan.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

The best way I can sum up my initial reaction to ‘Too Late’ is 10% titillation 90% revulsion. This book was triggering for me on so many levels. Colleen Hoover stated in the forward that this novel had a darker tone, (and why she released it under the moniker C. Hoover and not her full name to address the departure from her usual publications) and while none of the content actually surprised me, it had my inner feminist, protector, and fellow human being screaming and rattling a metaphorical cage. 

This is also not typically a novel. It’s a series of blog posts and chapters published in order they were written. So there was no weaving of a masterful plot, no going back and redrafting or editing. This was a stream of consciousness. Word vomit. Just for her enjoyment to escape the woes of what she was currently working on – get a reprieve from the tension and pressure. 

I admired how Colleen Hoover gets into the mind of antagonist Asa. And it certainly drew out a lot of passionate emotions from me. Which is sort of the point really – it’s just that they weren’t particularly nice emotions. 

Additionally, I’m not about violent sex, domination, abuse, or well, ‎sex scenes that don’t service the plot. Erotica or titillation just for the sake of it makes me feel like the author is taking a cheap shot. The easy road. Like they couldn’t come up with something more substantial and meaningful to attract a reader. Like sex in advertising. It works, but it’s not something that I find all that appealing. 

So how do you discuss a novel that’s not quite a novel? I’m just going off entertainment value. I was engrossed – and then grossed out. I had to keep putting the book down because I felt ill, like I was going to throw up. And angry. Frustrated. You get it… not a lot of happy feelings. So I was not entertained. It was like driving past a car crash on the side of the road. Such an awful thing to witness, crumpled metal and blood splatter, flashing lights of police cars and ambulances; and you know you shouldn’t look because there’s a chance you could see something that will scar you for life, but you just can’t seem to tear your eyes away.

Given the nature of this being a series of blog posts there isn’t really a structure to the story. There are entire chunks of the novel that are essentially flashbacks. Our protagonist Sloan is painted as a hero for surviving, and choosing to live through a controlling, abusive relationship. This triggers me so badly my thoughts and words turn into rambling passionate nonsense. Add to that, undercover cop and love interest, Carter, tipped as the knight in shining armour… well the characters felt flat to me, and unrealistic. Even the way the story was resolved had me eye-rolling; if this scenario played out in real life ALL the characters would be in jail.

I guess this novel did a great task in getting a strong emotional reaction out of me. For that I have to applaud Colleen Hoover. But for the story itself – well, it’s not your traditional mode of telling a story. The plot is a dog’s breakfast. The scenario did not feel researched thoroughly, and all the characters were (for me) completely unlikeable.

On the whole, ‘Too Late’ rubbed me the wrong way, and as conscious as I am to give this a proper review without letting my emotions take control of me, I can’t recommend this to anyone other than those interested in explicit sex scenes and rape scenarios.

It put me in an awful reading slump and I kind of want those two weeks back.

Overall feeling: Hell No!

© Casey Carlisle 2020. 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.

…the one where my girlfriend was peeing in the bushes and the cops showed up.

Some memories of high school still make me roar with laughter.

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Picture this: Alice Springs, a small outback town in the middle of the desert, nineteen eighty something.

When there isn’t a lot to do in a dust bowl of a town like the one we were fortunate to grow up in, you make your own fun. And this night it happened to be in the form of ‘cruising around.’ Where hapless teenagers would drive from the Truck Stop to the Golf Course, to the Speedway or Drive-In on an endless loop, hooting and hollering at other kids from the same school indulging in the same activity. Aimlessly wandering the streets in a car said that we were free! To have a car was a massive status symbol… and my Mum’s Mercedes Benz was the biggest statement of all – especially filled with a four-pack of gussied-up teenage girls.

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We call it cruising around because not only did we partake in the automobile activity, but it was usually accompanied by Vodka Cruisers, Goon-bags of wine, or in our case, West Coast Coolers. But before you get your fingers out to waggle at me, I was the designated driver, so no alcohol for me. If my parents had gotten a sniff of trouble, or I so much as sullied the shine of the Merc, my car privileges would be revoked until I was a hundred years old. That meant no freedom, no flaunting for boys, and nights filled with lame video marathons and grumpy parental chaperones.

As it sometimes happens when you’re driving about with a car full of four buzzed pubescent girls, someone needed to pee. Real bad. And we were ages away from the nearest facilities. Being Alice Springs, it’s just a case of pulling over on the side of the road and you can sneak into the bush to do your business – So that’s what we did.

I had to angle the cars lights off the road so my friend could see where she was walking, and while she ventured into the scrub we turned up the radio and proceeded to dance in the headlights – as you do when you’re feeling the chemical rush of half a West Coast Cooler in the middle of nowhere.

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Just as we bust a move, hear the trickle of pee splash from behind a shrub, a cop car pulls up. Great!

One of my friends freaks out, dives into the car and is desperately shoving our coolers under the seats – yes, we were drinking under the legal age. She’s a bit of a goody-two-shoes, so to say it looked like she was in the throws of a heart attack is an understatement.

I’m a little shocked and dumbfounded to see the men in blue show up in the most deserted place in Australia, one friend gyrating in the headlights, another hyperventilating inside the car, as another stumbles out of the bush yanking up her jeans. What must they think?

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They do what cops back then did – posture a little, have us line up and invade our space… no doubt trying to detect a waft of booze on our breaths. Luckily we all managed to pull it together long enough for the boys in blue to believe our story that we only pulled over for an emergency toilet stop. I didn’t know it at the time, but they had actually suspected that we’d stolen the car and were out joyriding (another activity of the local youth in this armpit of a town.)

Just as they were about to leave, headquarters radioed them back, a check on the licence plate number had yielded a result, and wouldn’t you know – my parents hadn’t paid the latest registration fee.

Needless to say the night ended with my father coming to collect us, screaming at the cops because they wouldn’t let him drive an unregistered car. But like hell he was going to leave a luxury car sitting on the side of the road waiting to be stolen. My friends were dumped home, and, like ninjas, my parents collected the car in the shadow of night while I kept a lookout for the police as we sneaked the car home.

I don’t know when they found the bottles of booze under the seat, the next time I checked, they were gone. But I didn’t get into trouble, or have my car driving privileges revoked… thankfully they were too embarrassed at having my friends and I hassled by the police for driving an unregistered car.

That’s what I call a lucky break! And that’s how we roll in country towns 😉

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© 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.

Book Review – ‘Confess’ by Collen Hoover

Secrets and Art in an angsty contemporary tale

Confess Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: N/A, Contemporary, Romance

No. of pages: 306

From Goodreads:

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… 

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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.

Confess Book Review Pic 03 by Casey Carlisle.jpgWith 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.

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© 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.

Book Review – Gone by Lisa McMann

Bringing new meaning to sleeping your life away.

Gone Book Review Pic 01 by Casey CarlisleGenre: Y/A, Fantasy, Paranormal

No. of pages: 214

From Goodreads:

Things should be great for Janie—she has graduated from high school and is spending her summer with Cabel, the guy she’s totally in love with. But deep down she’s panicking about how she’s going to survive her future when getting sucked into other people’s dreams is really starting to take its toll.
Things get even more complicated when she meets her father for the very first time—and he’s in a coma. As Janie uncovers his secret past, she begins to realize that the choice thought she had has more dire consequences than she ever imagined. 

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It took me a while to pick up this final book in the Wake Trilogy… mainly because, even though I enjoyed the first two books, I wasn’t all that invested in the story. That, and I wasn’t sure if this conclusion would do the series any justice.

Well, ‘Gone’ totally blew my expectations away.

I enjoyed this much more than the other two – maybe because there was less forced lexicon to connect with the YA audience, maybe because it wasn’t so over the top, or maybe because a lot of questions got answered. It has been two years since I read the previous novel, ‘Fade,’ and I think the break did me some good.

There is always plenty of action and controversy in these novels. And yes, the writing style annoyed me, but ‘Gone’ was better in all accounts in comparison to the previous two instalments.

I enjoy the bitter-sweet of this series – how Janie’s ability comes at a cost, and she has to weigh her conscious over whether to use it for good, bad or try and supress it. It gives her an inner strength that I really respect. In the start of the series, Cabel was continually coming to her rescue, but by this book, they were in more of a symbiotic, equal relationship.

I have a love/hate affection with this series. The premise is great, but the writing style, juvenile; and some of the mechanics in the plot a little too convenient or fantastic. The mythology of Janie’s ability is organic, and I loved how it is spread throughout all three books, and some questions don’t really get answers, although we get some resolution in Janie’s acceptance of her fate.

The real crux that lifted this book above the rest for me was that there is more character development and spiritual dilemma, moving away from the action/conspiracy centred story lines in the start of the series.

While not an outstanding novel, it provides a satisfactory culmination to Janie’s predicament, and we really get to see her shine. A great fast paced read with a paranormal twist.

Overall feeling: Yes!

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© Casey Carlisle 2015. 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.