Friends Who Write Diversely… | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Can someone please tell me how we are in the second week of August? Already? I’m not sure how this is happening. Is this real life? Either way, we are here for the eighth check-in for our #DiversityDive challenge. How’s it going? Read anything great lately? (I’m highly recommending: What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi — how often do we see a single teenage dad in a book — and also Not After Everything by Michelle Levy — which is so heartbreaking but also has a character dealing with some economic diversity, in addition to many other challenges.) Now on to today’s post…

Big thanks to authors/bloggers/Twitter goddesses Dahlia Adler (Under the Lights) and Katherine Locke (Second Position) for being so game for today’s post. Rather Be Reading is rooted in a great friendship story, and, of course, books, so these two ladies cover both those topics as they chat about their own friendship (they met at BEA for the first time in 2014 and have hung out twice IRL), reading each other’s books, diversity, and, unsurprisingly, kissing. (Their characters, not each other… although Dahlia admitted to working on this in a hotel bed wearing underwear so this is pretty up-close and personal stuff.) There’s nothing I like more than candid and smart talk between two ladies who obviously have a lot of respect for each other and each other’s own work. I hope you enjoy their banter, their thoughtfulness, and their dedication to honesty in their books.

♦

on internet & friendships:

Dahlia Adler: I feel like there are layers to internet friends, because there are some you really talk to 98% publicly and only on the rarest of occasions maybe via DM and then there are those you talk to at least as much as you would anyone in person, thanks to gchat and texting.

Katherine Locke: And then the ones that you switch to text when they leave their computers so they can’t gchat. haha exactly. Yeah, there are definitely layers.

Dahlia: Yes, those 😉

Katherine: And also, like, we talk about things other than publishing and books. Most of my internet friendships stay in the same sphere where I met the person (fandom/animal rescue/publishing), but then there are a few that just become *friendships* without the modifier of “my editor friend” or “my animal rescue friend”.

Dahlia: Ohhh that is insightful! Very true. I love talking books/publishing and there are definitely people with whom that’s the only conversation we ever have.Which is great! But far rarer is the friend you meet on the internet who supersedes that original commonality.

Katherine: Exactly. and honestly, I think those are the ones that last too.

Dahlia: Ditto. Especially if/when you burn out on your common issue, like, then what?

Katherine: The friendship fizzles too. So yes, it doesn’t always happen but when it does, it’s awesome.

on authoring & characters & a splash of diversity:

Katherine: You were more worried about me reading Under the Lights than I was. And then I got sidelined and didn’t read it for a few weeks and you thought I hated it but actually I loved it. Hashtag oops.

Dahlia: Oh GOD, yes, I was so nervous about that one, but more because I thought it was a You book so being wrong about that would’ve been doubly bad.

Katherine: You’re usually right when you say a book is a Katie book so. yeah. but it’s strange and terrifying to have friends reading your books? Like strangers are much easier. Strangers I don’t mind if they don’t like it. But friends.

Dahlia: Exactly. But it was the BEST thing how much I loved Second Position. Like, it encompassed stuff I knew you were passionate about, obviously, but still wasn’t quite what I thought it would be.

It didn’t strike me until I was reading it how rare character-driven NA is, so I think just seeing that at all was such a big deal. Hahaha yes, THANK YOU.

Katherine: YOU’RE WELCOME.

Dahlia: Like, your name on it or not, the character-driven aspect would’ve been surprising to see in NA. But it makes such a world of difference in a book where you’re talking about neurodiversity and physical disability.

Katherine: This is strange we’re talking about me too much I don’t know what to do… When people ask me what my process is, I say it’s a lot of listening. And I think SP reflects that?

Dahlia: I feel like therapy and trauma are so often so halfass in NA – and I say this as someone who often gets about LWaT that Lizzie wasn’t sad enough, so I’m not excepting myself from this – so it was very cool to see not only therapy done really well but done well in a story where the characters and how their brains work is the center.

Katherine: Yes, that was really important. And one of Aly’s sessions with her therapist in Finding Center kind of touched on that again, that sometimes it’s hard to feel better when you’ve suffered a mental illness? That mental illness itself causes a trauma and that affects you.

When you wrote UtL, did that factor in? Because it felt like it did…that Van denying herself to herself for so long had affected all these other parts of her life, that the ripple effect of closeting touched ALL of her life, not just her work, not just her relationship. It’s one of the things I liked about the handling of that. Because I feel like sometimes in books where a character struggles with how or if to come out, they only think about it when they’re with their significant other, or when they’re wondering how their friends will handle it. You don’t see the exhaustion, the fear, the worry, the secrets affecting job performance and life and their ability to hold onto their image etc.

Dahlia: Definitely – a big part of UtL is Vanessa’s using Hollywood as a way to confuse her emotions so she doesn’t have to deal with them. Like, oh, it’s Hollywood, of course I find women beautiful – I find everyone beautiful! Of course they fake relationships are fine – everything we do is about manufacturing connections and putting on a show! And she doesn’t let herself see how it hurts her, or what she isn’t letting herself think. That’s why I found the idea of writing about Hollywood teens so compelling – I can’t imagine being a teen and not feeling EVERYTHING in an organic way. But it’s their job not to.

Katherine: Exactly. And then everything doesn’t feel real. Which is why I think she and Josh do so well together because his ‘real’ is actually his ‘fake’, just like hers. P.S. I’m pretty sure you still owe me fanfic btw. Pls do not forget. My birthday is in February. Okay.

Dahlia: Yup. It’s funny because I get a lot of reviews that say they don’t think the dual-POV worked, and don’t think Josh and Van should’ve shared a book, and that is a total valid opinion I was very prepared for and had myself often when I was writing it. But the more I’ve thought about the book since, the more I personally disagree with it and think of all the ways I think it was important to show their parallel experiences.

Katherine: Yes yes yes. I will forever crow about the awesomeness of that friendship. It was fantastic. I loved it.

Dahlia: It’s like, as a reader, reading strictly for entertainment, I totally see it. But as someone who used these books to view and discuss Hollywood and representation in media across different genders, sexual orientations, and races? I am so, so happy both POVs are there.

on diversity & (of course) sex… 

Dahlia: Do you feel like people “got” the way you were presenting diversity aspects in your books?

Katherine: I really WANTED to show positive therapy. So even though those chapters didn’t work for some people, it was important. Hmm, most people were 100% with Aly and her mental health issues. But Zed gets coded as non-white, which is really interesting? and awkward.

Dahlia: Oh, right! I’ve seen you mention that. I’m so curious why that happens.

Katherine: Because a) then yes, I have to be like “yeahhhh I wrote a super white cast” and b) I think it’s interesting to notice who is coding him as Black, and why. And largely they’re doing it because he grew up religious, poor, and his name. Which is some internalized stereotyping I didn’t expect to happen but I had a slew of messages right after release demanding to know why it was a white character on the cover if Zed was Black and I had to be like “uhhh he’s not?”

Dahlia: That’s so interesting, especially considering the really high-profile ways we’ve seen it work in the other direction, e.g. Rue.

Katherine: It really is! I’ve been wanting to write about it but then I’m kind of scared of the backlash so *whistles*

Dahlia: (Meanwhile, I have also gotten the “Why are both girls on your cover white if Van is Korean?” I still never know how to answer that, because Van’s face is from an Asian model; it’s just photoshopped onto a white girl because diverse stock photo options are horrible.)

pause

Katherine: I guess we’re friends because you write really good kissing scenes.

Dahlia: Hahahahaha if that’s not the literal best reason for friendship I don’t even know what is. Do you have a favorite kissing or sex scene from your books?

Katherine Locke: New criteria for friendship. Please email 1 kissing scene for consideration. haha, uh, chapter 2 of Finding Center.

Dahlia: Uhhhhhhhhhhhh good choice.

Katherine: That one had me blushing when I was writing it and I write in Starbucks soooo.

Dahlia: That makes me so happy. Man, Finding Center had soooo much more sex.

Katherine: I am sorrynotsorry about that?

Dahlia: So would you say you’ve come to enjoy writing sex?

Katherine: hahaha I don’t know if I’d go that far? It’s easier to write now. But I still dread editing it. The only thing worse than writing sex is editing a sex scene. I have to bribe myself to scroll down to my editor’s comments. It’s painful.

Dahlia: Hahaha I wouldn’t mind viewing that, personally.

Katherine: Of course you wouldn’t.

Dahlia: Well I never. Oh I think we’re supposed to be talking about diversity more than banging. So, diversity! Do you feel like you want to continually focus on the neurodiversity and disability aspects – like, those will be your Thing – or do you see yourself integrating other areas into your writing?

on diversity and reader’s reactions and tough stuff:

Katherine: Good question re: diversity. I think that neurodiversity and disability are comfortable areas for me because I have personal experience with some of those. But I’m challenging myself so the next two NAs I’m drafting both have POC main characters, and every YA I’ve written has a POC MC (and thus has been beta read by someone from that respective ethnicity/race). And you? You’ve written two female POC characters now. What’s that like? What’s the response been?

Dahlia: Ooh, very cool! I love how different all your books sound. You’re very multifaceted in this way I am so very not.

Katherine: My brain is a dark and terrible place.

Dahlia: The response has been mostly really good from readers! More for Van than for Lizzie, I think partly because there are no Filipina MCs in American NA so some readers really loved her portrayal but some wanted a lot more from it and wanted to see more of the Philippines in it.

With Van, I’ve only seen positive response, 100%, and I definitely attribute that in large part to my Korean-American beta, who picked out little cultural things I think make a big difference.

Katherine: Right, I remember that. I think there’s sometimes (always?) a higher standard for books with diversity? because there’s only ONE book with this particular thing in it, it has to do all these things for all these different types of people, which is a lot of weight and expectation.

Dahlia: But also, it’s a book discussing race and lack of representation, so in UtL it dominates the story, whereas in LWaT it’s much more incidental. Yes, exactly, and that’s something I didn’t think enough about when I wrote LWaT for sure.

Katherine: It’s REALLY awesome when a reader does connect to your diverse characters though? it makes it worth it, all the doubt you had along the way.

Dahlia: YES, that part is really awesome. Getting letters about it, or seeing someone say it felt like solid representation they were glad to see – that means the world. Especially when a queer Asian woman says it about UtL, that is the best thing.

Katherine: Yeah, I had an amputee reader reach out (and she ended up beta reading certain important parts of FC for me) and another reader whose spouse is an alcoholic and she was SO WORRIED that Zed would relapse in SP? And when he didn’t, she realized how badly she needed to read that, that they could be OK too.

Dahlia: Ohhh that is awesome. It really is fascinating how fiction can provide a confirmation of sorts that things are possible.

Katherine: There’s a queer Asian girl out there who wants to be an actress who is reading Van and going “me too!”

Dahlia: Relapsing is not a given and tragedy in your coming out is not a given and sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough sources making that clear.

Katherine: Exactly. Or that things can go wrong, and you can still be OK. It’s not clear sailing OR tragedy. There’s a middle ground and most of us live there, and hey, we made it. Look at me. Being optimistic.

Dahlia: Yup. I think that’s part of why contemporary is sort of always “in,” even when trends go in waves – because there are certain stories people always need to see happening as realistically as possible.

Katherine: It’s also why I think contemporary is harder. You have to stay closer to people’s real experiences and emotions haha

Dahlia: Yeah, it’s scary, but if you can make characters feel real, I think you’re effectively creating a genuine and possible experience.

Katherine: That’s the goal!

♦

Ah, so so fun. Thanks for letting us eavesdrop on your conversation, ladies. Can’t wait for your new work! (Katherine releases FINDING CENTER on August 17th while we have to be a bit patient for Dahlia’s JUST VISITING — out in November.) Be sure to be following @MissDahlElama & @Bibliogato on Twitter so you never miss anything they say. (Seriously, it’s good stuff.)

Until next month… diversify your bookshelf and reading list, will ya? #DiversityDive

Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson • Estelle Reviews

Trust the Focus by Megan EricksonTrust the Focus by Megan Erickson ( web | tweet | facebook )
Publication Date: 3/17/2015
Publisher: Intermix
Pages: 222
Target audience: New adult
Keywords: Post-graduation, coming out, best friends, road trip, parents
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley. (Thanks!)
Last reviewed: Make It Last by Megan Erickson

Summary: Lan and Justin are best friends, bound for the open road post-college graduation. Justin plans to visit his deceased father’s favorite spots, while secretly pining away for out-and-proud, Lan. Telling the truth about who he is threatens his post-graduation plans and his mother’s expectations but how can he continue pretending to be someone he isn’t in a Winnebago for three months?

The catalyst for Justin’s road trip is to fitfully say goodbye to his father — leaving his ashes in the spots he loved to photograph. But in saying goodbye to one part of his life, Justin is forced to say hello to another. How much longer can he contain his feelings for his best friend, Landry? He’s buried them so deep for years, pretending to be into girls, but with three months of summer ahead of them, on the open road, Justin’s not sure he can keep things platonic much longer.

Best friends turned romantic is one of my favorite storylines. Justin and Lan go way, way back, and I love that they are about to embark on life after college and still maintained their friendship (despite some ups and downs, of course). Lan is there for Justin when his father dies; Lan’s parents treat Justin like their own when his own mother is cold and not a Lan fan at all. Lan has tattoos and is openly gay, while Justin is on par to work for his mother’s conservative political campaign once the summer is over. He has an image to uphold, according to his mother. But with the open air, the swirling feelings, and the regret threatening to surface, what’s stopping him except for himself?

Trust the Focus was a lovely combination of Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and some of my most treasured M/M contemp romances by J.H. Trumble. (If you haven’t read these yet, please do.) Erickson does an effective job of getting into Justin’s head. As much as I was rooting for him to jump to it already, I understand how self-conscious and scared he was. One admission would change the course of his life forever, and nothing was going to guarantee the rest would fall into place. What about Landry’s boyfriend? What was he going to do for a job in the fall? What would his old teammates think? (Another book rec: Out of Pocket by Bill Konigsberg.) It was very astute for Erickson to have Justin and Landry deal with, in addition to everything else, this “betrayal” in their friendship; it was thoughtful and necessary and I was glad that she went there.

As I tend to recommend when it comes to an Erickson romance, please keep ice water handy. Trust the Focus was hot hot hot. The tension was fierce. Plus there’s some blog writing, a great father son relationship, and a few moments where I thought Erickson was going to break my heart into a billion pieces. I just adore her stories. They’re sweet and sexy and fun and honest. Trust my review: check this one out now.

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Add TRUST THE FOCUS to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N ($3.99!)

Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge

Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby • Magan Reviews

Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby

Beneath Beautiful by Allison Rushby [ twitter | website ]
Previously Reviewed by This Author: Shooting Stars
Publication Date: November 1, 2014
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 211
Target Audience: New Adult
Keywords: modern art, self-discovery, artist’s muse, NYC, Paris
Format Read: ARC from the Author (Thank you!)

Summary: Cassie agrees to sit for modern artist, Cameron, so that he may study her and create a sculpture inspired by her. Cameron is known for overstepping boundaries, taking things too far, and making people feel slightly uncomfortable with his nudist art. Though she’s unsure why, Cassie agrees, but lives a life of secrecy as she stumbles into this self-discovery opportunity.

• • •

Approached in the middle of a Parisian cemetery where she sits reading, Cassie is ripped from her quiet time by a handsome stranger. As they wander around together, Cassie vaguely recognizes him but has difficulty recalling his name. When it dawns on her that he’s a famous nudist artist, Cameron, she flees the cemetery.

Cameron seeks her out by discovering her favorite cafe; he proposes that Cassie become his muse so that he can create a sculpture of her. Though Cassie is taken aback by his stalker-like tactics, she’s intrigued by the idea. What did Cameron see in her that he would want to capture? After some time contemplating his offer and discussing it with her sister (because there could be severe repercussions depending on what Cameron decided to sculpt since her father was in a political position), Cassie agrees to accept Cameron’s offer. He asks her to show him who she is so he can encapsulate this in his sculpture; all Cassie’s expenses will be covered by him as he does his research.

They journey to her family’s summer-house, then they’re quickly whisked away to New York. Cassie’s days become filled with stillness and being analyzed from head to toe in Cameron’s studio. She’s filled with confusion as she thought the process wouldn’t be so sluggish. Cassie’s unable to disclose her reason for being in New York for fear of this ruining her father’s reputation. She develops an attraction to Cameron that she doesn’t feel she can act upon, and is threatened by his ex-girlfriend’s presence and interference in his life. To distance herself from her “work,” she begins seeing a nice acquaintance, Jason.

Perhaps this is where Cassie’s whole journey began to disinterest me as a reader. She becomes so wrapped up in the secrecy, in being perfect for Cameron, and lying to Jason. The original concept of showing Cameron who she was really transformed into something else entirely. I was so intrigued by the trip to her parent’s summer house, but things got a little stale as Cameron had deadlines to make and Cassie began to juggle lies that eventually spun out of control.

I really, really did enjoy the self-discovery aspect Cassie went through — having to strip away all her walls to do what she felt was best for herself and to stand up to a father who maybe had too much influence in her life — but wish that a few situations had been a bit more fleshed out and less chaotic. (And ideally, that they would have continued to travel a bit more before Cassie burrowed her head in the sand and became so introspective.) Overall, Beneath Beautiful was a welcome change because I haven’t read a ton of New Adult books; there were some definite highlights, a nice dose of sexy tension, and it’s such a steal for $2.99 from Amazon.

rather be reading borrow from the library icon

Add BENEATH BEAUTIFUL to Goodreads • Amazon ($2.99)

mini review of this christmas by katlyn duncan

This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan | Magan’s Mini Review

mini review of this christmas by katlyn duncan

This Christmas by Katlyn Duncan [twitter | website]
Previously reviewed on RBR: This Summer
Publication Date: November 18, 2014
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: ebook novella
Target Audience: Mature Young Adult / New Adult
Keywords: Christmas in the woods,
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: After their first semester together in New York, Hadley and Will need some time together to reconnect. He feels distant and distracted; she feels worried and scared. This isn’t the end, is it?

 

♦

Pros:

  • Hello, hello, hellooooo Hadley and Will. They’re as imperfect and STEAMY as ever. Phew.
  • This is a novella so it’s a nice little reunification with two great characters to sort of pop in, catch up, and then carry on about your day. I’ve kind of been wary of the whole “novella” thing because I WANT A WHOLE BOOK, but there are some major positives here: a) I finished a whole “book” in a day, and b) that made me feel incredibly accomplished, and c) it was nice to pick up where we left off and not have to spend tons of time on the backstory.
  • Hadley and Will are working through what I think every couple faces through any stage in their relationship: change. How do two people continue to reconnect and stay in love when so many elements are changing for them? (In my marriage this year: Dustyn’s gone back to grad school and that’s been a big game-changer. In so many ways I could relate to tiny little elements of the story because I’ve so been there.)
  • The setting is amazing for getting you in the Christmas spirit: a remote, quiet cabin in the woods. Surrounded by snow and pine trees. (Pssst. Did you catch that they’re all by themselves? Ahem.)

Cons:

  • Uh, it’s a novella. That can be a plus and a minus, right?
  • Maybe because it is on the shorter side, there are a few moments that feel a little jerky and Hadley’s mind is so quickly changed.

♦

rather be reading worth it icon

Add to Goodreads | Buy from Amazon ($3.14)| Buy from Barnes & Noble ($3.49)

Book Review of Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Magan: Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Book Review of Holier Than Thou by Laura BuzoHolier Than Thou by Laura Buzo
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 291
Target audience: New Adult Fiction / Adult Fiction
Keywords: miserable job, death of a parent, grief, friendly coworkers
Format read: Received from Mandee at VeganYANerds (Thank you!)

Summary: Holly doesn’t deal well with change, but everything around her is evolving. She doesn’t love her job, but she pours herself into it so she doesn’t have to focus on the friendships that aren’t the same anymore or her mother who is much closer to her brother.

As a social worker, Holly’s main focus is mental health patients. To get through her long, long days where she often feels overworked and under-appreciated, she has her best work buddy, Nick. He’s clever and understands her, and often they are paired up together to visit patients. At home, Holly lives with her supportive, kind, geeky boyfriend Tim. She’s excited for all the things they get to experience together and enjoys spying on her next door neighbors.

Holly balances present day (as a young 20-something) with flashbacks from the past. It’s a bit difficult at first to figure out what’s happening in her life, but I settled into the rhythm of Buzo’s intelligent writing quickly. Holly’s battling a lot of things. She’s still reeling from the death of her father who died when she was 15 years old. Her mother is difficult and their relationship isn’t the best. She feels more connected to her high school best friends than she does to her own family, especially since her mother tends to favor her younger brother, Patty.

To avoid dealing with the past (in which there’s a vague story about a boy named Liam that Holly was in love with for a long time), she throws herself into her work. All of her attention and effort are focused on her job. She’s a perfectionist and feels like she can “fix” everyone else.

But what she doesn’t realize is that she needs to heal.

She’s never allowed herself time to properly grieve any of the big circumstances that have happened in her life. She’s always pushed forward. She pretends that life will just carry on. She struggles with accepting change, especially when she begins to realize that her friendships are a blurry version of what they used to be. But what she wants is for her friendships and the people in her life to stay the same, for no one to ever change. It throws her off kilter when everything begins to shift.

Holly’s story, while a simplistic one, is very realistic. As a 27 year old lady, I could very much relate to what Holly was going through. In my personal life, I’ve absolutely struggled with severed friendships and moving on. I’ve cried on countless occasions over people that I no longer see or talk to because we’ve just grown apart. Change is evil. I also fear a lot of things for the future; I have personally never lost a parent or grandparent, so anytime someone is sick or hospitalized, I freak out and go crazy. My family is very close and I just shut down. Essentially, Holly was so focused on fixing everyone else that she didn’t even realize she had all these barriers built up around her to protect her from anything bad that could happen.

This was my second read by Laura Buzo and while the writing was sometimes a bit abrupt when I was sorting through changes in scenery or flashbacks, I still felt incredibly connected to Holly. I really, really enjoyed reading about someone I could relate to so well. Holly is just an ordinary girl going through ordinary life things. I felt very involved in her well-being, and had such a good grasp on her friends, family, coworkers, and even clients. Buzo did what she does best in Holier Than Thou — she explored the life of someone who’s extremely relatable and told her story in a way that causes you to step back and examine your own.

Thank you to the lovely Mandee at VeganYANerds for sharing Holier Than Thou with me. Check out Mandee’s review here. I sent my copy on a little mini tour, so I’ll link up those reviews below when they’re published.

  • Ginger at GReads! said, “…[the] story reached out to me and delivered a message I hadn’t known I’d been searching for.”

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon

Goodreads | Book Depository

Young Adult Book Review Blog - Book Review of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Magan: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Young Adult Book Review Blog - Book Review of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (web | tweet)
Publication Date
: December 19, 2012
Pages: 391
Audience: Mature Young Adult / New Adult
Keywords: adopted MC, attraction, secrecy and lies
Format read: E-book purchased for my kindle.

Summary: Sky’s never fallen for anyone before. When she randomly meets Holder at the grocery store, a whirlwind relationship begins — they have undeniable chemistry, but quarrel constantly. Unbeknownst to Sky, when Holder appears in her life, so will a flood of unwanted memories and tons of questions.

Holder and Sky. Two characters with one of the most crazy, intoxicating relationships ever.

While out and about grocery shopping, Sky meets Holder. They have an awkward encounter in the parking lot where Holder comes off as a bit of a wacko. Later that evening during her run, Sky stops for a breather in front of Holder’s house. (She had no clue he lived there. Honest!) This begins the series of hot and cold interactions between the two — they bicker and argue like an old married couple.

Always distant and emotionally-removed when making out with someone, Sky desperately wants to figure out why Holder (of all people) makes her heart beat faster and why she’s insta-attracted to him. She’s never felt anything for anyone. Ever. Sky and her best friend, Six, usually have short flings with boys and then toss them aside and move on. Sky describes her make-out sessions as numbing and she counts the glow-in-the-dark stars on her ceiling the entire time.

Sky is intelligent, funny, and pretty bad ass. She doesn’t let people push her around. Even when she’s being bullied at school for a reputation that is based on lies, she doesn’t give into the peer pressure or let it get to her. And Holder. He confused me a bit because I wasn’t sure if he could be trusted in the beginning. At times, I wondered if Holder was a little unstable. (BUT if I had read the back-of-the-book summary, I would have realized I was misreading his behavior and he was the least of my concerns.) After I began to understand Holder’s erratic personality, I realized I was in trouble. Oh, dang. He’s sexy and deep and takes time to think things through before he speaks them aloud. He always seems to know the right thing to say, even if he’s not sure what to do or what his action should be. Holder is the kind of boy that most of us girls hope to be with.

The witty banter between these two made me wish I were snappier and more clever with my responses. Needless to say, their relationship progresses pretty quickly and with that comes lots of passion wrapped up in the first 60% of the book. Tension, tension. Holy smokes, the tension.

And then there’s the twist.

Things take a 90-degree turn and our focus is completely redirected. The intensity is pushed to the extreme. Everything Sky knew and trusted is flipped upside down. There are secrets and lies — so much to keep the reader sailing through the pages to piece Sky’s story together. I’m not uttering a single word about any of this because I loved that I couldn’t figure out any of Hoover’s twists and turns.

In addition to the toe-curling love story and whiplash-inducing drama, you’ll love all the secondary characters, too. Six is an integral part of the story even though she fulfills her best friend role from afar (studying abroad). Sky’s new gay, Mormon best friend, Breckin, will make you laugh out loud and wish you had someone like him to bring you coffee every day. He’s so carefree and comfortable in his own skin, and while not a major player in the story, he really helps it progress. And Karen, Sky’s adoptive mother, may seem overprotective with all of her rules about watching no TV and maintaining a very … unique … diet, at her core she’s caring and so loving.

Hopeless is a sexy, passionate, and addictive story that you won’t want to put down. (I swear you’ll think about Holder and Sky when you’re forced to abandon Hopeless temporarily.) The e-book is well-worth every cent of its $3.99 price-tag.

(Oh, and fans of Hopeless — get excited! Hoover is writing the story from Holder’s POV and is expected to be out in July!)

rather be reading worth it icon

Goodreads | Amazon