Size Doesn’t Matter (26): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (26): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerNow and Again by Jennifer Ellision
Published by Author on October 17, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 302
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

Unemployed. Broke. Maid of Honor.

All (unfortunately) words that describe Em Hayes.

Without any job leads, Em caves to her mother’s promise of free rent and returns home. Her best friend, Nikki, couldn’t be more thrilled. Em’s degree in Event Management is gathering dust, and what better way to put it to use than planning Nikki’s wedding?

There’s just one flaw in that plan: Cole Connors. The girls’ former roommate. And part of the reason Em hasn’t been back since college graduation.

Em’s never been able to forget Cole—or how close they were before she pushed him aside and ran for the hills. Cole’s never forgotten Em either— but in the past two years, she hasn’t given him much choice but to try.

And, according to Nikki, there’s no better pair to plan the wedding of her dreams.

Em’s usually good at squashing messy feelings, but being around Cole again brings them all rushing to the surface.

And this time, she’s not sure she wants to run.

I requested Now and Again on a whim, one driven entirely by my desperate need for more shippy books; it’s been a lean ship year, so I want searching in NetGalley for anything that looked like it might possibly be a decent romance. Obviously I know Jen from the blogging community, and I’ve met her a couple times, but I’d not tried her books before. Taking a chance on the book of someone I know is always scary, but I threw caution to the wind and went for it. I’m glad I did, because the result was a shippy book, just like I hoped.

Impressively, the ship in Now and Again worked for me. Ellision’s not using one of my favorite tropes. Friends to lovers isn’t generally something I’m especially into, and I really don’t like the ones where someone’s been pining for the other. In this case, they’re actually both pining. But it works, mostly because of who Em is.

Here’s the thing about Em: she’s not very “likable” for quite a while. Em holds everyone at more than an arm’s length. She’s reserved, grumpy, and comes off as quite cold. For a while, she rubbed me the wrong way, and, glancing through reviews, I can see that I’m not the only one who had that experience. I gave Em a chance, though, and she did grow on me. There’s a reason she’s the way she is, and there’s a really funny, caring girl under the sarcasm. Actually, I love the sarcasm too, but the coldness was a bit much early on.

Em has been running away from basically everything in her life because she couldn’t deal. Her emotions are as closed off as she can get them, and she wants to keep it that way. Now and Again is very much a character arc of Em learning to manage her grief when she’s forced into contact with the past by her financial circumstances, which require her to accept her mom’s offer of free lodging.

Em and Cole have really great chemistry when they let themselves, and that’s why I bought into the ship. Plus, I thought Em’s emotional distance was really well done. I like, too, that, though they were both into each other for years, neither was sitting there virginal and sad and just waiting around. Cole wanted her badly, but he didn’t totally give up on life. And, obviously, I love a romance where the guy is all in and wants commitment and the girl’s less sure.

Everything that’s not the romance is a bit weaker, however. The secondary characters didn’t really interest me particularly, and I think  that the emotional arc could have used a bit more time. Change comes very abruptly to Em, and I didn’t quite feel it, though her grief was very believable and well done. The writing was pretty solid, but I do hope it got one last edit from the eARC version.

Now and Again was a light, fluffy read. I definitely recommend it if you like friends to lovers romances or have been yearning for ships.

Size Doesn’t Matter (26): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThe Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket
Narrator: Tim Curry
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Dear Reader,

Unless you are a slug, a sea anemone, or mildew, you probably prefer not to be damp. You might also prefer not to read this book, in which the Baudelaire siblings encounter an unpleasant amount of dampness as they descend into the depths of despair, underwater.

In fact, the horrors they encounter are too numerous to list, and you wouldn't want me even to mention the worst of it, which includes mushrooms, a desperate search for something lost, a mechanical monster, a distressing message from a lost friend, and tap dancing.

As a dedicated author who has pledged to keep recording the depressing story of the Baudelaires, I must continue to delve deep into the cavernous depths of the orphans' lives. You, on the other hand, may delve into some happier book in order to keep your eyes and your spirits from being dampened.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

Now there’s a love interest for Klaus! Yesssssss. Whatever, I require ships in pretty much everything, and it may not be the shippiest ship but it’s a ship and I’m amused and there’s just something about the adorably innocent and awkward middle grade ship okay.

Let’s see. Aside from that, there’s a whole lot more about VFD and the plot continues to move along apace. TWO MORE BOOKS TO GO.

(I have shockingly little to say about these books.)

Size Doesn’t Matter (26): Mini Reviews from a Lazy BloggerThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller
Pages: 292
Format: ARC
Source: Won
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10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

Apparently the theme of this edition is being brave enough to try books by blogger friends and getting rewarded for it with a good read. I was particularly nervous about Nijkamp’s book because depressing contemporary novels without a bunch of kissing are just not so much of Christina appeal. This Is Where It Ends hurt a lot, not gonna lie, but I’m glad I took the risk.

I’m the sort of person who tries to avoid the news. I don’t like the pain of looking into the festering wound that is our stupid society, so I dive into my fiction and try to avoid that. Books like Nijkamp’s serve as a reminder of what’s going outside my fictional bubble, one I sorely need.

This Is Where It Ends is interesting because it’s really not about understanding the shooter. I mean, you do learn about his backgrounds and motivations, but at the same time it’s so clearly not enough. Like, there’s nothing that can have happened to you that could possibly make this horror and devastation acceptable through any lens. Tyler’s a victim in some ways, but there’s very little sympathy here.

While I knew this book would hurt, because school shooting, I didn’t expect for it to be quite as grim and gruesome as it actually was. This book is vicious and totally made me cry, which I do not do often. If you’re easily triggered by intense violence, This Is Where It Ends could be a struggle. The pace, though, is fast, and it’s very hard to look away, sort of like how the American public can’t pull away from the news broadcasts that follow these shootings (part of why I turn away is that I’m kind of grossed out by how the media goes into a frenzy and probably makes tons of money from these horrible events; Marieke does hit on this a bit too). The whole book takes place in 54 minutes, and around about chapter seven, I couldn’t put it down.

The one thing that didn’t work quite so well for me was the characterization. I liked the diversity of the main characters, but I didn’t feel like any of them got fully developed. This ties into the fact that I couldn’t distinguish any of the four first person POVs by voice alone. The sections for each narrator are short, though, and labeled, so it wasn’t a big problem. Still, it’s impressive that this book packed such a big emotional punch even though I wasn’t emotionally tied to the characters.

For those of you who do enjoy these darker contemporary novels, you will not want to miss This Is Where It Ends. I know I’m looking forward to Nijkamp’s next endeavor (and that f/f Pride and Prejudice she promised me).

2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (26): Mini Reviews from a Lazy Blogger”

  1. fakesteph says:

    I’ve read Jen’s other books, but not this one. I’m glad you liked it! I love her YA series.

    This Is Where It Ends sounds like it will be really good, but also really hard for me.
    fakesteph recently posted…Discussion: Reading SlumpsMy Profile

  2. RO says:

    I like the title of this book, but if there is a lag in character development, it’s a little hard for me to get through. I do, however, like some sarcasm from a heroine because it makes the dialogue fun. Great review and Happy New Year! Hugs…RO
    RO recently posted…HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED…My Profile

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