Marathon Man by William Goldman is definitely not what you would call my “normal” read. It was originally published in 1974 and re-released in 2013. I was offered the chance to review it via Netgalley in 2013 and because I loved the authors previous work The Princess Bride I agreed to do so. Ultimately, I did not wind up reading it but now in 2021 I have read it and all I can really say is “this book is weird”.
Marathon Man is a thriller. It has spies, trained assassins, and Nazi’s. It has secrets and misunderstands. And it is really all over the place. There were multiple times when I had to put it down and say to myself “what did I just read?” before re-reading it and trying to understand it. Yet believe it or not, this captured my attention and kept me wanting to read it so that I could try and figure out what was going on.
I think one of my main issues with Marathon Man may have been the way it was written. I understand that it was originally published in the 1970’s but, some of the language is now very outdated and a bit troublesome. Some things just really don’t translate well into modern times. And as much as I tried to keep my mind in the frame of which this book was originally written, it still bothered me.
The way Marathon Man was written felt very overly dramatized from beginning to end and to me that just screams “bring it to the silver screen”! And apparently, it is also movie staring Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider. I do enjoy older movies so I might have to check that out at some point. I’m actually curious as to how they would do some of the scenes from the book. It was just so….very weird.
After Us is the second book in the Before and Afterseries by Amber Hart. Similar to Before You, this is a good girl/bad boy type of story. This time the focus is on Melissa and Javier – characters are that intricately flawed individually and when together may just help each other heal.
Melissa and Javier initially met through their friends Faith and Diego. The two of them have not interacted in some time when they run into each other on a beach. Quite a bit has happened since their last interaction but the initial attraction is still there between them. Honestly, Melissa and Javier make a beautiful pairing – they are both damaged souls just trying to do their best in a broken world.
After You does follow the timeline of what occurred after the ending of After Us so I do think that it is important to read them in order. Reading Before You will also help you better understand where the characters of Melissa and Javier are coming from. Like I said, they are both damaged and there is a reason for their reluctance and lack of complete honesty.
The ending of After Us came with some twists and turns which put my heart in my stomach. With the secrets, it is pretty close to impossible for Melissa and Javier to fully give themselves to each other. There is ALOT of angst in this story. And there were times when I wanted to smack each of them upside the head but yet I still understood where they were coming from. Let’s just say things are much easier once everything is out on the table! And I was happy with the way that things turned out.
Before You is the first book in the Before & After series by Amber Hart. It is another Romeo/Juliet type of retelling with the “good girl” and the “bad boy” from the wrong side of the tracks. I was hooked from the beginning as Faith and Diego started to fall for each other but my dedication to their characters and romance did admittedly waver by the end.
Faith is your typical good girl. She is the daughter of a pastor and she has made mistakes in the past so she is trying to make up for them now. Diego is your typical bad boy. He’s a Cuban immigrant who has a history being a gang member. On the surface, they are two characters who are not supposed to be together. And of course, that is what draws them closer together!
I initially really enjoyed the banter between Faith and Diego. They each brought a spark out in the other that wasn’t seen really seen around anyone else. Even their respective best friends, Melissa and Javier, can see what they are refusing to admit to each other. I think I would have enjoyed Before You more if the focus had remained on the developing relationship between Faith and Diego. Unfortunately, things turned in to more of a focus of gang violence which didn’t fully mesh with the tone of the beginning.
The ending of Before You was filled with a couple of twists that left my heart in my stomach. Thankfully everything was properly resolved but, for a while there it was in dangerous territory for me. Other readers may enjoy the twists and turns better than me though – this was an easy book to get invested in!
Dreams Things Truehas been called a modern day Romeo and Juliet. It follows the romance between an undocumented teenage Mexican female and a rich white Southern male who fall in love and try to fight against his Conservative family. I enjoyed how this book tackled the issues of undocumented immigrants and the political stances that often work against them. Unfortunately, the romance fell flat for me, and it made it made difficult to enjoy everything at its fullest potential.
Dreams Things True does a fantastic job portraying how perceptions of an individual being undocumented can blind people to who they actually are. Evan, a wealthy white teenage soccer player, falls for Alma not knowing that she and her family are undocumented immigrants. It was interesting to read his reaction once she told him what was going on and find that he still had feelings for her regardless of her circumstances. However, Evan is also a bit naive and blinded by his privileged as a white boy who comes from a political family. Dating Alma forces him to open his eyes in ways that she has had her open for years. Marie Marquardt does a really good at portraying these differences and how each has been blinded by the realities of their lives.
Even though the differences between the characters were portrayed well, I felt that the main characters of Alma and Evan were not fully fleshed out. In a way it felt like their characteristics were based primarily on pre-conceived stereotypes that were never really pushed past the surface. I also never fully felt their connection. Yes, there was an attraction but, their “connective” felt very insta-love to me, and I’m just not particularly a fan of that. But then again, if this a Romeo and Juliet retelling – Romeo and Juliet’s love was also pretty instant, wasn’t it?
All in all, I think reading Dream Things True is going to come down to personal preference. If you are someone who enjoys more of an insta-love connection with the characters fighting the odds to be together, this is likely going to be a good book for you. Or if you’re someone who is interested in reading books about immigration and politics with a touch of romance this may be the book for you. Personally, I just wish things had been a little bit more fleshed out. If they had, I think I would have been able to enjoy it more.
The Black Friend: On Being A Better White Person by Frederick Joseph – I read this one in order to expand my horizons and be a more diverse reader. While I enjoyed it, I was also conflicted about how some subjects were written and interpreted.
Love In Lockdown by Chloe James – Set during the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic, this book was a surprise read for me. Primarily focused on community and human interaction and connection which I found to be good themes to in on.
These are just a few of my most recent reads. Have you read any of them? If so, what did you think? If you made a TTT list, be sure to leave me your link so I can check it out!
I get frightened in all this darkness I get nightmares I hate to sleep alone I need some company, a guardian angel To keep me warm when the cold winds blow I can feel you breathe I can feel your heart beat faster Take me home tonight ~Eddie Money
Yes. I’m starting this review of Take Me Home Tonight with lyrics from Eddie Money. Why? Because if I’m honest that is the song that ran through my head throughout the entire book. Although, I did also have a little bit of Out Tonightfrom Rent in there too at a few different points due to the multiple NYC and Broadway references. So basically this book had everything that I love right from the beginning.
For those of you who may not be aware, I am a theater person. Specifically Broadway. My favorite place to visit is NYC especially if I’m going to see a show. It doesn’t have to be a new show – it can be a show I have seen multiple times (like Come From Away) – and I will always be hyped to go. So, when I heard that Take Me Home Tonight was a young adult book that involved two best friends who were theater kids and a NYC background, I knew I was going to be hooked.
Kat and Stevie are best friends but they are complete opposites. Kat is the outgoing, active, and driven one while Stevie has always been more of a background character never really standing up for herself. The two of them decide to sneak off to NYC for the night to celebrate Stevie’s birthday with a picture perfect plan. Except you know what happens with a picture perfect plans – they have a tendency to fall apart – and show you different adventures along the way.
What I really enjoyed about Take Me Home Tonight is the message about trying new things and not being afraid to expand your horizons. Kat and Stevie are at that point in there lives where they are trying to figure everything out and prepare for the next step in their lives. This can be a very messy time. You don’t always know the right answer right away and even if you do sometimes you have missteps along the way. I know I did! The important part is being able to take part in the journey of discovering yourself and accepting whatever it is that is ahead.
There are several laugh out loud moments in Take Me Home Tonight. I found the tone of the book to be very comforting. Morgan Matson knows how to write her characters and for her audience of choice. These characters are not flawless. And the fact that they make mistakes throughout this book makes them even more human to me. I also enjoyed the interactions with the secondary characters as well. There is a touch of romance, a touch of reality, a touch of forgiveness, and of course, a touch of shenanigans. And who doesn’t love a touch of shenanigans?
I really feel like Take Me Home Tonight is going to be a book that people are going to love. I could see this being put on the big screen – in fact, I would love to see it on the big screen – it would be so much fun! And I would love to see that themed dry cleaner service too! It really is a fantastic contemporary that is relatable for teenagers and non-teenagers alike. Go check it out!
Rating: 5 Stars
*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
The Girl He Knows is the second book in the No Strings Attached series by Kristi Rose. I had not read the previous book in the series The Girl He Needs but, I did not feel like I was missing very much. I could easily tell how the characters were connected to each other and what happened previously.
The Girl He Knows follows the friendship and relationship between Paisley and Hank. Paisley is recently divorced and apprehensive about entering a new relationship…and Hank is her best friends brother. Someone who she has known all her life. So when they fall into bed together it seems like the perfect solution for her to get back on her feet. Except things are never as easy as they appear, right?
The Girl He Knows gave me warm, fuzzy feelings but, also left me feeling conflicted a couple of times. Paisley is a likeable character but, she puts herself in situations which could be completely avoidable if she took a step back. She’s also kind of oblivious to the fact that Hank wants so much more than a friends with benefits arrangement. I understood that she had been emotionally damaged because of her previous relationship but there were times when I just wanted to shake some sense into her. Hank is a good guy but, he is not completely flawless. And there were a few times I wanted to shake some sense into him too.
The first half of The Girl He Knows had several laugh out loud moments but, the second half felt a little bit more disheveled. These were the moments when I wanted to shake some sense into the main characters. I also felt like the ending was a bit rushed. I’m a sucker for a happily ever after story but, I think this one could have been put together a little bit better.
Happy May everyone! I’m hoping that everyone is doing well. Personally, I’m looking forward to the warmer weather. April was a pretty good month. I feel like I’m starting to move forward with some things and getting excited about the possibility of other things.
Personal Review: ~~> In March, it was Simon’s turn at the vet and in April, it was Belle’s turn. I swear they are competing to figure out which one will be the most expensive cat! Thankfully Belle is doing better now and the concerns regarding her being diabetic have been tabled for now as long as I continue her change in diet and she continues to lose weight. ~~>I had a job interview in April which I think went well. It sounded like they were going to evaluate my application and see if they can find a place for me. I’m feeling optimistic about it. I’m starting to get restless not working and I’m hoping to get fully back on my feet soon. ~~> I had my first therapy session this month. It went very well. I felt very comfortable during my session and I feel like this will be so helpful for me and my mental health.
Television Review: April was a good month for television for me. On Netflix, I finished Country Comfort and watched Worn Stories, The Babysitters Club, and The Duchess. I’m currently on season 3 of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I also started watching Rebel and have been continuing with The Masked Singer. Shane and I have been watching Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Eureka.
There will likely be more added to this list if my previous reading history is any indication. I’m still planning on working through my Netgalley back list in order to get my review percentage higher. By doing this, it has been interesting to see how my reading tastes have changed since originally requesting some of these titles. It’s almost like I was a different person! Here’s to the continuing evolution. I look forward to seeing what May brings for all of us.
The Dressmaker of Paris is the debut novel of Georgia Kauffman. Admittedly, I was drawn to this book on Netgalley because of its beautiful cover. I was also intrigued by the description of a global fashion empress recounting her incredible story from her poor beginnings to her rise as a fashion icon. What I found was a story of loss, tragedy, hope, and eventually triumph.
The Dressmaker Of Paris was alot grittier than I was expecting. There are a few scenes, primarily towards the beginning, where the main character Rosa experiences things which could be triggering to some readers. These experiences force her to make difficult decisions and ultimately influence everything that happens over the course of her life. She becomes determined to never wind up in circumstances like before.
Her determination is a very strong character trait but, it made it difficult for me to fully empathize with her. Yes, I felt for her when she experienced the things that she experienced but, some of her other actions made it more difficult for me to like her. She has this way of putting her goals before anything else; and while there is nothing wrong with a dedicated woman, it took away from the other events in her life. In some ways, i felt like she treated her relationships like she did her job or her job interviews – just another step in her life. She was running away from her past and until she came to terms with what happened, she was never going to be able to fully grow as a person.
The Dressmaker of Paris is a sweeping story. It reminds me a bit of a saga story going from one point in history and ending in a completely different one. The character of Rosa takes the reader on a journey that includes locations such as Northern Italy, Paris, Brazil, and New York. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as swept away as I would have liked to be. Some sections felt too long and took me away from the story. And the fact that I had trouble empathizing with Rosa made it difficult to understand her drive for total affirmation. I do think readers who enjoy the more sweeping saga type novels will enjoy this one though. It is very well written by Georgia Kaufmann.
Rating: 3 Stars
*I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**
I really wanted to like Starry Night but, there were too many things that just did not work for me. For starters, the main character Wren drove me crazy. I wanted to give her a chance but she just kept doing things that completely worked against her. She started out with all these ambitions and good ideas and then suddenly poof it was all gone. She based all of her decisions on other people instead of making up her mind for herself. And she falls in love with the first boy who looks her way for longer than a minute. Granted she is 15 years old but, she didn’t act 15 to me. And when she winds up being betrayed I couldn’t help but think that she brought it on herself.
Wren’s group of friends also drove me crazy. Again, they are teenagers but, where is the parental supervision? It just felt lacking. Especially in the case of two of her friends (one that is involved with a WAY older man; and the second who can come and go from her house as she pleases). Now I had friends growing up who had limited supervision because their parents trusted them but, this just seemed to be way too lax. And it was honestly putting the teenagers in unsafe situations. I’m not sure what kind of message was trying to be put into a young adult book with this.
I think the majority of what I couldn’t understand of Starry Night came from the way that it was written. It just felt very immature. The voice of the main character did not feel 15 years old except in the way that she was willing to throw everything away for one person who honestly didn’t even really give a damn about her. Some of the dialogue within the book also did not work for me – it was cringe worthy. I’m not trying to be overtly negative about it but, it just did not work for me. It might work for someone younger or someone who enjoys this more simplistic writing though.
Ironically, I went all the way through Starry Night because I wanted to see how it all was going to end. It was like continuing with a bad accident and being unable to turn away. I was invested as a reader and yet I wasn’t. I was more or less invested so that I could move onto my next read.