It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

Narrator: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Source: Netgalley

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

Title: It Happens All the Time: A Novel by Amy Hatvany
Release Date: March 28th 2017
Format: e-ARC (320 pages) •Audiobook (9 hrs and 49 mins)
Genre: Fiction
Published By: Atria Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US Audible
I want to rewind the clock, take back the night when the world shattered. I want to erase everything that went wrong.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.

two-half-stars

I am sorry if my thoughts on this book offend an rape survivor but this book created some strong emotions in me and I felt really unsettled and unsatisfied with this book’s ending. I get that the author was tackling a sensitive subject but I didn’t quite agree with certain things. I needed time to reflect so I can write my review with sensitivity, yet honesty. I do not feel like I can be honest without victimizing people who have already been brutalized. So I will keep my words brief.

The book starts off with a history of how young Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks became friends complete with their various family dysfunction. I believe the author was trying to lay foundation of what drove Amber and Tyler. This background led me to connect with Tyler and not so much with Amber. There were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong. First I want to start off by saying Rape is just a horrible crime. I am not interested in victim blaming or justifications, however I do believe alcohol abuse does change the situation. I am not blaming Amber at all, but I am saying that Tyler wasn’t in a clear frame of mind to be making sure he “got” consent first. In addition, I do not agree that Tyler, whom the author had painted as a nice friend, just turned into a this monster so fast and the reader is to believe that he would take advice for a father whom he has despised just so he can avoid dealing with devastation his actions wrought. I do love that Amber talked to both her parents and they stood by her. The fact that they embraced her immediately and validated her was everything. Her parents seemed to be really good parents unlike Tyler’s parents.

I didn’t like the hypocrisy in the end with Amber committing a crime, but it’s viewed with “understanding” and it’s okay that Tyler covered her actions up because I guess Tyler owes Amber for his part in hurting her.

At the end of the day, I hope all rape victims get counseling and have a support for their healing. .This book was hard to review but it make me examine my own beliefs on the topic. I hope to learn more about how to help victims.

Ezi

Of Beauty and Beast by Stacey Jay

Of Beauty and Beast by Stacey Jayon 2013
Pages: 391
AmazonNarrator: Julia Whelan
In the beginning was the darkness, and in the darkness was a girl, and in the girl was a secret... In the domed city of Yuan, the blind Princess Isra, a Smooth Skin, is raised to be a human sacrifice whose death will ensure her city's vitality. In the desert outside Yuan, Gem, a mutant beast, fights to save his people, the Monstrous, from starvation. Neither dreams that together, they could return balance to both their worlds. Isra wants to help the city's Banished people, second-class citizens despised for possessing Monstrous traits. But after she enlists the aid of her prisoner, Gem, who has been captured while trying to steal Yuan's enchanted roses, she begins to care for him, and to question everything she has been brought up to believe. As secrets are revealed and Isra's sight, which vanished during her childhood, returned, Isra will have to choose between duty to her people and the beast she has come to love.From the Hardcover edition.
two-half-stars

I love Beauty and the Beast retellings and this book cover just called to me. The actual story didn’t move me as much as I had hoped.

In this story, we have Princess Isra who has been promised to Bo while beastly Gem grows to love Isra. This book wasn’t as clear cut as the original fairy tale, so it took me a while to warm to the story. In this story, Isra was a mix between Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Belle. She was a princess locked up in tower and lacking a true understanding of the world outside.

Bo is the son of the King’s advisor and I couldn’t make up my mind if I liked him or not. Either way, He was one of the few who truly had the Kingdom’s interest at heart. Bo was beastly because he had scars, which was a sign that he was tainted and thus cursed.

Princess Isra was a ruler with no real authority since Bo’s father had effectively made her a captive and his puppet in his own game of thrones. She was blind and she lacked power to make any decisions. She did get stronger and gain more insight as the story went along but progress was slow.

Gem was sent as a sacrificial lamb to the kingdom with a secret purpose to liberate his people, the scared and unwanted ones from underneath the thumb of Yuan. It took time for trust to build between Gem and Isra as they were both captives of a sort. Once they started spending time together, Gem encouraged Isra to be the queen that could actually make change. He encouraged her to teach people to see what’s on the inside, not what’s on the outside. But Isra lacked strength and support for most of the story.

I didn’t really enjoy this book but I am glad that Bo and Isra got to be together in the end. It just took a long time to develop and the characters were not enjoyable. It was a slow developing story and it just didn’t hit that stride for me. I didn’t get the sense of justice that I needed to appreciate the suffering that the unwanted citizens had to deal with. I don’t know if I would recommend this book to anyone unless I knew they really enjoyed this type of YA fantasy.

**Special thanks to Tantor Audio for the audiobook, which was given in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love, Book 1) by Jessica Park

Review: Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love, Book 1) by Jessica ParkSeries: Flat-Out Love
on April 11th, 2011
Pages: 389
AmazonNarrator: Julia Whelan
Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

It's not what you know--or when you see--that matters. It's about a journey.


Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages
four-half-stars

It was not what I was expecting and it wasn’t the usual, run of the mill romantic comedy. What a pleasant surprise. I loved it.

This books starts off with Julie Seagle, leaving home in Ohio, arriving in Boston Massachusetts to attend Whitney College. Upon arrival, she found out the apartment she rented on Craigslist, didn’t really exist and she had no where to go. Luckily, her mother’s college roommate Erin Watkins lived in Cambridge, so Erin offered Julie a place to stay until she found accommodations.
Erin’s son Matt came and picked her up, and thus began Julie’s introduction to the Watkins Household.
This family was definitely a circus and it takes the entire book to unravel. see Erin was an attorney and also a scholar. Her husband Roger was another scholar who researches ecosystems involving algae etc. Oldest son Finn wasn’t there but was supposed to be gallivanting the globe during humanitarian work. Matt was a double major at MIT and youngest sister Celeste carried around a cut-out of her older brother Finn because she missed him so much.

This family was really smart and really strange, and soon Julie’s arrival began having profound changes in the family dynamics and forced the family to confront issues long swept under the rug.

This book was layered yet so enjoyable. It seemed that Finn was the family connector when I started the book because he was the golden child. But as the book progressed, it became clear that Matt was the glue that held the Watkins family together. I loved the individual as well as the family growth as everyone had to face the issues they were running from. By the end of the book, everything made more sense and I was blown away. I loved it. The narrator was awesome. This was definitely YA-NA with a bite.

If you want a YA book with some substance and was more about familial love than romantic love, then give this book a whirl. It has romantic love but this book was about personal growth and continuing a journey.