Audiobook Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Book Cover All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Bryn Greenwood
Fiction, Adult, Dark Romance
Thomas Dunne Books
August 9th, 2016
audibook; e-book
353

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible "adult" around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father's thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

This book was a vivid, powerful and poignant chronicle of children living within a drug dealing and abusing environment. I wasn’t prepared for how listening to this audiobook would affected me emotionally. The absolute strength of will the characters had to survive was incredible. To reduce this book to just sheer age difference is a complete disservice to the story, the author’s writing and characters. Bryn Greenwood weaved this plot showcased several points of view so the reader can get a glimpse into the character’s lives but in the character’s voice.

Normally, it is disturbing to entertain the idea of a romantic relationship between a 13yr old girl and a 25-year-old man. A fair amount of rationalizing occurred in my head such as “with Wavy’s upbringing, she is more like 16 and Kellan is more like 18” or “He’s the only one who really sees and accepts her just as she is”. From age 8, Kellen had been Wavy’s protector of sorts. It doesn’t surprise me that when Wavy turned thirteen, her relationship with Kellen began to changing to a more affectionate one.

I am not sure her mom or aunt explained to her about puberty, hormones, feelings, etc. It wasn’t hard because I was so focus on the fragmented people who were scrambling to find an anchor in their turbulent lives. I wouldn’t characterize this novel as a romantic novel, but it was a love story. A gripping account of abiding love. It also showed extended family or friends playing a supporting role wanting to help and protect. I understood Brenda’s actions. She wanted to do the right thing but somewhere she lost sight of what her goals had been. I wanted to know more about Sean. That’s the only thing I didn’t quite get answers to. The rest of the story was done exquisitely.

This wasn’t the kind of love story I normally read but I am glad that I gave it a chance. It was one of the best written stories I have listened to this year. It’s a fiction tale that will stay will the reader for quite a while. If you want a story where you will be drawn in and actually feel it, then run and grab this book.

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Close to You by Skylar M. Cates

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.

CloseToYouLGClose to You by Skylar M. Cates
Series: Sunshine and Happiness
Release Date: March 28, 2016
Pages: 248 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
Dreamspinner Amazon ARe

Sunshine and Happiness: Book Three

It’s hard to recover from a first love. Some people never do.

How hard would you fight to keep your best friend? Marc Lucas and Tomas Santos have been best friends forever, but now their friendship is in a crisis. When they were boys, betrayals ripped their world apart. They thought it was fixed, but some parts remained broken. Ever since he saved him from a humiliation at school, Marc has loved Tomas. The last thing he expects is for Tomas to love him back. To keep his best friend, Marc revisits an abusive past he’s tried to forget.

For Tomas, loving Marc has been anything but easy. His upbringing told him it was wrong, so why did it feel so right? Accepting who he is as an adult, Tomas decides he needs a committed relationship. To his deep sorrow, he can’t seem to find it with Marc.Sunshine and Happiness: Book Three

When the two find themselves alone and in the grip of a hurricane, long-buried feelings emerge. Being “just friends” is no longer an option. They must risk it all on love.

four-half-stars 

I had ridiculously high hopes going into this book. Tomas and Marc with their tumultuous relationship or lack thereof has been talked about through books one and two. We know these two are in love but won’t let it happen. We’ve seen the downfall of their friendship and of Tomas moving out to take care of his grandfather and how it has wrecked both men. We know they have been friends since middle school… but we didn’t know the whole story… until now.

Told in the dual (TF for that!) POV of Tomas and Marc, we begin with a middle of the night call for help. Tomas needs Marc and Marc will never say no to Tomas, unless it has to do with his heart. So he rushes off to help find his grandfather who has left home in the middle of the night and ease the anxiety and pain that his best friend is going through.

I want to be with you. Why can’t you be with me? I fell when we were only kids. With all my heart and soul.

Immediately we get into the back story of these two; how they met and when they first see one another and I was so happy for that. We been told how long they have been friends but I was desperate to see it and going back tens of years with Tomas and Marc was not disappointing at all.

Marc, you have always intrigued me from the first time I met you in Here For You. Your rough childhood had been mentioned but when we get the first glimpse of it, I was a bit of a mess. I am so sorry you dealt with that but then I think all things happen for a reason and it all led you to Tomas, even when you wanted it not to.

Tomas, you sir wear your heart on your sleeve and it has always bled for Marc. Knowing that you would give all if he would just let you love him, even from the first two books, tore my heart out. Seeing you as a young man, stole my heart and my respect. Speaking up to be Marc’s partner was so sweet, even though you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.

…but once, they loved each other. Love in the way best friends only can – fully and completely, without borders.

Marc and Tomas are an amazing couple who have been through so much together and even more when they were so horribly parted. I love that we get a back and forth time jump of them so we know where it all went wrong, how the boys were hurt and how it shaped them into them men they are today. I had a love/hate issue for the back stories because they were bittersweet but so damn worth it. Getting the bits of their past up to the reunion and how it became a reunion? Ugh. I get why Marc did what he did to try and protect himself when he sees Tomas after all those years apart and I LOVE what he did when he finally decided to put it all on the line to get the man he has always loved.

I have one small gripe with the story and that is the tense it’s told in; third person present tense. For me, knowing HOW MUCH these two want to be together and HOW MUCH we know this from the first two books it bummed me out that the tense made it feel more mechanical when all I wanted was the feelings. Though it bugged me, it wasn’t enough of an issue for me to stop reading because I couldn’t stop reading this story, no matter what.

Close to You, was a gorgeous story of first love, of true love told in only the way it could be for Marc and Tomas, with everything – heart, body and soul. This story will take you on a ride of emotional angst that will have you begging to be hurt by these two over and over again because everything in this book is worth it.

 

 

About Skylar M. Cates

Skylar M. Cates loves a good romance. She is quite happy to drink some coffee, curl up with a good book, and not move all day. Most days, however, Skylar is chasing after her husband, her kids, and her giant dog, Wasabi. Skylar dreams about spending her days writing her novels, walking along the beach, and making more time for her good friends. On a shoestring budget, Skylar has traveled all over in her early years. Although, lately, the laundry room is the farthest place she has visited, Skylar still loves to chat with people from all around the globe.