These ‘about me’ sections, or even sections that inform you about blogs, have never been my forte. Much to my chagrin, I was never taught the unwritten rules of what you are supposed to say. The links at the side of the blog – Twitter and Goodreads, for example – are liable to tell you more than I could ever say in words.

Mostly, this will be a book blog. I read a lot, and I love to share my views on my most recent reads. I try to read a little bit of everything, but if you look closely you’ll notice I will occasionally become obsessed with one specific genre for a short period of time. Old books, new books, yet to be released books – I read them all. If you’re an author looking for advance readers or just wish for more reviews of a book you’ve already released, please feel free to contact me. There is a contact form at the side of my blog – if you scroll down below the Twitter and Goodreads sidebar you will find it – so drop me a message and I’ll be sure to get back to you in double time. After all, finding new authors is what makes the book world go around.

Thanks for taking your time to read this. With a little bit of luck, you will find my blog much more interesting than this mundane introductory section.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Review: Lessons in Letting Go

Lessons in Letting Go Lessons in Letting Go by Jessica Peterson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh gosh. All the feels. So many feels.

I can tell you right now this review will be long and overly gushy, thus I’m going to offer something different with this review. I’ll write a quick short one, no more than a paragraph, just so that you can get a general idea, and then I’ll give you all the feels in the rest of the review. Through this, you have the option to simply know what it is all about, or you can join me in the emotional rollercoaster as I try to organise my thoughts into something resembling coherence.

THE SHORT REVIEW:

This is easily my favourite book in the series thus far. With each book that is added, the stories become stronger and stronger. This one isn’t a simple romance, as this one has much more depth. It’s about finding yourself, coming to love yourself. Honestly, the depth to this one was amazing. The characters were wonderful, the storyline beautiful. I worked through it in no time at all, unable to put the book down, as I needed to find out what happened next. It truly is a beautiful piece.

THE LONG GUSHY REVIEW:

As the inaugural member of Jessica Peterson’s advance read team (this isn’t an empty boast, in case anyone is thinking such a thing, as I have the email to prove my claim to the title), I would like to start by saying a great big massive ‘oh my word’.

Jessica Peterson is one of the authors who has secured my status as a romance fan. For the longest of times, I was someone who would only accept romance as a subplot in a story. I would ship couples like nobody’s business, and yet I found myself shying away from purely romance books. After reading Spanish Lessons, I knew I wanted more. It was such a cute story, with such a great group of characters, that I needed more. After reading Lessons in Gravity, I knew I was a goner. I could no longer deny it: I was a romance fan. I am a romance fan. I’ll chant it loud and proud… or, at least, I’ll try to do such a thing. I’m really not the kind for crazy displays of my feelings – but still, the fact remains, I was hooked.

Thus, an impatience grew within. I wanted the next read. I was super excited to see what comes next. I hate reading series when they’re not complete, even when the stories work as standalone, as I’m nowhere near as patient as I let people believe I am when it comes to books. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to find out there was a crazy amount of excitement when the advance read of Lessons in Letting Go appeared in my inbox. I was on that thing like – well, I’m sure you can come up with your own analogies of jumping things.

I sat reading through a meeting. I sat reading through dinner. I sat reading until the early hours of the morning. I simply could not put the book down. It pulled me in even more than the prior books – and they both managed to grab me good. I know, I know, you’re probably questioning why this is only a four star rating. I’m really mean when it comes to my five star reviews. I hold them closer to my heart than I should. This book was a solid four-point-five read. It was so close to reaching that five star rating I hold so close to my chest. However, I’m super mean when it comes to handing it out. If nothing else, through being so close to receiving the five star rating, it shows Jessica Peterson has the potential to pull five stars out of me. Such a thing translates to other people giving this book a five star rating, and me sitting to the side bouncing up and down with excitement due to the belief that the next book will pull that five star rating from me.

Don’t just take my word for it; Jessica Peterson’s editor seems to be of the same belief. Whilst in touch with Jessica she mentioned how her editor is of the belief this is her best book by far – and I wholeheartedly agree with the statement. Can you not tell by the amount of gushing that I’m doing? I’ve yet to mention why it’s my favourite and we’re already at a lengthy review. It’s just… well, the feels. So many damn feels for this book. It’s so wonderful, so close to perfection.

In books one and two, we got to meet Laura. Laura is the lucky devil who has managed to grab the heart of a celebrity, catching the attention of everyone’s favourite football player. I’ll admit the whole British thing and playing football (soccer, to those over the ocean) never really did much for me. I’m from the UK myself, and I’m more than a little bit bored of the football crazy fans. Nevertheless, I know there’s an allure there. Moreover, even if I wasn’t interested in Rhys due to the two aspects that make him so sexy to the characters in the books, I was interested in getting to know Laura’s story. How did such a thing happen?

Lessons in Letting Go takes us back to the very start. We get to see this story from the first moment they meet, watching the interactions mentioned in the prior books play out. From the very start, things are hot; from the very start, you’re pulled into their way of life. It’s quite different to the prior books in the series, something else despite how it manages to stay so in line with the prior books. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean, but it’s so wonderfully done. It’s not a carbon copy of the prior books, it is entirely unique, and yet it stays with the feel of the prior books. You’re pulled in. You want more. It’s cute. It’s hot. It’s everything you want it to be, all from the very first chapter.

As with the second book in the series, this one is told from the two perspectives. I loved getting inside of the minds of both of the characters. I’ll admit to some tentatively at first, as I’m always worried when American authors write British characters. I find, more often than not, characters fall into one of two boxes. Characters either fall into the stereotypically British box – a box that really does not reflect our little island, leaving people to view us in the completely wrong way. Alternatively, characters fall into the American box – that is, they’re written just like an American, and whilst we’re not that far apart it is really strange to read a British character using American slang and doing something extremely non-British. It’s something I notice far too much, something that bugs me more than it should. I just feel weird when characters fall into one of the two boxes. Well, have no fear with Jessica Peterson. Within a chapter, I had concluded this woman was more than capable of depicting a British person without falling back on the clichés. I admit that there were one or two slips regarding wording; but outside of those slight slips, it was perfect. It was honestly like listening to anyone I know. Rhys really was wonderfully written.

As wonderful as Rhys was, he had nothing on Laura. I could go on and on about how great Rhys is as a character – as the story grows he becomes more and more complex, we slowly get to see more of him – and I came to love him more than I ever anticipated. I think Javier is my biggest book crush of the series, but I would love to have Rhys as a friend. He’s such fun, so complex. Nevertheless, Laura was just that little bit more.

In the first two books, I was surprised by how real Jessica Peterson’s female leads were. You can truly relate to them. Viv and her emotions, Maddie with her philosophy on life. They were both very real people, people I could easily relate to. Laura, however, was something more. I cannot begin to explain how deeply her story resonated with me. Laura… damn, I don’t even know where to start. The girl has serious layers. There is so much to her. Her trip to Spain is supposed to be a way to reinvent herself, a way to reinvent herself in the best way possible. The poor girl is lost, unaware of who she is. She has spent her whole life searching for perfection, putting other people above herself, that she has lost sight of herself. It was heart wrenching, and yet it struck so many chords. It is so easy to get lost in such a way of life, it’s so easy to find yourself losing sight of who you are and what you want to be because you’re unwilling to put yourself first. Honestly, I cannot begin to explain the depth of her character. Without a doubt, Laura has become my favourite of the females. After Maddie, I did not expect such a thing to happen, and yet it did. It isn’t simply because of how easily I connected with her, it wasn’t just because it felt like the author was trying to send me a message to remind myself to live, it was because she was so beautifully crafted. She was so real, and watching her grow… I honestly have no words. The depth of this book blew my mind. We see how the real world is, how finding yourself and where you belong in the world will be a bumpy ride. Jessica Peterson doesn’t try to hide the truth of the world from us, she shows us how brutal it can be and yet we’re still left with hope. Laura left me believing that anything is possible. Hell, I want Jessica Peterson to write my future for me – even with all the bumps in the road, despite everything Laura dealt with, I cannot imagine a more deeply moving tale of finding your place in the world.

For all those romance fans out there, don’t worry, this is still one hot story. We still have all the romance drama of the prior books – it’s just that this has that something more as well. Honestly, the rollercoaster I experienced. Every few minutes I had a friend checking up on me, making sure I was okay. My emotions were all over the place. One minute I was laughing out loud. The next I was curled into a ball chewing on my nails. The next I was muttering away about characters. Before long, I had shifted into another emotional state – and the cycle continued. It really did play me like a guitar, expertly playing my emotions so that I was left a mess by the end of it.

Just the damn feels.

Seriously, this review is ridiculously lengthy and yet I feel as though I’ve said nothing at all. There’s just so much to the story, so many layers, and I fear mentioning any single specific will ruin it all. It’s a delicate house of cards, with one wrong move knocking it all down. I have no wish to be the one to knock it down, to spoil the beautiful story before you’ve had a chance to read it.

Due to the length, I’ll come to an end shortly. You’re probably still questioning about why this isn’t that full five stars. For me, it was the ending. It was a great ending – I wouldn’t have accepted anything else in terms of where the story ended up – and yet I felt as though it was a bit too quick compared to the rest of the story. We’d had such depth, and then a movie cliché appeared. It probably has something to do with the fact that I wouldn’t accept such a movie cliché if a guy was to do such a thing to me, but still… I just felt as though the conclusion was slightly less wonderful than the rest of the book. I loved it, and yet it felt as though it slipped ever so slightly. Not enough to ruin the book – oh no, I just wanted more. I have no idea what this more is, I cannot think of such a thing myself, but I felt as though it wasn’t quite on par with the rest of the book.

Overall, though, I adored this book. It is easily my favourite in the series thus far. It has left me more than ready for what else is to come.

Speaking of what else is to come – we’re getting a novella. Honestly, it sounds so cute. I cannot wait to read it. Moreover, the next book is going to be slightly different – our setting is changing, and I cannot wait for such a thing. Seriously, I’m so addicted to this series.

As a final note, I’d like to apologise for how lengthy this review ended up being. I know you probably wanted more, but as I said, I felt as though I needed to be careful so I didn’t give anything away. Jessica Peterson was wonderful enough to allow me to advance read this story – I cannot thank her enough – and I have no wish to spoil things for the other fans.

Just know it’s truly astounding.

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