New to You (18): CJ Reviews Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You CJ from Sarcasm and Lemons. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous when I assigned this book to her. It is heartbreaking and a gorgeous story, but the subject matter is a hard sell. Honestly I have never recommend Forbidden to anyone because it isn’t a book that you can tell someone to read, they have to want to read it because it is high disturbing. But when CJ was the only one that selected it as an option, my warning included) I knew she was the right person. Let’s see what she had to say about a book that tore me to pieces:

New to You (18): CJ Reviews Forbidden by Tabitha SuzumaForbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Published by Simon Pulse
on June 28, 2011
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Perfect for readers who enjoyed Flowers in the Attic, this is a heartbreaking and shocking novel about siblings Lochan and Maya, their tumultuous home life, and the clandestine, and taboo, relationship they form to get through it.

Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As de facto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: A love this devastating has no happy ending.

Family Dysfunction is an Understatement

If I had to reduce my thoughts to a sentence, I think it would mostly be facial expressions. FORBIDDEN is a slow burning, heart wrenching book. There’s something a little old fashioned about the writing, something a bit V.C. Andrews or Nancy Drew, and it’s difficult to place it in any particular time. Entering it is almost entering another world. Even the characters speak with a poetic gravity. But all this gives a timelessness to the story of two hapless lovers, who happen to be brother and sister.

It’s no easy read. I found myself alternately hand-wringing and squirming and placing my hand to my heart throughout. You can’t help but sympathize with Lochan and Maya’s impossible situation, even as a very deep part of you feels nauseated by a relationship you’ve been programmed to revile. It’s a complicated story with no easy moral statements, no clear answers, and although the slow pacing made for some languorous skimming at times, the relationship between Maya and Lochan–and its startling conclusion–left me deeply mired in thought. It’s a book worth talking about.

Romeo and Juliet Had it Good

Our story opens on the Whitley family. Just from the set-up, you know this is going to be a Family Drama. The mother never wanted children and is scarcely at home; most of her time is spent playing cougar with her boyfriend. The father has gone to Australia and never calls. Teens Lochan and Maya are forced to play siblings and parents both to delinquent Kit, hyperactive Tiffin, and sweet naive little Willa. I often found myself raging at their mother, but also knowing that she’s the kind of person who would never take responsibility–which made me rage more, and also feel quite protective of the characters.

In this environment, it’s no wonder the result is a strange relationship between Lochan and Maya. I’m not sure if Suzuma meant to write it as a pure, sweet love; perhaps because of my background, I read it as unhealthily co-dependent. There’s an aspect of Heathcliff and Cathy in it. They cling to each other, fiercely enmeshed in their own world, isolated from others by fear and choice, parentified by the lack of an adult figure. They are everything to each other. I found it a little shocking how quickly they grow used to the idea of their romantic relationship–I would have expected some more hesitancy initially. But perhaps that’s part of the tragedy. It was a strange feeling, finding myself sometimes rooting for them, sometimes sickened, sometimes horrified and overwhelmed by the pathos of their abnormality. It made me want to do research, which is always a good sign that a book has made me think. I think the ending really underscored the tragedy of it all: in this world, their romance is abomination. Should it be? Was it a phase? Was there another way? Are we supposed to support them or assume they need therapy?

The best part of the book was its portrayal of depression and anxiety. I’ve rarely read such a thorough, accurate description as Lochan’s. He suffers from extreme social anxiety, to the point of having intense panic attacks at school when forced to speak to anyone. He also experiences soul-crushing depression, tinged with hopelessness and marked by the occasional outbursts of temper and self-harm. His POV chapters are electric and claustrophobic with the feeling of being trapped and beset on all sides. By contrast, I thought Maya was a bit fluffy. She’s the one who immediately accepts their relationship, sees it as them against the world. Her personality seems less distinct. Lochan was her whole world, and I couldn’t help but feeling the horror of that, and knowing it wouldn’t end well.

That Ending Though

Whatever you think of the sibling relationship, you’d have no soul if the ending didn’t give you pause. I admit, I didn’t see it coming. Not because it didn’t make sense, but because the last few chapters are so frenetic and fraught after a period of seeming contentment that it comes as a slap in the face. I was left with so many questions, for myself and the world. How could such an attraction like this occur? Was it the neglect of their circumstances? Would they have grown out of it? Is it wrong for society to see it as wrong if it’s two consenting parties? Am I wrong for being disturbed? Despite my hangups with the pacing and tone, I’m glad I read FORBIDDEN. It’s always good to be thrust out of your comfort zone and to question everything you’ve accepted as true. I have a feeling I’ll think of this one for a long time.

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Thanks CJ for signing up for New to You. I promise, you are right, you will think about this book for a long time. I read it in 2011 and I still find myself thinking about it.

Have you ever read anything with a disturbing subject matter? How do you feel about recommending it?

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New to You (17): Amber Reviews Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Welcome to New to You!

This idea came along last year when I was supporting Lauren Miller’s newest book All Things New and I asked Kelsey to read and review Parallel, a book I have read more than once. I didn’t really get it going until December when I offered people the chance to sign up to read and review a book that has been a favorite of mine that they have never read. I got a great response and I’m happy to tell you (minus January) you will see a New to You post twice a month.

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Next up for New to You is Amber from YA Indulgences. She will be reviewing a book that made me fall in love with dystopian stories when I was binging everything YA I could get my hands on. Let’s see what Amber thought about Delirium by Lauren Oliver:

New to You (17): Amber Reviews Delirium by Lauren OliverDelirium by Lauren Oliver
Series: Delirium #1
Published by HarperTeen
on August 2, 2011
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Ninety-five days, and then I’ll be safe.I wonder whether the procedure will hurt.I want to get it over with.It’s hard to be patient.It’s hard not to be afraid while I’m still uncured, though so far the deliria hasn’t touched me yet.Still, I worry.They say that in the old days, love drove people to madness.The deadliest of all deadly things: It kills you both when you have it and when you don’t.

CW: Suicide mentions, animal death

My first Lauren Oliver book was Before I Fall, I’ve owned Delirium for years. I was happy when I was finally given a reason to read it with Andi’s feature.

The first and only dystopian novel I ever read was The Hunger Games and even then I didn’t read Mockingjay. Delirium has a really interesting premise with not wanting people to feel love. I thought this aspect while fascinating ended up being a bit meh.

Love is described as having negative effects and even causing death. Due to this, once teenagers are eighteen, they are given a cure to stop it. In addition to the cure, they take evaluations for proper marriage “choices”. They are given four choices based on their evaluations.

The cure essentially erases people’s pasts as well. They don’t retain many loving memories from their life before much therefore their lives are dulled. I couldn’t really get behind the whole “Let’s cure people of love”, it seemed too far out there as far as dystopian consequences. It would have made sense to somehow “cure” people from feeling at all rather than just love.

Another issue with Delirium was the insta-love. Somehow in only three meetings, Lena and Alex fall in love. Somehow Lena is so positive towards the cure and in two months is completely against it after her eyes are opened. There’s a situation in the book where Lena and Hana (her best friend) talk and I felt like their roles really should have been reversed. I could not get into their relationship at all. I thought some moments were sweet but other than that, not at all believable to me. I liked Lena well enough, I thought she was a decent protagonist. I hate how I liked her more after she got to know Alex. It didn’t seem like she could stand on her own feet.

Now, onto the things I enjoyed, the look at the darkness of this world through raids and prisoners. It seemed so real, especially with the world today with protests. I loved Hana a bunch. I’m excited to read the novella involving her. I liked Lena’s friendship with Hana. I did love Alex, even if he did seem like a bit of a manic pixie dream boy. I was surprised at the ending which unexpectedly broke me.

Overall, I would rate Delirium three stars. I will definitely read or listen to the follow-ups.

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Thanks Amber for signing up for New to You! Sorry it was not an instant love for you, but that’s books for you. Personally I’m a massive fan of the audios for this series and recommend everyone trying them out!

Have you read anything by Lauren Oliver?

Enter to win a Kindle copy of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Giveaway is US ONLY. Ends 10/12/18 at 11:59pm EST.

 

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Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge – October Link-Up

HAPPY October, you Fancy Readers!

Wow, I can’t believe we are in the final stretch of the year. Time has flown before our very eyes. And with a new month comes a new Reading Challenge link-up!  If you haven’t officially signed up for the challenge, you can do so HERE. If you don’t sign-up, your entries will not count toward the giveaway and I have to disqualify you. Basically…SIGN-UP!

Monthly Link-Up and Giveaway Details:

  • Your thoughts on each book you read must be posted somewhere, like your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, YouTube, Tumblr, etc., in order for it to count towards this challenge. Ratings on Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, etc. will also work.
  • Monthly link-up posts will go live the around the first day of each month so you can add your links throughout the month as your posts go up. Each linky will remain open five days into each new month to allow you some time to get all your posts linked up!
  • In order for us to tell what you’re linking to on the monthly linky, the format for the links you enter need to be as follows:
    • UPDATE POST @ your name/blog name.
    • REVIEW: [BOOK TITLE] @ your name/blog name.
    • MONTHLY TOPIC @ your name/blog name.
  • Each month we’ll choose a lucky winner from that month’s linky to win a Contemporary Romance novel of their choice (up to US$10).
  • Each link you enter in that month’s linky will count as one entry into the giveaway.
  • Challenge and Giveaways are open internationally. (As long as The Book Depository ships to your country, you are eligible for a prize.)

Monthly Topics:

  • Each monthly link-up post will include a Contemporary Romance topic for you to participate in if you’d like.
  • Monthly Topic posts can go up anytime in the specified month. Link them up as follows: MONTHLY TOPIC @ your name/blog name.
  • These posts will also earn you an entry in the monthly giveaway as long as you link back to them.

This month’s topic:

I’m not going to lie, I struggle with blogging sometimes. Coming up with content and unique ideas is difficult. But recently I have gotten excited about it again. I was contacted by a group of 2019 Debut authors and I’m working with a handful of them to give you some unique content and to bring their books to your attention. Since these books aren’t available, and possibly heavier on the contemporary side than the romance, the topic for the month is: Favorite Contemporary Debuts. For my purpose I am going to share 5 of the ones coming out next year that I’m excited for.

  1. Just for Clicks – Kara McDowell
  2. The Quiet You Carry – Nikki Barthelmess
  3. When the Truth Unravels – Ruthanne Snow
  4. Match Me if You Can – Tiana Smith
  5. If You’re Out There – Katy Loutzenhiser

Are any of these already on your TBR?

If you have any questions, please email me (accessoriesbooksclothes@gmail.com) . Also, make sure you follow me on Twitter (@andiabcs) for challenge updates and reminders! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #ContRom2018 to follow everyone’s challenge updates on Twitter!

 

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A Buddy Read – Intercepted by Alexa Martin {+ a giveaway}

A Buddy Read – Intercepted by Alexa Martin {+ a giveaway}Intercepted by Alexa Martin
Published by Berkley Books
on September 11, 2018
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there's a new player on the horizon, and he's in a league of his own...

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team's wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee's return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin's relationship to survive the season.

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

As a fan of football romances this book was on my radar for a while. But when an opportunity was presented to do a buddy read with some of my fantasy football girls it was a no brainer. Seven of us read Intercepted together and we had a lot of fun doing it and being able to discuss it.

Intercepted is the story of Marlee. Marlee has been the perfect girlfriend to NFL wide receiver, Chris Alexander, for the last ten years. She was supposed to be his wife. Instead she discovers her relationship wasn’t want she thought. Suddenly single she swears off NFL players and all the baggage that comes with them. That is until she sees the new QB on the team, a guy she never thought she would see again after their one night together. Marlee soon realizes that giving up NFL players may not Be as easy as she thought. Especially with Gavin Pope underfoot.

Honestly, as fun as the book was to read with my fabulous football ladies, I didn’t love it as much as I hoped. It was good enough, and not a struggle to read, but something was off for me. There were things I was supposed to laugh at, I think, and I ended up being annoyed which made me sad. I did like some of the characters a lot though so that was a bonus. But what I really enjoyed was that the author was able to base the book off her experience from being an actually NFL WAG. That was hands down my favorite part of the story.

All in all it was a good book and I may read the next in the series. But really it was just fun to chat about with my girls. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a book club kind of thing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Review Links:

Amazon || B&N || Kobo || Book Depository

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About Alexa Martin

Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. She lives in Colorado with her husband, a former NFL player who now coaches at the high school where they met, their four children, and a German Shepherd. When she's not telling her kids to put their shoes on...again, you can find her catching up with her latest book boyfriend or on Pinterest pinning meals she'll probably never make. Her first book, Intercepted, was inspired by the eight years she spent as an NFL wife.

Giveaway: 5 winners will receive a finished paperback of Intercepted. Open to US. Entrants must be 18+. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CDT October 8. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries.

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A Buddy Read – Intercepted by Alexa Martin {+ a giveaway}Fumbled by Alexa Martin
Published by Berkley Books
on April 23, 2019
Add to Goodreads

A second chance doesn't guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she's built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it's all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he's moved on.

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they've suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they'll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

 

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Blog Tour – An Excerpt of Intercepted by Alexa Martin

Blog Tour – An Excerpt of Intercepted by Alexa MartinIntercepted by Alexa Martin
Published by Berkley Books
on September 11, 2018
Buy on Amazon
Add to Goodreads

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there's a new player on the horizon, and he's in a league of his own...

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team's wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee's return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin's relationship to survive the season.

The idea of Gavin showing up to my family home sets the butterflies in my stomach free. I have to remind myself he doesn’t remember me, he’s just being friendly to a teammate’s girlfriend. End of story.

“Don’t you wish. Chris isn’t even promised a seat. Quarterback or not, my family doesn’t share well when it comes to pasta.”

“Well, I’m awesome, and Chris is questionable. Your family would love me.”

“Maybe they could find a seat for you, but I’m not sure the room is big enough for your ego to tag along.” I ignore the jab at Chris, handing Gavin the final plate.

“Damn. You got jokes?” He acts insulted, but there’s a smile on his face when he says it. I shrug it off and give him a hand towel. I tend to forget not everybody knows my sense of humor. Something I should try harder to remember when it concerns my boyfriend’s coworkers.

He hands me the last plate to dry, and his fingers graze mine. The contact is so minimal, I shouldn’t have noticed it. But when it comes to Gavin, I notice everything. “Thanks for helping, but I really do have work to finish.”

I hang the towel from the stove and try to play it cool. I’m not a relationship expert or anything, but I’m pretty sure I’ve watched enough reality shows to know crushing on your boyfriend’s coworker is generally a no-no.

“TK told me you did his website. I checked it out and it looks fantastic. Are you taking on new clients?”

When I turn away from the stove and face him, he’s in the same spot, watching me with what I think is either curiosity, mistrust, or kindness.

Yes, I’m aware those are all different, but I’ve never been very good at reading people.

“Always. It’s rare for me to ever turn down a client.” I look for something else in the kitchen to keep me busy.

“Good, because my website needs an overhaul since I switched teams.”

Oh no. Not gonna happen. Seeing him on occasion is one thing, but working for him is on a whole other level of asking for trouble.

“Your website? Didn’t you already have somebody design your website?” I scramble for any excuse to say no. “I doubt you need a new one, just a few tweaks, and I don’t like messing with other people’s work.”

“You just said you didn’t turn down a client. I want a new website. I’ll have Madison email you some pictures of me in Mustangs gear and shots of my charity events.”

Oh lovely, Gavin and Madison. This keeps getting better and better.

“Your girlfriend is your secretary? How very old-school.”

“Madison isn’t my girlfriend. She’s an old friend who happens to work in PR.” He shakes his head, acting like the idea of him with the leggy beauty is outrageous. “Think about it for me. I’d really appreciate it, and I promise to recommend you to everyone I know.”

Dammit. Doing this would be huge for me. I got my degree in graphic design from the Art Institute five years ago and started doing some freelance work to keep me busy. Business has been growing slowly over the past five years . . . which is fine. Chris gets all offended when I offer to pay for anything so I shovel all my money into savings and paying off my student loans.

I graduated with my masters in marketing last spring and have spent all summer (unsuccessfully) trying to find an adult job complete with medical. Unfortunately for me, the closest I got to medical was the marijuana dispensary next door to an interview I went to. So while I wait to find the apparent unicorn job I’ve spent my entire life preparing for, I might just have to build a website for my ex-fling turned current boyfriend’s coworker.

I’m about to agree when the intercom buzzes and Chris’s voice booms through the kitchen. “Marlee, can you go find Pope for us?” he asks. He hangs up before I have the chance to answer.

“I guess that’s my cue.” Gavin starts walking out of the kitchen but stops before he makes it all the way out. “By the way, I think you dropped this.” He pulls something small out of his pocket, tosses it to me, and is gone before I even realize what I’m holding.

My grandma’s necklace. The one my mom gave me after she passed.

The one I lost four years ago in a Chicago apartment.

Holy shit.

He kept it?

Holy shit.

He remembers me!

~~~~~~~~

Seems like the perfect book to read as football season kicks off!

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