Review: The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah Ockler

Review: The Book of Broken Hearts – Sarah OcklerThe Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: May 21st 2013
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five-stars

When all signs point to heartbreak, can love still be a rule of the road? A poignant and romantic novel from the author of Bittersweet and Twenty Boy Summer.

Jude has learned a lot from her older sisters, but the most important thing is this: The Vargas brothers are notorious heartbreakers. She’s seen the tears and disasters that dating a Vargas boy can cause, and she swore an oath—with candles and a contract and everything—to never have anything to do with one.

Now Jude is the only sister still living at home, and she’s spending the summer helping her ailing father restore his vintage motorcycle—which means hiring a mechanic to help out. Is it Jude’s fault he happens to be cute? And surprisingly sweet? And a Vargas?

Jude tells herself it’s strictly bike business with Emilio. Her sisters will never find out, and Jude can spot those flirty little Vargas tricks a mile away—no way would she fall for them. But Jude’s defenses are crumbling, and if history is destined to repeat itself, she’s speeding toward some serious heartbreak…unless her sisters were wrong?

Jude may have taken an oath, but she’s beginning to think that when it comes to love, some promises might be worth breaking.

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.

thoughts1 Straight up I’m a major, major, major Sarah Ockler fan. She is one of my auto-buy authors so I truly don’t think she could do any wrong in my eyes. But I will admit when I started The Book of Broken Hearts I was nervous. I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure I liked Jude or how the story jumped in and sort of seemed rushed. But then I kept reading and reading and reading. And I can happily report that I really loved the story. It was definitely a different kind of Ockler read I thought, but it still had that same magic hidden in the pages just like her other 3 amazing books.

The Book of Broken Hearts is the story of Jude, a girl with three older sister who might as well have been an only child thanks to the age gap between them. But Jude remembers one thing from her time with her sisters, she remembers she should stay away from the Vargas brothers at all costs because all they will bring is heart ache and tears. But Jude suddenly finds herself sending her summer days working on a project with/for her dad with Emilio Vargas and can’t bring herself to remember why her sisters hated the Vargas boys to begin with. Between illness and family drama Jude and Emilio form a bond that could either lead to love or the worst broken heart Jude has ever had. Jude has to figure out just what is the right thing to do, listen to her heart and make her own choices or follow the path her older sisters had set for her.

Truthfully my description doesn’t really do the story justice. I just didn’t want to give much away and ruin some of the stuff that is revealed through reading. Because Jude really is a great character and everything that she is going through is very relatable. Even as an only child I could relate to the feeling that you don’t get to make your own decisions and that a life is already mapped out for you. I understood her need to want to abide by her sisters but also to show she isn’t that little girl anymore and she needs to make her own choices whether it leads to a broken heart or a grand love. And Emilio was fighting the same things Jude was. He was labeled as his brothers, as a heartbreaker, as a screw-up. Like Jude he wasn’t able to make his own mistakes without being scrutinized. But unlike Jude he didn’t care. He went after what he wanted and that made me love him completely.

Really Sarah Ockler seems to just get it. She seems to understand people and it comes through in her writing and I am always so grateful for that. Whether my heart is breaking during Twenty Boy Summer, my heartstrings are being tugged during Fixing Delilah, my stomach craving cupcakes and a cute boy in Bittersweet or I’m rooting for a couple that has to fight to be together in The Book of Broken Hearts, Sarah Ockler makes me believe all of it. I personally loved this book and I think you might too if you give it a chance. And like I have said before and will say again, if you have never read and Ockler book, get on that right now!

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Second Chance Sunday – Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

Today’s Second Chance Sunday is brought to you by the wonderful Sarah Ockler and her awesome book, in a slew of many, Bittersweet. I swear this is the book  that started my love affair with cupcakes so I’m warning you all ahead of time. But seriously this book was fantastic and I thought it should be recognized since Sarah’s next fantastic book The Book of Broken Hearts comes out next week(review on the blog on Wednesday).

Second Chance Sunday – Bittersweet by Sarah OcklerBittersweet by Sarah Ockler
Published by Simon and Schuster
Published: January 3rd 2012
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five-stars

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...

thoughts1
A sunshine yellow lemon cupcake with a coconut infused marshmallow frosting.  Filled with a raspberry and blueberry jam and decorated with marzipan figure skates and hockey sticks. Drizzle with silver glitter dust and serve on a plate of awesomeness!

Sarah Ockler has done it again! This book was just beyond amazing!  Seriously I thought I loved Ockler before with her amazing works Fixing Delilah and my favorite Twenty Boy Summer, but I’m head over heels now.

Ockler has a gift for getting down to the depth and emotions of her characters and she did that flawlessly with Hudson. A once high prospect for the figure skating world, Hudson had lost her way and found herself in the kitchen baking amazing cupcakes as a way to forget who she was.  But after a chance run-in, and I mean that literally, with the co-captain of her school’s hockey team, Hudson’s love of the ice finally makes itself known. When presented an opportunity to help the team(and the boy she is crushing on) and get ice time for a competition she is secretly entering Hudson takes in more than she can chew and all hell breaks loose on her life.

Told entirely from Hudson’s point of view the readers are privy to every thought and emotion that Hudson feels leaving us to feel like we are taking the journey with her. You personally feel like you are there for the fights and laughs and hugs and kisses and near kisses.  You can feel the sadness and regret and anger that she has towards her family and herself and the drive she has for baking and skating.  It truly is a touching story of finding out who you are and what you want.

Bravo Ms. Ockler. My only question…when are you opening a cupcake bakery with all those delicious concoctions you teased us with??!! 🙂

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Second Chance Sunday – If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

Second Chance Sunday – If I Lie by Corrine JacksonIf I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Published by Simon Pulse
Published: August 6th 2013
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five-stars

“Relationships and their dynamics play themselves out naturally and with satisfying complexity” (Kirkus Reviews) in this dramatic and powerful novel that explores the gray space between truth and perception.Cheater. Traitor. Slut. Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Shunned by everyone she knows, Quinn loses her friends, her reputation, and her identity. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s a Marine who’s serving overseas, and beloved by everyone in their small, military town. But Quinn didn’t cheat. She could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. So she stays silent, and she waits for Carey to come home. Then Carey goes MIA, and Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise.

Review
I’ve been on a run of really good books lately so I had high hopes for this debut novel but I was really worried based on the hype. I can proudly say this book lived up to my hopes. Simply put I loved it!!! If I Lie was full of emotion and truth that I couldn’t put it down. I felt like I was a part of the community that Quinn was living in and my heart shattered for her.

Basically the book is about Quinn, a 17 year old girl, living in a small military town in North Carolina. She has always been the perfect Marine girlfriend to the hometown hero Carey. That is until Quinn is seen kissing someone that isn’t Carey. In the blink of an eye she because a modern day Hester Pryne wearing a metaphorical scarlet letter on her chest. Not only is Quinn shunned by the people in town but she is bullied by the kids at school that were at onetime her supposed friends. The thing is, not everything is at it seems with Quinn. She is holding on to a secret so a life isn’t destroyed. But as things get worse for her she starts to question just how far she is willing to screw her own life pin the process?!

Straight up what I loved about this book was hands down Quinn. She made this book what it was because I felt everything she was feeling. I understood where she was coming from and what she was going through. She was so believable and relatable. The pain she was selling jumped off the pages and the loneliness she felt was palpable. Here there was this poor girl that had absolutely no one on her side. Every single person that was supposed to be on her side abandoned her and yet she stayed silent. That shows a massive amount of character to me. Keeping a secret that is your own is hard enough but doing it for someone else is an entirely different animal and the fact that she stood her ground no matter the consequence was remarkable.

I also really enjoyed the use of Blake and George in the story. The conflict of emotions that passed through Quinn in regards to Blake broke my heart. She was torn and it was evident why. I really enjoyed that struggle in the book. In regards to George, he was Quinn’s one and only sounding board. He was to her what her self centered parents weren’t. He was her support system, her only friend and her family. Their relationship was heartwarming and emotional and exactly what added to the strength of this book. George showed Quinn her worth and showed her she was then the small town wanted her believe.

If I Lie was the story of Quinn and the courage she found within to do what she thought was right even at the cost to herself. It was emotional, I cried more then once, and honest and truthful. It showed what secrets can do to someone and how rumors can grow out of control. I loved every single second of this book and read it in one sitting. This is a must read for sure. Don’t wait. Listen to the hype and read, read, read!

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Discussion: When You Were Mine – Rebecca Serle

When I was writing reviews with Michelle over at Galleysmith we would have book discussions from time to time. We have had quiet a few going for a while now and since Michelle is on a hiatus we decided to post them over here.

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Title: When You Were Mine[Amazon]
Author: Rebecca Serle[website]
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: Contemporary
Source/Type: Gifted/Hardcore
Reviewed by: Andi & Michelle

Publisher Description:
In this intensely romantic, modern recounting of the greatest love story ever told, Romeo’s original intended—Juliet’s cousin Rosaline—tells her side of the tale. What’s in a name, Shakespeare? I’ll tell you: Everything.

Rosaline knows that she and Rob are destined to be together. Rose has been waiting for years for Rob to kiss her—and when he finally does, it’s perfect. But then Juliet moves back to town. Juliet, who used to be Rose’s best friend. Juliet, who now inexplicably hates her. Juliet, who is gorgeous, vindictive, and a little bit crazy…and who has set her sights on Rob. He doesn’t even stand a chance.

Rose is devastated over losing Rob to Juliet. This is not how the story was supposed to go. And when rumors start swirling about Juliet’s instability, her neediness, and her threats of suicide, Rose starts to fear not only for Rob’s heart, but also for his life. Because Shakespeare may have gotten the story wrong, but we all still know how it ends….

Discussion:
Andi
: As a Romeo and Juliet fan, okay, I’ll admit it is the Leonardo DiCaprio version, I was so excited about this book when I heard about it and I have to tell you M, it lived up to my expected hype. It really was a fabulous take on a classic tale. It had a great story of friendship and love mixed in with heartache and longing. Serle took a classic, familiar story and made it into something modern and fresh and from a different point of view. For me having Rosaline, the much forgotten first love of Romeo, as the main character was pretty ingenious.  What did you think?

Michelle:  LOL!  You and your Leo….

I’m going to admit (and it likely won’t come as a surprise to many who know me), the classics in literature do nothing for me.  I can’t read them without being bored to tears and eventually giving up.  That is why I love me some retellings (classics, fairy tales, you name it).  Because I can get down with the general vibe of the original story and still enjoy the contemporary tone.

Serle did a great job with this retelling because I really did feel the irony and the Shakespearean nature without having to endure all of the “doest thou..” crapola.  I couldn’t agree more on the ingenious selection of telling Rose’s story as opposed to the more obvious choices of Romeo or Juliet. Seeing their story through her eyes and also experiencing her own story was fantastical.

A: It added something to the original that was missing, it added conflict. By making it more a ‘triangle'(and I use that word lightly), it gave the characters more depth I think and let the audience feel more. In the original I felt bad for Romeo and Juliet, but something about the addition of Rosaline made the whole story more gut wrenching. it also helped that I hated Juliet and Rob in this book. HAHA. Have you ever seen two more spoiled people that thought they deserved whatever they wanted? At one point I wanted to be the one to do Juliet in!

M:  UGH, yes!  Juliet was a shrewish b*tch.  I just wanted to throttle her at every turn.  I did want the background between the girls to be a bit more fleshed out though.  The controversy that lead to the family feud was too vague it needed more depth to really show why the events that were spurned occurred. It felt a bit contrived that Juliet went for Rob so quickly.  Sure, I got that it was revenge at the start but without that deeper backstory it just felt somewhat forced.

A: I guess that didn’t really bother me as much because even Rose didn’t know it was revenge so I didn’t feel out of the loop in terms of that aspect. But I do agree about the family feud. I didn’t really like it and didn’t get why it was an issue between  the brothers in the long run. It was definitely added to make the conflict bigger but I think if a different problem was the cause it would have flowed better.

M: By focussing solely on the teens I found that the story lost some of it’s punch.  If a teacher wanted to use this book as a tool to in a literature class it would definitely be lacking in giving the true perspective on the original.  However, that isn’t necessarily the goal here.  Being a retelling it’s goal is to differentiate itself from the original.  But it should also carry through the essence so that the reader who isn’t familiar with the original could go to it and see the similarities.  Serle definitely does this in spades with the relationship between Rose and Juliet and the boys but not much anywhere else.  Can you imagine how much more awesome it would have been if we’d seen more of the parents, the conflict and the interaction they had in the relationships?  I think that would have given me some of that awesome angst I so long for in a story like this.

A: And we do know how much you love your angst, don’t we?! Haha!

But seriously, I do agree to an extent. A little more background would have really upped the ante some. But I also liked that Rosaline was the main focus just for the fact that she is such a non-entity in the original. I think what may have helped a little more was more Juliet. Yes, I hated the character. She was definitely not my favorite at all, but with some more connection, whether through flashbacks, stories or current situations, between her and Rosaline and even Rob wood have made just a hint of difference and really showed the animosity she felt towards her cousin and why Rosaline was so betrayed by her actions.

M:  Word THAT!

Angst is one of the things I like best in a story.  Particularly when it’s done right and realistically!

To your point about Rose, I agree.  I knew very little about her so focusing on her as the primary point of view was a good thing.  Like you’ve said showing her through the relationships she’s built with Juliet and Rob would have gone a long way.  She seemed a bit bland for the most part.  Pining away for Rob when I didn’t see much chemistry there.  Also, what was it that Rob saw in Juliet to draw him away from his life-long friend?  Sure, she was beautiful and had money but there had to be more depth to it to really have him gravitating to her so quickly.  Don’t you think?

A: Yeah, I just didn’t see what was so hypnotizing about Juliet that Rob would do such a complete 180. The only thing that made sense was that whole ‘meant to be’ crap that is a massive theme in the Shakespeare story, but it wasn’t explored much in this book so it just kind of didn’t connect for me.

I will say there was one quote that I think perfectly summed up this book. I mean it is beyond perfect when you think about it.

“They died together; they’ll always be remembered together. It’s decided, once and for all. He was hers. The rumors don’t matter; they’ll fade…People may remember it was suicide, but my name won’t be attached. It will just be two lovers, fused together forever.”

That to me is the essence of the whole story and why I loved it so much. Rosaline is never connected to the story and I loved how Serle pointed that out so poetically with the simplest of statements.

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