For the Best Reviews nominations, we asked for their most favorite review. (Warning: this post will get long). Also, the images are linked to the Goodreads pages, in case you want to read the summary.
I Love YA Fiction
What also makes this book stand out in relation to the billions of others with the same plot is that a good bit of the middle portion deals with the devastation Jadyn feels after the death of two main characters (not Phillip or Danny – this is not one of THOSE books). Her reactions to everything are so heartfelt and realistic that both times I read the book I’ve had to struggle to read through my tears. In the hands of another author this could come off as simply adding drama for drama’s sake but I didn’t feel that way at all. And I also think that the lesson she takes out of this tragedy, from Our Town (which she had been reading in English class) “do any human beings ever realize life, while they live it – every, every minute?” is truly inspiring. Because it’s all too easy to be comfortable in life but we should remind ourselves every day not to take the people we love for granted.
Okay, serious shit aside. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I can’t even tell you how much. If you haven’t already read it then stop reading this and buy the book NOW. Then come back here, read my review, agree (hopefully) with everything I’ve said and send me a very nice note about how right I am and how Judith shouldn’t be mad at me for being a bit tardy.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 10. I love Jadyn. I want to be her but since that’s not possible I want to be her friend (especially since then maybe the boy she doesn’t end up with could marry me?!). I saw a lot of myself in Jadyn – she’s a tomboy, loves sports, sometimes finds having girl friends exhausting, often sabotages herself due to fear of the unknown (who doesn’t?). She’s smart, strong in the face of tragedy and, since it can’t be said enough, has hot friends. She’s awesomesauce.
How much did I like the love interest: 2 BOYS!!! If my math is correct 10 (Phillip) + 10 (Danny) = A ZILLION. I love Danny but first of all can we agree that Danny Diamond is a total porn star name? I’m glad they didn’t mention his whole name too many times since every time they did I would giggle like a 13-year-old boy…or like the trio’s parents when JJ caught them smoking pot in the Jacuzzi. Danny is the player of the trio but the girls don’t care because he’s so hot and nice they still want to be his friend after they break up. Phillip is…sigh. I love Phillip. From the very beginning when he’d play “princess in the tower” with JJ, to their late night phone conversations, to his protectiveness and the fact that he’s always there for her. Oh man. Phillip is amazing. And also: HOT. From what Judith and I have pieced together from extensive scouring of the book for every shred of physical description I’m picturing Tim Tebow’s body with Tom Brady’s face. YES PLEASE.
How believable is the plot: 10. Completely believable. Not only the situations Jadyn goes through but also her reactions, and those of Phillip and Danny. There was never a second when I thought “this is so unrealistic” but it did give me a serious hankering to watch football, drink some beer and eat wings. Unfortunately it’s too late to go to Chili’s but tomorrow is another day!
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. I saw no issues. And I loved the drawings at the beginning (and sometimes middle) of every chapter.
How much did I want to keep reading: 100000. If I was reading this on the subway I SO would have missed my stop, that’s how engrossed I was.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 1. Mostly because I cried so much I needed a glass of wine. And, you know, in honor of our fallen friends and all that.
Final Score: Um, A LOT. I think we’re up to one zillion + 100,000+ 50? Who cares, all you should be taking away from this is that the book is awesome and you need to read it. If I ever get to book jump like in the Thursday Next series (by Jasper Fforde – read them) then this is the book I’m going to. Watch out boys!
If you want sneak peaks of the sequel or shall we call it squeequel, check out Jillian Dodd’s personal blog. You will not be disappointed: http://jilliandodd.wordpress.com/
What did I love most about Something Like Normal? The authenticity of Travis Stephenson, the main character. It is rare that YA novels feature a male narrator/main character, and when they do, some come off as incredibly stilted. That is not true here. Travis' voice comes through loud and clear and genuine. I admit, I fell head-over-heels in love with him, and it's not because he was some idealized picture of perfection. In fact, Travis was far from perfect, which was refreshing.
On top of the fresh emotional and mental scars that Travis carries home from war, there are older scars that are torn open when he is reunited with his family. His father is such a jerk! I don't understand how a parent could treat their own child that way - or how a husband could be so insensitive to his wife. It's no wonder Ryan, Travis' brother, turned out the way he did. I adored Mrs. Stephenson the most. She's the kind of mother I want to be: fiercely loyal and protective, and loving to a fault. All she wants is for Travis to feel at home again, though he is really not sure where "home" is anymore.
While it's easy to symphathize with Travis in general, his story hit a little closer to home for me. My childhood friend, Michael, spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Iraq during the war. Like Travis, he still suffers from nightmares, insomnia, and depression. He saw many of his closest friends and comrades die or get injured, and lord knows what other horrors he must have witnessed. Travis brought tears to my eyes more than once as he recounted his memories of Charlie Sweeney, the best friend he lost, and as he deals with his survivor's guilt. I just wanted to hug the pain away...
And that's where Harper comes in. She's the girl Travis unintentionally humiliated in middle school, despite the fact that he really liked her. Up until Travis returned home on leave, they hadn't spoken since that time, and Harper is really not interested in hearing what Travis has to say. That is, until she socks him in the eye and has her say. Fierce and sassy! My kinda girl!
The relationship that develops between Travis and Harper is surprisingly sweet and breath-taking. She is the balm to his wounded soul, and when faced with his mood swings, she doesn't back down or pity him. I caught myself shaking my head in awe at how grounded and real Harper is, and how lucky Travis is to have her in his life. I think the best thing about their relationship, though, is the uncertainty of it. They both realize that they can't promise forever, not yet. But what they have "now" is plenty good enough.
We are also introduced to a couple of Travis' friends, namely Kevlar and Moss. While they each deal with their part in the war in their own way, their banter in the lighter moments of the book had me laughing out loud quite a few times. There are no holds barred when these three are together. They burp and drink and cuss, and it's all so natural, you feel like you've known these guys your entire life. Marines are not glorified in this book. If anything, we are reminded that the men and women who serve are just like all of us, and it makes me love and appreciate them even more.
Something Like Normal does not end with a "happily ever after". It does, however, end on a note of hope. War is not pleasant and the effects of it are far-reaching. Travis left home as a boy and returned as a battle-scarred man. Through him, we learn that with each bend in life's road comes a new perspective, and a new kind of "normal." And as Travis says, "...something like normal is a good start."
MM Good Book Reviews
I was unsure about how the plot would unravel after the first few pages. I have to admit I was worried at first, but then I couldn’t put it down and the story kept me interested till the last page. Still, something wasn’t quite right. Details on Beth’s jobs and the continuous mention about her brother could be better edited, or even cut out, and the void filled with fresh information, it wouldn’t have overwhelmed the reader.
The story lacked some background regarding the heroine’s previous lovers and more about the connection between Grey and the people he was dealing with. All in all, I enjoyed the character development immensely.
I recommend Grey’s if you’re looking for a hot historical book to read in a short time – but be aware that you’ll have time to read the full title, cause you won’t be able to stop! What I can certainly say is: Natasha Blackthorne is definitely an author to watch.
Kiera O'Shay is a badass, and not the overconfident, leather-wearing, sword-toting kind with an attitude bigger than the Goodyear Blimp. No, our Kiera is a firecracker of a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it, before going after it like a guided missile. She's a smart, take-no-shit, expert markswoman with a shattered heart and traumatic childhood enfortressed behind a wall of emotional steel, packed muscles, and intense S.W.A.T. training, and the only one who can get past that shell is ATF agent and fire cop Luke Ransom.
The most confident man Kiera O'Shay has ever met, Luke is all charisma and wit, a capable agent with a big bad side of get-with-the-program-or-get-the-hell-out-of-my-way. Underneath all that swagger, though, is a man who has never gotten over the love of his life and is willing to give up just about anything to see her safe and happy... even if it means living the rest of his life in misery.
You haven't seen longing and unrequited love until you've seen Luke and Kiera together, sarcastically
bantering as if their lives depend on it and fighting their own primal urges to jump each other every
other second. Why not just give in and go for it, you might ask? Bad breakups and volatile personalities have a way of leaving you skittish, and these two have hurt each other more than anyone else ever could have. Theirs is a story begging to be told, one expertly crafted from action, intrigue, supernatural science, and some of the most enthralling sexual tension I've ever read. This book is absolutely aptly named; the passion between Luke and Kiera blazes high and sparks fly hard. That man has a soft heart for his woman,but when he gets in the mood, the dominant comes out to play and we get to see Kiera let go and give over control. Sexy, sexy, sexy!
Mitch Foster was introduced in Fever as heroine Alyssa Foster's brother and lawyer extraordinaire. A
sharp-witted playboy shark of a criminal defender with unquestionably questionable morals and an
admirable streak of loyalty to his friends and family, it was made crystal clear in Blaze's prequel that you never want to earn the ire of this man. In this story, we get a deeper sense of just how connected he is... so much so, that it really makes you wonder just what depth of trouble the delectably sexy Mitch Foster has his fingers in, and when it's going to come back to bite him in the ass. I'm sure his day is coming, and that will be a story to read!
And Cash... I freaking love Cash! He's a brand new character introduced in Blaze, with family connections to Kiera, and I cannot wait to read more about him! Genius, cocky, confident, and daring, he's a hell of acharacter.
Joan Swan writes action like you're right there in the thick of it; pinging bullets, whooshes of fire, the
near-tranquil state of severe injury are all masterfully translated through undeniably talented and creative writing. She doesn't fall prey to technical bad habits like repeated patterns of verbage, and her sentence structure is never boring or predictable. Reading a Joan Swan novel is like living non-stop, danger-filled, trek through heartfelt friendships and off-the-rails sensual chemistry.
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