Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

Book Title: That Night
Author: Chevy Stevens
Publish Date: June 17th, 2014
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Thriller
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night. 

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni’s innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni’s life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all.

Disclaimer: I received this print ARC from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for my honest review.

Review:
I was unbelievably excited to receive an ARC of this book. I fell in love with Chevy Stevens’ books last summer so I was eagerly anticipating her newest book. I got a major surprise when I got a package from St. Martin’s Press with this book inside of it. I hadn’t emailed a request or anything, so it really was a shock to get it.

The first 80 pages were really slow and I was upset about that because it was a far cry from her previous books that had just jumped right into the twists and turns. This book spent more time setting the scene. Actually the readers were being told too different scenes. Toni’s jail time and what happened before she ended up in jail. Thankfully, it was written so that there was no confusion on the timelines. I knew exactly where she was in each of the flashbacks.

I felt it hard to drum up any sort of sympathy for Toni. Plus I really didn’t like Ryan either. I actually liked Nicole best, even though we didn’t get to see much of her. Shauna was an awful girl. Both in the flashbacks and in present day.I did get the feeling that Shauna was the ringleader of the “Mean Girls” and that the other girls were probably afraid of her.

I did feel a bit of sympathy when it came to Toni’s parents.I mean, holy crap, her mom was awful to her and I actually found myself defending Toni when it came to her mom. I mean, yes it’s got to be awful to have your youngest daughter murdered, but why turn your back on your oldest daughter? I mean favoritism was clearly shown in this book and that made me angry.

Ryan was so underdeveloped as a character. I wanted to know more about him, his time in prison and who he thought really murdered his girlfriend’s little sister. I think Ryan really got the short end of the stick when it comes to character development. We only heard about Toni’s time in jail, when I know that Ryan’s imprisonment must have been even harder.

Ashley’s appearance felt random. I mean, I know how she was supposed to be connected to the story, but it felt too convenient. I liked her, but I didn’t really understand why she was necessary to the story. At times, it kind of felt like she was an afterthought.

The twist at the end seemed cliched. It felt like it was a twist that I had seen in a dozen other thriller books. So I wasn’t shocked or surprised by it. Actually I was annoyed that the author chose to make this the twist, rather than think outside the box. So I’ll be giving this book 3 stars. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely was not her best book.

Review: Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Book Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Release Date: February 18th, 2014
Publisher: MTV Books
Genre: YA/Contemporary
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Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Link: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“Laura Wiess’s masterful prose kept me turning the pages. This is the first book in a very long time that made me say, ‘Wish I’d written this’” (Ellen Hopkins, author of Crank, on Such a Pretty Girl).

Sixteen-year-old Rowan is still reeling from her father’s suicide four months ago, after he failed to stop a man from leaping off an overpass to his death. The only witness is Eli, a teenaged boy wrapped deep in mourning for his own father, killed in action in Afghanistan. When Rowan and Eli meet, they recognize kindred spirits, and begin to navigate grief and its aftermath together.

Rowan can’t understand how her father could choose to leave her, and acts out, pushing away friends and taking risks with her safety. Rowan’s mother, wracked with her own guilt and sorrow over failing to save her husband, stops going to work and collects stray cats for comfort. Grief, fractured and unpredictable, rules their lives now. Rowan is lost—and sinking. But Eli represents a lifeline for Rowan, and as they struggle to make sense of what’s gone and what is left behind, they begin to fall in love. Me Since You is Laura Wiess at her finest—a beautiful, gripping and painfully honest examination of adolescence.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
This one is going to be a hard one to review for several reasons.When it was really good, it was really good and I cried so hard I nearly puked. But when there was a lull, which was a lot of the time, it was disappointing to me. I think a lot if not all of the problem I had was that I couldn’t really relate to Rowan.She had an intact family where her parents clearly loved each other. I couldn’t relate to that.

Yet when her father commits suicide, I cry buckets. I cry for Rowan because it’s just not fair that a father who loved his family that much, could be in so much pain where the only thing he could do to deal with it, was end his life. I cried because I remembered being in a similar position 2 years ago when a good friend of mine ended her life. 

This one was different though. With Rowan it was her beloved father. The grief was palpable, but yet I felt disconnected from it. Trying to connect with either Rowan or her mother was impossible because I couldn’t understand why they were so sad. I blame that totally on my life experiences though.I totally understand why this entire book was a complete sobfest for others.

I absolutely adored Eli though. I know normally I say that relationships like this are formed out of convenience, but not this time. It helped that Rowan and Eli were already friends before Rowan’s dad killed himself.I love watching a friendship turn into something more. It’s always been a big positive for me to see two people start off as friends first before they become romantically involved.

Rowan needs Eli, especially once she realizes that her onetime best friend, Nadia has essentially deserted her. That absolutely infuriated me. Nadia expects Rowan to be okay only a month after the death? Nadia’s job is to love and support Rowan as she navigates this journey called grief, and yet she doesn’t. She gets mad at Rowan for “not being over it already” Really she wants Rowan to “get over” the death of her father in a month? Nadia turned out to be a class A bitch.

I really wanted to love this book, but I think the fact that I couldn’t connect with the characters at all was my main problem. Structurally the book was great and the feels were definitely there.The crying I did was really the only time I connected with the characters.The emotional parts were wonderfully written and Eli was easily my favorite character. Aside from that, I didn’t hate this book, but I just didn’t love it either. That’s why I have to give it 3 stars.