Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

Release date: March 7, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 224

Description (from Goodreads):

Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.



Wow, what a story! Sometimes reality really can be stranger than fiction.

Have you ever dreamed of just leaving everything behind, of disappearing? I imagine we all have feelings like that sometimes, but the urge to do so is balanced by other things. For example,  I could never imagine leaving my family behind. And to be completely honest, I don't think I could live without a computer for long. And since I burn in the sun very easily and hate mosquitoes, outdoor living probably would not make me very happy in the long run.  

I had never heard about Christopher Knight before, which is kind of surprising since it seems like his name dominated at least the US headlines for a while after his arrest. When I first heard about this book, I instantly became interested and tried to resist the urge of doing research on him because I felt like as a reader, the best thing for me would be going into this book without reading too much about its subject matter beforehand. Please note, though, that I still recommend you read this book even if you feel like you already know there is everything to know about this guy.

In late 1980s, Christopher Knight, 20 years old at the time, left his job and home in Maine and took to the woods without telling his family or friends were he was going. His family didn't hear of his for the next 27 years. Throughout the years, he became a sort of urban legend, a hermit living in the woods and a menace of the local cabin owners who constantly found that their properties have been robbed. Knight rarely stole anything of large value, but the fact that people were not able to protect their properties from a thief obviously caused anxiety. 

I had not read anything by Michael Finkel before picking this one up, but I definitely want to check out his previous work now. The way he writes about Knight is done brilliantly, in my opinion, and the way he is able to not only introduce Knight's ideas about what happened, but also of those someway influenced by Knight's actions is done gracefully and in a way that really made me think. 

Why did Knight leave everything he had behind and decide to live in the woods? What kind of punishment is fit to a man who committed over 1,000 burglaries to survive? What does Knight's decisions tell about the society and about the nature of solitude? 

Finkel paints Knight as a complicated figure. On the one hand, he is extremely intelligent and crafty, and a kind of smart that might seem indimidating; he is philosophical and probably possesses thoughts only those who have lived in solitude can possess. He also seems somewhat pure, because like he says, the opinions of others have not really affected his life since he went to the woods; he has not have had to pretend to be someone else, to play a role. He has been able to completely and fully himself. On the other hand, he seems extremely arrogant and inconsiderate, traits that probably connect to the fact that he has not interacted with other people for almost three decades. 

His actions are also complicated. The decision to leave everything behind and to willingly live in the woods of Maine is something probably not a lot of people can understand. And as we know, something that we don't understand often tends to scare us. I definitely would be intimidated around a person like Knight. I found the fact that his family did not report him missing very strange, but believe that really the only people he hurt by leaving were his family members. Obviously, others became hurt too in different ways as they became victims of robberies.

I appreciated the fact that Finkel does not attempt to represent Knight either as some sort of hermit hero or as a criminal. Rather, by using statements by Knight himself, he paints a picture of a man of multitudes. Knight was never violent and only attempted to burglarize homes that were empty. He did not steal anything of value and only stole money in very small amounts. But nevertheless, he did walk into the homes of other people and thus created feelings of unease and paranoia. Understandbly, opinions about the ways in which Knights should be punished varied, and my thoughts about it changed constantly. On one hand, I felt sympathy for Knight, one the other I had a hard time understanding his decisions. 

While I think Knight's story in itself is extremely interesting, I think the process I personally went through while making my decision about what to think about Knight was the aspect I enjoyed most as I read this book. Finkel clearly shows respect for Knight, and maybe even a degree of admiration, but never tells the reader of what to think. As mentioned, by offering multiple points of view to the situation, Finkel makes sure that the reader has the choice to make her own judgments. While in the law robbery includes "bad", when it comes to Knight I think the situation is not as black and white.

All in all, The Stranger in the Woods was an extremely interesting, thought provoking read and one that I will definitely recommend to everyone. Even if you are not usually a fan of non-fiction, I think the way this one has been written might catch your interest. 

Rating:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Geekerella by Ashley Poston (Review)

Release date: April 4th, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Quirk Books
Pages: 320

Description (from Goodreads):

Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.
 


I can already say Geekerella by Ashley Poston is going to be among my top 5 books of 2017! It made me laugh, it made me cry, and most importantly, it reminded me why I love being a fangirl so damn much.

For me, and I imagine for a lot of readers out there, Geekerella will read like 320-page long love letter to fandom. It is a story about two fans, and more generally about being a fan and what fandom can bring to your life. It is incredibly romantic and relatable, it has a diverse set of characters and a lot of heart, and I think all and all, it is everything (and much more) I could ever want from a contemporary young adult novel.

Elle is the "Cinderella" of this story. Her father died when she was younger, and she is now living with her stepmother and two stepsisters. This family she has been forced to become a part of has not made her life easy, but she knows that things could be much worse -- at least she has her anonymous friends on the Starfleet forums.

The television show and the fandom at the heart of Geekerella is called Starfleet. It's a sort of Firefly-esque science fiction drama Elle was introduced to by her father, and I think the memory of watching the show with him makes it even more important for her. Starfleet was their "thing", and now that he is gone she feels responsible for keeping said "thing" alive. 

Darien has been a Starfleet fan too for years, and when the opportunity to star in a reboot movie of the show shows up, Darien is not quite sure how to react. Sure, he is really excited, but at the same time he wonders whether he can ever do justice to the fictional world and characters loved by so many. 

When Elle hears about the casting of Darien she feels furious. How can a teenage heartthrob like that be selected to such an iconic role? Sure, he is nice to look at, but that is not enough. To voice her concerns, Elle writes about the casting to her blog, thinking no one will read it anyway. Little does she know that among her numerous readers is Darien, the new star of Starfleet.

As a result of her blog post, Darien and Elle start to exchange messages. Elle, of course, has no idea who she is messaging with. I absolutely loved the messages they send for each other (it kind of reminded me of You've Got Mail, since for half of that Tom Hanks knows he is messaging with Meg Ryan) and it is an absolutely joy to read how they gradually get to know each other just through the messages they send. since this is obviously a Cinderella retelling of sorts, you kind of know what is going to happen towards the end, but that does not really matter since Poston makes the process of reaching that end so much fun to read about.

I found it extremely easy to relate to Elle and simply loved reading about her. Especially the way she gets comfort from fandom is something I find myself feeling every single day. Darien seems like such a good guy, and I would honestly pay big money to read more about him and Elle.

While the story of Elle and Darien is to die for, I want to go back to discussions about fandom, because those discussions are really the aspect that made me fall in love with this novel. The convention scenes, the discussions about the role of fandom in people's lives, and the realization that something fictional can teach you about real life are all resonated with me so much. 

I am a fan of a lot of things, and sometimes people ask me why I take something fictional so seriously. The realization Elle reaches -- that these fictional stories have taught her about love, science, etc -- is something I have realized too. And while the stories and characters are fictional, they can sometimes feel more real than the people around us.

If you are a fan of anything I think you are going to love this one! 

Geekerella is one of those books I would want to wipe from my memory JUST so I could read it again for the first time!


Rating:


Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Little Update: Where I Have Been & What's To Come Next


Long time no see! I hope you are all doing great. Spring is slowly coming to Finland and I think it's time for me to update you a little bit about what has been going on and why this blog has been fairly inactive for the last few months.

So, as mentioned, maybe some of you have noticed that my blog has been fairly inactive for the first few months of this year. I love this blog and writing for it, but sometimes life just happens and there is not enough time for everything. While I hate the fact that I have neglected to update this blog, my reason for it is pretty good (at least I think it is)...


I am doing my final semester of my postgraduate education and soon I can add "Master of Arts" to my resume. My course load has been super light this semester, as it has mostly been dedicated to actually finishing up with my MA thesis, but the only course that I have had to take has been the most challenging course of my almost six years of higher education.

So what course is that you might ask? MY SWEDISH COURSE. Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, which means that in order for me to graduate I need to have at least some sort of knowledge of Swedish. Usually, people study Swedish in both middle school and high school, but since I went to an international high school, I was able to avoid taking compulsory Swedish. So it has taken me a lot of work to catch up with everything I missed in high school. 


The good thing is that the course is now over! I already passed the oral portion of the exam (the part that I was more nervous about!) and the written exam will take place next Thursday. I am feeling fairly okay about it at the moment. Usually. I always shoot for the highest grade, but with this one, I am honestly just happy as long as I pass. Anyway, you are graded either as having "a good knowledge of the language" or "a satisfying knowledge of the language", and as I judge my own capabilities of using Swedish I know my grasp of it is definitely more on the satisfactory than on the good side.

If I pass that exam during the first attempt (and I am determined to do it!) it means that the only thing I have left is to make edits to my thesis. I returned a full draft to my supervisor earlier this week and I will most likely get comments on it within the next couple of weeks. I am feeling very good about my thesis and I am happy I have scheduled it in a way that I have a lot of time to make those edits (I need to return it by the end of April). 

But enough about my studies.... 


While this blog has been inactive, I have actually been reading quite a bit! The reason why I haven't updated anything has to do with the fact that I have been too lazy/busy to write reviews for what I've read. 

While going back and reviewing stuff that you have read weeks or months before can be difficult, the fact that I have taken into writing a sort of reading journal will help me! I have caught up with a portion of the reviews I need to write, but there is still several titles that I need to cover. 


So... once I am done with that Swedish course, I am determined to get those reviews written so I can end the inactivity of this blog.


This means that there is a possibility that I will post something as early at the end of next week! You have no idea how much I am looking forward working on this blog again! 

So, I think that's it for now! If you want to have a look at what I have been reading, I have been active on Goodreads. Also, I am super active on Twitter and if you want to follow me there, you can find me from @milkamilka

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson (Review)

Release date: February 7th, 2017
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter
Publisher: Penguin Press
Pages: 352

(copy received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

Description (from Goodreads):

Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson puts pop culture under the lens of science to investigate what every business, every artist, every person looking to promote themselves and their work is after: what makes a hit a hit.

Hit Makers is a groundbreaking investigation into the most valuable currency of the 21st century: people's attention. With incisive analysis and captivating storytelling, Atlantic Senior Editor Derek Thompson uses the tools of economics and psychology to reveal the secrets of what makes a hit a hit. 

Drawing on ancient history and modern headlines—from vampire lore and the Mickey Mouse watch to Facebook and Games of Thrones—Thompson offers practical lessons for how anybody can make a hit and become a smarter consumer of culture. In doing so, he shows how the universe of attention is connected. An investigation into the science of pop music uncovers the secrets of JFK and Obama’s speechwriters. An exclusive new history of Fifty Shades of Grey reveals why "going viral" is a myth. HIT MAKERS not only investigates the cultural phenomena that make up headlines. It reveals the desires that make us all human. Hits enchant us, but they also hold up a mirror to our nature. 

We are living through an industrial revolution in attention. We used to simply play the hits. Now the hits play us back. Film, music, and media companies are using new tools to learn what makes their consumers tick. Hit Makers pulls back the curtain on this new world order to make all of us smarter about what people want and how things catch fire.

From the dawn of Impressionist art to the future of Snapchat, from small-scale Etsy entrepreneurs to the origin of Star Wars, Derek Thompson leaves no pet rock unturned to tell the fascinating story of how culture happens—and where genius lives.



The synopsis for Derek Thompson's book instantly caught my attention -- not only does it point towards a phenomenon that I find extremely interesting (how certain books, movies, songs, etc. become popular while other just as good pieces of entertainment do not), it also is a book that deals with issues related closely to my studies. 

If you are like me, and find the idea of reading about how popularity is generated in contemporary society, and perhaps how it has been generated in the years part, Thompson's book is must-read!

"The thesis of this book is that even though many number one songs, television shows, blockbuster films, Internet memes, and ubiquitous apps seem to come out of nowhere, this cultural chaos is governed by certain rules: the psychology of why people like what they like, the social networks through which ideas spread, and the economies of cultural markets. There is a way for people to engineer hits and, equally important, a way for other people to know when popularity is being engineered" (quote from the review copy)
The thesis of Thomson's research and the way he goes through what he mentions as the influencers of popularity, such as the psychology of why people like what they like and the process of engineering hits are done in an interesting, well-researched manner.

Thompson makes use of stories, of famous events from the history, as well as some little less famous anecdotes, to highlight the critical arguments he is making. He never delves extremely deep into different media theories (which is something I would have liked to see once in a while) and this makes the book highly readable also for those who have no media studies/popular culture studies/etc. background. 

Importantly, Thompson spends quite a lot of time making arguments about consumer behavior and how certain behavioral patterns/practices have shaped the way in which producers of cultural products have acted. According to Thompson,
"Most consumers are simultaneously neophilic -- curious to discover new things -- and deeply neophobic -- afraid of anything that's too new. The best hit makers are gifted at creating moments of meaning by marrying new and old, anxiety and understanding. They are architects of familiar surprises." (quote from the review copy)
The marriage of old and new, of familiar and unfamiliar, can be seen for example in the way previously loved movies and movie franchises are being adapted to a new generation of viewers. For example, the upcoming Beauty and the Beast adaptation will include elements of the old and loved movie (the songs, the story), but will also include something new, such as the live action element and a more independent, feminist Belle. Earlier in 2016, Ghostbusters was adapted to a new set of audiences but arguably failed to some degree (at least in the eyes of male viewers) by being too unfamiliar as a result of straining too far away from the original movie.

According to Thompson, the story of how a product is distributed is just as important as a description of its features. Due to social media, the distribution of songs, images, written word, and so on, has become increasingly easier -- everyone with a computer/phone/tablet and an internet connection has a chance to start a blog and publish their thoughts online, but not everyone gains the kind of audiences that would turn those blogs popular. In fact, it is quite rare for an individual to actually become "popular".

Videos of people singing covers of famous songs are in multitude on Youtube, but once in a while, megastars like Justin Bieber are plucked out of that multitude and turned into global phenomenons. While people often tend to have quite strong, either positive or negative, feelings towards Justin Bieber, I cannot help but to find the story of how he became popular fascinating, and how Youtube and other social media platforms really helped him in getting his name out there.

I am writing my master's degree about television comedy narratives and their relationship with the evolution of television from broadcast to narrowcast and from broadcast to VOD. While Thompson does not discuss this topic extensively, it was nice to see it mentioned. The phenomenon of how television has evolved from a screen in the corner of a living room into something that people can carry with them in their pocket is extremely interesting, and one that will most likely be the topic of several books to be written in the future.

Those interested in politics might want to check out Thompson's arguments about the relationship between Donald Trump and the press. While the rise of Trump will probably be analyzed by thousands of writers and academics in the months and years to come, I thought Thompson's decision to include a brief section of the topic to this book is very timely and will probably make a lot of readers think about the relationship between politics and media. Thompson writes about Trump and media in the following manner
"The GOP candidate with the least elite support, Donald Trump, spent less than $20 million on advertising. But he still won the primary in a landslide, because his outrageous statements and improbable candidacy were such irresistible fodder for networks and publishers desperate for audiences. Through the summer of 2016, Trump had earned $3 billion in "free media", which was more than the rest of his rivals combined."
There is honestly so much in this book I could pick up and talk about in this review, but at the same time, I feel like I don't want to give too much away. Sure, this is a nonfiction book, so there are really no spoilers there, but at the same time, I would like potential readers to have the kind of interesting and exciting reading experience I had with this one. 

Due to my academic background, there was a lot here that I knew already, but I feel like that didn't really take anything away from the reading experience. After all, one of the best things about reading about something you already know is seeing how someone else presents their arguments and how some theories and so on can be understood in different ways. 

Rating:


Monday, January 30, 2017

Here We Are edited by Kelly Jensen (Review)

Release date: January 24th, 2017
Publisher: Algonquin BRYR

Description (from Goodreads):

Let’s get the feminist party started!

Here We Are is a scrapbook-style teen guide to understanding what it really means to be a feminist. It’s packed with essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations from a diverse range of voices, including TV, film, and pop-culture celebrities and public figures such as ballet dancer Michaela DePrince and her sister Mia, politician Wendy Davis, as well as popular YA authors like Nova Ren Suma, Malinda Lo, Brandy Colbert, Courtney Summers, and many more. Altogether, the book features more than forty-four pieces, with an eight-page insert of full-color illustrations.

Here We Are is a response to lively discussions about the true meaning of feminism on social media and across popular culture and is an invitation to one of the most important, life-changing, and exciting parties around.




WHAT AN IMPORTANT, DIVERSE BOOK! If you have a teenager in your life, this makes a brilliant gift, especially at a time like this. 

Here We Are is a collection of essays, lists, illustrations, etc. all about feminism. It has been edited by Kelly Jensen and I think she has done an amazing job putting together such a diverse, intersectional set of works by writers from different walks of life. 

I can honestly say I enjoyed every single one of the pieces from this collection and I loved the way the book is organized. It is accessible and easy to read and it really managed to make me think about a lot of things. I loved the intersectional approach it offers to feminism, featuring voices by writers of different races and sexualities because after all if your feminism is not intersectional, it's not really feminism at all. 

I suck with reviewing collections like this, so I will keep this short, but want to just say that this book is a true gem, an extremely worthy collection of thoughts about self-identity, the relationship between popular culture and feminism, body image, the relationship between feminism and race as well as feminism and disability, and so much more. 

To finish with this review, here are a few of my favorite quotes:

My body is fat. I won't win any awards or lose any points for saying that. I am merely stating a fact. I am fat. - Angie Manfredi (this is a statement I can really identify with and I loved Angie's essay as a whole because it really just hit home in many different ways)

When you want to be someone else, you can never be yourself or learn who you really are. - Alida Nugent

Women are humans. Complete, complex, flawed, beautiful, worthy humans. So to expect an impossible level of perfection from ourselves is, in fact, self-oppression. It's denying ourselves the pleasure and privilege of being real. - Lily Myers

Rating:


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen (Review)

Release date: September 6th, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Description (from Goodreads):

Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk. The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change. Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute.




I picked up Bad Girls Throughout History on a whim while looking for something quick and interesting to read. Bad Girls Throughout History is not flawless, but nevertheless, it is a beautifully illustrated collection of short descriptions of lives of some pretty remarkable women. 



The sections on the different women from Lady Godiva and Catherine Great to Tina Fey and Nora Ephron are fairly short and the illustrations are to die for. While a book like this might not be the best source of research for example on someone like Jane Austen whose life has been written about so much in detail, a book like this can inspire especially younger readers to do more research on the incredible women they can read about from the pages of this book. 




While the first half of the book is more focused on women from all around the world, the book, in general, is quite focused on North America. Because of this, I was bothered to see that no First Nations/Native women were included. While reading through other reviews for this book, I noticed that this was something that quite a number of readers had noticed. Considering the history of North America, one could expect to see Native/First Nations women mentioned here.




Bad Girls Throughout History is a beautiful coffee table book that will make a great addition to any home library. I especially recommend it for those who want to give a meaningful, educational gift for the young women in their lives. 


Rating:



Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bittersweet (True North #1) by Sarina Bowen (Review)

Release date: June 14th, 2016
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Rennie Road Books

Description (from Goodreads):

The new series is set in Vermont. True North is populated by the tough, outdoorsy mountain men that populate the Green Mountain State. They raise cows and they grow apples. They chop a lot of wood, especially when they need to blow off steam. (Beards are optional but encouraged.)

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago. 

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.



After reading a number of non-fiction books, I was looking for a fun, romantic novel to end my reading year with. Bittersweet, the first novel in Sarina Bowen's True North series was exactly what I wanted, and so much more. It has a great set of characters, romance, some sexy-times, and perhaps most importantly, a tangible chemistry between its two leads. 

After a few failed attempts to succeed in college, Audrey enrolled into a culinary school and succeeded in a way no one expected she would, least of all herself. While time at the culinary school was a success for her, life after graduation hasn't been quite what she imagined. Rather than being in the kitchen, doing what she does best, she has become an errand girl/assistant to cocky male chefs who think they can do anything better than Audrey can. 

Griff's life hasn't gone quite as he planned it to go either. When his father died unexpectedly, he had to put his own dreams on hold and move back home to help his family with their apple farm in Vermont. Now, he is an aspiring cider maker and the resident hot grumpy guy -- so damn attractive, but so damn difficult to actually approach. 

When Audrey is given the assignment to find farmers from Vermont to participate in a local produce project, Audrey and Griff come across each other for the first time since college. Both are made to question the possible feelings they might have had for each other in college, as well as the potential for a future where they are more than just a buyer and a seller. 

Audrey and Griff are the dual narrators of Bittersweet. While Bowen could have easily picked just one of them to be the sole narrator of the novel, and the story would have still worked out quite well, it is nice to read both of their perspectives to the situations they are in. I loved reading about the backgrounds of both Audrey and Griff, and the things they have gone through before the events of the novel kick into action. 

One of the highlights of Bittersweet are the family relationships, which I think Bowen writes interestingly and with care. Bowen focuses not only on biological familial relationships, but also on companionships and friendships just as close as family relationships. I especially loved the banter between Griff and his workers (the male leads of the follow-ups to this novel).

"What's your plan?" she startled me by asking.
"What?"
"I just told you my five-year plan. What's yours?"
Easy question. "To get Daphne and Dylan through college."
"That's not what I mean. What's the beautiful part?"
I gathered her hair in my hand and smoothed it off her shoulder, because I couldn't stop touching her. "I'm holding her right here."

The development of the relationship between Audrey and Griff did not raise any red flags for me (no abuse, no glorification of violence, etc) and Bowen's writing was able to make me emotional a number of times. I wasn't a huge fan of the sexy times scenes and I was slightly annoyed by the continual use of the word "babe" (if you have read some of my previous new adult reviews, you might know how much I hate the word "babe"), but other than that, I had not issue with the romantic aspect of the book. 

I have a definite soft spot for grumpy yet gentle guys, so Griff definitely hit a spot for me, and Bowen writes in a manner that really made me able to imagine what he looks like (which is definitely a good thing)! I am so looking forward to reading the next book from this series at some point, probably when I am in the mood for something well-written, yet romantic and quick to read.


Rating: