New Waves by Kevin Nguyen #NewWaves #GeneralFiction @PRHGlobal #BooksTeacupnReviews

Publication Date : March 10th 2020
Publisher : Spiegel & Grau
Genre : General Fiction
Pages : 320
Stars : ★★★☆☆

Set in the New York City tech world, a wry and edgy debut novel about a heist gone wrong, a secret online life exposed, and a young man’s search for true connection….

Lucas and Margo are fed up. Margo is a brilliant programmer tired of being talked over as the company’s sole black employee, and while Lucas is one of many Asians at the firm, he’s nearly invisible as a low-paid customer service rep. Together, they decide to steal their tech start-up’s user database in an attempt at revenge. The heist takes a sudden turn when Margo dies in a car accident, and Lucas is left reeling, wondering what to do with their secret–and wondering whether her death really was an accident. When Lucas hacks into Margo’s computer looking for answers, he is drawn into her secret online life and realizes just how little he knew about his best friend.

With a fresh voice, biting humor, and piercing observations about human nature, Kevin Nguyen brings an insider’s knowledge of the tech industry to this imaginative novel. A pitch-perfect exploration of race and start-up culture, secrecy and surveillance, social media and friendship, New Waves asks: How well do we really know each other? And how do we form true intimacy and connection in a tech-obsessed world?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***

New Waves was general fiction that revolved around two friends Margo and Lucas, Lucas discovering more about Margo after her death, and coping with grief and loss. It was about technology and start up tech companies in 2000s, music, work and living in New York, and mainly friendship, loss and grief, racism at workplace and in society.

Writing was crisp and intriguing, both serious and witty at some point while trivial on another. It felt like I was reading documentary. Now from synopsis I guessed this might be a mystery, a techno thriller, (who tagged it mystery on Goodreads!) I thought Margo died because of data they stole or to keep Lucas safe or something. But that’s misleading. There is no mystery in this book, not anything like thriller. So don’t just get the book thinking you will have a mystery to solve. It is a pretty simple fiction about loss and grief and companionship.

New Waves was narrated from Lucas and Jill’s perspective. Both characters connected through Margo after her death. Lucas’ perspective told about how he met Margo, how they started working together, how he was coping after her death, how he met Jill and what they found in Margo’s laptop. Jill’s perspective showed her emotions, her writer’s block, her life before she met Margo and Lucas, what she talked to Margo, how she felt after Margo died, and what she thought about her and Lucas, how she found inspiration once again.

Characters were interesting and realistic but not exactly likable and were hard to connect. The plot and scenario actually made them interesting. The only interesting character died in first chapter.

Lucas didn’t have degree and still found job but didn’t appreciate it. He was aimless and passionless. Only thing he liked to do was chat with Margo, later sex with Jill, drink excessively, and wallow in loneliness and grief. I didn’t like his attitude and his mindset. I felt sorry for him that he had to face and experience racism at every level of his life. I know how it feels to be different from majority, not just in looks but in all other things but that doesn’t mean you hurt even those who cared for you or gave you opportunity. He messed in everything and with people who tried to help him and then turned all the failure in anger towards them. Most of the time he was boring character but some dry-wit scenario made him entertaining enough to keep reading.

Jill was full time author and was experiencing writer’s block. I liked her a little, she was at least better than Lucas. She had aim and goals, all she needed was inspiration and motivation that she received from Margo and after her death through her audio files. One thing I don’t understand about her is how she has money to waste on drinks if she claims to be broke?!

Her and Lucas’ relationship was okay. They lacked seriousness and love. They liked each other but it was not enough. At some point I thought, they might be together and help each other grow but they messed it too.

Margo was most interesting character. We know her from Lucas’ memories of her, from her chat with Jill and her audio files and all these three medium showed different side of Margo they weren’t aware of.

Lucas and Margo’s relationship showed what real friendship is and it takes whole life to know them and still there will be things about person that surprise you. You only know a person from what they share with you.

Grief isn’t just the act of coping with a loss. It’s reckoning with the realization that you’ll never discover something new about a person ever again.

I didn’t know the meaning of title until I read it in book and googled it – popular pop music in 1970s and 1980s. There was a lot about music, piracy and TV shows and characters’ thought on it was interesting.

There were many layers in this booktechnology and startup tech companies, misuse of internet and social media (This part was both serious and entertaining); Asian-American culture and discrimination they faced, gender inequality and companionship.

I loved some facts included in the book about face recognition technology and later its military funding (but here the year founded and its takeover was different. What I liked was Jill’s thoughts behind it. I don’t agree with her that the technology was racist in this but I agree the way government wanted to use it was racist), internet messaging that started in 2009, The longest record for running a marathon with the time of 54 years 246 days 5 hours 32 minutes 20.3 seconds (Lucas told whole story behind this longest record which was fascinating and real. What he was trying to say through it made me chuckle), and great Kanto earthquake (142,800 died in this earthquake, more than people died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, combined! I didn’t know that and I liked what characters said about it).

Climax was unexpected. I didn’t expect Lucas mess things this bad. I couldn’t understand what he wanted in life. Jill’s development was good and I liked how she finally moved on in life and with her dead project. I liked reading what happened to Lucas after he messed things and what he did at the end. That last chapter, last story and insight of it was great.

Why 3 stars-

Plot and pace was bumpy. I lost interest in the middle of the book. I didn’t care about characters until climax. Characters were not impressive and I didn’t like them.

Though I liked those audio files they felt disjointed with the main story. There was no character development until climax. Lucas’ development was not full even after climax. He grew but not totally. I still don’t like him.

I don’t know why Jill was given whole chapter (and I tell you chapters are long, there are total 8 chapters in this book) in the middle of the book telling about her ex and her life with him. I would have preferred her story short and in conversation with Lucas, there was no need to switch narration. Again second last chapters with 6 detailed weeks of Jill’s life was too much.

Overall, New Waves was different read than usual. Some things I like, some I didn’t but definitely very observant fiction. This can be hit or miss so read excerpt first.

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#BookReview : Breaking Storm (White Wattle Creek #1) by Vikki Holstein #BreakingStorm @VikkiHolstein @vulpine_press #RomanticSuspense #Publicationday #BooksTeacupnReviews

Breaking Storm (White Wattle Creek #1) by Vikki Holstein
Publications Date : May 8th 2020
Publisher : Vulpine Press
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Pages : 320
Stars : ★★★★★

When innocence is threatened, who will stand up?

Kelsey’s sole purpose in life is to keep four-year-old Pipa safe. Conceived in a violent, drug-induced rampage, Pipa is being hunted by the man responsible. He wants her dead, and no matter how far Kelsey and Pipa run, the brewing storm is never far behind.

Protection lies in Kelsey’s hometown of White Wattle Creek in the form of Ethan, the man who’d always been her safe place. The one she loved. And the one who broke her heart. But she not only has Ethan to face when she returns. The emotional abuse of her past and the truth surrounding Pipa’s existence both rain down on her from the clouds gathering overhead.

When Kelsey finally opens her heart to Ethan, her nightmares tip over into reality, and with Pipa’s future hanging in the balance, Kelsey must find the strength within to fight for their right to happiness … before the storm breaks. 

*** Note: I received e-ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Vulpine Press. ***

Breaking Storm was romantic suspense that revolved around Kelsey- who was trying to save her daughter Pipa and Brian- who was trying to mend relationship with his sister and seek justice against a drug dealer who had ruined many lives. It was about finding hope, happiness and home, having faith, believing in yourself once again, and getting back the control and confidence in life.

Writing was gripping, easy to follow, and emotive. I liked the fictional town White Wattle Creek. Its stories, people and close knit community was interesting to read.  Story was written in third person narrative from Kelsey, Ethan and Brian’s perspective.

Synopsis said Kelsey’s part of story really well. I was curious to find out what happened to Kelsey, how could Spencer-dangerous drug dealer- find her when she was so careful and didn’t leave any trails behind, what happened between Kelsey and Ethan that caused her heartbreak and made her run away from the town where she spent her whole life, and what secret she was keeping about Pipa and what happened to her in that five years.

What synopsis didn’t mention was there is another parallel story that merged just before climax. Story of Brian who was homicide detective and was trying to save his sister, Haylee, from her drug addict partner from the very beginning. Five years later Haylee was living with Brian with her three sons, still keeping the pain and abuse hidden behind tough, angry demeanor. Something went wrong between them when their parents died in car accident, Haylee wouldn’t let Brian in her life, share her emotions and pain, and wouldn’t tell him what happened with her. I was curious to find out what went wrong between them and what horrors Haylee might have faced, how Brian would make her believe in him and show how much he loved and cared for her, and what he would do to put Spence behind bars.

All characters were great. They had their flaws, pain and heartbreak, made mistakes but at the end they all developed to amazing person, found happiness and peace.

Kelsey was most favorite character. She faced a lot after leaving the town and even before she left the town. Her mother was abusive, hated her and said and did nasty things. But still she found her own family in Ethan and her friends. It wasn’t easy for her to leave the town. When the reason behind it was revealed I felt disappointed both in Kelsey and Ethan. What she felt was right and genuine as she was fragile at that time but it was no reason to leave. That was utterly naïve. But I like the way she found her independence, what she did for Jaiyden and Pipa. She was most courageous person in the book.

I loved her bond with Pipa. She was fiercely protective for her. She made Pipa feel loved and safe, made her clever, courageous and confident little sweetheart. Most of all I admired Kelsey for never hiding anything from Pipa, gone through hell to keep Pipa safe, and how she fought her demons in the end.

Ethan– I had mixed feeling for him. First, I didn’t like the way he handled situation five years ago and because of that Kelsey left and above all he couldn’t understand why she left. Second when she came back in town to him, to find a place to keep Pipa safe, he jumped to assumptions and didn’t believe what she said and then kept wondering why she wouldn’t confide in him. Third he kept pushing Kelsey so she would stay this time and reveal secrets. Fourth he didn’t understand she might need a space and independence. Okay in this part, I’m glad he stayed with her and didn’t let her bear the pain of loss alone but what Kelsey asked and said wasn’t wrong. All in all, he was bit stupid but I liked the way he cared and loved both Pipa and Kelsey, even after knowing secret related to Pipa and what happened to Kelsey.

Brian was another favorite character. I loved him for letting his sister and her sons in his house even though she rejected him before and after coming back to him. He was amazing with kids. His bond with his nephews was lovely and it melt my heart seeing them together as family. He was so patient and good. Poor guy kept feeling guilty for something he had no control over. I admired his dedication to make things right, get justice for Jaiyden and his sister, and help his sister in getting over pain and find happiness.

All secondary characters were great. I loved them for helping Kelsey and Brian, Haylee for telling her part and letting Brian in her life, Mark and Carol for support and little ones in the book. I hated Kelsey’s mother and Spencer, they didn’t even deserve hell.

The secrets and suspense were good. It kept me curious till the end. Best part was, the way author represented emotions, fear, and feeling of characters, how they were affected by abuse, and how they found their life back. Author handled heavy subjects like rape, abuse and domestic violence very sensitively without graphical description. All characters were realistic and relatable.

Climax was tense. I was waiting to see when and how Spencer will show himself and strike again and what will happen. The way he appeared was both expected and surprising at the same time. Expected because I saw it coming as soon as Kelsey made decision, surprised because I still couldn’t believe a person can hate someone to this level. I almost feared for Kelsey but she surprised me by fighting the storm, breaking it and made sure it never returns. End was great. I loved happy ending, a light after darkness belief, and what characters learned at the end.

Overall, Breaking Storm was intriguing, suspenseful, and emotive romantic suspense with amazing characters and family dynamic. I recommend this to fans of this genre.

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#BookReview : The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel @HALeuschel #TheMemoriesWeBury #psychological #fiction #BooksTeacupnReviews

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The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
Publication Date: publication: April 17th 2020
Publisher: EKT Selection Ltd
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Pages: 314
Stars: ★★★★★

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, who’s own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?

In ‘The Memories We Bury’ the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present. 

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*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. ***

Books I read by the same author:

The Memories We Bury was psychological fiction that revolved around neighbors Lizzie and Morag and their relationship that started sweet and turned bitter over the time. It was about obsession, manipulations, friendship, family, trust and betrayal. About danger that comes with trusting a stranger that comes under title ‘neighbor’ and its consequences, impact of childhood and its role in shaping person, controlling parents and their mistakes.

This was my 3rd book by author and like other two books, this book had captivating, flawless, and beautiful writing. Book was set in Edinburgh, first person narrative with alternative POV of Morag and Lizzie.

It started in 2016 withLizzie and Morag’s perspective telling how they were disappointed with what happened with them, Lizzie with her betrayal both from Morag and her husband, Markus and Morag with Lizzie moving away with her son, Jamie to Glasgow after all she did for her. That added enough curiosity to find out what happened and who was at fault, why they separated and are hurt. So to get the answers we are taken back to 2013, to the beginning of Lizzie and Morag’s friendship, their past life and at the root of distrust and betrayal.

In the beginning all characters looked nice but few chapters in this book and I knew there was something wrong with Morag. I had so many questions about her and her behavior and they all were answered in due time, some I could guess while some were surprise. I wanted to know why nobody from her family were close to her, why she was secretive and vague about them, why she was crossing the limits of friendship and neighbourship (Is that a word?), and why she was trying to control Lizzie life and constantly mentioning she knows all and means the best. And whenever she said that she reminded me of Gothel from Rupenzel and her Disney version song ‘mother knows the best’. Thing was she was not Lizzie mother, a mother figure to Lizzie and that’s because Lizzie thought she was loving, caring and adoring elderly lady until she became like her mother, but in worst way.

At 50% of the book I could see what Morag was trying to do. And what she did to Lizzie so that she could have more time with Jamie. I didn’t even need to read the truth about her past and family, about Aileen and her sister Lorna’s view and what Morag said later to everybody to know that she was wrong and only person responsible for what happened in Morag’s life and what she might have done. Who could have think 64-years-old lady could be so manipulative and controlling! After reading this book I’m not letting anybody enter my and my daughter’s space.

“Why is it I seem to remember events that hurt me better than experiences I’d rather hold on to because they made me happy?”

Lizzie was timid, naïve, and push over, easy to be intimidated especially by people like her husband- Markus and Morag. She was realistic and I empathized with her. Her past was poignant. I could see how difficult her childhood was and how much she might have struggled to come out of it and get her freedom. It was so sad to see her losing her freedom and control over her life this easily. I felt angry for her, I wanted to shake her so hard so she could come out of Morag’s clutches and the fog she created. And when that happened I was cheering for her new found strength that helped her to fight Markus’s belief and Morag’s control.

She was the only nice person in the book. Okay, there were others but were not present in her life all the time. Lizzie’s friends were good but I do feel they should have talked to Lizzie about their concerns.

Markus was there just to pay bill, he was ambitious, egoistic charmer. When he got the new about pregnancy he withdrew to the safety of his work and office. He wasn’t ready for being a parent and had no clue about parenting. His big mistake was he left Lizzie alone most of the time, he wasn’t even present at the birth of Jamie, moreover he believed whatever Morag said because he thought she was nanny or surrogate mother and grandmother to whom he didn’t have to pay. I don’t understand why Lizzie stayed with him so long. He was not likable person and by no means a father and husband material.

I liked the message in the book. Parenting is tough no doubt there. It shows that how confidence and little help either from family, loved ones, or group can help you with questions one have but at the same time how important the need of boundaries, your space, and independence is. You cannot trust anyone with your kid especially not a stranger you met few months ago. Only and only a mother can decide how she want to nurture her child, just don’t let anybody say or prove otherwise. Most important was even a perfect parent can make mistake and can be wrong about their way of upbringing. How wrong it is to push children in achieving something or fulfilling dreams you set for them and its consequences are irreversible. It also said about dealing with grief and past bad memories. I loved this lines about it-

“I always believed that you could put your bad memories inside a box, firmly close it shut, turn the key, put it away, and move on. Now I know that it is not possible, nor is it good to imagine that you can do so. The future always come looking for past.”

Best thing about the book was it was very realistic. It can happen to anybody. Climax was tense. One by one all the mystery and secrets were revealed. I was right about Morag all along and yet author succeeded in surprising me with Morag’s past, what happened to her family and her claims. When I thought it was all was over and book will end soon, there was another little surprise that enlighten me about how much truth was there in Morag’s claim. I admired Lizzie here and I was glad to see she could see who was right and good and who was not. End was great, warning us, ‘not everybody can change’.

Overall, it was gripping, realistic, emotive, and steady paced psychological fiction with beautiful writing and great characters.

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#BookReview :Blackthorn by Terry Tyler @TerryTyler4 @RRBookTours1 #Blackthorn #PostApocalyptic

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Blackthorn by Terry Tyler
Publication Date: November 25th 2019
Genre: Post Apocalyptic / Dystopia / Speculative Fiction
Pages: 509
Stars: ★★★★★

The UK, year 2139

One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped out ninety-five per cent of humanity.

Blackthorn, the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.

It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision and promises to bring hope back to the people’s lives.

Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift’s spell, and the most devoted of all is the governor’s loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.

Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks. She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder’s message. Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?

*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the author via Shannon @R&R Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author and Shannon. ***

Blackthorn was post-apocalyptic dystopia set in 2139, revolved around Blackthorn- a largest settlement in England, people in the city, their life under an oppressive ruler and how it changed with arrival of a charming traveler with his story of The Light. It was about politics and control, faith and belief vs cynicism and logic, communism, manipulations for personal gain, and fighting for loved ones.

This book brilliant. Writing was wonderful. It was gripping and flawless with serious and controversial subject. Setting, world, characters and lifestyle was intriguing and well described. Multiple narration from Evie, Byron and Hemsley worked well here. All three were working on different level in Blackthorn and they all had different life and view point.

It started with Helmsley giving an overview on situation in Blackthorn that was on verge of uprising, Evie telling about her life and how people living in shack were waiting for arrival of popular charismatic traveler, Ryder, how they all felt good in his presence, how he helped solving their problems, and Byron telling about his life so far and what he thought about Blackthorn and other guards and lieutenants.

This time when Ryder returned, something strange happened to him. He told about experiencing God, how he felt his presence and how he was chosen to deliver God’s message. He called the God ‘The Light’, told people to let light enter in their dark life, live peacefully and be kind to each other. The way he said all these, people- one by one and over short period of time- fell into his spell, they believed it and started living under his guidance. All but two were skeptic about it, Evie and Byron. They kept thinking what Ryder’s motive was and if he was telling truth. They didn’t accept Light nor oppose it openly but they were forced to do something about it when persons they cared about fell victim to it.

What will they do to save those they cared about? Can they stand against whole community and even the governor who also believed in this Light or they have to leave the community they lived in all their life and go out on road that is even more dangerous?

There was so much to grasp in first few chapters. I didn’t know this was part of series Project Renova until I read Author’s note at the end. It worked perfectly as a standalone. There was enough information about world from previous books.

World was amazing. This is first time I read a story that was futuristic but destruction and wipe out of population was so vast that people were living without technology, vehicle or any scientific advancement. Not even electricity or water supply through pipes. I didn’t even see a gun, which was more shocking. Electricity and proper bathroom was there but only for elite class not for poor or lower middle class. Let’s just say in 2139 people were living like 1739. And moreover people didn’t believe in God or any religion (not until Ryder’s experience). They lived in small communities and there were only few big communities like Blackthorn that provided shelter to people which were ruled by governor.

Even the city was presented wonderfully. There were levels in Blackthorn according to class and occupations which was wonderfully narrated in Evie’s voice. Discrimination and unfairness towards lower class and women made the world even more sad and sorry. 

All characters were interesting. Even villain. I loved Evie and Byron most. Evie was strong and developed character. She didn’t like her life in Blackthorn in general, but she had family, a job as backer that provided her food and shelter. She didn’t have anything to complain about but life was hard especially for her friend from lower level for whom she was willing to take risk. She was kind, compassionate, and smart girl with brain and logic. Her questions and doubt regarding God, faith and Light was logical. She could see through the deception and pretty words.

Byron was a guard. He had strong ethics and view point. He liked keeping himself to himself and doing his duty but was not subservient. He was a free spirit who loved roaming outside walls and craved independence. He didn’t care about anything except few people he called friends. I liked how his life took shape and direction once he found a person he cared about and all this light thing started.

He fancied Evie but was hesitant and was not sure if she would reciprocate his feelings. He and Evie made perfect pair in the book. I liked how slowly but strongly their friendship and relationship developed. Romance was not most important part of the story but I liked it.

Lieutenant August Hemsley was subservient to governor, Wolf North. He had blind faith in him. He never believed in rumors about Wolf, never voiced against wrong nor had his opinion. He thought he has earned his respect by doing his duty, he believed in what his mother said to him- “he was born to serve” until he could no longer turn blind eye. His development was tremendous. We see a different side of him when he came face to face with truth. It shattered his illusion and his faith and did right thing in the end.

 “Looks are deceptive.” “There is more than you can see.” “I respect faith but doubt is what gets you an education.” All these saying were so apt here. The ultimate message was, you don’t need entity, or religion or fear of heaven and hell to be kind, compassionate, and caring towards others. It comes from within. It’s a simple logic, if you be nice, listen to others, broaden perspective, discuss problems and find a solution, there will be order in any community. One doesn’t need faith and false hope to cling to get this. If you read this book you get the idea how much it was manipulated and tyrannical.

I could see where things were going most of the time and it was easy to guess how this will end yet author had surprise cards at climax and near end. Climax was at around 65% of the book with a shocking revelation. I guessed the truth about Light but not what Hemsley found out at this point. The story from here was most exciting and thrilling. When they decided to get justice and make things better for people of Blackthorn I could predict what might happen, I knew if they could get away with it or not. It was the result of their plan that was so uncertain and unpredictable which we know about in last 10% of the book. It was most shocking.

I enjoyed all chapters between climax and end. It was filled with hope, sadness, new learning, discovering real happiness, and tragedy. The end was perfect, I wish things were different.

Overall it was mind blowing, intriguing and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic dystopia that I recommend to fans of this genre.

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#BookReview : Friends First by Angela Lam

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Friends First by Angela Lam
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 268
Stars: ★★★★★ [4.5]

Maddy Strong doesn’t like to be alone but a weight loss boot camp is not her idea of a good time. Working out and counting calories is a test she’s bound to fail—especially when paired with fitness-focused Greg as a workout partner.

Health-conscious Greg Power is desperate to end his night terrors. While he doubts his therapist’s prescription of exhausting his body and reprogramming his mind he is willing to try anything.

During their workouts they uncover a deep connection. But when their friendship blossoms into love, they discover possibilities neither have ever considered. Faced with the biggest decision of their lives, who will they choose? 

*** Note: I received e-copy this book from the author, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to author. ***

Friends First was contemporary fiction set in Atlanta that revolved around Maddy and Greg. It was about excessive eating and drinking habits, struggle in weight loss, PTSD but mainly it was about friendship, helping and supporting each other in friendship, living for yourself and your loved one, and giving second chance to love and life.

That synopsis said it all so I’m not going to repeat it in this review. I’m also not sure how much should say in this review as I want to discuss characters and in doing so I fear I might include more than I should.

First of all, the writing was engaging and easy to follow. Story was told in third person narrative from both Maddy and Greg’ perspective, alternatively. It was character driven and author did wonderful job with both these characters.

Both Maddy and Greg were flawed, damaged and lost, made wrong decisions and were escaping their problems. They needed somebody to lean on even though they both were engaged, they needed somebody to understand their problems and help them. You would be thinking why they need each other if they had fiancé. For that you need to know characters. Let me start with 34-yr-old Maddy.

From the very beginning I didn’t understand why Maddy was marrying Darren. Clearly they had many issues. She couldn’t live alone or eat alone but Darren had job that required traveling. If she had problem with his traveling, why would she commit to relationship or agree to marry was beyond me. Maddy didn’t like cleaning or any physical work out while Darren was well built and preferred cleanliness. Darren sometimes ignored Maddy but kept constant contact with her siblings while she couldn’t get along with them. Result of these differences were, Maddy eating and drinking excessively to suppress her feeling, sadness and unhappiness that ultimately caused weight gain.

Now I didn’t like the way Darren was pushing her, nicknaming her porky, and threatening her to reduce her weight. She shouldn’t let him control her but thing was she wasn’t comfortable or happy with her body. She felt jealous of her sister who was slim and rich. She envied all who had fit body. Moreover, her habits were unhealthy to the limit that it could harm her. She had no control over her behavior after drinking. She was also a bit selfish. She asked Darren to leave his dream job so he could stay home with her, even when there was fear of losing her job.

As I read more I could see why she disliked her siblings. They were obviously were not easy to get along. They were really controlling and treated her like a baby. They didn’t trust her to take her own decisions. As I read more of her and Greg’s conversations I saw why she was with Darren as well. Greg brought out the best in her. She could see and accept what she was doing wrong and how she should come out of it, learned to face her problem, draw boundaries in relationships, and express her feelings more openly. She saw what true love is and that made her question her relationship with Darren. I was curious to see whom she will choose or if she would marry Darren?

Greg was 50-yr-old, escaping his home, his family and life. His father’s contemptuous remarks left deep scar in his soul. Losing leg, returning from war without accomplishing his mission was failure him. He was suffering from PTSD for years. His lack of confidence, will to live, panic attacks and nightmares kept him wondering, doing temporary jobs in different states, cheating his fiancée by giving into his new addiction, lust. He was going through a lot for long time and that too alone. I felt for him but at the same time I didn’t like his infidelity to Amy, his fiancée who was really saint and was waiting for him for 30 years! Who can have this much patience? He was fool really.  

Maddy made him see how selfish he was and what he was losing by his behavior. I wasn’t sure if he really loved Amy. When his and Maddy’s friendship developed, it really confused me whom he loved and at the same time made me curious to find out who he will choose at the end.

Both character’s development was great. I loved their friendship and how they evolved throughout the book. Along with this friendship and drama, author talked about PTSD and panic attacks and some people’s prejudice and behavior with person suffering from trauma, how much support, love and patience they need to come out of it through Greg’s story; and danger of eating and drinking disorder and how strong will and determination can help to overcome it through Maddy’s story.  I loved the message of giving a second chance to whom you love and it might surprise you.

Climax was good. I could see what will happen next and thought I would rate it 4 but I liked what characters decided and the way story ended. It was different from clichés or what I predicted.

Why 4.5 stars-

There was nothing wrong with the story and I actually enjoyed it.  But when I gave a thought later, I was skeptical about characters’ decision at the end. If it happened to me in both the cases I wouldn’t have taken that decision. I kept thinking, is it that easy to forgive?

Overall, it was interesting, engaging contemporary dealing with good topics and characters that gives you so much to discuss over.

Book Links: Goodreads

Let’s discuss!

What do you think about the book and my review?
Have you read this book already or any book by the same author?
Are you going to add it to TBR?
Which book you read was more focused on friendship than romance? Did you like it?


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