Review: It Happens All the Time by Amy Hatvany

This book needs to be required reading for all high school and college kids. I’m not even kidding. It’s graphic and disturbing, but it’s real. As the title says, it happens all the time. That needs to stop. NOW.

Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers—trusting and depending on each other through some of the darkest periods of their young lives. And while Amber has always felt that their relationship is strictly platonic, Tyler has long harbored the secret desire that they might one day become more than friends.

Returning home for the summer after her college graduation, Amber begins spending more time with Tyler than she has in years. Despite the fact that Amber is engaged to her college sweetheart, a flirtation begins to grow between them. One night, fueled by alcohol and concerns about whether she’s getting married too young, Amber kisses Tyler.

What happens next will change them forever.

In alternating points of view, It Happens All the Time examines the complexity of sexual dynamics between men and women and offers an incisive exploration of gender roles, expectations, and the ever-timely issue of consent.

I am in a state of utter disgust and anger after finishing this book. My heart is cracking for the boys and girls who go through this. I swear to God, more parents need to talk to their children about behavior. There are too many people who point fingers at the wrong person and are experts at the blame game.

“Everything about your behavior and your words might have said yes, but the moment you changed your mind, the moment you withdraw your consent either by physically struggling to get away or by telling him no, he was committing a crime.”

This book brought so many things to my attention, I’ll admit, in the past, I may have thought a few of things before. I’m not proud of that. In fact, I’m sick over it. As I watched the suffering that transpired between these two, I realized that so many in this day in age still think like this. The stats alone have me ill. Our culture has this all wrong. It’s been twisted in our minds. Something needs to change.


Buy It Happens All the Time HERE

A Postcard Would Be Nice by Steph Campbell

postcard As you know, I’m not one for reading blurbs. I tend to stick to my favorite authors and if I try a new one it’s only because my friends tell me I should. But for some reason, I felt as though this blurb needed to be read before I preordered it. But from the very first sentence, I had a feeling I was going to need this book. And when I finished reading the blurb, I knew I was going to need this book. I knew this story was going open lots of eyes and bring forth a lot of emotions.

Seventeen-year-old Oliver Wu remembers four things about Saturday night.

1. He remembers going to the party and seeing Paloma, the girl he’s had a crush on for years.
2. He remembers the disappointment he felt when Paloma left early, just when he was sure his bravery had paid off.
3. He remembers the room spinning and someone helping him up the stairs.
4. He remembers waking up next to Tarryn, a girl he barely knows, with his clothes on the floor.

There’s just one notable memory missing.
Oliver doesn’t remember saying yes.

When Tarryn laughs off Oliver’s panic and tells him he should take her out for breakfast, he doesn’t say no. He stops himself from saying no to Tarryn for weeks because he’s waiting for what never comes—an honest answer about what happened that night.

With his friends shutting him out, and the rumors swirling, Oliver is turning into himself and just trying to make it through the rest of his senior year with his head down.

But the one person that Oliver wants to hide the truth from more than himself, Paloma, is the one person who won’t back down and accept his changed behavior. Oliver opening up to Paloma not only means facing what happened that night—it means airing a truth that could easily rip Paloma’s world wide open, too.

Tell me I’m right. Well, the blurb has nothing on this story. I was in a constant state of angst. My heart was in my stomach the entire time. This is real. This happens more than we care to think about. I have teens and this scares me. I am buying this book and having them read it. It will be uncomfortable, but I feel that they need to see. I realize this is fiction, but I’m willing to bet that this has happened to someone. I want my kids to know what to look for and how to help.

To be honest, I never think of the guys. I just don’t. But I am now.

Review: August, October by Andrés Barba

25074166It’s hard to write a review for a book that you cared nothing about. As with all books I read, I went into this one with high hopes. Having read the description I found myself intrigued with how the author would handle this story. At the end of the day, I wasn’t happy. Nothing about it made me comfortable. The fact that the main character goes back at the end to seek some sort of….I don’t even know….Forgiveness? Justification? Admission? Redemption? Repentance? Again….I don’t even know….the fact that he goes back in the end…and the way it was handled…it just somehow made it even worse in my eyes. Doesn’t matter if the girl saw no wrong in what he did….it WAS wrong….it doesn’t matter if he physically had intercourse with her or not….it WAS wrong…the fact that she was mentally challenged? That made it even MORE wrong (if that’s even possible).

I don’t want to bash this author. I don’t even want to make this an issue over rape vs ???? what could I possible insert here to replace what happened in *anyone’s* mind? I….okay….I’m just flummoxed as to anything to say about this book…I always try to stress to people who I believe a negative review from me or anyone else shouldn’t really detour someone from giving a book a try…that it might just be me that didn’t connect with the book….I often go away from a book that I didn’t enjoy and know just the right person that might love the book….with this one, I’m just hard pressed to find anyone that would enjoy it. I don’t like saying that…

After still pondering how I could write a review with at least one redeeming thought the day after, I can only come up with this…

When Tomas’ aunt is dying she makes it very clear that she has come to the end of her life and is very disappointed that she is quite *ordinary*. This theme is often seen throughout the novel. As Tomas reflects on how he viewed his parents and how he sees them the night as they sleep…again, no longer larger than life, but ordinary…

I am left with this thought….There are much worse things in life than to be *ordinary*. Tomas and his *friends* are a perfect example of this. Perhaps Tomas plays along to the tough crowd hoping to avoid this *ordinariness* that he is so afraid of becoming….but in the process he loses all hope for ordinariness, let alone greatness….

Until next time…

Urania xx

ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now August, October by Andrés Barba

Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

24902492Can you remember the last book that you read that you absolutely loved? How about the last one you absolutely hated? The answer to that question for me is the same. Ruby by Cynthia Bond. The prose in this novel is simply put…brilliant. Bond really does have a way with words. Not only is it stunning, it is also filled with deep meaning and thoughts. It often demands of you to pause and relish in its aftermath. Because, yes…sometimes it is not just beautiful…sometimes it is also downright brutal.

I won’t go into all the plots and twists of this story…I will instead just list quotes and more quotes so you too can see exactly what I mean when I say Bond’s prose is both beautiful and brutal….

She wore gray like rain clouds and wandered the red roads in bared
feet. Calluses thick as boot leather. Hair caked with mud. Blackened
nails as if she had scratched the slate of night. Her acres of legs
carrying her, arms swaying like a loose screen. Her eyes the ink of
sky, just before the storm.

Celia poured the steam back in his coffee.

Maggie cut her eyes against his face, her fists tight in her lap.
‘Beatin’ ain’t the worse can happen to a body.’ The orange tip of her
cigarette devoured the white.

Ruby felt the lonely before it came. Knew that for all she’d have to
face when she left this tiny shack, the lonely would be the worst of
it. She knew too that it was the thing each of them shared, only it
was waiting for them in different places. For Ruby it was a room at
Miss Barbara’s. For Maggie it was the minute after Ruby said good-bye.
And for Ephram, it was right here, right now. She felt how the lonely
never left him, not even sitting beside her.

Some folk say after time she come to love him. Others say she jes’
give in to shame. Me, I don’t know much, ’cept that he chased her all
the way to lonely. And once you make it there, ain’t too many choices

By the time Ephram turned fifteen, he and Gubber were barely speaking
to one another. Ephram watched Gubber swell and grow and strain
against the fence of clothing, only to build a bigger fence, only to
strain, again and again. Gubber wouldn’t look at Ephram if they passed
in school or at P & K, and worse, when circumstance threw them
together, Ephram became the perfect foil for Gubber, a soft, weakened
thing to point out when collective fangs were bared. The fact that he
accomplished this with a chain of rebukes and thick jokes, and that
those actions had done more harm to Gubber Samuels than himself, was
not lost on Ephram. He’d watched Gubber swallow his kindness and shit
it out until all that remained was the waste of a good man.

Your daddy and me named you Otha. It means ‘wealth.’ You were your
daddy’s treasure from the time you were born until he died. He used to
say there were rubies buried deep inside of you. Remember, baby, don’t
never let a man mine you for your riches. Don’t let him take a pickax
to that treasure in your soul. Remember, they can’t get it until you
give it to them. They might lie and try to trick you out of it, baby,
and they’ll try. They might lay a hand on you, or worse, they might
break your spirit, but the only way they can get it is to convince you
it’s not yours to start with. To convince you there’s nothing there
but a lump of coal.

**Possible spoilers**

I’m still trying to figure out why I obviously disliked this novel so much when it’s clear that I also loved it just as much as I hated it. There is some black magic in this novel. That doesn’t bother me. There is also much abuse. Again, that didn’t bother me (well, it DOES bother me, but not a reason I disliked this novel). I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to suss it out…I think for me, Bond only touched on some areas (the Ruby that was in New York, Ephram’s sister, Maggie, Charlotte and so many other things) and yet she seemed to go on and on about others (Chauncy and the Dybou in particular). It’s almost as if Bond was trying to beat us with the worst of the lot to wear us down and overwhelm us. For me it just didn’t work. See, evil is evil. We all know that. We don’t need that shoved down our throats. But it’s the tragic that overtakes the good that really display just how evil that evil can get. It was all too lopsided for me. I realise that Ruby was overwhelmed with the evil….but the real tragedy was hidden into the why she was overwhelmed with it. It didn’t just happen. There were other’s involved. There were layers and layers that all conspired together to get to that point. What made the Reverend into the man he became? Why was Maggie so protective. Why did Charlotte run? Why was Celia so broken?

Yes, I realise that Bond touched on all of this….but that’s just it. She only touched on it. Yet she seemed to beat us over the head with Chauncy and Dybou without really going into the cause of their characters, only the effect.

I do realise that if Bond had given this novel the depth and care that it deserved that it might very well mean that the novel was twice it’s length. I wish that novel was written. There was so many things to be learnt in those missing pages. So much depth that her prose promised us. That is why, although I love it…I also felt cheated….and a bit bored with it….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Review copy provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Buy it now Ruby by Cynthia Bond