Between Me and You, I’m Not Super Impressed

Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch

Published by Lake Union Publishing, January 9th 2018

Genre: Adult, Romance, Fiction

Pages: 364

Between you and me, Between Me and You leaves something to be desired.

You see what I did there? I know it’s not funny BUT I CAN’T HELP IT.

Between You and Me

From New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch comes an honest, touching, and funny exploration of falling in and out of love, told from two perspectives—one rewinding history, one moving it forward—and each with bias and regret.

When their paths first cross, Ben Livingston is a fledgling scriptwriter on the brink of success; Tatum Connelly is a struggling actress tending bar in a New York City dive. They fall in love, they marry, they become parents, and they think only of the future. But as the years go by, Tatum’s stardom rises while Ben’s fades. In a marriage that bears the fallout of ambition and fame, Ben and Tatum are at a crossroads. Now all they can do is think back…

A life of passion, joy, tragedy, and loss—once shared—becomes one as shifting and unpredictable as a memory. As the pieces of their past come together, as they explore the ways love can bend and break, Ben and Tatum come to see how it all went wrong—and wonder what they can do now to make it all right. 

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

I want to start with the writing because this is undoubtedly my favorite thing about this book.

Between Me and You has alternating timelines but with a very interesting take: our two narrators are telling the story in different directions. We have Ben, husband, telling the story from 2016 backward to 1999. And Tatum, wife, telling the story forward from 1999 to 2016. This is what I was most intrigued by even before reading the novel, and it’s what (mostly) kept my interest throughout. I think it could have been a complete disaster, but it is pulled off well and easy to keep track of.

My one problem with the writing is that both stories are told in first person, present tense narration, and they were not different enough. At first, for instance, we read a chapter from a 40 year-old man, immediately followed by a 23 year-old woman, and there’s no notable narration difference. This is just not what I expect going into a double narrative like that, I really need unique voices.

For me there are also some definite pacing issues. It starts off interesting enough, but toward the middle it becomes pretty slow and just kind of blah? This had to do a ton with the characters.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

Oh. Boy. I wish I could share my notes with you guys. OH WAIT I CAN!

Okay whenever I start a new book I open up a laptop post it and write my notes so I don’t forget as I go. These are my notes for Between Me and You:

So. I mean. It’s not great. There are a lot more, but these are the ones I felt I would share. So characters, here we go.

Tatum. Tatum actually does not bother me. She definitely has some selfish attributes, she puts work before her marriage and sometimes before their child. These things aren’t cute. But she does genuinely love Ben and Joey and she tries so hard. So much of the time she takes the brunt of their issues, even though from my perspective, Ben is a giant douche canoe.

Ben. Well, you can tell from my notes that I’m not a fan. I think a big part of it is that Ben reminds me very much of a very real, very particular type of person. A toxic man baby. One who can’t handle his wife’s success, resents her for it, doesn’t particularly love being a husband or father but blames his wife for not being a better wife and mother. He’s the very stereotypical, mentally vacant husband. Obsessed with himself and how to further his career and jealous of his own wife.

Now, I don’t need to like characters to like a book. HOWEVER. When the book is possibly about reconciliation between our two narrators and I’m yelling, “DON’T GO BACK TO HIM, TATUM. YOU CAN DO BETTER, GIRL.” I am obviously not getting the full beauty of their love/loss of love/possible lean toward getting their love back.

A HUGE theme in the book is grief. Ben loses several people close to him, but we cannot go one. chapter. without hearing about what his dad would be doing. Keep in mind that these chapters are almost all entirely spaced a year apart. So we’re talking over a decade where Ben cannot stop. Of course I don’t expect grief to disappear overnight. What I do expect is that you move on and not let it affect every other relationship in your life.

All of these things made it very difficult for me to enjoy the book, because the entire book is about these two people and their marriage. Their marriage, for me, is not believable, and because of that, I can’t root for them.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

I so wanted to love Between Me and You. I wanted to root for Ben and Tatum, I wanted to be excited for them. Unfortunately I was mostly bored or actively irritated, and the most emotional I ever was in the story was about an incident involving their dog.

14 Brilliant Quotes from Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

I love his face. LOOK AT THIS GRUMPY FACE.

Kurt Vonnegut

Ahem. Anyway.

Vonnegut is best known for Slaughterhouse Five. BUT he wrote for over fifty years and published fourteen novels, three short story collections, five plays, and five works of non-fiction. That’s pretty freaking amazing.

Here are fourteen of my favorite quotes from him/his work:

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” 
Mother Night

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“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” 
Player Piano

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“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” 
Slaughterhouse-Five

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“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” 

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“How nice — to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.” 
Slaughterhouse-Five

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“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
A Man Without a Country

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“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.” 

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“1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America. Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them.” 

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“One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.” 

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“Like so many Americans, she was trying to construct a life that made sense from things she found in gift shops.” 
Slaughterhouse-Five

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Cat’s Cradle

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“A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.” 
Welcome to the Monkey House

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“And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” 
A Man Without a Country

LOOK AT HIM

Bookish Boyfriends Can Be Your Newest Book Buddy

Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt

Published by Amulet Paperbacks, scheduled for May 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 272

Okay. I was immediately attracted to Bookish Boyfriends. The premise just sounded way too cute, and I knew that if it was half as adorable as it sounded, I’d be on board. I had NO IDEA how much I would love this book.

Bookish Boyfriends

The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

The writing is so. effing. cute. Fun, hilarious, intelligent. The word that comes immediately to mind is effortless. The tone is so lighthearted that I flew through the pages easily and readily. At no point did it slow down or become less interesting for me.

See All the Stars by Kit Frick

The characters are just completely phenomenal.

Two pages in, I made a note about how much I adore the relationship between Merrilee, our narrator, and her best friend Eliza. I LOVE girl friendships. Love them. The good, the bad, the in between. I want them all. This one is possibly one of my favorite friendships in all of YA.

I could write an essay about how much I love Merrilee, our narrator, who is fifteen and boy crazy. What is refreshing is that she’s boy crazy for boys in books, hence bookish boyfriends. She is SO quirky (describing her style as “toddler-chic” is something I love), SO silly. But also brilliant and unapologetically herself. We could all stand to be more like Merrilee. I’d like more girls to be comfortable with being both math geniuses and romance junkies. Her loyalty and friendship to Eliza is admirable and gorgeous and something all people should aspire to.

We have Eliza, a gorgeous girl obsessed with biology who is an excellent friend to Merrilee, even if she doesn’t get the romance thing.

And a whole slew of side characters all distinct and beautiful. I won’t even get into the leading men, except to say that I love them, also.

I’m also OBSESSED with Merrilee’s English teacher, though this is an area where I’m extremely biased.

This book has SO MUCH TO SAY ABOUT WOMEN. It is subtle; feminist undertones are there, constantly, but it isn’t enough to be off-putting to those less inclined to our ways. I LOVE loud, bold, in-your-face feminism but I also love that I’m seeing a lot of this, like, thinly veiled girl power in YA.

I love that the female characters in this book give you a ton to think about. We tend to think of girls (and ultimately women) as one thing. People are told to forget how multi-faceted teenage girls can be, and I think Bookish Boyfriends is a great example of their complexity.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

I LOVE books like this where the tone is just so fun and lighthearted. No apocalyptic stakes, no end of the world around the corner. A girl and her life and her friends and her first experiences with dating.

I think this is great for people who like the softer side of YA. No cursing, no partying, no drugs or drinking. The kids are 15, so I think this is super fitting.

All in all this is just a great, quick read and I can’t wait for the next book!

 

***

*Note: My reviews are full of opinions. I may love a book. May want to marry it like the kid in the commercial for Peanut Butter Crunch (1999 was a great year for cereal and commercials, look it up). I may say a book is the best thing to happen to me since I started shaving my big toe. None of these things mean it is objectively good. I recognize that. Many times throughout my life, I have given a book I swore to be a life-changer to a friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/acrobat. Shaking, quietly weeping, I’d hand it (and my heart) over. Only to find out several weeks later that for them the book was good, maybe even great, but not the life-giving, soul-renewing magic I’d purported. You may not like a book I recommend. Sue me.

**Please don’t sue me, I just write here.

The Sunday Post | Weekly Wrap up

I’m linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimberly @Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

Hey y’all! I’m trying to think of what’s been going on around here andddd pretty much nothing! I’m done with school and things are easy and kinda delightful. I’ve been reading a ton so yay.

Also I dyed my hair and I’m kind of living for it! So fun and so red yesssss.

I did two book reviews this week! (click on the picture to see the review):

Time Bomb Novel See All the Stars by Kit Frick

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau, a YA about and from the perspective of six kids stuck in their high school, where bombs are going off.

And See All the Stars, a YA with alternating timelines, about a girl who has now lost all of her friends/boyfriend in a mystery incident.

I liked both of these quite a bit more than I expected! (Not that I actively expected bad things, but they were both ones I thought could go either way.)

I have a tonnnn of arcs (what else is new?) which I am very excited about! Here’s what I’m currently reading! Click the picture to see the Goodreads page!

  

Bookish Boyfriends is an arc I’m aboouuuttt halfway through! And I love it. I don’t feel it has nearly enough hype. It’s SO fun, and very well-written. Just like adorable, solid fun.

The Girl and the Grove I’ve only just started. I’m really excited! The author is a really awesome guy so I’m hoping the book is great!

Leven Thumps #1 is not an arc, it came out many years ago, but I’ve decided to start adding the books my kiddo and I are reading together! This one is really fun so far at about 100 pages in, but maybe written too advanced for a typical MG reader, just imo.

           

I did one other post, Way Hyped Books that I STILL HAVEN’T READ. These aren’t even books from last year? But from like several years now where I have not read the things I’d like to.

books

I’m not going to do a whole blog post on this one, but I feel like it definitely needs a mention! I read this book of poetry this week, also. In about an hour! Not just because it’s easy to get through, which it is, but I also just really adored it. I will definitely go buy a physical copy and read it more than once.

The Witch Doesn't Burn in this One

I hope everyone is having an incredible week, and I can’t wait to read your posts!

Time Bomb Novel

Time Bomb: A YA that Goes There with Social Issues

Time Bomb by Joelle Charbonneau

Published by HMH Books: scheduled for March 2018

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Suspense

Pages: 352

I just want you to know it took ALL my self-control to NOT name this review something silly and insanely punny like TIME BOMB IS EXPLOSIVE or something.

Time bomb was one I felt could really go either way! I was nervous about a few things but I really like this one!

Time Bomb Novel

All the Wrong Chords Book

A congressman’s daughter who has to be perfect. A star quarterback with a secret. A guy who’s tired of being ignored. A clarinet player who’s done trying to fit in. An orphaned rebel who wants to teach someone a lesson. A guy who wants people to see him, not his religion.

They couldn’t be more different, but before the morning’s over, they’ll all be trapped in a school that’s been rocked by a bombing. When they hear that someone inside is the bomber, they’ll also be looking to one another for answers.

Time Bomb Novel

I was intrigued by the premise immediately. I am very sensitive to school violence/guns/the way America handles (doesn’t handle) guns/the way schools handle (or don’t) safety in general. Given these issues, I was worried about how well I would handle this. But I feel this is done really well.

I am a mother, with a 5th grader in America and deal with these fears enough already, and this definitely reminded me of that. So I wouldn’t go so far as to say trigger warning? But several times while reading while my kiddo was at school, I wondered where he was and how he was doing and mildly fretted.

The Writing

The writing is third person, but alternates through the perspectives of the six main characters. I couldn’t help but draw parallels between this and One Of Us Is Lying.

The narratives for the different characters feel different enough that alternating so often through so many characters isn’t awkward or uncomfortable.

Time Bomb is written very well. It takes place over the course of only one day, (really, only a few hours of one day), so the pacing is definitely something I was worried about. It holds up so well, though. It is nerve-wracking and suspenseful and everything you want from a book with such high stakes.

The Characters

I won’t get too crazy specific on each character. I didn’t like all six of them. Really, I only liked two. Two and a half. But, I found all of them incredibly believable and (mostly) relatable. Some people aren’t going to be likable in a stressful situation, and the reactions feel natural and real.

We have Rashid, a Muslim boy, dealing with exactly what you would expect in the aftermath of a bomb. Tad, a gay, mixed-race kid. Diana, a senator’s daughter obsessed with being perfect. Frankie, the quarterback. Z, a kid already thought to be a trouble-maker. And Cas, a victim of bullying.

Given these characters, a lot could have gone wrong. I do think these things, especially the treatment of Rashid’s faith by the author and the treatment of Rashid by the other characters in the book, were handled very tactfully. (I am not Muslim, so I can only say this from my limited perspective. It felt real and natural and not gimmicky, and a great way to talk about race/religion. The kids talk among themselves about these things, and I think it’s handled very well.

Even the shitty kids find a balance and look out for one another, for the most part, and I am a HUGE fan of stories where kids come together. So that was possibly my favorite aspect.

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter

One, I don’t feel the ending is all that much of a surprise. I did guess it a little more than halfway through. I guessed the correct bomber, though I was wrong about the motivations which did make it interesting. I did feel moments of this were fairly irrational? But I don’t want to go into spoiler territory.

I also really need to figure out how I feel about cursing. SO, y’all know I curse a bit. That being said, I have no problem with books with no swearing. I pointed out in my review of The Lost Causes that they didn’t curse, and I thought that was cool because it felt authentic even if I have a hard time believing so many kids from different backgrounds don’t curse in a stressful situation. What happened here though was that there were, like, filler swear words? Like there’s LITERALLY A BOMB GOING OFF and a kid thinks: Oh, hell! Now maybe I’m being crazy, but I do NOT think oh, hell, when serious shit is going down. You know? It almost made me laugh? And pulled me out of a fairly serious narrative. Like. Take the words or leave them but don’t add filler words.

Overall, I think this is a very interesting read with some important things to say. It’s available to request on NetGalley!

Thanks to NetGalley for advanced access to this book in exchange for an honest review!