Review: Before We Were Strangers

Hi, Flamingos!

I trust that everyone is well and having a great start of the week! Mine pretty much starts out the same, no exciting news or happenings to look forward to. Given that my career is in events, this 9-hour job is just exhausting everything in me.

Honestly, if I didn’t need the money, I would rather just lounge around the house and spend my days reading. But oh well, I’m not privileged with such good life but in the future, I’m sure I’ll have all the time in the world to read ’til my heart’s content! I’m planning to launch my small business soon; it will be a side business until its fully ready to hold up on its own and increase the income to match my basic necessities.

Moving forward, a review is here! I finished Before We Were Strangers by Reneè Carlino, just last night. When I was around 10-years old, my mom didn’t have enough money to buy me brand new books and here in the Philippines, book sales consist mostly of medical and religious books but for fiction–it focuses highly on Adult Fiction. My mom loves to read, and I believe I got that from her; so to satisfy my hungry baby mind then, I dived into the works of fiction. My childhood consisted of Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon, hence the love for crimes and mystery.

Now that I’m earning my own money, and have a few ones to spare for books, I am finally able to buy more YA. However, my respect and appreciation for Adult Fiction had not faded completely. Earlier this year, I fell in love with Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan –it was a great start to accustom myself with adult fiction again.

I never would have known about Before We Were Strangers if it weren’t for GabbyReads youtube channel. She’d talked about the book constantly and how she loved it so much. I finally gave in, and got an ebook of the novel.

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Title: Before We Were Strangers

Author: Reneè Carlino

Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Publisher: Atria Books

Pages: 320 pages

Format: epub / ebook

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

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Weren’t we though? Timeless? Nothing could change what we’d had all those years before, even the idea of what might’ve been lingered between us.

A plus - Flamingo 2

Actual Rating: 4.5 stars

You can’t re-create the first time you promised to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-consciousness, passion and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice.

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• I loved the backstory of Matt and Grace. It was refreshing and bold, yet it flashes an invisible sign of proceed with caution or love at your own risk.
• ‎Before We Were Strangers is a well-written story about a love once lost, only to be found years later and realize nothing’s changed at all.
• ‎I loved the certainty of Matt towards Grace. His feelings have been direct and simple, no going around the bush. He’s loved her from the start and that was that.
• ‎I loved that it didn’t revolve around why the relationship didn’t work out the first time, or in the reasons why they grew apart in the past. Rather, it focused on the good things, the positive and the negatives of their past.
• ‎I love the simplicity of their relationship. It makes it so natural and relatable.
• ‎The emotions and actions of these characters felt real; they weren’t exaggerated or stretched out too thinly.
• ‎All the characters were memorable, despite having a few of them. They left an impact and a lasting memory in my head.

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• I didn’t so much enjoy too much discussion of their sex life. At some point, it felt as if all they did was that and that the relationship revolved around the excitement of touching and making love to each other. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there are couples who see sex as an important component of their relationship. All I’m saying is, I would’ve liked to get more of their mushy couple activities, though there had been a lot of that too–in short I’m just asking for more.

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• I rated the book 4.5 because of some things that didn’t sit comfortably with me. One of them being, the deceit was handled all too easily. It caused strings of events to occur (and almost destroyed your life), and yet the book still managed to give it enough emphasis.
• ‎There were so many overwhelming happenings towards the last five or so chapters, and it felt a bit abrupt. It felt as if the author chose to speed things up, instead of increasing the length of the book at least another two chapters to cover and make the situation more reality-based. I would have loved to see more of their family’s new lives, how the characters adjusted.
• ‎Lastly, what ended the marriage of Matt–the very reason behind this, it makes my blood boil. It’s never okay, and you can never expect anyone to get over or forgive such a serious matter just because they apologized for it. I could just never accept and learn to understand that kind of betrayal and the reasons why some people do it. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand this (I haven’t figured out how to write spoilers, then have them appear as a button for people’s option to read it or not.)

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All in all, it was such a great book. I am glad to be able to carry these characters, their experiences and their lives inside my heart for the rest of time.

I related a lot with Grace during their senior year at college. Having first fall in love, dealing with friends and first relationships, the reality of adult life where money is a necessity. Though all these, I’ve not gone through during my college days but just a year ago. It was hard dealing with excitement and moving forward in the relationship with caution, so as not to overdo or smother my partner. I can definitely see mysely recommending this continuously to a lot of people in the future.

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I’m sorry if that was quite long, guess I just have a lot of things to share that occurred over the weekend. Anyway, please don’t forget to visit and support my bookstagram account: @reeyuhbeegale, I will highly appreciate it. Also, I’ll be hosting an international giveaway soon as I reach 300 followers on Instagram!

Don’t hesitate to leave me some comments, I don’t bite! Watch out for an upcoming PH Blog Tour here at Reading Flamingo, for Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, towards the end of October.
QOTD: Do you have a “the one that got away” moment in your life? Do you still think about it until today?

With love,

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Abi, the Flamingo

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A Book Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

Hello, Cabbages!

I know what you were thinking–that I won’t be writing AGAIN even if I already said I will. Well, I can’t really blame you, I am one to grow lazier by the minute.

Some life update before we proceed with the actual review, first off, I’m writing this via my laptop and I haven’t touched my laptop for almost 3 months now–LOL. I know, who does  that right? Anyway, second, basing from this post, I assume you’ve figured out that I was able to buy a new book because I finished 3 which was my agreement with Pups. This Sunday I got This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab. I haven’t started that one ’cause I’m really not feeling the story yet, though I hope to read it soon. Please let me know if you’ve read by leaving a comment below.

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As you may have remembered, I joined the Emojiathon and this is my 3rd entry for it! I still haven’t done a post about Emojiathon and the books that I plan on reading for that and I don’t think I’ll ever get around to actually writing one, sorry. I’m still getting back to the feeling of blogging and I don’t want to overwhelm myself and feel like this is a responsibility. So this book falls under the category: “Book You Purchased because of its Cover”

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TITLE: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone

AUTHOR: Adele Griffin

DATE PUBLISHED: August 12, 2014

PUBLISHER: Soho Teen

PAGES: 256

Goodreads Summary: Brilliant young artist. Her mysterious death. Fandom that won’t let her go. From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison’s life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28. Fully illustrated.

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MY RATING: 4.00

Love! It’s like strolling along the milky way!

I am not one for reading non-fiction, I rarely venture out to that genre unless it’s for a school project, but since I’m out of College already, I don’t get to ready anymore of that. I also picked this book up during the MIBF 2016–Manila Book International Fair and I’m not going to lie, I did it because of the cover. I appreciate art and I love the drama vibe that surrounds its cover. I saw it in the shelf and I knew I had to get it!

Getting to reading this book wasn’t hard, mainly because it’s not real–basically it’s a faux biography of a fictional “celebrity-like popular” character, so obviously it’s not heavy on the non-fiction elements we usually see in real biographies. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did, I gave it a solid 4 out of 5 stars because I connected with it and if you’ve known me, you’ll understand that a connection is a stronger pull on me rather than a fluid plot line.

PLOT:

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone was dark and problematic, but at the same way, I was drawn into her. I think the author did such a great job by writing a protagonist who is realistic and full of character. I’ve never read any Adele Griffin book except for this, but I love her writing style. Such a brilliant author for being able to suppress all that emotion in one character and still not bombard or overwhelm the readers at the same time. Her character was written in such a charismatic way and you can’t help but put your attention to her; the entire persona of Addison Stone demands the attention of every reader out there.

This book explores a lot of mental issues and how people don’t necessarily understand them. It made me realize that being mentally unstable or unhealthy can drive you to the brink of exhaustion. It deals heavily on how each and everyone of us have our own battles and monsters to face, and the only we can count on to help us is ourselves. There are haunting points in this book which I felt very appropriate; it was so dark and delicious.

Another aspect I loved about this book is how it was written in a series of interviews with people who have interacted with Addison at some point in her life–both significant and acquaintances were featured. Addison Stone and her different phases in life were narrated through the eyes of these strangers and loved ones, and yet they all have different interpretations on how she was as an individual. It created an impact for me because it’s the truth–no matter how many people we meet in our lives, none of them will know the truth in the core of our individual existence. People form judgments of who we are, both good and bad but we can never trust anyone to tell the truth of our story because that is ours and only us can set the facts straight, unless you are six feet under the ground.

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The beauty in the misery in the death of Addison, is that I only regret not meeting her. Most of the books out there, presents some protagonists in the most awful way. I don’t approve of protagonists getting away with their attitude and flaws, just because I have to sympathize with her situation, like I am expected to root for her because “everybody’s out to get her”. In this case, as a reader I am presented with how problematic Addison is. There’s no hiding her dark and wild spirit; it’s almost like I am made to hate her for all the vile things she’s done but because I am exposed to all this, is what actually allows me to empathize with her. I am brought to understand her for why she is what she is.

CHARACTERS:

There were so many characters involved in Addison’s life, and though most of them were significant, I don’t feel the need to discuss all of them. However, I only loved Lucy–the best friend of Addison Stone. I believe she’s the closest to the truth as I’ll ever get to knowing Addison. She’s seen her demons, her flaws and she’s the same old Lucy you’ll see from start to finish. I love her versions of Addison because I was given the privilege to witness the young Addison up until the time before she drowned.

In a lot of times while reading this book, I’ve happen to remember Alaska from Looking For Alaska of John Green. It was actually my favorite John Green book, I loved the drama in that. However, reading this, Alaska suddenly felt unrealistic. Her character was wild and lost and dark, yet she felt flat in comparison with Addison Stone. Alaska was became shallow for me and that’s sad, I’ve loved her since I read the book back in 2013. It just so happen that I now appreciate more of the darkness that surrounds Addison Stone.

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Like I said, this book was written in such an interactive and realistic way that I barely noticed it was fiction. I can’t describe it or review well for you guys, because just like the synopsis in Goodreads, I don’t think it will give justice why this book is beautiful in all its darkness. You have to read it for yourself; trust me, it will be a shame not to have a glimpse of Addison Stone.

There were such great art, and photos to document the life of Addison and they were just so fun to skim through. Also, the model who they got to portray Addison Stone in the book is so stunning and full of charm.

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So that’s not a good review, but like I said, I don’t trust myself to give justice to how powerful this book felt for me. I wish a lot more people would give it a go, it deserves to be devoured and not left accumulating dusts on the bookshelves.

I’m still thinking about writing a review for Crazy Rich Asians, or if I missed my “hype” for the book already. But I finished it way before this one, and it was part of my entry to Emojiathon as A Book With Marginal Characters–well it was about the life of rich pure Chinese clans.

If you’re wondering, I also didn’t continue on with When Dimple Met Rishi because I’m quite overwhelmed with the Indian language they use there, and unlike the Crazy Rich Asians, ALL unfamiliar words were translated. However, it’s still my most anticipated contemporary read but I’m putting it off for now because I’m craving for some fantasy books which I don’t have much on my shelf.

Please let me know me down below in the comments if you’ve also read this book and your thoughts about it or if you’re participating in the Emojiathon as well! I’d love to hear from all you so do leave me some love! Thank you all for your time and for the support, I know I’m far off from the great reviewers out there, but I’m trying to give my best in discussing the books that I read. It might take some time before I get back to my old blogging style or for me to develop a new one, but I’ll get there. Until my next post, Cabbages!

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