ARC review: The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane

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An eighteen-year-old girl with bleached blonde hair wakes up in Ireland as the lone survivor of a plane crash.  She can’t remember anything, including her name.  Though the nurses tell her that she’s Clementine from Cleveland, she feels no connection to the name or to the town.  The idea of going home to a father she knows nothing about terrifies her, so she runs away with the first boy she meets.  Kieran is cute and harmless and lives in a cottage with his sister. As time goes on, Clementine begins to reinvent herself as Jane, who loves to bake and hates being alone.  Will Clementine’s memories ever come back, or has she really been reborn at the age of eighteen?

Back in 2016, I read Rebekah Crane’s The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. It had mixed reviews, but I loved it. I was excited to see a new book of hers pop up on Netgalley, so I immediately requested it. That was in October, but since the book doesn’t come out until February, it sat on my shelf for a few months before I picked it up. I actually really liked it.

One thing that I really appreciated (and didn’t expect) is that Clementine is actually fairly traumatized by her accident.  So often, in books like this, the main character sort of pops up and gets on with their life.  But Clementine, though she tries, does struggle.  Loud noises make her jump.  She has nightmares.  Heights make her nervous.  The idea of getting on another airplane is terrifying.  Now, I’m not a psychologist or anything, but this seems a great deal more realistic to me than the “I just went through a traumatizing accident but I’m totally okay” books that I’ve read.

Another thing that I liked was how sometimes a saying would just pop out of Clementine’s mouth and she’d have no idea where it came from.  It was just a little tease at her past, enough to keep us on our toes but not giving too much away too soon.  After all, beer is cheaper than therapy in the midwest.  That much is true.

Now let’s get to Kieran.  I liked him from the start.  He was charming and wonderful, but… (there has to be a but) I kind of felt like he was a hypocrite.  I’m not going to get into spoilers, but the conflict and the ending felt a little off to me.  Still, he’s a great love interest and a great character all around.

As for the secondary characters, I thought that Siobhan and Clive were great. I liked how Clementine and Siobhan kept getting off on the wrong foot because nothing Clementine ever wanted to say to her came out the right way.  That’s happened to me before when trying to make friends, so I could definitely sympathize. I loved Clive and thought that he made a great friend to everyone in the book. I would love to shop at his store!

The only character that rubbed me the wrong way was Stephen. I know that I was supposed to love him, but as a medical professional myself, I couldn’t help but feel that he overstepped time and time again. I’ve said before how I’m sensitive to the portrayal of medical professionals, though, so this will likely not bother many people.

Overall, I really liked this cute, short romance. If slow burn romances, self-discovery, and Irish boys do it for you, you can’t go wrong with The Upside of Falling Down.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

I received a free advance copy of The Upside of Falling Down from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for my honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors of 2016

Whoa, it’s been months since I last did a Top Ten Tuesday!  I happened to scroll down while I was preparing a list of my top new (to me) authors of 2016 and saw that I’d flagged this topic as one I absolutely had to do.  What are the chances that the timing would be so perfect?

So, without further ado, here are ten authors (listed alphabetically) that I read for the first time in 2016 and will, without a doubt, continue to read in the future:

  • Melissa Chambers.  I read Chambers’ The Summer Before Forever and was actually pretty surprised to find a young adult book that really delicately handled a romantic relationship between stepsiblings.  I’m really curious to see what she’ll come up with next.
  • Rebekah Crane.  Of all my Kindle First picks, Crane’s The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland is one of my favorites.  A motley crew of teenagers helping each other overcome their problems at a picturesque summer camp?  That’s just my kind of story.
  • Melanie Harlow.  BookBub often alerts me to free erotica, and nine times out of ten, it’s absolutely awful.  Harlow’s Frenched was a great exception to the rule, and I’ve already got an eye out for more of her work.

  • Aaron Hartzler.  When What We Saw came out earlier last year, my Goodreads feed was flooded with positive reviews.  It took awhile for my library to get it, but it was absolutely worth the wait.  Now I am waiting patiently for more of Hartzler’s work to show up.
  • Hazel Kelly.  Kindle Unlimited is a tricky thing.  There’s an awful lot of books available, and an awful lot of them aren’t very good.  But sometimes, you find a really good author whose books are well-written and don’t just feature the same plot over and over with different characters.  Kelly is one of those authors.
  • Robin Roe.  I haven’t yet reviewed Roe’s A List of Cages, but it hit me hard.  This story of a young boy with an abusive uncle and his friend who struggles to help him ripped my heart out.  I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
  • Tiffany Truitt.  Seven Ways to Lose Your Heart still stands out as one of the cutest (and also sexiest) books I read this year.  I fell in love with the characters and world created by Truitt.
  • Danika Stone.  If you’re looking for a good book about nerd culture, look no further than Stone’s All the Feels.  I have yet to read another book that so clearly captures the level of obsession I can get with a fictional universe.
  • Siobhan Vivian. I read two of Vivian’s books this year and was pleased with both.  The one I particularly liked was her new release, The Last Boy and Girl in the World.  I am so excited to see what she releases next.
  • Francesca Zappia. Saving the absolute best for last, Zappia’s Made You Up is one of my all-time favorite reads.  I absolutely adored the characters that she created, and I loved that we never quite knew whether what was happening was actually the truth.  I have so much respect for her as an author and I know she’s going to go on to do great things.

Which authors, if any, did you fall in love with this year?

Book review: The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane

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It’s been awhile since I read a Kindle First book. They haven’t really been capturing my interest lately, but for some reason, I felt compelled to try this one. And I’m so glad that I did. Because this book was great.

Zander has been sent by her parents to Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens. Some of her fellow campers have eating disorders. Some have attempted suicide. Others suffer from mental illnesses like schizophrenia. Zander doesn’t really feel like she belongs there. After all, she gets great grades. She does what her parents ask. She even has a cute boyfriend. Everything is just fine with her life, so why is she stuck at this weird camp, forced to partake in “share-apy” and craft time?

Zander doesn’t think that anything at this camp will help her. And she’s right, to an extent. The adults that run the camp don’t seem to know what they’re doing. They certainly don’t act like they’ve studied adolescent psychology or are qualified to do this for a living. The kids are allowed to pretty much do whatever they’d like. Aside from the counselors that sleep in the cabins with them, there’s very little supervision. But it turns out that kids know how to help each other.

At camp, Zander meets a collection of misfits who turn out to be exactly what she needed. Cassie describes herself as a manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Bek is a pathological liar. And Grover. Oh, Grover. Grover just knows that someday he’ll turn out to be schizophrenic like his father. Cut off from all communication outside the camp, the four teens bond and, as much as they can, help each other overcome their issues.

It seems that the negative reviews for this book have one main criticism: that the resolution of the characters’ various problems was too easy. So let me just put my take on it out there. This is a story about four teens finding friendship despite their differences. It is not a how-to manual for overcoming mental illness. It was not written to encourage parents to send their troubled children to summer camp rather than a qualified physician. It’s a ray of hope for people who feel like they’re alone with their problems.

This is a great book. It’s a believable story of a collection of teenagers who just want to feel better about their lives. It wraps up a little too neatly, but sometimes we all need a ray of sunshine in our lives.

Final rating: ★★★★☆