Review: Everything We Keep

Everything We Keep: A NovelEverything We Keep: A Novel by Kerry Lonsdale

Published August 1, 2016

Lake Union Publishing

My rating:  3.5 Stars

Everyone is supposed to be excited and happy on their wedding day. All that waiting until they walk down the aisle to their beloved. However, twenty-six year old Aimee’s wedding day has turned into a nightmare. Instead of walking down the aisle to marry the love of her life she is mourning the loss of him at his funeral. It’s not just her fiance, James in the casket it’s also all of their hopes and dreams that will be buried along with him.

“Same Church. Same flowers. Wrong Ceremony”

Meeting when they were eight years old, Aimee and James were first best friends then childhood sweethearts. After all those years together, they were the perfect couple. However, even though everything appeared to be perfect in their lives, things weren’t exactly as they seemed. James and Aimee had a secret and James had secrets of his own, secrets that could devastate Aimee.

At the funeral, Aimee feels like she’s about to break down and decides to slip away from the mass of people offering their condolences. As she leaves she’s approched by a woman who gives her some shocking information about James. She wants to tell her more but Aimee’s friends come along and whisk her away…

“Don’t be naive, Aimee. People will take advantage of you.”

It was supposed to be a quick business trip. James said he would be back in less than four days. Instead…James was gone. After missing for two months apparently his body washed up on shore.
What really happened on this business trip? Is James the man she thought he was? And what does this stranger know about what happened?

Will Aimee be able to move on without James or will she be pulled back into the past? The secrets that are revealed have the ability to break Aimee or make her stronger, and she will have some very difficult decisions to make.

I thought this was a pretty good debut novel. It flowed fairly well and it was a quick read. We get to see just how James and Aimee’s friendship started and developed over the years through flashbacks. I can’t imagine how heart breaking it would be losing someone and burying them on what was supposed to be your wedding day. How hard it would be to go on after spending so many years together.

The story had a decent amount of suspense. I was intrigued and really wanted to know what happened to James. With many twists and turns I wasn’t even close to figuring out what actually happened and was quite surprised. However, I did find some of it to be a bit far-fetched.. Some of Aimee’s decisions seemed a bit bizarre to me. But all in all I thought it was still an enjoyable story.

When I read the book I didn’t realize there was going to be a sequel so I was a bit frustrated with the ending. Now that I know there’s going to be another book I’m not as irritated. “What we leave behind” is the sequel to this novel and will be published in 2017.

Thank you to NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Kerry Lonsdale for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Review: Nina is Not OK

Nina is Not OKNina is Not OK by Shappi Khorsandi

Published July 28, 2016

Ebury Press

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
WOW!! I really do have to give this one ALL THE STARS!

I first came across Nina is Not OK after a friend reviewed it.. After reading her review and the book description I wanted to read it right away.

The book opens as seventeen-year-old Nina is being marched out of a club by a bouncer. Her best friends, Beth and Zoe are still inside, while she’s outside so drunk she can barely stand. Some time later she arrives home by cab, with her underwear in her hand, shocking her mother with the state she’s in.

When she awakens the next morning, she’s relieved that she is in her own bed fully clothed. However, she has no memory of how she got there. This isn’t the first time Nina has drank so much she’s blacked out, with no memory of what happened. Although her memory is almost blank she feels deeply ashamed at the little bits she does remember. Her mother is also not impressed and is losing patience with her, though she tries to be understanding as what’s happening with Nina is not unfamiliar to her.

***Possibly very minor spoilers***

Nina’s father was also an alcoholic. One minute a happy drunk and the next he was yelling and throwing things. Her childhood was chaotic. After he passed away her mother got some help and eventually met and married Alan. He is a quiet man that Nina finds boring but grudging admits he’s a good father to her little sister Katie.

Nina is trying to get over her recent break-up with ex-boyfriend Jamie. The break-up was out of the blue and Nina is still trying to make sense of it. And drinking seems to help her forget about it, at least for a little while.
When her step-father gets a job in Germany, they are all to go live there for a year. Nina is livid and refuses to go with them. It’s decided she will stay with Beth and her father while they are gone. Nina’s drinking gets worse and she’s making some dangerous choices. Everyone is worried about her but Nina thinks she’s fine. But one night things go way to far and even Nina knows it. She’s taken to rehab. It takes time but she realizes that she does have a problem a huge problem and that she needs help. That the people in rehab truly understand.

“For the first time I’m with people who have boozed in a way that normal drinkers don’t understand. Those who say getting wasted is a ‘rite of passage’ don’t get it. We are not ‘hard-core’. We are not ‘party animals’. We are ill.”

For awhile things are okay. Nina works the AA program. “One Day at a Time” becomes her mantra. New Year’s Day though, Nina’s world explodes. Angry and ashamed she doesn’t think that she can make it through this.

Some readers may have a hard time liking Nina. She can definitely be hard to like sometimes. I’m in no way shaming her, as many addicts can be hard to like. Nina is an addict, an alcoholic. Generally addicts in the throes of their addiction don’t treat people very well. They will often lie and manipulate in order to get what they want. Nothing is ever their fault etc. I feel like the author definitely succeeded in showing how a teenage addict could act.

There were many times that I loved Nina too. Her relationship with her sister, Katie is beautiful. Katie brings out all of the softness in Nina. Nina does not like six-year-old Katie to see her drunk and feels terrible when she’s hung-over and grumpy with her.

**Warning** There are some brutally honest and graphic descriptions of situations that may upset and/or trigger some readers. However, I didn’t feel like the author was trying to sensationalize these situations but trying to show the reality of what was happening in Nina’s life.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”

Literally painful to read at times. The writing is authentic and accurate. The author tackles so many of the issues that our children are going through today. Drugs, alcohol, sex, school pressure, social media, relationships and more. I really became more and more emotionally invested into Nina’s character as well as some of the other characters as the book went on.

This is definitely one of best books I’ve read lately. I loved so many of the characters, they were so well developed. The author is also a comedian and although there were many dark issues in this book, there were also some incredibly funny parts too.

Thank you to NetGalley, Ebury Press and Shappi Khorsandi for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

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