Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to Love by Katie Cotugno + Featured Freebie

How to LoveBefore: Reena Montero has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember: as natural as breathing, as endless as time. But he’s never seemed to notice that Reena even exists…until one day, impossibly, he does. Reena and Sawyer fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town without a word, leaving a devastated—and pregnant—Reena behind.

After: Almost three years have passed, and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter, Hannah. Reena’s gotten used to being without Sawyer, and she’s finally getting the hang of this strange, unexpected life. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. Reena doesn’t want anything to do with him, though she’d be lying if she said Sawyer’s being back wasn’t stirring something in her. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer LeGrande again?

In this breathtaking debut, Katie Cotugno weaves together the story of one couple falling in love—twice.

My Rating: 3.5 Roses

I'm not quite sure how to feel about this book. On one hand, I loved the story and the concept that a love meant to be will flourish no matter the circumstances. On the other, I got very frustrated with the characters. But, overall, I have to say that How to Love was a good read.

I really liked the concept of this book. It took the idea "true love conquers all" and tested it against difficult circumstances. I thought it was very well done.

I liked the alternating chapters of this book going from before to after. It gave me a greater insight into the full story rather than the author just telling the reader the backstory. I just wish that the transitions were smoother because, a few times, the switch jarred me and pulled me away from the flow of the book.

Reena and Sawyer frustrated me.
Reena was a very strong heroine to go through everything she went through. She was impulsive and that worked for her sometimes. Other times, it didn't. And that's when I got annoyed. And she could be a bit of a shrew. I understood that she had been through a lot and understandably lashed out. But, a few times, she took it a bit too far. Despite all that, I liked her character.

Sawyer was complicated. In the "before" part of the book, we saw how he had some serious issues. He left to get himself together and fix himself up, which brought us to the "after" Sawyer who was a good guy that had to make up for past mistakes. "Before" Sawyer had to be taken with a grain of salt. He was screwed up and almost dragged down Reena with him. Even though it was obvious that he truly loved her, he wasn't doing what was best for her. That part of him frustrated me. But,  I was able to forgive him because he was able to change to become a better man. So, I ended up liking him.

The romance in this book was okay. The thing is, it seemed like Reena and Sawyer spend most of their time tearing each other down. So, the moments where their feelings deepened and we saw the sweet side of their complicated relationship were less than I thought they would be. As a couple, they were self destructive at first. It wasn't until near the end that they created a healthy relationship and thrived together. I liked the progression of that and how they grew into a deep (and healthy) relationship. So, I though the romance was good.

One thing I didn't understand is why the author included a boyfriend for Reena when Sawyer returned. That felt extraneous as it didn't serve a true purpose. It wasn't a detriment to the story but it just didn't feel necessary. *Shrugs* Maybe I just missed the point.

The plot was well paced. I liked how the "before" and "after" flowed into each other, despite a few jarring transitions. I was kept interested the entire way through, determined to find out how the story ends for this star-crossed couple. And I thought the ending was very appropriate for the book. It tied up the main story while leaving the future open for interpretation. But, most importantly, it gave Reena and Sawyer the happy ending they deserved.

How to Love was a lovely YA romance. Though I didn't love this book, I definitely liked it. If you're looking for a YA book full of emotions, drama, and love against the odds, this is your book.

*Thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for a copy!
Featured Freebie:
Today, I have a YA romance novella that sounds cute: Wish Upon a Star by Sabrina Sumsion . Go forth and get it for free!

When Jen spotted a poster for the upcoming Sadie Hawkins dance, she figures it's the perfect chance to ask out David, the boy she's been drooling over since school started. Unfortunately, Selena, the head cheerleader at their school has her eye on him as well. As her friends grab up their dream dates Jen stays dateless, She didn't think things could get worse until a teacher pulls Jen to the side and makes a request that threatens to push her into complete misery.

Jen has to remember, anything can happen when you wish upon a star.

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