Review: Shattered Castles #2, Love in Darkness by EM Tippets

17202459Blurb from Goodreads

Alex had everything when he was with Madison. But the darkness within him wouldn’t go away.

After two years apart, he returns to Pelican Bluffs and to the girl he never wanted to leave. Madison wants to give their love another chance, but Alex can’t fight fate.

He is what he is.

Ruined. Crazy like his mother. And Madison deserves so much more. When his secrets spill out into their small town, Alex has a choice to make. Hide away in the darkness forever, or let love in.


My Thoughts

This sequel takes place 2 years after Castles on the Sand. Madison and Alex are baptized and go on their mission. But Alex feels that he started inherit her mom mental illness, schizophrenia. Therefore he thinks that it’s best to break his relationship with Madison because he doesn’t want to burden her with his illness.

Most of the characters are back and couples of them quite surprise me with their changes. I still think that Alex and Madison are meant to be together, despite of Alex pushing away Madison along the story. John is still a protective big brother to Madison, I like him for that and at the same time also annoyed with his protectiveness. Siraj is as sweet and understanding as always, I like him here even more. But, I’m kind of hard to except Alex and Kailie friendship. Knowing her illness, her behavior in Castles on the Sand is more understandable but seeing her interact and build a friendship with Alex makes me think whether this is the same person as I read before.

Yet, in some part I feel it is quite similar from its prequel. The way Alex cannot see how worth it him to be loved, how great he is, how hot he is and attracts many girls and even the way he thinks that he doesn’t deserve Madison, all of it are similar to Madison thought in Castles on the Sand. As much as I understand Alex’s thought, I cannot help feeling that it’s quite repetitive and have similar voice with different background. Madison being as an abusive victim while Alex with his mental illness. Despite the similar feeling that I got, I love the way Alex described it.

I love this story tells from Alex POV. It gives me more understanding to his illness. Hence, I can feel it clearly. His symptoms, while he is in an episode, his relapse are well described. It’s so vivid I feel sad for him a couple of times. I even quite hard to tell what is real and if it’s just Alex’s hearing voices when he has an episode. I feel this book is darker than its prequel. And this book reminds me so much of Lights in the Shadows by A. Meredith Walters, another book about mental illness. I liked how both books give me something to learn and kind of open my eyes and my thought.

Result: 3.5 out of 5 stars


Review: Shattered Castles #1, Castles on the Sand by EM Tippetts

17825938Blurb from Goodreads

If there’s one thing Madison Lukas understands, it’s pain. The pain she feels when her mother ignores her completely. The pain her best friend endures as her parents starve her as punishment. The pain of a dangerous boy whose mother has to be carried away by law enforcement on a regular basis.

She gets it. She feels the pain of others as if it were her own.

But when a mysterious man claiming to be her long lost brother appears with promises of relieving her suffering, trusting him could reveal more truths than Madison is ready for. Because the truth can hurt, too.

My Thoughts

Madison is a sixteen year old girl who is popular by association. Her best friend is one of the richest people in Pelican Bluffs. She never thought that she is beautiful hence doesn’t believe when someone say it and never realize guys like her. She is kind, nice and doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings. Sounds familiar? It’s because she is like any other teenage girl characters in YA books. But wait….she acts differently from most of them. She is abused and bullied by her mom, her best friend, her school friends and her sort of boyfriend. Yet somehow she didn’t realize it and didn’t do anything about it. From the beginning of the story I want to yell her to stay away from Kalie, her best friend and Jean-Pierre, her sort of boyfriend. And at some point I want to slap her and make her to do something.

But I do feel sorry for her. Her mom abuses her in a different way. She (rarely) didn’t hurt her physically, she also didn’t call her names. But she ignores her in a worst kind of attitude. She shut her down in the name of art, work and freedom. Kailie as her best friend kind of use her. She keeps her for her benefit. Become her designated driver, mad at her to unreasonable reason, good at mind games and she often falls for it. And Jean-Pierre never acknowledge her at their school and told her that he don’t want to have a girlfriend. But keeps come to her room to make out.

When I decided reading this book, I thought it will be like any other dysfunctional family stories I’ve read. Yet, Ms. Tippetts surprised me both in bad and good feelings. Then I realize, even with the bad feelings I feel, it’s a good thing because it means she know how to write her story well enough for me to feel it.

This story tells me that abusive and bulling can come from many types, different from I used to read. Madison annoyed me to not stand up for herself but I also pity her. I’m angry at her for allow herself to be bullied by Kalie and Jean-Pierre but I also feel sad for what happen to her. She is different and confusing me yet she is brave in her own way.

As my third book from EM Tippetts, I can tell that she has patterns telling her story but it doesn’t mean her stories are boring. It makes her books different from other authors and I can see her originality. Similar to Someone Else’s Fairytale this book is slow-paced but in a good way. She gives her characters time to know each other and me, as a reader, know them too, understand and also feel them. Therefore, there isn’t insta-love for the main characters. Her characters need time to build a relationship and falling in love slowly, just like what I love because to me it seems more realistic. Another pattern I found is in some part, I kind of hard to follow Madison’s thought sometimes. This also happens with Chloe Vanderholt from Someone Else’s Fairytale series. I need more attention to the characters because she creates her stories in many layers. This book is not only about dysfunctional family but also about abusive, bulling, friendship, trust, love and even religion.

Result: 4 out of 5 stars


Review: Someone Else’s Fairytale #2, Nobody’s Damsel by EM Tippetts

16044227Blurb from Goodreads

Chloe has finished her masters degree and taken a job as a forensic scientist back in her home town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, only the press will not leave her alone. They follow her to crime scenes and report on her every move, eager to show that her marriage to Hollywood A-lister, Jason Vanderholt, is on the brink of collapse. Millions of fans who dream of their own celebrity romance with him want this more than anything. This scrutiny comes at a particularly bad time as Chloe’s first case is a crime against a child roughly the same age that Chloe was when she survived a homicide attempt.

Now that she sees the case from an adult’s perspective, she realizes it’s much harder than she ever dreamed. It’s even worse for Jason, who is two steps removed from the crime. He must watch and try to support his wife as she battles with past demons and tries to keep up with a nameless suspect who evades identification and capture. Never has Jason been more frustrated with his job, its frivolities, and its lack of connection to the real world. When he storms off the set of his latest movie, the press goes wild with conjecture. Perhaps he never was anything more than a pretty face after all.

Together, Chloe and Jason must find their way past all the popping flashbulbs and through the dark maze of the criminal investigation to discover whether they can balance their professional goals with the demands of a celebrity marriage. The odds are entirely against them.

Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published January 4th 2013 (first published January 1st 2013)
edition language: English
series: Someone Else’s Fairytale
genre: Contemporary, Romance, New Adult
My Thoughts
As a sequel, this book is much different from its prequel, Someone Else’s Fairytale. It still follows Chloe Winter’s life, now she become a wife of Hollywood A-list actor, but her life doesn’t as sweet and easy as I imagine.At first, I thought this book will be about how Chloe adjust her life from nobody to somebody as Chloe Vanderholt, but what I read is more than that. She has her own job and has to struggle with it. I think the story is more about her struggle with her new job and her new life. I have to admit that I liked and enjoyed it more. Somehow it makes the story different from other celebrity fall in love with ordinary girl kind of stories.

Yet, there is also moment that I’m not quite enjoyed. It’s whenever Chloe and Jason talk about Jason past love life. I feel like Jason pulling away from Chloe, it seems like they aren’t a newlywed who are in love with each other. But then I think that’s how it supposed to be. I mean, I can understand talking about his ex-love is uncomfortable for him. That’s when I can feel the awkwardness of the conversation. And it means Ms. Tippetts delivered her story well.

I also like the way she wrote about Vicky and Brad. She didn’t write them as a mean-bad antagonists that readers can hate. She put them in a gray area and as much as they annoyed me, they also have their own kindness.

This isn’t Chloe and Jason last story, as Ms. Tippetts said there will be more of their stories. I’m sure I will read it because I’m willing to tail their other journey.

PS: Although dedication page isn’t part of the story I always pay it as much attention as the story. And here, she wrote a beautiful-heartfelt dedication page that I couldn’t agree more with her statement Nobody, after all, deserves to be forgotten. And if you’ve never gone up to say hello to someone while the whole rest of the room covers their mouths to keep from laughing, you’re missing out. Not because you’d be doing a great act of charity, but because it’s only when we step outside of our comfort zone that we stop skating through life and start living it in all its terrifying glory. Like I said, it can be painful, but the views are simply incredible. I just want you to know, Ms. Tippetts that I love your dedication page as much as I love your story.

Result: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars