Babes and Books Review: Confess by Colleen Hoover

Babes & Books

Babes & Books is the name that Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek, Brandie at Brandie is a Book Junkie, and I have named our irregular, conversational joint reviews. You might’ve seen our last review of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. What follows is our joint review of Confess by Colleen Hoover. Fair warning: There are some minor spoilers in this review, but we couldn’t do it justice without them!

​Brandie: I am SO excited to discuss this one! My love for CoHo apparently knows no bounds, and I loved pretty much everything about this book.

Rachel: My anticipation levels for this book were HIGH, knowing the artwork element was going to be included made me swoon for this book before even seeing it, and the artwork really didn’t let me down, in fact I want to own one of the prints so bad (edit: I found out you can buy them here!). After finishing the book I had to give myself a couple of days to think it over before discussing it. I love CoHo but didn’t want to be biased and automatically love this book without being critical of it. I had a couple of minor issues with it, but overall I really enjoyed it.

Stef: My anticipation level was pretty high as well – mostly because of how freaking excited the two of you were! I LOVE books that include art or some other kind of medium (music, pull outs, maps, etc.) as I feel they really add to the story, and I think the artwork in Confess really lived up to that anticipation level. I would really like to own some prints of the art too. I thought the story was cute and I absolutely loved the banter! Overall, I liked it, but some things left a bad taste in my mouth.

Confess by Colleen HooverRachel: OK, let’s get into this! When I first started reading Confess I was tad confused, I feel Tarryn Fisher has rubbed off on Hoover (from them collaborating on Never Never), because this read had more of a mystery element than we’re used to with CoHo, particularly at the start as we try to piece together what is happening to which characters, and how they all fit together.

Hoover did a great job with this story-line, my only minor complaint is how successful Owen is at 21. The maturity level of Hoover’s characters makes me feel like a toddler sometimes…

Brandie: There’s no denying that there is an element of suspense and mystery throughout the entire book, and I LOVED that. I’m a big fan of suspense novels, and CoHo did an awesome job with it. I loved the shock factor of the reveals throughout the book, and the ending – how it all wrapped up blew my mind. I can NEVER see anything coming when it comes to CoHo books, she’s constantly surprising me and keeping me on the edge of my seat.

To be honest I didn’t really think about the age thing, Aubrey and Owen had already been through so much in their lives that they seemed older.

Stefani: I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I enjoyed most of the book but I wanted to like the romance so much more than I actually did. I felt like the chemistry between Aubrey and Owen was somewhat forced at times, but I also had heart-eyes and swoony moments several times too. I think I’ll eventually need to do a reread, because I’m still not sure if I liked Confess or not. I’m so torn.

Auburn irritated me because, while she was sweet and kind, she was also a doormat. She didn’t stand up for herself and wasn’t really her own person, and I hate that in female protagonists. Yes, I understand not all women are strong or independent, etc., but to let yourself be run over like that all the time is irritating to me. She was SO indecisive. I can’t connect with a character who’s self-esteem is SO low and who lets everyone run over her SO much. What did you guys think?

Rachel: When it comes to the romance itself and the forced feeling, I did think it was verging too close to being insta-love at times. Realistically, Owen and Aubrey hardly knew each other when they developed this strong connection and I wish that had have been fleshed out a little more at the start to make it more realistic.

I could understand Aubrey’s doormat ways because of the situation she was in. Though I did have a problem with one scene in particular because she didn’t fight back. I’m not sure how I’d react in that circumstance, I don’t think any of us do unless we’re in it, but I’d like to think I’d put up one helluva fight.

Brandie: Was the love a little fast for me? Maybe a little, but I didn’t focus on that because I had a feeling from the get-go that Owen and Aubrey knew each other somehow. I guess that made it more realistic and easier for me to believe.

I could sympathise with Aubrey when it came to being a doormat for a large part of the book. Without being too spoilery – doing whatever it takes for someone you love, I got that.

Stefani: I completely agree about the insta-love thing. They were actually in each others’ presence for what? A WEEK? They fell for each other too quickly and too intensely, which definitely came across in the book. I agree that’s what felt forced to me. I still swooned, but occasionally I also rolled my eyes.
Rachel: Agreed, though I loved Owen’s POV, it felt much more “real” than a lot of male POVs I read because he wasn’t always politically correct, and he wasn’t overly lovey dovey (at least at the start anyways). Smushy romance can be swoonworthy when you’re in the right headspace, but sometimes it can just rub me up the wrong way because it’s overdone to the point where it isn’t realistic. *Sigh* I LOVED the banter, I have such a soft spot for Owen.

Brandie: I agree, I love when a book shows both POVs – getting into the guy’s head and his feelings is such an added bonus. Plus the amazing artwork. CoHo added so much to this book to make it incredible!

Stefani: I seriously love dual POVs – especially if one or both is a guy. I like getting into a guy’s head.

My big issue with this book was the cheating. It’s the second CoHo book I’ve read that this happens in. I’m not sure what it says about CoHo, or if it just happens to be the two that I’ve read. I know it happens in real life too, but I hate how easily the characters rationalize it. I guess to me there isn’t much of a gray area when it comes to cheating. It obviously didn’t ruin CoHo for me, or my enjoyment of the book, but I just wish she’d think of other ways to get characters out of relationships. You know, like just breaking up. Do you guys get where I’m coming from?

Rachel: It’s times like this I begin to question my morals! I definitely get where you’re coming from, especially the whole breaking up with someone instead of cheating on them thing, BUT I’ve been cheated on and when I read CoHo’s books, I can still see how the cheating in these cases is far from black and white. Hoover always does this to me, there’s always at least one thing in her books that makes me… “uncomfortable”. It can verge on ugly, but it’s real, and I appreciate fiction that doesn’t shy away from ugly.

I find it so difficult to explain my stance on this – probably because it can be such a grey issue. Cheating is one of those topics that causes a divide among readers, and with CoHo I struggle to see it in terms of “wrong” or “right” because she’s so damn good at tapping into human emotion and presenting a scenario that makes you question your stance. I think she handles it really well.

Brandie:  This is what I love most about CoHo’s writing – the fact she makes you think. Her stories are always unique and she incorporates some sort of controversial issue, proving that everything isn’t always black and white. That is what I think makes a great author. She pushed a lot of buttons with this one – clever lady.

When it comes to the cheating,I totally get what you’re saying, but I agree with Rachel on this – CoHo portrayed it in a way that made it not feel like cheating. Could the characters have dealt with it differently?Probably. But in the situation Aubrey was in, most rational thought goes out the window. It’s unfortunate that both CoHo books you’ve read involve cheating, because she incorporates other major issues in her books too. They aren’t just fluffy feel-good reads. I expect a HEA from all of them, but it’s never an easy journey getting there. You should try Slammed or Hopeless.

Stefani: There were two parts in this book that made me want to stop reading, but then you have CoHo’s writing that is so freaking wonderful and feels-inducing that it’s SO hard not to keep reading. CoHo’s writing is just so gripping. I liked Confess, but I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Rating 3/5

Brandie: I enjoyed this book so much, and didn’t find much fault in it at all. I don’t usually focus on things that irk most people while I’m reading a book, it ruins the reading experience for me. As soon as I finished it, I knew the ‘insta-love’ would be a major issue in a lot of reviews, but it just didn’t bother me. Maybe because it was CoHo, but mostly because she made me believe it was real. Her writing does that for me, and that’s why I love her! Rating: 5/5

Rachel: CoHo’s writing just sucks me up and doesn’t let me go. For me, her writing is just so unique. I can only read so many contemporaries before I need a break because there can be a lot of common themes and tropes. But her storylines!! In Confess, we have the “good guy” and the “bad guy” but with a twist, the mysterious bad guy’s secrets being revealed, the poignancy of the artwork Aubrey owns, the heart-breaking history of her first love, the surprise revelations, and the history of how Owen first met her. Add to that the fact the confessions in the novel are real confessions from Hoover readers?! Where does she get her inspiration from?! I would say, “you just can’t make this shit up”, but clearly CoHo can! Rating: 4.5/5

Babes and Books Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Babes & Books

Recently, after having some excited Twitter chats and starting a Goodreads group to have super long convos about books we’ve all read and loved, Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek, Brandie at Brandie is a Book Junkie, and I started what we are cheekily calling Babes and Books, an irregular joint reviews in a super conversational format that allow us to have fun and coordinate our TBRs. You might’ve seen our first review (Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher) though it wasn’t branded with our Babes and Books name – that was a recent development. Our first official read was The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – though this one is from only Rachel and me. Enjoy the rambling!

Check out the full synopsis of the book on Goodreads.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. SmithStef: Out of the three Jennifer E. Smith books I’ve read (this one, The Geography of You and Me and This is What Happy Looks Like) this is my favorite. I think it’s because I felt the most similar to Hadley – I couldn’t relate to the divorce thing, but I related to HER, if that makes sense? I also know what it’s like to fly alone to a place you’ve never been, where you know no one, and to go out and try to find where you’re going. You feel lost, excited, terrified, happy, nervous. I loved that aspect of it – the trip, the adventure. I also am head over heels for Oliver. He’s so swoony! Smith really knows how to write love. I thought it was well-paced, well-written, and a lot of fun.

Rachel: I’ve only read one Smith book before, The Geography of You and Me, and I gave it the same rating I’m going to give this one. When I step back and look at it, it’s difficult to pin-point much that jumps off the page as being “wrong” with her books, but they just don’t reach me on a deeper level. Smith’s writing style is enjoyable (and her book titles AMAZING!), her writing is adorable and sweet – like it’ll give you cavities sweet, but there’s something about the stories that just don’t blow me away. I love that her characters always have something going on in their lives that they’re trying to deal with (death, divorce, moving etc.), as it adds a sense of realism, but equally, that’s usually taken away by the unlikely and slightly obscure scenarios they find themselves in – like falling for someone in 24 hours. There’s something whimsical and fairy-tale like about it, which while enjoyable, prevents me from falling in love with this novel the same way Hadley fell for Oliver.

It the book were set over a longer time-frame, it would obviously lose its 24 hour love-at-first-sight bonus, but it might have helped develop the story to the point where I could take it more seriously. For example, I’d love to know what happens when Oliver and Hadley return to America. I think this is the kind of book I’d have LOVED and gobbled up as a young teenager in love with the idea of love, but as an older reader it didn’t blow me away. It’s not one I’d shout about from the rooftops, put it that

Stef: I absolutely love her titles too! When I interviewed her last year (link), she said she has started to have trouble coming up with them – because she’s become known for having long and intricate titles. I asked her to come up with one for her life and she said – This is What the Statistical Probability of Happiness Looks Like. I absolutely love her writing style. Your cavity-description is spot on. Most of the time, I don’t like books like that, but sometimes you just WANT that, and I always find myself uncontrollably smiling when reading her books. I love that the characters have depth as well. It’s more realistic that way. Her characters feel so real, even when what’s happening doesn’t necessarily feel real. I don’t really know if I believe in a love like this, in falling love within only 24 hours, but when reading Statistical Probability, I believed it. Does that make sense? I think the way that Smith writes her characters and their emotions hooks me and sweeps me away and I didn’t even really think about the fact it was only 24 hours.

I NEED to know what happens when they get back to the States, but I think that’s why I like it – it’s hopeful but not definite. Maybe they don’t work out. Maybe they are just friends. Either way, I loved them together.

I actually think I wouldn’t have liked it if I’d read it when I was a teenager. I didn’t like contemporaries (other than the RARE Sarah Dessen) when I was in high school. I wasn’t a huge fan of romances when reading, but I’ve grown to enjoy them more as I’ve gotten older. Funny that you would’ve felt the opposite.

Rachel: I definitely feel that you should only read her books when you have a sweet craving, otherwise it may fall a little flat. When I read The Geography of You and Me I was coming out of a two week slump because of a book I was struggling through and eventually DNF’d, and Smith was just the kind of light relief I needed. When I was reading this, I didn’t really question the characters’ emotions until towards the end when the grand gestures came into play. It just felt a bit… stalkerish/odd to do something like that? But hey, maybe if we had more courage we could meet an Oliver too!

Oh gosh, I’d have gobbled this right up as a teen, even when I was reading this I felt nostalgic for younger me, I was innocent and less cynical about love and I’d have adored this, most likely dreaming one day that this could happen to me! I think this is a case where reading YA as an adult is impacted/affected by life experience!

Have to say – I definitely fancied a bit of Oliver!

Stef: I completely agree that her books can’t really be read all the time. I have to be in the mood for it too. If I’m not in the mood for the sweetness, I’ll end up not liking it because it’s just too much. Her books are light and sweet and adorable, and sometimes you really need that and sometimes you just don’t.

I do think Hadley’s actions were a little weird, but I suppose if you’ve had that kind of connection with someone, you might do something like this. I’ve never had that kind of connection with anyone so it was a little strange to me, but I suspended my disbelief for a little while and just went with it. Oliver is so swoony!!

Rachel: I probably am the nutter who would make a grand gesture and the other person would be all confused going, “Uh, thanks and all, but I never liked you anyway”… awkward!

Stef: Hahahaha! I’d probably be the same. The guy would be side-eyeing me like “Wtf? Freak.” Lol.

What did you think of the first Babes and Books review? Have you read TSPOLAFS? 

TITLE INFO

Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: January 2, 2012
236 pages, paperback