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

Waiting on Wednesday – Confess by Colleen Hoover

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!

Confess by Colleen HooverPublisher: Atria Books

Author: Colleen Hoover

Release date: March 10, 2015

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a new novel about risking everything for love—and finding your heart somewhere between the truth and lies.

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there’s no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn’t expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover Owen is keeping major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can’t seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

Why I’m excited: I recently read and loved two things by Colleen Hoover: Never Never (with Tarryn Fisher) and Maybe Someday. They were both different genres but also really, really good. I’m looking forward to reading more from CoHo. Looks like I like New Adult, at least when it comes to this author. Looking forward to buddy reading Confess with Rachel and Brandie!

ARC Review: Virgin by Radhika Sanghani

VirginTitle: Virgin

Author: Radhika Sanghani

Genre: Contemporary, new adult

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Kindle edition: 304 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Netgalley

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley for letting me read this.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.
This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?
It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.
The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?
Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?
I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.
Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.

What I thought:

*PARENTAL ADVISORY ADVISED for this review. It may be unsuitable for young readers.*

If you couldn’t tell from that synopsis, this book is clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and well, actually quite meaningful and honest. This book is an authentic and evocative portrayal of what it’s like growing up in a society so obsessed with sex and whether or not you’ve had it. It’s about relationships and yes, sex, including all the parts of sex that you don’t normally discuss with people – well, personally, I’ve never discussed the state of my [WARNING: might be something icky you don’t want to read] pubes with my friends. I think, just like the blog that two of the  main characters start, this book can be a bit of a go-to for teenage girls who don’t get to talk about this stuff or have a lot of questions about all things sex. I do think some people will not want to read a book that gets as graphic as this, so I will say that you should avoid it if you don’t want to read about a girl learning how to give a BJ (via YouTube instructional video) or whether or not she should shave her pubes. I was fine with most of it, but there was one part that was a little too gross for me. Ellie, the main character, goes into a lot of detail about the fact that she’s a virgin, and we get her SUPER awkward stories about what she has done. However, she once says that she is [possibly inappropriate for young readers] “definitely going to give him access to my untouched hymen tonight.” GROSS. That phrasing was unnecessary, I think.

On the other hand, Ellie is honest about her sex life (or lack thereof). Her thoughts on sex and pubes and everything else felt so true and relatable. Again, I don’t usually discuss these types of things, but what girl hasn’t thought about all of this? She’s pretty self-deprecating in the beginning and not accepting of her own virginity (though no one else seems to really care that much), but she grows a lot in the book. The book is also written conversationally, so it was like the reader was discussing everything with Ellie (graphic or romantic or otherwise) like we were chatting over a beer at a pub.

Two things that irritated me: Ellie and her friend Emma start a blog about vaginas. A vagina blog. So they call it a vlog. Now if you’re someone who likes YouTube or the internet, you know a vlog is actually a video blog (like TheVlogBrothers or Tyler Oakley or Danisnotonfire). Every single time the word vlog was mentioned in this book, I had to remind myself it wasn’t a video blog. That got annoying. The author is young; she should’ve known what a vlog was. I just think a different word should’ve been used. Also, Ellie worries about whether she’ll get “Magna Cum Laude” or “Summa Cum Laude” with her degree. This may not bother everyone, but this book is set in London; in the UK, these types of designations are not given (I checked with my Scottish friend). Again, this won’t bother everyone, but it got on my nerves. It was probably the publisher trying to help Americans understand, but they left in things like a “First” degree (actually written as 1st in the UK usually) and “revising” (which means studying). I know these two things were small, but they irritated me so I wanted to mention them.

The bottom line: Virgin is a highly entertaining, funny, relatable, honest read. I think it will be good for teenage girls who have questions about sex or virgins who want to know more or really anyone who is or wants to be sexually active. It’s a very enjoyable read.

Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic

Reading next: Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

ARC Review: Rich Kids of Instagram

Rich Kids of InstagramTitle: Rich Kids of Instagram

Author: The Creator of Rich Kids of Instagram & Maya Sloan

Genre: Pop Culture, New Adult, Fiction

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication Date: July 8, 2014

eBook: 336 pages

Stand alone or series: Standalone

How did I get this book: NetGalley

NOTE:I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Gallery Books for letting me read this.

Let’s start with a brief synopsis via Goodreads:

Based on the wildly popular blog “Rich Kids of Instagram,” a dishy and hilarious novel about the intersecting lives of the world’s most extravagant, unapologetically uber-rich teenagers.

The “Rich Kids of Instagram” are not your typical well-to-do brats. These “kids” drive Ferraris, fly to their weekend getaways in private jets, and post self-indulgent photos of themselves online as frequently—and as wantonly—as they blow wads of cash. Not to mention that they’re more involved in sex, drugs, and power plays than most people twice their age.

Drawing from the ten most frequent contributors to the popular blog of the same name—which receives an average of 850,000 unique visitors a month and has been featured on 20/20, The New York TimesThe Washington PostForbesThe AtlanticBuzzfeedGawker, and others—Rich Kids of Instagram revolves around a core group of spoiled young people, from a Southern Belle poultry-empire heiress to a media mogul’s driven daughter and an old-money rifle heir with a Mayflower legacy; to a nouveau riche outsider who is thrust into the members-only universe of the .1%, with scandalous results.

In a world that is smaller, more connected, and more competitive than ever, where nothing is off limits, some kids are just trying to make a buck—or ten thousand. Prepare to be wowed by this saucy, compulsively readable book about the hilarious display of extravagant wealth and the teenagers who have fallen into it.

What I thought:

So if you didn’t know, this book is based on the Tumblr, Rich Kids of Instagram. The tagline of the blog says, “They have more money than you and this is what they do.” Before I saw this book on NetGalley, I’d heard of the blog, but I had never visited. Why would I want to look at pictures from douchey teens bragging about their money? I wouldn’t. I’m not really sure why I requested this book on NetGalley. I suppose, for me, there’s a difference between being forced to look at their wealth and just reading about it, especially if it’s fiction.

I think I sat down to read this book expecting to absolutely hate it, and I did and didn’t. I had my ups and downs with this book. It’s told from the perspective of six “rich kids” who range from total psychotic bitches to strange, new age sorta-hippies. While the kids themselves got on my nerves more than once, Sloan has a knack for creating unique perspectives. I have had problems in the past with books that are told from different, first person perspectives that were indistinguishable, but I was able to tell which of Sloan’s characters were telling the story.

On the other hand, I think there were TOO many characters giving their perspective and backstories and talking about their craziness. I was okay with it when we were reading from Annalise’s (the daughter of a media mogul) and Cordelia’s (a Southern belle who takes Annalise’s dream right from under her nose) perspectives; they were strong woman fighting for what they wanted, even if it wasn’t always in the most respectable way (scratch that, it was never respectable). It was fun seeing things through Cordelia’s eyes, who was constantly upbeat and positive, and then seeing Cordelia through Annalise’s eyes; I actually saw Cordelia as the hillbilly that Annalise saw her as (again, Sloan is great at making perspectives distinguishable) and it made me laugh when Annalise said, “I mean, she hardly speaks English.” Though I liked the two of them, I seriously couldn’t stand Desy (a wannabe pop star who is basically bipolar) and I thought Christian (a foreign royal who wants to design jewelry) was completely unrelatable and boring, as well as a total idiot.

Another thing I didn’t like was that there wasn’t really any concept of time. In each chapter there are several sections; you’ll read a few paragraphs then there’ll be a divider and the next few paragraphs are usually a flashback. You don’t really know how long ago any of this happened, and it made it hard to understand the characters’ changes, the friendships made, and the life lessons learned. In addition to this, I thought the excessive drug and alcohol abuse was a little over-the-top. Of course, I’ve never partied with these people, so I don’t know for sure, but it was pushing the line of believability for me.

The bottom line:

Rich Kids of Instagram is a sometimes interesting, sometimes boring and annoying look into the lives of those who have WAY more money than me. It is a super quick read. I was able to completely distinguish between the SIX different perspectives, but I did prefer some to others and I thought there were a few too many. I’ve heard if you like Gossip Girl, you might like this book, but I’ve never read or watched that so I can’t be sure. I don’t think I’d really recommend this book.

Rating: 5 – Take it or leave it

Reading next: Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern