Bodice Rippers & Erotica Book Reviews: Colleen Hoover

For more information, tonnes of giveaways and plenty of book teasers, check out Colleen's website.

Losing Hope (Hopeless #2)
This Girl (Slammed #3)
Hopeless (Hopeless #1)
Point of Retreat (Slammed #2)
Slammed (Slammed #1)

Losing Hope (Hopeless #2) by Colleen HooverBook Cover of Losing Hope (Hopeless #2) by Colleen Hoover

Read by Tracy August 2013

Tracy recommends as not your usual companion read

Losing Hope is Hopeless from Dean Holder's viewpoint. This seems to a trend these days - write one book from one point of view and another from the other, that way you don't really need to do much work and get two books. That said, this book did it slightly differently - we meet Holder a year before he meets Sky and how he was reacting to his sister's death. Dean Holder blames himself for his sister, Leslie's, suicide and he also blames himself for the abduction of childhood friend, Hope. He can't get past the fact he did nothing to save either of them. Told through everyday actions and also in the letters he starts to write in his sister's journal, we follow the discovery of Holder as a man. Interestingly Holder may have gone off the tracks, as most would, but instead he is just a genuinely nice guy, nothing special or outlandish, but not sappy. Of course, his best friend Daniel is still there and makes for a fantastic character, he does all the crazy things Holder doesn't, but underneath that is a huge heart. Interestingly instead of duplicating the story in Hopeless, Colleen Hoover allows Holder to have his own chapters and introduce new stories and scenes which takes you away from Sky, although never for very long.

"How hopeless she left me. Literally hopeless. And completely alone. And so, so incredibly sorry."

As he comes to realise that Sky is Hope, it is this knowledge of her past and her lack of memory that tears him apart. He attempts to take a step away thinking this is what is best, but soon realises that this is now making two people unhappy.

"Every kiss, every movement, every moan, every touch of her hand against my skin. She’s my saving grace. My Hope. And I’m never walking away from her again."

Of course when the inevitable happens and Sky (or Hope now) realises what has happened, Holder finds himself in even more pain and misery as he also realises that Hope's abduction had such serious consequences for his family, beyond his understanding until now. So at the end of the book, I wasn't too traumatised about it being a companion book. Even though I knew the ending, the story was different enough to keep the pages turning.

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This Girl: A Novel by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #3) Book Cover of This Girl: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

Read by Tracy April 2013

Tracy recommends as the icing on top of the cake - including Prince Charming

This Girl is the third and final book in the Slammed series (Slammed and Point of Retreat reviews below). After having read the first two books and thoroughly enjoying them, I was keen to get my hands on this one and see what could make the trilogy complete. However, and I seem to be the only one based on what I have read online, I thought on the whole it was a rehashing of things we already knew, or maybe I had read too much into the other two stories. This Girl is a retelling of Slammed from Will's point of view and deep down I just thought it may be a grab for cash, not a lot of original work, for undoubtedly a decent pay cheque, or maybe I am extremely cynical these days with some of the indie book authors who make it big on the scene.

It is difficult to write a review without some spoilers as you need to understand the story that has developed in the first two books. This Girl is a continuation of Layken and Will's life together where Will reminisces about their relationship. Strangely though, these reminiscences all occur as Layken and Will are on their honeymoon which certainly causes some friction, but luckily all is made up as Will finally discusses his feelings and thoughts as they faced so many ups and downs. Even Will acknowledged they didn’t have a huge amount of happy memories, more like happy moments. It wasn't all bad though, there was plenty to make you laugh and cry. It was also interesting to know who were the other main players in the Layken and Will story and who are still main players. I did prefer to relive the happy moments - Will: you can tell a lot about a person by their taste in music; I pull the CD out of the player and hold my breath as I prepare to read it. Please don't let her be into Nickelback. I would have to jump out of the car. I am probably the first to acknowledge my partner and I both like music that is at the opposite ends of the spectrum, so that took me back many years when I realised he liked heavy metal and I liked pop. Eventually reality sinks in and Will and Layken must return back to the family home and we are suddenly whisked out of the past to the present and straight back into family life. One thing this book did make me realise, was just how young Layken and Will are, this is particularly highlighted in Laykens outbursts as Will talks about this past and even at her nagging, previous girlfriends. I did start to think that the relationship is strangely one sided, Will is petrified that anything he says or does will be misconstrued and when Layken has her teenage outbursts, he blames himself, which is unrealistic and something any couple would need to address before planning any long term future together. What I disliked was the ending - it was so sugar coated and perfect. However, it is a Young Adult book, so you don't want to emotionally scar young girls from thinking Prince Charming is unattainable.


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Hopeless by Colleen HooverBook Cover of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Read by Tracy January 2013

Tracy recommends as a fantastic and emotional read

After being a self-published sensation, Colleen Hoover, finally signed with Atria Books with Hopeless, for a print run of the books. I came across this book as it was ranked no. 2 on Amazon Kindle and Natalie has loved Colleen's previous books, so although it isn't my usual genre, my new year’s resolution is to read a more varied book base. This book had me gripped from the first page and had me reaching for the tissues at many times along the way. It was able to blend intensity with laughter, I was actually smiling (for anybody that knows me that can be hard to do) in places. Plus it had me floored at the plot twist - did not see that coming at all.

We follow the story of Holder and Sky. Linden Sky Davis is 17 and has been home-schooled by her mother Karen, before finally getting her mother to agree to let her finish her final high school year in a real school. She only has one friend, her next door neighbour, Six, who would normally attend the same school, but is instead heading off on a six month European exchange program. Considering her reclusive life - no internet, no telephone etc, a true technology free home (yes that means no Facebook, Twitter or any social media presence), Sky is pretty resilient, except for the memories and nightmares that she just can't seem to hold onto. The only issue bothering Sky is her inability to feel. She has developed a reputation, more from association with Six, than anything else, and finds herself trying to feel some sort of emotion as she lies there making out. A chance meeting in a supermarket turns that all around and in the space of a few minutes she feels more than she has in her life so far. As Dean Holder becomes part of her life, she not only has intense feelings and not in that annoying teenage girl way, but something so much more.

"I’ve never been swept off my feet. I don’t get butterflies. In fact the whole idea of being swooned by anyone is foreign to me… Somehow, in the course of sixty seconds, this guy has managed to make me swoon then terrify the hell out of me."

Sky doesn't have a lot of experience with men, so the introduction of Holder into her life is a mystery and as their relationship deepens so does this mystery. This is not one of those relationships where they race in, instead it is slow, the passion building to explosion point.

"Fuck all the firsts, Sky. The only thing that matters to me with you are the forevers."

Sky finds school very difficult, not the work, but the attitudes of the other pupils, if it wasn't for her new best friend Breckin (a gay Mormon), I can only presume she would have pulled the pin, but the fact he had already been through the taunts had given her strength, so they initially form an alliance against "idiots, Jocks, Bigots and Bitches". Initially she wants to put distanced between herself and Holder due to his bad boy reputation, but I am not going to explain the plot, other than to say - this is a must read book, so do yourself a huge favour and pick it up. There are so many layers to the story and as each one is peeled away all the characters’ lives change forever.

I think the market is young adult (YA), but it is so much more than that - it has been a long time since I dreaded getting to the end of the book because it would be finished and this was one of those times.

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Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #2) Book Cover of Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover

Read by Natalie June 2012 and Tracy March 2013

Natalie recommends as a butterflyingly fantastic sequel and Tracy, yet again, agrees

Natalie's review:

Point of Retreat is the follow-up novel to Slammed, this time told from Will’s perspective. Beginning shortly after the end of the first book when Will and Lake are together and caring for their younger brothers. Still living across the road from each other, yet very much sharing a life, they are happy with their unusual family which also includes friends Eddie and Gavin and next door neighbour Kiersten. As both Will and Lake start their new year of college, they are determined to have a better year after all of the pain of the last few. And things look to be heading in the right direction when they receive a final gift from Lake’s mother (a really moving and beautiful idea) and plan a rare weekend escape without their brothers. However, an unexpected appearance by two people from Will’s past throws everything into chaos and leaves Lake questioning the very foundation of their entire relationship. Plagued with doubt over whether Will is only with her because of their shared connection through the death of their parents, she pushes him away. Will, unable to believe that Lake could doubt him and their love, tries desperately to win her back, not realising that he has to show her he loves her, not just tell her. As they both seek advice from the gift Lake’s mother left them, Will also formulates a plan to prove his true love for Lake, recruiting the entire extended family to help him out knowing just how frustrating and stubborn Lake can be. As an unusual slam poetry reciting takes place, Will proves his love and Lake realises how wrong she was to doubt him. Just when everything looks as though it will be ok, a twist of fate leaves Lake’s life hanging in the balance and Will wondering if he is about to lose the love of his life. As Lake recovers in hospital, Will struggles with what to do, including not knowing whether Lake has insurance or what will happen to Kel should she die. When Lake finally begins to recover and it looks like she will be ok, Will makes some serious decisions about their future, knowing he cannot live without her or risk losing her again. A final gift from Lake’s mother to Will, which he then passes onto Lake, cements their relationship and they finally get that weekend away together.

Once again this book had some fantastic slam poetry, none more so than the piece by Will called Because of You. This was incredibly moving and I loved the lengths he went to as well as the reasons he had for loving Lake. I had absolutely no idea this kind of thing took place and reading it in this book just makes you want to find a Slam Poetry session and witness it for yourself. The introduction of Kiersten was also a great addition to this book and the reason for why this story is so butterflying beautiful (you’ll have to read it to get that). The protection of her by Kel and Caulder, as well as their Slam Poetry recitations were also fantastic. By the end of this book, you know that all of them, including Eddie and Gavin with their unexpected pregnancy, are going to be fine. Interestingly enough, Colleen has recently said that when she wrote Slammed she also wrote a lot of it from Will’s POV. Changing it to be a past/present story, she then shelved it unsure of whether anyone would want to read it. However, she has recently posted on her blog the first two chapters of this retelling, which give you a glimpse into that weekend away that Will and Lake finally got to have, as well as a look at Will’s life shortly after his parents died. It is great reading and Colleen has now decided to finish writing it and publish it. In the meantime, you can check out the first two chapters here.

Tracy's review: Again I won’t bore you with the details in relation to the storyline as Natalie has nailed her review above. I am not usually keen on sequels where the main narrator changes. In Slammed the storyline is narrated by Layken, but now in Point of Retreat Will takes up the narration. The benefit in this scenario is that we learn about Layken and how she is perceived by Will and also about his thoughts and frustrations. The story has moved on since Slammed and it is a year later with Layken and Will juggling study, money and bringing up two boys about to hit puberty as well as trying to build their own relationship. There are still the same subsidiary characters and the story has been strengthened with the introduction of several others who don’t detract but enhance the story. Will and Layken struggle as they learn to trust each other and grow as individuals, but this comes with maturity. What I liked was the fact that the characters weren’t wishy-washy, they both had strong ideas on where they wanted things to go and even when they did hit the inevitable glitch in their relationship, it didn’t drive the family apart. The story was interesting as the characters grew up, although I cried, underneath there was plenty of laughs. I also liked the fact that Layken and Will did not move in together immediately, they still have their own space and although they catch up every day, they have their own areas to return to. This story allows allowed Kel and Caulder to grow up and push the boundaries of their new adult carers as any children in their age range would do.

Also put in your diaries or even better click through our Amazon link and pre-order This Girl which is the final instalment in the Slammed series. It is due for release on 30 April 2013.

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Slammed by Colleen Hoover (Slammed #1) Book Cover of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Read by Natalie June 2012 and Tracy March 2013

Natalie recommends as really beautiful reads with some butterflying awesome slam poetry! and Tracy strangely agrees

Natalie's review: Layken is 18 years old when her father dies suddenly and her mother uproots her and younger brother Kel, moving them from the life she’s always known in Texas to the unknown in Michigan. Shortly after arriving, Kel befriends Caulder who lives across the street and Lake meets his older brother Will. Immediately drawn to him, as Will is to her, the two of them hit it off when they discover a shared love of an obscure band and an ease with each other that they’ve never had with anyone else. Sharing their pasts with each other; Will lost his parents when he was 19 which resulted in him giving up his college scholarship to care for his younger brother and Lake having lost her father and being moved to the other end of the country, both of them know there is something powerful going on between them. When Will asks Lake out on a date and introduces her to his passion, Slam Poetry, she is instantly smitten with him, as he is with her. However when Lake starts her final year of high school she isn’t prepared for who her English teacher is and as both Will and Lake struggle with the implications of their relationship, a decision is reached that forces them apart. As Lake tries to comprehend why this has to happen, she is thrown by the sudden secrets her mother starts to have. Believing she is having an affair and has already moved on from her father, Lake is even more devastated when she learns the truth – her mother is dying. Seeking solace with Will, even though she knows it is wrong, they struggle with their attraction to each other and the knowledge that they can't do anything about it, as well as Lake’s inability to talk to her mother about what is going on. As Will tries to convince her to talk to her mother and not get stuck in the same situation he did, they both release their pain and frustrations through poetry, including Lake inadvertently learning some truths about Will’s real feelings and Will learning the extent of his jealousy. As Lake begins to accept her mother’s fate, she also starts to accept that Will and her can never be together, believing he is choosing his job over her. However when her mother finally reveals the truth behind Will’s decisions and urges Lake not to give up, Lake rushes to tell Will how she really feels and Will finally decides to reveal his real feelings for Lake. The book finishes with a beautiful epilogue showing how both Lake and Will are coping following the death of Lake’s mother and taking care of their brothers, as well as the depth of love they have for each other.

This is a self-published, but well written story that looks at two people finding each other and having a powerful connection but who are forced apart through circumstances they cannot control. Told from Lake's POV, the frustrations and pain that both Will and Lake experience are so real and you wish desperately they could find a way to work through them. Just when it almost looks as though they can, more outside influences conspire to keep them apart. The book also features some amazing poetry, which is recited through a medium known as “slamming” which requires you to describe anything you are passionate about to a live audience. Some of the pieces performed in this book are truly amazing writing and I absolutely loved the final pieces performed by Lake, where she describes everything she has learnt in the past year as well as her love for Will; and Will's where he explains why he made his decisions and how he really feels about Lake. These were truly beautiful and not only facilitated their reconnection, but showed just how far they had both come. A great little story that I quickly knocked off and immediately started in on the next one!

Tracy's review It is unsual that I feel the same about a book as Natalie - minimal examples to go on, as we have very different tastes and ideas on what constitutes a good book, never mind one that keeps me up all night and has me starting on the next one immediately. I am also not a fan of YA books as they tend to follow the same storyline and the same outcomes in fact they all tend to be the same after a while which is why I have tended to avoid them. However, this one is a YA but although if you put down the storyline into a paragraph it does follow the mould, but the writing lifts it above all that. If you have read Natalie’s review above on Slammed I am not going to give you the gist of the storyline, but focus on the areas that captured my attention and what makes one of my favourite books this year.

Layken finds her life uprooted with a move from Texas to Ypsilanti, Michigan. She believes it is because her father died and her mother has moved them so she can find work and start a new life. However, as the story unfolds this is only part of the story and there are many speed bumps along the way that could easily turn this book into a sob story. The two lead characters, Layken and her school teacher neighbour, Will, have to grow up quickly, they don’t get the opportunity to try out all those high school tomfoolery, but must find their footing within an adult world. The title of Slammed introduces us to Will’s interest in poetry slams, something I had no idea even e xisted, but now in my mind I have put them up there with Eminem and rapping, sort of exciting. It isn’t perfect, some of the scenes are childish in their style, but then, it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can revert back childish behaviour, but luckily that was minor. Unfortunately Layken gets to experience Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grieving all too soon.

I found myself laughing (when Layken finds herself nearly falling into the toilet - boys and their inability to put the seat down!) and crying (Julia and the beautiful balloons for Eddie's birthday) and even more surprisingly enjoying the poetry, something I wouldn't usually say.

Also put in your diaries or even better click through our Amazon link and pre-order This Girl which is the final instalment in the Slammed series. It is due for release on 30 April 2013.

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Q and A with Collen Hoover on her Slammed series.

We were lucky enough to grab an interview with Colleen on her butterflying beautiful books! Enjoy.

1. Where did your inspiration for Lake’s story come from?

It really just came out of the blue. I got the idea to incorporate slam poetry into a novel. I didn't have an outline at all and just started writing. Things just sort of played out as I wrote them. I had no idea Will's parents were deceased until I started writing his slam. I didn't know what his occupation was until the Monday following their date. It's strange how I write. If I think too hard and try to outline everything, it tends to just be a waste of my time because I get completely new ideas along the way.

2. You mention that during the writing of Slammed, you wrote a lot of scenes from Will’s point of view, just to get inside his head. Did you find it difficult switching to writing from a guy’s POV and were there ever times you were tempted to just mash both of their stories together in the one book, or did you decide to write Point of Retreat instead?

I went back and forth on if I should just do alternating points of view. I wasn't intending on writing a sequel to SLAMMED, but a few weeks after it was published, I just felt like Lake still had a lot of questions about his commitment to her. I woke up one night and had the idea for the sequel and started writing it immediately. I knew I had to do it from Will's POV this time, because we needed to know his love for Lake. We already knew how she felt about him.

3. How did you find out about Slam Poetry and more importantly, have you ever done it, cause the poems you feature in your book are butterflying fabulous!

Aw, thanks! I actually saw a documentary on HBO a few years ago called BRAVE NEW VOICES. It was very inspiring and I've loved slam poetry since. I've never done it. In fact, I'd never even been to a live performance before writing SLAMMED. I finally went to one in March, and it was even better than I had imagined.

4. Any common characteristics between you and the characters in your books, they are certainly very cool and quirky, and different to other mainstream romance characters – which we think is a good thing by the way!

I don't think I share any characteristics with any of them. Lake is very emotional, and I am the complete opposite. I don't cry, I don't get upset, I don't even get really happy. I'm pretty even-keel all the time. So I guess I'm not at all like Eddie, either, since she's so bubbly. I did mirror Kel's character after one of my own children, Cale. He is actually the inspiration behind the snowman scene. That really happened when he was 7.

And the reason why they might be so different from other mainstream romance characters is because I had never read a romance before writing SLAMMED. In fact, I didn't even know SLAMMED was considered a romance novel until two months after it was released. I had it categorized in poetry and drama. ;)

5. After book three, which is Slammed from Will’s POV and almost a follow-up to Point of Retreat, post-honeymoon – are there likely to be any more stories featuring these characters?

I'll never say never. I've got ideas for other books with other characters, but I feel like a lot of the characters in SLAMMED and POINT OF RETREAT have their own stories to tell. We'll just have to see. I like to write what inspires me at the moment, so we'll see.

6. A lot of self-published authors use sites such as FictionPress to get feedback for their work, the big advantage being you can post under a pen name! Did you ever use this site or were you happy/brave enough to show it to friends?

Oh, I wasn't aware of hardly anything at all when I published. I have always loved to write, but never had enough confidence to think anything would come of it. I let my mother and a few friends read it, then I started getting requests from others to read it. I researched how to get it on Amazon so other friends and family could read it, and it just took off from there.

7. Now you’ve been signed to a publisher, how much has the writing process changed for you? Are you still allowed the freedom to write what you want and will Atria be publishing the third book in this series?

I don't write under pressure well, so I just sold the rights to the first two books to Atria. I didn't want to work under deadlines and restrictions. Atria has been great, so I doubt it would have been that much different if I would have signed future books with them. Since ATRIA has the first two books in the series, I'll be offering them Will's Story to see if it's something they are interested in. Hopefully it will be. As for books beyond that, we'll see. I really like working with them and look forward to seeing how the process is different from Self-Publishing.

8. What’s your daily writing process like, do you write your stories in chronological order, are you easily side-tracked, and do you listen to anything other than The Avett Brothers?!

Oh, I'm addicted to The Lumineers right now. Their music just puts me in the perfect mood to write. And I am VERY easily sidetracked. It's really hard to focus when there are emails coming in every few minutes and the phone is ringing and the kids are whining. I've had to take a step back from it all to really put myself back in that mind-frame. Back when I wrote the first two, I had tons of time to write and that's what I did. Now that things have changed, the writing seems to take a backseat to everything else going on. I really want to get back into the writing groove and am really trying to manage my time better.

9. Ok “butterflying” – I love it! Where did you get this crazy, cool idea to substitute such an innocent word for something quite naughty!

Actually, that idea came from my son, Cale. He's always been very analytical. He wants to understand why rules are rules. Back when he was four, he was very curious which words were bad and why they were considered bad. It was hard to explain that words were bad because people "say" they are bad. I remember one day we were driving down the road and he asked me if he could make "twenty-seven" a bad word just by telling people it was a bad word. I was really blown away by that conversation with him because he really stumped me. It made me curious as to why words are considered bad and why we can't just say they aren't bad words anymore.

10. On your website you mention your um, well we’d have to say obsession is the only correct way to describe it, with Diego Boneta, if you could cast Will in a movie. Any ideas on Lake or are you too mesmerised by this man?!

Diego is pretty awesome. There are so, so many that would be perfect. It's hard to say who would be perfect for Will. I get suggestions from readers on an almost daily basis for Will, so it changes daily for me. For Lake, I love Jane Levy. Honestly though, I would compromise just to actually see it made into a movie. That would be butterflying awesome!

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