Four Letter Feelings – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, knowing how much Lasairiona discusses mental health, you’d think I’d have been prepared for this book. I wasn’t.

The emotional battles Jeremy goes through is like nothing I could have guessed at based on what we learnt about him in the Intimate Strangers and AJ Williams trilogies. Also, one of the major things that might’ve hinted at the content (ok, told me outright) is the blurb.

Silly me jumped into this without ever reading the blurb, I just knew it was about Jeremey and I wanted to read it. Don’t make my mistake.

I read a good portion of this book (the really heavy hitting parts) in one day and found myself quietly crying and having to wipe away tears so I could keep reading. The level of emotion Lasairiona is able to convey with her characters is like nothing I’ve ever read before. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go into this book expecting a cute love story about a jock that’s in touch with his emotions.

This is so much heavier than that, in all the right ways. The topics of toxic masculinity, mental health, the impacts of mental disorders on those close to them, grief, overdoses, estranged family and coming to grips with your emotions are all explored in this book. I feel like a few of them will continue to feature throughout this trilogy. (This is a trilogy right? I feel like it needs to be…)

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Widows Vow by Rachel Brimble. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster writes sassy, classy and badassy women and strong, yet vulnerable men. She challenges reader’s expectations by openly dealing with mental health issues, often exploring tough-to-handle topics and ‘taboos’ and books with a whole lotta heart.   She can either be found enjoying a gin and lemonade by the Irish sea, or baking sweet treats in her kitchen while singing at the top of her lungs. When she’s ‘home’ in Texas, and isn’t eating fresh-popped popcorn while buying things she has absolutely no need for in Target, she can be found at Chuys eating her body weight in chips and queso and washing it down with a margarita swirl. 

0

Always Been You – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, I feel like I’m kinda getting back into my groove. Having a couple of weeks not having to work 50+ hours certainly helped!

I’ve gotten to the final book in the AJ Williams trilogy, meaning I’m also at the end of both Lisa’s and AJ’s stories. In a way I’m glad it’s the end. Purely because 6 books about the same two people can be a lot. But I was also super pumped about finding out his side of that final turbulent book.

I spent a fair while wondering how much we’d see, including how he’d get divorced. I gotta say I wasn’t as emotionally invested in this book as some of the others. I think this comes more from how eager I was to know his side of the Mexico trip and his divorce than anything else.

Overall, I found myself underwhelmed by the emotional upheaval AJ went through and the way it was written. Other than the moments involving Lisa (much of which was taken directly from her books), the emotional rollercoaster that I’m used to experiencing just wasn’t there.

I got the feels in all the right moments, just as intended. Yet I found myself just waiting for all the moments with Lisa to see what AJ was thinking and feeling. When you’re reading a book, I don’t believe you should be waiting for moments to happen. Instead, I think you should be enjoying the moment you’re in and the story.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Dance of the Heart by Lisa Kessler. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years.

Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation.

With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

0

Worth Fighting For – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, I seem to be scheduling most of the AJ Williams trilogy on Saturdays!

We continue the story by picking up with AJ midst depression crash. In Lisa’s books all we knew was that he wasn’t responding to her and that his phone was broken, and his wife took his laptop charger with her. Reading AJ’s perspective was kind of shocking.

I know down swings can be bad, but I had no idea loss of time etc could be a part of it. The was Lasairiona was able to describe his emotional state of mind, his physical reactions and his general surroundings made me feel like I was standing next to him, seeing his house and what he looked like.

One of the things I liked about his opening book Game Changer, was that we got to see his thoughts throughout everything. That gave us the difference between Lisa’s trilogy and his. Yet it felt like we didn’t get as much of his thought processes this time.

When we did, it was usually him talking to himself to try and behave better, especially in his reactions to Lisa. Yet he often ignored his own advice. At least that’s what it felt like to me.

If you know you should act a certain way, or say certain things, then why would you? That reasoning was missing and jarred me a little bit coz it just made me hate AJ a little bit. Knowing what’s coming (kind of) in the final book next month means I can’t totally hate him. But I honestly couldn’t comprehend how someone could be so selfish and self-absorbed, yet somehow have so many friends and family love him so much.

It just didn’t make sense to me. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

2

Game Changer – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, after finishing the Lisa Miller series earlier in the year I’m now starting the AJ Williams series. The same events, but from AJ’s perspective.

I was wondering how much this series could offer me as I’ve read a couple of books that were written after another book but from another character’s perspective. Normally I find these books quite repetitive and boring.

Somehow, Lasairionas writing makes it work. I think having most of the book focus on AJ’s thoughts or his interactions with people when Lisa wasn’t there made it work. Instead of rehashing what’s already been said from Lisa’s perspective, we get an insight into AJ’s mind, bipolar and all.

We also get an insight into AJ’s relationships with others. Especially Jeremey.

I’m honestly not sure how accurate AJ’s thoughts are of bipolar, never having suffered it myself, but I hope it’s as accurate as possible. Reading his thoughts go backwards and forwards, questioning, the self-doubt. It made him more relatable and it made me wonder about what I know is to come in future books.

Some of the major incidents in this book gave me a whole different view of what happened. Some of the things that happened, when explained from Lisa’s perspective left me confused. Meaning when I got to read what happened to AJ it made total sense. It also gave me a lot more empathy for him than I had when reading Lisa’s book.

I can’t wait until I get to read what happens next and how AJ handles it himself.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The New Guy by Kathryn Freeman. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

3

Fateful Coincidence – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, we’re finally up to the final book in the Lisa Miller trilogy! Which, by the way, will be followed by a trilogy from AJ’s perspective!

The first and major thing I need to say about this final instalment is that it has all the feels. I don’t know how Lasairiona does it, but man she writes the feels well! I read most of this book outside on the couch with Bones and found myself needing his cuddles at multiple points as I slowly cried from everything Lisa had to experience.

I think I’ve mentioned this before. But I’m not a crier. That scene at the end of the Notebook? No tears. Any other moment in film history that typically sees people crying. No tears.

This book? Tears. At like 5 different points in time.

The strength Lisa had to have to get through all this is amazing. If I was in her position, I don’t think I could have coped as well as she did. Although she’s also got a much larger and available support system than I have.

Which brings me onto something I’m glad Lasairiona included. Which is how Lisa treats the men in her life. She’s lucky to have such amazing guys who want to be there to support her and help her trough everything she’s going through. But she’s kinda clueless and insensitive to what they’re feeling.

I can’t say how without ruining the book. But I did have a thought of “Really? I know he’s a great guy and won’t complain. But common decency says you shouldn’t lean on him for this. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment no one deserves.” So, it made me super happy when Chelsea brought it up and told her how selfish she was being.

The only other thing I want to say about this book (because, honestly, it’s genius and finish are too epic to put into words) is that Lisa has WAY better friends than I do! But I’m also older, less sociable, generally introverted and dump friends as soon as they show the first hint of being fair weather friends. How can I get friends like hers?

If this sounds like something you might like, make sure you check out the reviews for Intimate Strangers and The Good in Goodbye because this is a trilogy that MUST be read in order! Once I’ve read and reviewed AJ’s perspective, I might come back to discuss the best way to read the two trilogies. Coz I have a feeling my reading order might change once I’ve read them too.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, I’m back with my series review tomorrow, and then again on Monday with The Cottage on Wildflower Lane by Liz Davies. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation.

With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

2

The Good in Goodbye – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, after that slightly odd Christmas “romantic comedy” last week we’re back to Lisa Miller! Remember her from Intimate Strangers?

I feel like I need to go into some spoilers with this review, so if you don’t want spoilers, make sure you skip that section!

We pick up Lisa’s love story with AJ like a month and a bit after she had to leave him back in the US. She’s discovered something pretty life changing and she’s coping with it pretty well until tragedy strikes. Luckily, she’s home in Ireland so she’s got her childhood best friend and her parents with her to help her through this time. Not to mention a few new friends she makes in this book.

Overall, it felt like this story had a different feel to it than the first one. The first one was very much a romance, whereas this one felt more serious and addressed a few sensitive topics. Mental health, unplanned pregnancies, trauma, heart break, moral choices and various other topics. And I’m not sure it does it very well.

It felt like it was trying to address too many things and ended up losing it in a few places. Most of the book was great! I felt connected almost all the way through. But the last couple of chapters just didn’t feel right for the characters.

The choices made felt like they’d been done to create drama rather than to honestly have the characters develop further. I feel like I want to read the next book to see if it kinda corrects those issues. But at the same time, I’m also worried it might go further down the path of not feeling natural.

SPOILER TIME! DON’T FORGOT TO CHECK OUT THE REST AFTER THE SPOILERS!

AJ having bipolar feels like something that should’ve come out in the first book. Putting it here makes it feel like it was a “o what’s a way we can add in mental health awareness? This works!” and bang it went in. I’m not trying to say it wasn’t portrayed well. I just feel that setting it up a bit more in the first book would’ve worked better. Specially coz AJ said the Docs could tell Lisa everything when he was in the hospital and there was no mention of bipolar meds then. Just feels a little bit contradictory to me.

Lisa’s thought processes towards the end of the book bugged me as well. I get grief can do strange things to our minds, but to decide you don’t want to be with your guy as soon as he’s on the place home feels a little bit out of left field. Given how into open and honest communication they’re into, surely she’d talk to him about her concerns?

Finally, that last bombshell of Ana’s feels like it should be a set up. If the start of the next book isn’t a “we did this to see how you were coping” kinda thing then she’s like the most insensitive person ever! I mean. Lisa lost her baby at 12 weeks old. Why would you feel it’s OK to turn up on her doorstep claiming to be 12 weeks pregnant when she has little to no support system around her and she’s barely coping as it is? #horriblefriendmoment #shitfriend

I don’t know why I did that, but it felt appropriate.

WE’RE PAST THE SPOILERS NOW!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Give me a Christmas by Zoe Ann Wood. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

0

Intimate Strangers – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, I feel like I’ve had some emotionally charges romance reads this month and today is no different. I mean. Wow. Just wow!

Talk about an emotionally draining read!

If anyone wants to see how an emotional rollercoaster should be written, I suggest reading this book and making notes. I really wasn’t expecting it to be QUITE so dramatic. Especially throughout the whole book.

Given that Lisa met someone online I was anticipating there to be a certain level of emotional stress leading up to them meeting for the first time. But that was just the start of it! There were a few other hits in there as well as the comedic release you need during those highly charged moments.

Lisa’s sarcastic and confident (even if she doesn’t feel it most of the time) attitude made her highly amusing. Especially when we also got to read along with the conversations she was having in her own head. As we only follow her, we don’t get to find out what’s going through AJ’s head.

In this case I really don’t think having AJ’s side of events is needed. There are quite a few stories where you need both sides. However, the way Lasairiona has written this means it’s perfect as it is. And having AJ’s side would probably just ruin it.

I’m scheduled to review the follow up book The Good in Goodbye in December. So make sure you subscribe to my mailing list if you want to know the moment that review goes live!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Wrapped up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did – with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself ‘home’, with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

0