Tuesday 9 August 2016

Release Day Review ~ Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Book Description:

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

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Our Review:

Reviewed by Donna ~ 5 stars
***ARC received for an honest review***

“There once was a boy and a girl…”

Renee Carlino really got me with Before We Were Strangers but she totally decimated me with Swear on This Life. This book was such a unique and novel concept, a novel within a novel. The synopsis pulled me into this one first and foremost, plus of course, it is Renee Carlino…but what was delivered was so unique, refreshing and totally unexpected. This book was seriously amazing, beautiful, poignant and so emotional. This was one of the greatest second chance romances I have had the pleasure to read and definitely the most individual. I know I have used UNIQUE a lot…but, this was just that, UNIQUE and I applaud the author for delivering something so different that even the way it was presented was a journey itself.

“If you can surrender to the idea that there might be a plan, instead of reducing every magical moment to a coincidence, then love will find you. It found me.”

Imagine picking up a romance book that is number one in the best seller charts, your friends are fawning over how incredible it is, how the author has such a fantastic female voice even though he was a man, how sad, intense and emotionally gripping the story was, how this poor girl went through so much and the author bared this fictional character’s soul only to start and find out it was your story. Not some story you wrote and somebody plagiarised, but your personal life story. Someone had cruelly capitalised on the pain you went through, sensationalised it, used their own creative license to redeem themselves and made a lot of money from it. Also, the painful realisation that the author could be none other than your childhood best friend and your first love, the man that left you twelve years before, with unkept promises only never to be seen or heard from again. You would be pissed!! As was our Emiline.

“…but I guess it’s like reading a book. The kind where you don’t want to skip pages to see what happens at the end. Each moment is a story in itself.”

Emiline was a writer herself and was currently teaching writing at a university. While her friends around her had moderate success, Emiline was still struggling to find her voice, and her boyfriend of seven years was her toughest critic. Emiline had always kept her past to herself, she never opened up to anyone, not even her boyfriend, Trevor. Emiline was her present and her future and what happened in her past, stayed there, never to see the light of day again, until it wasn’t.

“…the past would only fester and eat away at us if we tried to hold on to it too tightly.”

When Emiline first picks up the book All the Roads Between my heart literally crumbled, Renee Carlino really delivered on the emotional impact that this book delivered to Emiline and thus passed it onto me, the reader.  As this book flip flops from the present to chapters of All the Roads Between, which is Emiline’s past, you finally begin to understand the real Emiline. Layers upon layers of seamless, perfect writing, deliver a harrowing tale within the light of a beautiful friendship. A story of two kids who made the best of what they had and cherished every moment they spent together, how a childhood friendship developed into innocent love until they were cruelly ripped apart. How despite the adversities they were presented with, they still had each other, until they didn’t. 

“This could be the best thing for us, after it stops being the worst.”

Now Emiline has two options, confront the author J Colby, or let bygones be bygones. Emiline though was stronger than she gave herself credit for and maybe just maybe this would be the closure she needed, or would it just bring up painful memories and even more damning, reawaken old feelings that she had spent over a decade damping down and trying to forget?

“It’s impossible to really hate someone if you don’t love them at least a little.”

Renee Carlino delivers an exceptional story that literally summons every single emotion with ease. You live and breathe Emiline’s story, you feel everything, you experience everything and you cannot help but be totally consumed by every little thought and every little detail. This story was captivating from first to last page, the writing was exquisite, breathtakingly real no matter the ugly but it is this that really hammers home their connection. How two kids effectively traversed a life of let downs, a life that no kid should experience, a life where one friendship was their life. Their one “person,” their one confidante, the one they could rely on no matter what. These two were connected by love, by friendship and by an invisible tether that would forever lead them back. A bond so strong that it could never be broken, just biding its time until the stars were aligned, until the invisible became visible.

“Our story is great. Maybe not all the other shit, but the story of us is perfect, Em.”

Swear on This Life was heart wrenching at times, but uplifting in others. It was perfectly balanced, extraordinary in its delivery and will forever be a tattoo on my heart. Pure genius!

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