Hey, guys! I can't even tell you how super excited I am to be part of this tour; for the tour schedule click here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom!
Title: Sometimes Never (Sometimes Never #1)
Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Released: 19th December 2012
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
This. This was what I needed. A compelling contemporary with a heart-stopping romance and beautiful friendships. Granted, this was by no means a light read. It was dark and intense, which admittedly is the kind of book I usually go for. But aside from revelling in this side of the story, the pages of Sometimes Never are home to characters I fell head over heels in love with. Cheryl McIntyre has, without a doubt, made it onto my list of favourite authors.
Hope's life has been far from easy. She never knew her father, and her mother was uninterested in raising a daughter, instead either leaving the house unexpectedly or bringing home undesirable company. Then she died. For the past few years Hope's lived with a foster family, and while she's much better off than before, she still can't erase the pain and the scars that her past has inflicted on her. And love? Out of the question. Mason is now at his eighth school in five years, a result of his mother's constant desire to move. He's tired of not being able to stick around long enough to make proper friends, tired of having to leave places behind - especially his home of Illinois. He lets his temper get the best of him and uses girls as a way of trying to forget and to lose himself, but doesn't really believe in love.
And then they meet. And everything changes.
McIntyre deals with difficult issues in a very sensitive manner. Looking at the cover, it does kind of give the impression that this is perhaps something of a heavier read, but there is no specific mention of the topics that get brought up, leaving me surprised when I started reading. A lot of these stem from Hope's character. Hope has had some truly traumatic experiences, and because of that is a character completely and utterly broken. Both within the book and as a YA protagonist, she stands out from the crowd. Strangely enough, I felt almost no frustration with her character. I could see how much pain she was in, how she genuinely felt that she wasn't worthy of love and that she would destroy any kind of relationship she had, not realising that her friendships were relationships in themselves. Commitment is an absolute no-no for her, and that makes her almost oblivious to how differently other people might feel. She's also one hell of a fighter. She does struggle with herself quite a lot, and by the end of the book she's come a long way from where she was at the start. Not completely healed, but I think almost as much as possible for someone who's been through her experiences.
Now, if anyone were to ask me to name all my book boyfriends, it's safe to say we'd be here for...well, for a long while, let's just say. So what does it tell you when I say that Mason would be among the first names you hear? And he would be. Because he is honestly that amazing. This guy does nothing but help Hope and be there for her. He is just more sweet than I can describe. He makes mistakes, and then does his utmost to rectify them. The relationship he shares with his younger brother is also touching; these two don't fight and yell at each other. Mason is the responsible older brother who takes the time to do things with him, and you can see clearly that Kellin respects him. He gets along with his mother too - although this was a woman who had lost my respect by the end. She pulled a move that I was so scared would happen, and when I was proved right, I couldn't believe she would do such a thing. Yet somehow Mason has turned out to be a genuinely good guy, someone who stands up for what is right, makes his own choices, and refuses to go along with what others want him to do.
The secondary characters are brilliantly fleshed out as well. I can't even begin to tell you how much I adored the friendships in this book - between Mason, Hope, Guy, Chase, even Kellin and Misty. Guy is Hope's absolute best friend, and she's pretty tight with Chase as well; all three of them are part of a band, and Park is the fourth. Out of the secondary characters, Guy was by far my favourite. I loved him. Completely. He's been there for Hope ever since her mother died, and he understands her like no-one else does. At the same time, he says his mind. But even though he's my favourite, I love Chase too. I'm a little mixed with Park. On the one hand, I can see where he's coming from, but at the same time he does something that's pretty unforgiveable.
I adored this book. Pure and simple. It's so clear that Cheryl McIntyre knows every single one of her characters back to front, inside and out. And every single relationship in here, whether it's familial, platonic, romantic, loving, indifferent, painful - every single one of them is deep, layered, expertly written. Sometimes Never is all about the characters and their struggles to move on in their lives and, without fully realising it, this is what I needed to read. And if this review has made even one of you add it to your TBR, I feel like I've accomplished something. Because this is a book that deserves to be read.
Title: Blackbird (Sometimes Never #1.5)
Author: Cheryl McIntyre
Released: 19th February 2013
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Blackbird tells the story of the years between the final chapter and the epilogue of Sometimes Never, in which Hope and Mason do their separate things while still trying to make their relationship work, and also learn to confront their own issues once and for all.
I loved this one because in Blackbird, Mason's problems become more obvious. You can see just how messed up he is. In the first book, his anger and the difficulty he has with his own past are visible, but in the novella, while Hope still struggles a great deal, there is also more emphasis on Mason's struggle. He has to learn to address his temper, his quick impulses. On top of that, his problems are worsened by the fact that his mother is being frustratingly stubborn. In a way, I can understand where she's coming from and why she's acting the way she is; she has Kellin to think about too. But then I also don't think that she should be acting that way. In the first instance, it makes her a hypocrite, which I loved Hope for pointing out to her. In the second, it shows a lack of understanding on her part. It just emphasises her inability to deal with life and the readiness to give up. Despite her own pain and grief, she can't seem to comprehend that of someone else, and the pressure that she put on Mason because of this, the hurt she inflicted on him, really had me feeling for him.
As I said before, Hope is still struggling a lot here. She thought she had things figured out, but going to college has made her realise that actually, she has no idea what she's going to do. It feels like there are too many things happening, too many things to think about and decide, and they're suffocating her. There were a couple of close calls, and she put Mason through a lot, but I was happy when she really made an effort to overcome her fears and impulses. Even more so when Guy and Chase came along and speeded up the process. I was glad to see that despite everything, she did want Mason to be happy, and she was offering to sacrifice a lot if it meant his mother would allow their family to go back to how they used to be.
The ending for this is adorable, as is the epilogue of Sometimes Never. I'm so happy it ended that way.
I can't say any more. Just know that I love Cheryl McIntyre, I love her books, her characters, and even if I had her companion novel, as yet untitled, in my hands right now, it still wouldn't be soon enough. I'm going to go stalk her on Twitter now.
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