Books. Doesn’t that beautiful word just trigger stories of complex characters from your past that made you cry and laugh and everything in between? Does it induce the faint aroma of old pages turning and flipping in a book shop? Doesn’t it begin a fiery hunger deep in your soul to pick up another novel and dig yourself into an endless literary hole? If none of these experiences occurred upon seeing the word “books”, this article might not be for you. Because it’s about to get real nerdy up in here. All hail the bookworms!
Moving on, I love books, if you couldn’t tell already. I have four ceiling high bookshelves in my house and two of them contain just my books. I’m never go to Half Price Books alone because I need someone to restrain me and my credit card 24/7. And when I read, I read. I mean I devour. I can’t just read 20 pages and put the book down for later. Once that cover is opened, it’s game over. Anyone who knows me should expect me to be busy for the four to five hours (this timeline may differ depending on the length of the book).
Now with this information in mind, I’ve been very sad lately. During the school semesters, I never have time to read because I’m constantly in classes and writing papers. But now we’re halfway through summer and I never have to read because the lack of classes gives me time to go out and do things with my friends. I’ve always struggled to balance my lifestyle and by this, I mean I want to eat, sleep, hang out with friends, hang out with family, watch YouTube videos, watch new movies, marathon new shows on Netflix, listen to new music, read books, etc. but I can’t do it all in one day. It’s overwhelming to enjoy so many activities and know you can’t accomplish them the way you want to. So I haven’t read a book in a while and I came to this realization two or three weeks ago.
So for two or three weeks, I’ve been picking up books I never finished and reading the hell out of them. Once that was over, I was craving something new but I knew it had to be the right book. I was on a roll and if I picked a book that I didn’t enjoy, it could ruin reading for me for a while. I immediately knew exactly where to turn. I needed to return to an old classic: Colleen Hoover. I picked up her first novel she ever published, "Slammed." I picked it up around 1:30 p.m. and finished it around 5 p.m. Keep in mind that is including breaks for snacks, water, and bathroom purposes. So I pretty much blew through that book and enjoyed every minute of it. But we’ll get to that later. Let’s talk about the woman behind the words.
Colleen Hoover. A #1 New York Times bestselling author of nine new/young adult novels, two novellas and one novella series. The queen of contemporary romance. The only author I would trust with my life. That sounds a bit dramatic but at this point, I don’t hesitate to say this. In my mind, Colleen is a genius who knows exactly how to build and tell a compelling story. Now she’s no Hemingway or Shakespeare; don’t expect a literary masterpiece that will thrive through time as a classic. But do expect a heart warming and heart breaking story that will take you for a ride and altogether, entertain you. Now let’s get to the real point of this article: the books.
I don’t want to say I’m an expert on quality books or anything but I’ve loved reading for years and I’m currently a fiction major which means it’s literally my job to read and write every single day in order to succeed in college (no pressure or anything). So let’s just say I know a thing or two that at least provides me with good advice to readers looking for good books. I’ve read plenty and when I’m recommending books to people, Colleen Hoover is always on the list. So far I’ve only read five of her novels (I feel like a fake fan) but I’m determined to read them all. I decided after finishing "Slammed" and oozing with love for an hour or so that I had to do something. It was my duty to inform the world of Colleen’s Hoovers greatness. And what better what to do that than by creating a list of my favorites in chronological order? Keep in mind I’m head over heels in love with each one of these novels so no matter the order or what comes in last, I adore each and every story below. So here’s the messy guide to Colleen’s books that you never asked for:
Synopsis: Sky, a senior in high school, meets Dean Holder, a guy with a bad reputation that rivals her own. From their very first encounter, he terrifies and captivates her. Something about him sparks memories of her deeply troubled past, a time she’s tried so hard to bury. Though Sky is determined to stay far away from him, his charm and smile break down her defenses and the intensity of the bond between them grows. But the mysterious Holder has been keeping secrets of his own, and once they are revealed, Sky is changed forever. (Based off Amazon description.)
I received this book as a Christmas present from one of my good friends, Megan (Shout-out if you’re reading this right now! I love you endlessly). It was the first time I had ever seen or heard Colleen Hoover’s name which, of course, led me to put down this book for a while. It took me a couple of months but finally, on a day with no plans, I picked this novel up and read it within a couple of hours. My parents had to watch me scream, cry, and rant about every up and down in the plot and it was not pretty. This novel comes off as a cute and simple romance in the synopsis but I promise you there is multiple intense and heartbreaking plot twists that you will not believe. This book was all I could think about for weeks.
Favorite part: The shower scene in the last quarter of the book (I wish I could tell you more but it’s such a spoiler).
2. "Maybe Someday."
Synopsis: Sydney is a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, her perfect bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects. (Based off Goodreads description.)
When I began school at Columbia as a commuter in the fall of 2015, I was constantly finding ways to entertain myself on the hour long train ride to and from classes every day. At first it was music, but then I began to read. Sometimes when the train got really crowded during rush hour, it would be hard to hold a book without it getting knocked out of my hands so I eventually switched to ebooks. This was the first one I downloaded. I literally had to hold in squeals of delight in public over this book. The relationship was adorable but also very different from any I’ve ever read because of one of Ridge’s major character “flaws”. I also adored this story because the songs Sydney and Ridge write together are actually real songs; there’s a companion CD you can get with this book where Griffin Peterson sings all of the songs (he’s also the one who wrote them for the book). As a singer-songwriter myself, I found the writing scenes very relatable.
Favorite part: ANY SONGWRITING SCENE.
Synopsis: At age 21, Auburn Reed has already lost everything important to her. In her fight to rebuild her shattered life, she has goals set and there is 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 artist who works there, Owen Gentry. For once, Auburn takes a chance and follows her heart, only to discover that Owen is keeping a major secret hidden from her. 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. To save their relationship, all Owen needs to do is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin. (Based off Amazon description.)
This was the second ebook I read during the school year. I found that this novel pulled the reader in really well. You seemed to be dropped right in the middle of the main character's world and you're not sure why or how you're there. First off, the whole concept of Owen's art studio is so creative and cool (once again, I won't tell you why because spoilers). It was amazing that Colleen even took the time to include the paintings in the gallery so the reader could see them. Second, usually Colleen focuses the main plot twist or complexity in general on the male character bceause she knows her audience is mostly female. In "Confess," the plot twist had a lot to do with Auburn and I enjoyed seeing her complexity along with Owen's.
Favorite part: Either when they first meet or their first date. I can't choose. They're both adorable.
4. "Ugly Love."
Synopsis: When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first sight. They wouldn’t even consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her: Never ask about the past and don’t expect a future. They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all. (Based off Amazon description.)
This was the third and last ebook I read during the school year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ugly Love is probably the most new adult novel Colleen has published so far due to it's multiple sex scenes, but don't get it confused. This is no "50 Shades of Grey." This is a "friends with benefits" gone wrong... or right? Most of Colleen's books are written in dual perspective but what I loved most about this book was how unique the point's of view were. While Tate's point of view was in present with Miles, Miles' point of view was in the past during his high school days. I believe she did it this way so the reader can slowly unravel Miles' secrets along with Tate. You feel like you're right beside her. And Miles' backstory? SO INTENSE AND SAD. I honestly had to hold back tears on the train.
Favorite part: All of Miles' point of view. I looked forward to learning more about him every time I read it.
Synopsis: Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother when they move halfway across the country. Though she seems resilient on the outisde, she is slowly losing hope. Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection. Not long after a heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart. (Based off Goodreads description.)
I believe this is the most different of Colleen's books. If you are looking for a romance focused novel this is not the one, even though there is a romantic relationship involved. Due to the family struggles going on and the fact that Layken and Will can't be together for reasons unknown (to you reading this at least), this book ended up being very family oriented, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I enjoyed it. Often in young adult contemporary novels, you see the family fade to the background so the book can focus on the romance or whatever else is going on, but that's very unrealistic. When you're 18, your family is very much active and a part of your life so it was nice to see the bond between Layken, her brother and her mother. Besides this, I loved Will and thought he was so caring and supportive and when the time for the romance did come, it was everything I hoped for.
Favorite part: Eddie's (Layken's best friend's) birthday party. There were actual tears.