Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review for Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino


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?

REVIEW: 3.5 Stars
"Our innocence was beautiful, impossible to capture again, impossible to re-create."

I was so excited for the idea of this story!! I was so excited based on the synopsis alone, but seeing some of the reviews, I knew I was in for a good book. Unfortunately, I think this was the classic case of the hype not meeting my expectations and the buildup falling flat at the end. I hate to be negative, because my love for this book was most definitely there, so let me try to explain....

Hype for me is so hard to accept sometimes. Some authors/books I have loved and some I have not, all from someone "highly recommending" them to me. I understand that and know that way of thinking. I honestly do. I'm sure this review won't get many nods, and that is ok. That is the joy of blogging, and in turn, me being able to give my opinion. I *loved* Before We Were Strangers by Renee and felt it was worthy of my Favorites List in 2015, so I knew her writing style and was anticipating that greatness again. This book felt like it was a massive buildup, a heart-rendering book with the ability to crush me and make me *sigh* when it was all said and done. Ultimately, and honestly, it did when I think about the HEA and the love that these two characters had for each other. I am just sad that I felt a little disconnected by the time I finished it. It just.....ended.

The story within the story written by Jase felt like it was written with compassion and love, and I got caught up in that aspect of this book. But the actual characters of Renee's story, the "real life characters" felt a little forced and annoying at times. I won't pick apart the characters, because that is not mine to do, but some things didn't sit right with me. I didn't enjoy the fact that some things took foooorrrreeevverrrr to come to and others were buttoned up in one paragraph: her other relationship, her new writing career, etc. Quick. Done. Fin. It was just a little too inconsistent for me.

I loved the storyline within the story. It was beautiful. We got a young love that blossomed into this mind boggling kind of love that you never forget. You never let go and you constantly ache for that person and those feelings you 'remember' feeling deep down, even if you know that you have to move on. That is the love we had in this book. It was beautiful. I loved how deep Jase loved Emiline and their connection was soul deep. His love had purpose. It was true. It wasn't puppy love; it was an honest to goodness first and true love mixed up into a very sad and compelling story. I was engrossed. I was completely captivated and consumed by the book within this book. Heart strings were pulled. Gasps were had. Smiles were spread. It was all there. It was perfection in a shady world.

However, I didn't like Emiline in real life within the book. I didn't connect to her at all, which is weird because I loved Emerson in the story. Emiline almost felt selfish in her actions and words at some points, and I had a hard time reconciling that part with the Emerson side of her. That may just be a me thing. I can honestly say this book had a really good storyline and an honest and true love story behind it. I just wish it ended with a little more oomph than it had. I don't know how to explain it. I was talking with a friend today about it and I told her it kinda felt like we were rapidly gaining speed, going and going and then BAM! we hit a brick wall and it just....stopped. The HEA was there. The love was there. It was all there. But it ended so abruptly. Like I said, maybe it's a me thing....

One thing is for sure....Renee Carlino is the master at second chance romances with a deep, soul-crushing love. Beautiful love story. Beautiful.

"Each moment is a story in itself."


RenĂ©e Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of contemporary women's novels and new adult fiction. Her books have been featured in national publications, including USA TODAY, Huffington Post, Latina magazine, and Publisher's Weekly. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she's not at the beach with her boys or working on her next project, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate. Learn more at



No comments:

Post a Comment