Saturday, 1 June 2013

Review: Sweet Thing By Renee Carlino

To purchase the book: click the book cover

Wow.... this book was just brilliant but it killed me emotionally. I have never wanted to cheat with a book and go straight to the end as much as I wanted to with “Sweet Thing”.  No, there were no ghosts, no demons, no deep, dark secrets but it still got me. This book had my heart and my stomach in knots and left my brain completely frazzled. I must be a bit gaga  because despite all of this, I loved the book. In fact I loved it so much I read it in one sitting and finished it at 1am (on a school night too... tut tut). It was so worth it though.

So What’s it about?

Mia has spent most of her life going for the safe option. Not one to take risks or make poor decisions, she has her future mapped out ahead of her.  Unfortunately the tragic death of her father sends Mia’s life into a tail spin and she is forced to leave the safe haven of Ann Arbor and move to New York (the city that never sleeps, where people dare to dream. Where people LIVE). But Mia remains focused:

I would only pursue sensible relationships while I worked on getting Kell's back
            to its glory and I would continue to work towards a bigger career in business.          
  I knew the arts and music would always play a role in my life, but I refused 
to fall into the bottomless and crowded vat of starving artists.

Well, even the best laid plans can fall apart and that’s exactly what happens the  minute Mia and Wilbur’s paths cross (yes I said Wilbur... lol).  There’s an immediate attraction but Mia’s so focused on her goals, that nothing and no one will get in her way:

“Jenny, I like Will fine, but I don’t want to date an almost thirty year old,

struggling musician who rents a room from me for 400 dollars a month.”

Will ‘s good looking, he’s poetic, spontaneous and he’s a musician on the brink of fame but Mia doesn’t see this. She’s already made up her mind. Will couldn’t possibly offer her a stable future and as such they can only ever be friends. And so their story begins. Will Mia be able to keep the lines of their friendship from blurring and can Will keep his heart from breaking?

This book had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t focus on anything else because most of the time I was either screaming at the characters, waiting in anticipation for “IT” to happen (no, not “IT”, well partly “IT” but mostly just them), or I just felt deflated. Renee Carlino really did a number on me with this one!!!! (But I love you for it I promise). 
The characters in "Sweet Thing" were brilliant (frustrating at times) but still, I loved them. Will had my heart from the word go. I mean how could he not. He was  funny and so  sweet and his fear of flying turned my heart into mush. He was just so adorable. Will’s passion was music. Self taught, he could play the guitar, the piano and he could even sing!!!! And that moment where he sang his beautiful heart out when he thought no one was watching (big sigh) just got me:

“You can sing! Will Ryan, you can sing! What the hell? The universe needs you, Will!”

 “I’m still trying to figure it all out. Please just let this go.

 I’m not sure about anything. You get that right?”

And that was Will. Never blowing his own trumpet, never self promoting. When it came to music, it wasn’t about making it big, it was just about playing, plain and simple:

It was clear to me that Will was in the band for the love of music and not for fame or sex;

 I was sure he didn’t need any help in that department.

But the vultures were all waiting in the wings and I could really sense Will’s hesitation, his reluctance to enter the world that could quite possible tear everything he cherished to pieces. I loved this quality in him. He wasn’t the type of guy to sell out to the highest bidder. He remained true to himself and his dreams and if that meant waiting to make a decision regarding his future then so be it. They could all wait.
Although cocky and a little arrogant at times (definitely not a bad thing when it came to Will, it was kinda cute), there were moments where I really felt for him,  where my heart sank, because he just kept getting knocked back, time and time again. It didn’t matter what he did or what he said, it wasn't enough, even trying to sing a song he wrote for Mia went pear shaped:

“This is a song for my friend.” He looked right at me.
“Play Ziggy Stardust!” I blurted out.

 Looking shattered, he narrowed his eyes at me and shook his head.

Even when things were going well for him, I knew that just around the corner, something would tear his happiness away from him. Luck just wasn’t on his side. Don’t get me wrong though, Will wasn’t the kind of guy to mope around when things got tough. He got on with life. He moved forward and he embraced the next step.

Well I don’t think the same could be said for Mia. Mia was on a journey of self discovery (not that she knew it though). Moving to New York, her life was turned on its side. She tried everything to get it back on track but nothing seemed to work. This wasn’t the life she was used to or the life she had planned:

“Being here  and living his life, it’s so dramatically different than my life in Ann Arbor.

 My father made decisions with his heart and my mom makes them with her

 mind and I can’t help but feel like I’m more like my mom, or I should be.”

Every decision Mia made, she made with her head and there were definitely no “follow your heart” moments. She just couldn’t let herself go and whilst everyone around her lived their lives, she carried on aimlessly. Her fear of making bad decisions stopped her from doing so  much, from enjoying all that life had to give and from accepting true friendship and love that was offered to her time and time again. This is where she left me feeling frustrated. There were moments in the book I could have shaken her, screamed at her even. Will was offering her so much but her stubborn ass and her fear of the unknown stopped her from letting anything go  further:

My real fear was that I would fall in love with Will or that I already had and then

he would just leave me alone, broken and pathetic.

And then there was Mia’s mean streak. It was her way of hiding her true feelings from her friends and from Will. She could see the effect her cruel words had, the impression they gave of her and the hurt they caused especially to the one man who gave her a reprieve when everything else around her was chaos but she couldn’t help it. Word after word, sentence after sentence she just kept coming out with them, making herself look shallow, selfish, self centred, bitchy. But it was self preservation. It had to be that way:

Then it happened. I said something I wish I could take back as soon as it came out of

 my mouth. “You’re not even my type.” He looked shattered and dumbfounded.

 I stalked off to my room feeling nauseous, embarrassed, but more

 than anything scared that I had hurt him for no good reason.

But her friends were not about to let her get away with it. I loved the secondary characters in “Sweet Thing.” Martha, Sheil and Jenny were just fab. They were straight shooters, say it how it with no sugar coating kind of girls and never held back, despite Mia being their boss. Molly codling  Mia was not the way forward. Someone needed to spell it out for her and who better than your nearest and dearest:

“You made it pretty clear that he’s not your type. He’s a man; do you expect him not to date?

 Anyway, he said you got all bent over the fact that he brought a friend over.

 I’m sorry, I love you girl, but I think it’s a little unfair the way you treat him.”

 And the intervention they were planning was just brilliant. What are friends for?

The influence of music throughout the story (whether it was the connection it created between Mia and Will, or the influence it had on their past, present and future lives) really got me. There were times those musical moments had me full of hope, giving me faith that all would work out in the end. But then there were other times where it just hurt, where it was soul destroying and I felt crushed. I really wanted Mia to give in to her passion for music. Yes it already played a big part in her life but she held back from giving herself completely to it, hell bent on pursuing a career in business (I mean really??? Business vs music????). Frustrating .com!!!!

This book was so well written for a debut novel. I connected with the story and the characters alike and felt every emotion they went through. “Sweet Thing” definitely took its toll on me giving me the mother of all book hangovers (but I wouldn’t change it for the world).
If you’re looking for a story that will squeeze your heart dry, raise your blood pressure, give you anxiety and leave your stomach in tatters, then this is for you. Renee Carlino lured me into a false sense of security with this one: with the coffee cup, the heart and the piano, I honestly thought it would be a walk in the park. Lol. An amazing read where I couldn’t have been more desperate for a couple to get together. They deserved their HEA. And now I’m off to my therapy session!!!! Lol I need it after that.

Take a leap of faith and read this book, you won't be disappointed.
I rated this book 4.5 hearts.

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