Monday, June 24, 2013


I'm very excited to have my friend Jessica at the blog today! We've been friends for awhile, and I always love to read her opinions on books. Today she is reviewing Left Drowning, by Jessica Park.

Left DrowningSeries: n/a
Category/Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing
Publication Date: 7/16/13
Format: eARC
Source: Received from publisher for review

What does it take to rise from life’s depths, swim against the current, and breathe?
Weighted down by the loss of her parents, Blythe McGuire struggles to keep her head above water as she trudges through her last year at Matthews College. Then a chance meeting sends Blythe crashing into something she doesn’t expect—an undeniable attraction to a dark-haired senior named Chris Shepherd, whose past may be even more complicated than her own. As their relationship deepens, Chris pulls Blythe out of the stupor she’s been in since the night a fire took half her family. She begins to heal, and even, haltingly, to love this guy who helps her find new paths to pleasure and self-discovery. But as Blythe moves into calmer waters, she realizes Chris is the one still strangled by his family’s traumatic history. As dark currents threaten to pull him under, Blythe may be the only person who can keep him from drowning.

This book is intended for mature audiences due to strong language and sexual content.

Note: due to mature content recommended for Ages 17+

“Swim strong, run hard & keep breathing”
I had the honor, the privilege, the fangirl moment high of meeting Jessica Park while she was here in New York City earlier this month. I had literally JUST moved back to New York from my two year hiatus in Birmingham, Alabama. The U-Haul pulled up to my apartment on Thursday night and that Saturday afternoon I was meeting Ms. Park and there was no way in hell I was going to miss seeing her. She is one of my favorite authors and LEFT DROWNING is a prime example of why she and her books are fantastical. (The above quote is what she wrote in my book when she autographed it. I thought it was a beautiful quote and I wanted to share with you guys.

   I step forward into the cool water, and the soles of my feet sink into the grainy sand. It’s a striking feeling, one I’ve avoided on purpose for the past four years. Without really thinking, I place my hand into his. My eyes close, and I feel him tighten his fingers around mine. The dark world in my head begins to break into pieces, and flashes of old, forgotten memories break through. I find that I am taking quick, shallow breaths.  Stop it stop it!  I instruct myself. I focus on my hand in his, feeling his steady and solid grip. The flashes burst apart as I open my eyes and speak too quickly, hoping to recover from the moment, hoping to cover up my lapse. “You’re right. The water isn’t so bad.”

Chris cocks his head to the side. “You okay?” He squeezes my hand.

I nod. “Yes. I am now.”

 Have you ever lost someone and no matter how many years pass, you still feel that loss like it happened yesterday? That is how Blythe McGuire (lead female character) has been feeling ever since her parents died tragically four years ago in a fire. She and her brother, James, survived that night but barely. For four years, Blythe has dealt with such guilt and such depression that the only way she can deal is by closing herself off from people, including her brother, and drowning her sorrows in binge drinking. In her words:  “I look bananas.” Until one day, at the nearby coffee shop, all that changes. A whirlwind comes crashing in the seat next to her and just like that, her life changes.

There is an instant connection with Sabin, said whirlwind, but not the romantic sort of connection. More like the one you get like you have been friends with someone for years and years. But how can that be if Blythe just ‘met’ Sabin? This is the first time in years that Blythe has connected with another person. Little does she know that Sabin comes with a truckload of siblings. One in particular by the name of Chris (lead male character), is just the one to really rock Blythe back into the real world of the living.

   Some people describe certain physical connections as being like electricity. Sparks flying. When Chris and I touch, it’s different. I think of the feel of water. The way it is when you wade into the ocean and a small wave cascades against you, swirling sand over you and awakening every pore.

  Slow motion, I think decidedly. He can make things happen in slow motion.

Christopher (Chris) Shepherd. Where do I start with him? *sigh* He is beautiful boy, inside and outside. He has had his own tragedy and pain and sorrows from his past that affect him even to this day. He is beautiful to look at but deep down he does not feel that beauty. And he especially doesn’t feel it when he is around Blythe. Oh there are sparks and sexual tension and he definitely wants her but there is something there holding him back from really getting to Blythe. But no matter what romantic feelings he has for her, he is first and foremost her friend and will help her anyway he can to be there for her to conquer that grief that she has been holding on to for so long.

 “Blythe. Your parents died. Your world fell apart…You were left drowning…And you’re struggling to breathe…So do it. Breathe. Just breathe…You have the here and now. You have the future. Deal with the past so you can stop looking back. It’s just pain.”

  “It’s just pain.”

  “Yes. Yes, Blythe.”

  “Just breathe?”

  “Pretty much.”

  “Is that what you did?”

  “Yes. I got myself out of hell. I dealt with it and moved on. You can, too.”

Little by little Blythe gets her life put together piece by piece. Finally, it seems that with the help of Chris and his siblings (Estelle, Eric, Eric’s boyfriend, Zach and Sabin) her life is becoming whole again. She has the Shephard clan as not only friends but the family she didn’t think she would have again. Her brother is back more in her life and all seems to be trekking ahead with Christopher in their relationship as well. Or so she thought…

   “I was afraid this would happen. Being with you? It brought everything back, just like you said it would. It makes all of it worse…This is not like what you went through. I told you not to fight your past and to let into your life because I knew it was something you could deal with. This is different. I can see now that we will never escape this. It was better before when I could hide and just stay with the future. We can’t pretend that you don’t this truth, and we can’t pretend that this will work between us. I wish I could be somebody else, but what’s happened to me is inextricably part of who I am. Who I will always be. It made me the person who you think you love. And so you love me either because of that or in spite of it. Both of which are unbearable.”

The McGuire siblings and the Shephard siblings have a hell of a rollercoaster ride through this book. It is especially hard on the eldest of each bunch. Blythe is dealing better with her depression but it seems that Chris is struggling with his demons. It’s really tough to read about these two main characters struggle to get their relationship to move ahead when their past is always making a pit stop into their lives. How do you move ahead when there is a constant reminder staring you in the face each and every day? How do you get those demons to get out of your head? How do you move ahead with the love of your life when heart still hurts from acts of the past?

“You are the great love of my life that I’m never going to have.”

 He is telling me to protect my heart, but to love. He is telling me about timing, and dreaming, and surviving. And mostly, he is telling me to abandon my worry. To find joy and to live again.

I absolutely LOVED this book. It took me forever to read this book because I was in the middle of moving and all I wanted to do was sneak in some chapters and keep reading until I read the last page. But alas, it was an actual ‘real’ book so I couldn’t read it at night like I can with my Kindle. I wanted to devour this book it was that good. I knew it would be though. I fell in love with Blythe and Chris and Sabin and all the supporting characters. Each one had their quirks and you can’t help but love them all. This book had it all: angst, humor, romance and even some sexy, smutty time.  “To move ahead with you? Yes.” He swipes his tongue over my mouth and whispers in my ear. “To take you to bed forever? Yes. To make you come in my mouth, to feel you writhe under me while I slide my cock inside you? Yes. To listen to you scream and beg me to stop because I can’t get enough of you? Absolutely. Am I ready to focus on giving you levels of pleasure that you’ve never even dreamed about? Yeah. I’m ready.” Ahh…yeah…That Chris Shephard is some hot stuff! You should read the other *coughs/clears throat* ‘things’ he says and does to Blythe…

Definitely read LEFT DROWNING when it comes out. It’s a beautiful book.

I leave you with a couple inspirational/favorite quotes:

“Breathe into it.” 

 “Dude, running sucks. You are one tough girl.” 

 “You ready?” 

 “No. It’s too hard. I don’t want to do this.” 

 “Don’t stop moving. It’s the worst thing you can do. I read that. This is hard, but it’s not too hard.”

“I can’t. Why did I try this?”

“Because you believe in this.”

Pre-order Left Drowning at:

About the author:
Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novels FLAT-OUT LOVE and RELATIVELY FAMOUS; five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park); and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2).

Jessica grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending four years in the frigid north, including suffering through one memorable Halloween blizzard, Jessica hightailed it back to the east coast. She now lives in (relatively balmy) New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, Jessica indulges her healthy addictions to Facebook, Rick Springfield, and super-sweet coffee beverages.

Connect with Jessica Park:
Website  |  Twitter  |  GoodReads


  1. I am loving this book too! I'm almost done. Emotional.

  2. I just finished this one recently and I really loved it. I admit that I struggled with Chris at times, but I still loved him to pieces. Great review!

  3. The writing seems beautiful. It sounds very emotional too. Great review!!

  4. Fabulous review! It seems like quite an emotional and touching read. I added it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sounds intense. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Beautiful review! I loved Flat-Out Love and though this sounds much more dramatic and emotional, I think I might like it even more. I can't wait to get to my copy!

  7. I want to read this book really badly! It sounds so good! Great Review Jessica, I enjoyed all of the quotes :)

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  8. I really want to read this, i hear it's good!

  9. Love your review, Jessica! I have this on my tbr ever since I saw that gorgeous cover!! Ican't wait until it releases :)


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