BOOK REVIEW: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie WestLove, Life, and the List by Kasie West
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Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart.

Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soulstretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.

I really don’t know that I counted this as a romance…and if you go into it expecting a grand one, it will be painful. Like it was for me. Oh yes, you heard me correctly. Yeah, this is labeled a contemporary romance, but it really was, I don’t know, more about finding out who you are as a person and learning to love yourself enough to do what’s best for YOU. Learning that life isn’t always perfect. That there’s so much more to learn than what you realize. It’s a story of personal growth…even when its painful to do so.

Grandpa went straight to the kitchen sink when he walked in the door and began scrubbing his hands with soap and water. “Is everything all right?”
Okay, maybe I needed to work on my tone when making announcements. “Well, there wasn’t an earthquake,” I said.
“Am I supposed to get that reference? Is that a young-person phrase for something earthmoving? Has your earth moved, Abby?” He turned off the water and dried his hands on the towel hanging on the oven.

This story bothered me if only because I felt like it was too breezy. Too easygoing. Our MC was essentially a doormat and it bothered me on a personal level. But, really, I’m lying. She wasn’t even a doormat. She was a young girl who thought she loved her best friend and maybe-hopefully-one day he’d return her feelings.

On the bright side, this wasn’t a feeling I purposefully had very often. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt this amount of sheer panic. Or this amount of hatred toward Cooper. So maybe this would help me paint emotion.

It was painful to read-PAINFUL. And not the good kind of pain, the kind that makes you cringe. Everything felt short, the list too contrived, the list moments almost a backdrop…

But to get through these painfully awkward moments, there was sarcasm. I always LOVED the sarcasm. It was cute, it was witty, and it was right up my alley. I actually even laughed through the whole book, to be honest. I love when I can identify with the main character in this way. But, sadly, it wasn’t enough. I’d close the book and I’d be happy at that moment, but then I’d realize I was bored. I wanted to be done. I wanted my new release (Come ooonnnnn, Cruel Prince) to come out (it just popped on my iPad (when I was reading this FOREVER AGO) EEK!). And I wanted more. But then, out of nowhere, our spineless heroine grew a pair and became my own personal version of a female YA contemporary hero.

“Come in.”
The door opened wider with a squeak. “Hey, you feeling better?”
“Physically? Yes.” I could tell my fever was gone and the headache I’d had for the last couple of days was gone with it. But anger still glowed in my chest like an evil that needed to be exorcised.

I choose to believe this isn’t hot. Lol.

And this is when it crashed and burned-And it wasn’t just because of some plot device or only to further the ‘romance’ (even though the week leading up to said crashing and burning was painfully obvious it would not go according to plan), it was because everything built up to this moment in a huge tidal wave and we got hurled in the side of the head with a crushing crescendo of feels that all crashed down at once….we were in the middle of a hurricane (sorry for all the water analogies????).

Then there was true pain-out of nowhere. It was real. It was raw. It broke my fucking heart-because I felt it. I felt every emotion she felt. And frankly? I didn’t know what I wanted to happen. Did I want a HEA? Did I really??? I have never felt this emotion. Ever. My stomach was in knots-HUGE knots. My heart twisted beyond comprehension and I couldn’t get the bitter bus to go away. I just…I felt like this book, out of nowhere, grew its spine, right alongside our sappy, lovesick, clueless MC.

This book may have been about a list of firsts…but I think it accomplished more firsts with me:
-The Cooper/Ris deal (I can’t explain what I mean until you read it)
-Abby/Elliot’s relationship-adorable. Come on, now.
-Hurt in my heart in a way I didn’t think possible for Kasie West
-True, raw pain from Kasie West
-Definitive no nonsense ending (for a KW)

And for once, and I won’t say how, this wasn’t a HFN. It was a real deal definitive end. And I loved it. But, hey. Still a short end…but I kinda tend to like those rather than long drawn out endings that prolong what’s supposed to be a short story…much like my long-winded reviews. 😉

He sat down on the yellow-and-white-striped towel on my right side and handed me the bottle of water.
“What’s this garbage? I want caffeine.”
“Just yesterday you told me you were giving up soda. You said it quite dramatically, in fact. And then you said, keep me honest, Cooper.”
“What?” Rachel asked from my left side.
“You had forty-four ounces of Mountain Dew at my house last night.”
“Shhhhh.” I pressed my finger against her lips. “We’re not talking about that.”
Cooper scoffed and Rachel pushed my hand away.

I read somewhere in one of my friend’s reviews before starting this that the person was kind of like me, over Kasie West, only because it’s been hard to relate lately when her first books were so lovable and the last few have been so underwhelming-I kept thinking l know…why even bother? And I regretted starting this book…But then THISSSSS.

“And it’s not even the Fourth of July,” I said, quieter this time.
“Barely two weeks. Imagine how booked they are for that day.”
“Would you rather have to listen to only quartets for the rest of your life or screeching cats?”
“That’s a hard one. But quartets, I think. Unless they can only sing patriotic songs. Then the cats.”

I’m happy to say this one is my personal favorite by her, and I don’t know why, because I felt it was so weak the whole time-but my heart is a fickle fellow. And I never ignore what my heart’s praises sing. I made myself swear (I did, I kept repeating to myself in a mantra, ‘no matter how cute this ending is, do NOT pull a Chelsea and give it a quick, hot, and dirty 5 star’)

Four thirty in the morning. You owe me.
That’s why I brought you doughnuts. I owe you nothing.

He sent me back the pile of poop emoji and I laughed.

Eh…I folded. I folded like a cheap hooker the minute my heart melted-and that’s all there is to it. Everything came together all of a sudden in a harmonious melody and it was kind of like Kasie West actually intended for us to feel this way…Like she wanted us to be pissed so she could say, ‘ha, you doubted me, you buttholes (I have since edited this part (and it wasn’t a-holes either…) now that a month has almost passed and I can calm my tits lol), well here you go-take THAT. RIGHT IN THE FEELS. BOOM.

I smiled and stole one of his fries.
His face went serious. “Don’t eat my fries, Abby. You said you didn’t want any fries, and I said, you’re going to steal mine if you don’t get your own, and you said, no I won’t.”
“Are you reenacting a conversation that happened five minutes ago?”
“Yes, because you seem to have forgotten it.”

I feel played. I feel very played…but, I don’t care. I lost. My heart won and Kasie West stole my heart [again] after a couple years of waiting for her to reappear like her old self. I thought she and I were parting ways, but alas-She is here to stay.

And I don’t mind that one bit.

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