Monday, June 20, 2016

The Color of Us (College Bound #2) by Laura Ward and Christine Manzari

Hey Readers! Ethan here with the first of several reviews I'll be sharing today. Best part about sharing this one first is that it's also RELEASE DAY! Woohoo! I am so excited to be sharing my thoughts on a NA novel that blew me away. This time on the chopping block? The Color of Us, the second installment in the College Bound series by Laura Ward and Christine Manzari. Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and our authors:

Title: The Color of Us (College Bound #2)
Authors: Laura Ward & Christine Manzari
Release Date: June 20, 2016

Eighteen year old Alexis Sinclair is lost in the darkness of grief. Since the death of her sister in a car accident, she can’t find the will to get out and enjoy life again. When she’s forced to face her biggest fear and take a summer Driver’s Ed course, she’s surprised to find hope in the most unlikely person.

Liam O’Connell is trouble. He isn’t proud of his dark past, and he knows Alexis is the one girl he has no business pursuing. Doing the right thing has never been easy for him, but this time, it just might be impossible.

The perfect girl and troubled boy are all wrong for each other, but as Liam helps Alexis cope with her grief, they realize nothing has ever felt more right.

That is, until Alexis uncovers a secret about Liam that breaks her heart.

Liam knows he can’t allow the one good thing in his life to walk away without a fight, and he’s determined to convince Alexis they can find their way out of the darkness together.

Can he prove he’s worthy of her, or is some love too tainted to be saved?


About the Authors:

Laura Ward

Laura Ward lives in Maryland with her loud and very loving three children and husband. She married her college sweetheart and is endlessly grateful for the support he has given her through all their years together, and especially toward her goal of writing books. When not changing diapers, driving to lacrosse practice, or checking spelling homework, Laura is writing or reading romance novels.  

Find Laura Ward

Christine Manzari

The first thing Christine does when she's getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She's addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeine-laden bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.  
Facebook Twitter Website Goodreads 

My Thoughts:

Last summer, I discovered that two of my favorite NA authors were teaming up to co-write a new NA series that was sure to impress. I anxiously awaited The Pledge and absolutely devoured it. While I had a few issues with their collaborative debut, I knew I saw a spark in this series that would only grow brighter with each passing chapter. By the end of book one, I was confident they had found their stride and was pumped about book two. Knowing the readers would get an incredible novel made this long wait almost unbearable.

I am so excited to say that the wait was well worth it. In fact, The Color of Us may have just become one of my favorite novels of the year! 

I will admit that much like The Pledge, it took me a few chapters to really get into the story on this one. Thankfully, it didn't take too long though before I was absolutely immersed in the story Ward and Manzari had crafted. It's their best collaborative work yet! 

I'll talk about this more a little later, but people. Be prepared for feels. I'll tell you, the plot for The Color of Us is an emotional roller coaster if I've ever seen one. You'll go from mad to happy to excruciating emotional pain over the span of this novel. The plot is so intimate and the settings and situations are so real, you can almost reach out and comfort the characters yourself in their time of need. It's truly an eye-opening novel and while I won't spoil any of the plot for anyone, I really didn't see most of it coming. I was a little iffy about one particular aspect of this story, but in the end I think it really helped pull the story together in the best of ways. Ward and Manzari make use of time jumps. The story isn't chronologically set in one time period, but rather jumps months or years into the future. It was very easy to follow, but I will admit there were times I would have like to see more in one time frame before jumping to the next. For a variety of reasons, this literary device worked extremely well in TCoU compared to other stories in which I have seen it attempted. My biggest input I can give on the plot of this one is to not give up, and certainly expect the unexpected. I won't say there are huge plot twists left and right, but there were several points in the story where I was genuinely surprised (and overtaken with emotion) with what I had read. It's truly a work of collaborative literary genius, 

When it comes to the characters in this one, I don't even know where to start. Both Liam and Alexis are written to perfection, but I have to be perfectly honest and say that Liam really stole the show for me in this one. Alexis was extremely well-written and we see some great scenes and quotes from her, but Liam's story really hit hard for this reader. It may just be me relating to the male character by default, but I found Liam's struggles to be so real and fitting to the story that I ended TCoU with massive amounts of respect for his trials. While the NA genre is really known for it's college-age character and campus settings, I really appreciated the path the authors took with Liam's character choosing an alternate path in life. It's important for young readers to realize that college is not the only path in life. I was extremely pleased by the authors presentation of Liam. The relationship that Alexis and Liam build is truly an unconventional one, but Ward and Manzari definitely did an incredible job crafting a respectable relationship and not falling to the trends of insta-love. The secondary characters in the story are numerous, but each play an important role in the story and build up the emotional plot that I fell in love with. 

While this novel is the second in a series, it has very little to do with The Pledge and each novel can be read as a standalone. I definitely recommend reading book one as well, but rest assured you won't be missing out on any part of the plot by starting with book two. 

In true Ward-Manzari fashion, you probably won't make it to the epilogue without drowning in feels. I know I sure couldn't. Right from the very first chapter we see the signs that TCoU is about to hit on some extremely hard hitting themes. Themes of maturity and forgiveness are huge in this story. Definitely themes that are very important to all New Adults. Other hard hitting themes include death, family, love, and overcoming uncertainty. It's truly a testament to the writing styles of Ward and Manzari that they can relate so fully to the trials of the NA generation. It's so refreshing to read an NA about true NAs. Honestly. Major kudos to them.   

As you guys can clearly see, I was a huge fan in the second installment of the College Bound series by Ward and Manzari. It impressed me beyond my wildest dreams and I am so glad to have gotten to read it. I can definitely say that I am more than excited about the future of this series. With the combined genius that is the Ward-Manzari team, I know this series will get better with each passing installment! That being said, it should come as no surprise that I am granting The Color of Us a near-perfect 5-star review. I highly recommend this read to all lovers of New Adult and romance series. Don't miss out on this read! 

**This can be read a a standalone**


Alright folks, there you have it. My thoughts on The Color of Us by Laura Ward and Christine Manzari. It's an absolutely incredible novel that I can't wait to devour again. Be sure to check this one out. Don't miss out on the release day sale 6/20 ONLY! Thanks for stopping by and until next time, Happy Reading!


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