Friday, August 5, 2016

Review & Giveaway: Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Release date: August 9th 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Synopsis via Goodreads:
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?

*Publisher provided ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

Renee Carlino is one of my favs and this book is a reminder why: she's a wonderful writer that always delivers gripping, emotional stories and vibrant characters. 

From the very first page I was pulled in and wanted to know more about Emiline. She seemed to have a nice boyfriend and supportive best friend, but something was off about her. She was guarded, harboring something in her heart. Then she starts reading J. Colby's book and that tightly sealed damn literally erupted. 

I found it interesting that while Emiline was reading Jase's book and having her bottled up emotions pour out, my heart was being tugged at along with hers. Her childhood story, even though some parts were changed by Jase, was so heart-wrenching. It was no wonder she tried so hard to lock it a way, no matter how her current boyfriend, Trevor would want her to open up. And I could understand her initial anger over Jase writing about her story. They hadn't spoken in years and she felt neglected by her first, and most intense, love, especially after what happened the last time they were together as teens.

At first Emi believed Jase was writing about her from her perspective, and he certainly seemed to have it locked down when it came to describing her emotions in various parts. But once she got to the made up scenes and finally met him again after so long, Jase tried to get her to understand that the book was "for" her and not "about" her. Like Emi, I didn't really comprehend what Jase's intentions were. But over time, Emiline finally got it in her head that the book was meant to help her heal, because after all those years she still had all that pent up hurt and wasn't letting it go. And it was nice to see that Jase's book encouraged her to return to her childhood town, not to mention she decided to reconnect with one of the people who hurt her badly. Yeah, Emi's dad was quite the monster and not many would want to reach out to such a person after what he did to his daughter. But I understood why Emi met up with him again as an adult. She needed closure in order to move forward, not for him but for herself. Her mother was totally the opposite. I honestly didn't know what to expect from Emi's mom, but damn, what a piece of work.

There's a lot I could write in my review to show how much I loved this story. I mean, it had messages throughout that I could take and apply to my own life, even if I hadn't experienced a past like Emiline's or Jason's. Their history together was just intense. In spite of all the pain they had endured, they managed to find this beautiful thing called love and it got them through. Emiline often doubted her strength and self-worth, and that was understandable, but Jason was there to love and support her even when he wasn't physically by her side. And although they got separated as teens and Emiline tried to block it out and pretend her way through life, the love they had was too real to continue denying. It was a sure thing that they would eventually meet again, no matter if it took a book for that to happen.  

Again, beautiful writing, engrossing story, and authentic characters. What more could I ask for? Swear on This Life served up a great mix and left me emotionally messed up. Thank you, Ms. Carlino, I'm still recovering from your previous and now I have to add this to it. But no matter what, I'm always looking forward to your next :)

Renee CarlinoAbout the Author
Renée Carlino is a screenwriter and bestselling author of romantic women's novels and new adult fiction. She lives in Southern California with her husband and two sons. 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.



  1. Great review! I sadly did not love this as much as her other works but totally agree with you re: the story within the story and Jase's intentions!

    my review

    1. Sorry you didn't love it as much, Eva. It's a hit or miss, and I think one of the main reasons why I liked it is because of how Jase and Emiline survived their horrible past.

  2. Love the review Shane! I loved this one too, and I agree, the writing was beautiful and I was hooked from beginning to end.


Share your thoughts. I respect them. Leave a link to your blog and I'll stop by.

Related Posts