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Review: Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Blurb from Goodreads:
From USA TODAY bestselling author Renée Carlino (Before We Were Strangers), a warm and witty novel about a struggling writer who must come to grips with her past, present, and future after she discovers that she’s the inspiration for a pseudonymously published bestselling novel.

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?
My Review:
Ever since I read and loved this author's 2015 release, Before We Were Strangers, this book has been one of my most anticipated reads for this year.  Unfortunately, it failed to capture that same magic and, for me, was overall very disappointing.  While I still believe the premise of Swear on this Life is amazing and that the book had such potential, its execution did not live up to expectations.  I think the ultimate issue in this one is the dialogue -- it felt so forced, so unrealistic.  While the premise is perhaps not the most realistic, this is supposed to be a contemporary romance; from that I would more or less expect some real feelings and real dialogue and a story that is not completely out of the realm of possibility or too fantastical.  Instead, none of this book was believable and it was because of the dialogue and the characters' interactions -- I could have put anything else aside had there been some realness and depth.  I don't have a problem with characters that make mistakes but I can be annoyed with characters who are completely inauthentic and not true to themselves; sadly, Emiline was this to a T.  The thing is, I was so rooting for this book and for Emiline and Jase but we find out very early on how miserable Emiline is in her relationship; she still dreams of and kind of still loves Jase and, yet, she is totally inauthentic and disingenuous to both sides about her true feelings.  I wanted to shake her so many times for continuing to allow herself to be so miserable and so passive.  I don't typically mind cheating in books as in it's not something that I actively avoid reading about and/or that makes something an automatic DNF for me but this book tested my patience with this situation.  Without giving too much else away, I'm sorry that this didn't work for me but it felt so off, forced, inauthentic and the dialogue was really rather tragic.

Swear on This Life comes out today, August 9, 2016, and you can purchase HERE.
"What's going to happen?"   
I could feel his heart beating fast against my chest.  "Nobody knows." 
"I hate that," I said. 
"I know, I hate it too, but I guess it's like reading a good book.  The kind where you don't want to skip pages to see what happens at the end.  Each moment is a story in itself." 
"Would you say every moment is good? What about my father and your mom?" I sniffled and wiped tears from my eyes.  
"Our story is great. Maybe not all the other shit, but the story of us is perfect, Em."


  1. I tried Before We Were Strangers and it didn't work for me because the writing felt very off to me. I can see why this one didn't work for you, Eva. If the dialogue doesn't flow it makes the book awkward. :/ Too bad because the premise totally caught my eye too!
    Great review! I think I'll be avoiding this unless I find a library copy.

  2. Sorry this didn't workout for you. Great Review, I'll pass on this one
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

  3. Ah, sorry you did not love this one! I am reading it right now so we will see how I will feel about it :)

  4. I'm really sorry this book didn't work out for you, especially when you had high hopes for it. But I'm happy to see someone else felt the same way as me!!! You hit the nail on the head - the dialogue was so bad and it was so unrealistic to me. I started rolling my eyes, and then I just quit. I couldn't get past the first few chapters. I read Before We Were Strangers, and it was just okay for me. This one was rough, and I'm glad I wasn't the only one that felt that way. I guess her books just aren't for me, and that's ok!

  5. So many people have loved this and have written glowing reviews for it so it is kind of refreshing seeing a review for it where they weren't in love with it. Thanks for the honest review!

  6. Man this is a shame, thanks for the review!

  7. Aw boo! I have seen a more than a couple saying the same things. I actually kind of loved it. I think the book in a book really got me. I do think some of the dialogue between Em and Trevor was a bit weird. Sorry this didn't work or you - Great review!!!!

    1. I did love the story within the story but EVERYTHING with Trevor was so freaking off -- I didn't get it, or him, at all. Glad you loved it boo! ♥

  8. People either love or hate this book, it seemed. I wasn't a fan of Before We Were Strangers at all, but I'm reading Sweet Thing by her and I don't really like it either, haha. I think the author just isn't for me.

  9. I wish you had liked this one. I agree that the dialogue could be...I don't know what word I would give it, but at times it was..childish? Coming from Em, I mean. I wasn't a huge fan of Trevor (I actually forgot that was his name until today lol I kept thinking it was Taylor *rolls eyes* shame on me). Their relationship was so beyond weird. Like, how can you stay in a relationship that's not fun anymore, you don't have stuff in common with, and you just..dislike each other's presence?

  10. Bummer!! Ya know, some authors' writing is like music: it sounds great to some people and to others, it just sounds like a bunch of sour notes. I think Ms. Carlino's style is off just enough that ends up being sour notes for you. Hey, that's why we're all human, we all like different things!! :) Great review!!

  11. So, I didn't really have any interest in this, tbh, but now I am kind of curious. Mostly because I feel like maybe I can sympathize with Emiline? Well, other than the dude writing a book about me thing.... so maybe not 😂 But if it doesn't feel authentic, then I can see why it wouldn't work! Great review, but sorry it was a letdown!

  12. Sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I guess this just works for some and not for others. I agree about Emiline though, she did continue living miserable unnecessarily and that was very frustrating for me. But overall, I just really liked the story and the fact that at least they could overcome so much. Thanks for your honest review :)

  13. Without sounding too much like a bitch, I'm a little glad to see your rating for this. So many people love her books and I read her first two and I despised her MC's and thought her writing was trying to hard. Like I said before, I don't books about books or authors in books so this one never caught my eye. Sorry this one didn't work for you.

  14. Sorry this didn't work for you. I've read similar thoughts, so I'm not sure if I want to read it yet.

  15. Oh no, so sorry this one didn't work for you, Eva. That's lame especially when you were looking forward to it so much. I can understand your feelings about Em to an extent because I did find her frustrating at the beginning. But she really grew on me and I completely loved the book.

  16. Sorry to hear this didn't work for you, but I can understand why it wouldn't if the dialogue was off. Hard to really sink in and enjoy when it feels like a poor imitation of life. Great honest review, Eva! I'll definitely pass on this one.

  17. Awe I'm sorry this one wasn't for you. I've never read anything by this author, but I don't think this one is for me.


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