Thursday, March 12, 2015

Love Knows No Borders

"Everything is so much the same and yet so different.
It hits me, smacks me, time and time again,
that I"m not in motherfucking Kansas anymore.
I feel high.
It's the jet lag.
It's the lack of sleep.
But the unknown is all around me,
and kilometer by kilometer,
I am falling in love with it."
--Karina Halle, Where Sea Meets Sky

Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 384
Publication Date: March 31st, 2015
Source: eARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Love, in English
Previous Books by this Author: Sins and Needles & On Every Street & Shooting Scars & Bold Tricks & Dirty Angels
Goodreads Description

A new adult novel that perfectly captures the existential angst of your early twenties with raw wit, fresh insight, and true feeling from a critically adored USA TODAY bestselling author.

Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can't get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.

It's not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma's name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go even when you know you have to say goodbye.

Ok, um…well this seems to be a common theme when trying to write a review for a Karina Halle book. It is starting to scare me how in tune I feel with her characters. It’s like she has her own private pass into my brain and then I see her characters work out some internal issue I’ve been struggling with or thinking about. It is truly freaky sometimes. But I digress. This is gonna be one big mushy flail of spas so I’m gonna do the best I can here.

Where Sea Meets Sky is about Josh, Vera’s brother, and a girl, Gemma, who he meets a Halloween party. Gemma is from New Zealand and here on holiday and they share an intense first encounter and an even more intense one night stand. After Gemma goes back to NZ, Josh is inspired by all they talked about and books a trip to NZ. Partly because he hopes to see her, mostly because he feels adrift in life and wants to do something for himself. This is where the book first hooked me. I cannot even explain how beautiful it is that Josh finds inspiration to travel and it is because of Gemma and what she has done. I went through something similar before I started traveling so I could definitely related to Josh on this. I loved his ‘if she can do it, so can I’ attitude and just grabbing life by the balls…But I also loved the very realistic moment of panic when he first lands in NZ and has an ‘oh shit, what the fuck have I done’ moment. It is so perfect in its execution and reality that I was giggling and shaking my head ‘YES!’ while reading. I’ve only had one bad panic moment while traveling like that but the struggle is real, people. Get out the world’s tiniest violin but it is a very surreal moment traveling across the world by yourself, standing in the airport after collecting your bags and going ‘now what?’ It is no fucking joke, yo.

But then we get Josh’s epic journey through NZ, complete with Gemma, her cousin Amber and another human I won’t even mention (Dicknugget). The roadtrip they take and the picture Halle paints us is…breathtaking beautiful. I could see the glowworms caves, I could feel the muscle burn on the summit hikes, I could smell the ocean. NZ has always been on my list of places to travel at some point in my life, but this book solidified it in the top 5 and Kelly’s top 5 travel destinations is not an easy list to make. If I’m being honest, for emo personal reasons, NZ was probably the last place on my list of destinations to travel to and this book changed everything for me. I have previously associated NZ with remorse and heartache, but now it is all bright and shiny and I cannot wait to book a ticket and find a month off.

Now, let’s get to the romance. Gemma and Josh’s relationship is not easy. Gemma is not completely available when she meets Josh again and Josh, while determined to change her mind, does not push her and is extremely respectful in the situation. This made me love him even more. It would have been so easy for him to be an asshole or make comments every day to persuade her but he didn’t. He was just himself and let life take its course. And Gemma is not an easy woman to love. She is emotionally closed off, doesn’t believe she deserves love, and is completely her own worst enemy. No spoilers but I will say that the climax of the conflict is perfection. Why would I say something that weird? Because this is the first book I’ve read that I completely agree with and understand the characers’ motivation. I understand that all books need conflict but there’s always a part of me that mentally yells at the characters to relax, stop overreacting, and just love each other. This time, not so much. I felt that what happens at the peak point of conflict was so fucking necessary that I was rooting for a certain character in my head and slow clapping when they finally do what’s needed for themselves and the other person. This is the first time I felt like the characters didn’t overreact and were completely justified in their actions. Actually…The Pact (also obvi by Karina Halle) felt that way to me too but anyways! I loved the ending and how things happened, just know that.

Sigh. Ok, so I loved this book. It is not only a fantastic romance against all geographical odds but the setting is a character in itself…as is Mr. Orange.

Backstage Pass
If you love romance, travel, beating the odds, and finding inspiration everywhere…this book is for you.


  1. I really, really, really want to read this book now! Your review makes it sound incredible, and I LOVE that traveling is a big part of the story. I know you've already recommended this one to me, but for sure, I feel like I need to pick it up sooner rather than later!

  2. Hey, pretty! I'm in the process of reading this right now and I CANNOT STOP READING. I mean, I did stop reading for a teensy second to see if you've posted new Book Bangin' topics and then I saw this and I had to say something. I love it so much. I loved THE PACT too, so that's why I picked this one up. There were a few things that I hated, but that was the character's fault, not the writing, and I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I will stop rambling and just say, "Great Review, let's head to NZ together ♥ ♥ ♥"


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