On the Island and Uncharted by Tracey Garvis-Graves

Today we have a twofer!!  I just finished rereading Tracey Garvis-Graves debut novel, On the Island, and took the opportunity to finally get to her followup novella, Uncharted.  So I leave you with a throwback review (from almost 4 years ago), and a new review!

Synopsis:

Anna Emerson is a thirty-year-old English teacher desperately in need of adventure. Worn down by the cold Chicago winters and a relationship that’s going nowhere, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer on a tropical island tutoring sixteen-year-old T.J.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to go anywhere. His cancer is in remission and he wants to get back to his normal life. But his parents are insisting he spend the summer in the Maldives catching up on all the school he missed last year.

Anna and T.J. board a private plane headed to the Callahan’s summer home, and as they fly over the Maldives’ twelve hundred islands, the unthinkable happens. Their plane crashes in shark-infested waters. They make it to shore, but soon discover that they’re stranded on an uninhabited island.

At first, their only thought is survival. But as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20195859-on-the-island
Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Nux9yh

My Review:

5 stars — It was beautifully honest. Real. I mean, real for the set of circumstances. When I bought it, I wasn’t sure how I would like it…wasn’t sure how the author would tackle the different issues. But it was perfect for me. Even when things happened that were almost too real for me (been used to reading fairy tale stories maybe) — she did it in such a way that I still loved the characters and understood. I could read of Anna and TJ all day long, and while I always wanted more, she really paced it well, leaving me satisfied, but not dragging things on unnecessarily. And when the end came, she continued on to give me enough epilogue to make sure I didn’t feel cheated. Basically, for me, this book was perfect. So many ranges of emotions, I felt them all for Anna and TJ. Wow, this is the first time my review actually almost makes sense….yay me!

Synopsis:

Tracey Garvis Graves – and Anna and T.J. – return in this companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island.

When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.

Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl – on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James – made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.

But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.

And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.

Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17268741-uncharted

Order it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1KgtzoX

My Review:

4.5 stars — I remember reading about this sequel and immediately buying it without having any idea what it was about, but knowing I wanted more to that initial story b/c I loved it. And then I promptly forgot all about it, getting distracted with other books as I’m wont to do…. I recently read Ms. Garvis-Graves latest novel (Heart-Shaped Hack) and decided I needed to revisit On the Island. So that’s a long introduction to say that I was wholly unprepared for what this story was about, b/c OF COURSE I didn’t read the synopsis!! But I was pleasantly surprised returning to that island for a completely different story… (I would still recommend reading the initial story though, it provides some necessary background IMO, and is just a fantastic novel).

I think we all knew that Owen’s story was going to involve heartbreak, and I kept waiting for that shoe to drop. Especially as I became more and more invested in his character, and Calia and James. Ms. Garvis-Graves is an amazing storyteller, and I was so invested that my heart broke finding out the identity of ‘Bones’. I went through the gamut of emotions while reading, but was so glad to shed happy tears as well as sad ones.

All in all a fabulous followup with its own unique story (not just a rehash of the previous one). (but still, it didn’t hurt that we got to see a bit more of Anna and TJ, b/c I just love those two)

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