Monday, December 26, 2016

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A journey of a life story. Sit down, buckle up and get ready for this roller-coaster ride.

Lin-yan was born into a tea-producing family and has grown up with the Akha culture in a little village in the mountains of China. Throughout her life, she always seems to be holding a thread to her past and tries so damn hard (I still think that she's a bad-ass). At first, I saw a hard working ten year old with traditional dreams, but as the book went on I absolutely fell in love with her-the character. Her life was so different from my own, which is perhaps why I could make that deep emotional connection. There are themes such as: family, heritage, tradition, and culture are major components in this telling of her life.

Character arcs are my favorite part of these types of stories. We start out being thrown into a foreign culture (to me at least) where we can see the character questioning some of things that are going on, we go through the life changing moments that defined her, and at the end, we get what we were waiting for. It's just a beautiful thing to experience as a reader, to feel like you're almost growing up with this beloved character and at the end you feel like you've lost a friend.

Lisa See is a master at writing poetic prose, an absorbing story, and introducing an ethnic minority (the Akha) that I didn't know existed. This book provides a fascinating look in Lin-yan 's life over a span of 20 years and how the world is changing and how she's changing. Rich Chinese history is presented with the focus being on the narrative of the main characters, with some solid side characters that accompanied that grow on you (especially A-ma.)

Although the part about the adoptive child, Haley was in the synopsis I purposely didn't read it and was surprised with that revelation. But this whole book comes back to that crucial mother-daughter bond and how these two very different people love and think about each other across the miles that separate them.

It was absolutely magical to see the perspectives coming from both of them in alternating chapters (sometimes abrupt) and just wanting so bad for them to finally find a way for each-other. This single thing at play was in my opinion that most compelling thing in the book, and this was the turning point of interest for me. Before these events happened, I was like "meh" but once that happening I was completely engrossed in the journey and the outcome of that journey.

There wasn't anything particular that I disliked. See absolutely nailed this book on the head and now I can't wait to go back and read all of her backlist!

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Swimming LessonsSwimming Lessons by Claire Fuller
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I kept waiting, and waaaiiiting and waaaaiting for a plot twist. Nothing significant happened, and the ending was unsatisfying.

At first, I felt like this book had so much potential because it was a choose your own direction type of story. You could see the plot going in so many different directions. In hindsight, this was a repetitive cycle of a plot and you could identify most of the pitfalls. So many times I wanted to warn these characters: stop doing the same things and expecting different results (that's the definition of insanity according to Mr.Einstein).

I can understand why that could bedazzle some people but I honestly just thought that this wasn't within my age range or experience. Also, I watched the videos done with Book of the Month about why people watch shows like the Affair, but I was never interested in these types of infidelity affairs of marriage. Usually, I tend to read YA for a reason and this was a step outside my comfort zone and into the territory of infidelity and marriage, a territory that's completely unfamiliar.

There was nothing particular to hold me into the story, or propel/compel me forward. The only thing that I kept waiting on was the nonexistent plot twist that raised my expectations too much. I think that I might have misread this synopsis, so that's a reason why I think that you should go into this book blind and make your own conclusions.

The only parts that I actually looked forward to were when the character talked about what books meant to them and the profile of a collector of first editions and secondhand books that were stacked everywhere in Gil's house. Although, that too is an interesting perspective because it's become a negative habit for him throughout his life.

There is NO clear resolution as to whether or not the children of Ingrid knew more things about their past, and so I was frustrated to the point where I wanted to fling the book at the wall. It was not the pleasant reading experience that I would want to replicate.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.**

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A Quiet Kind of ThunderA Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 4.5]

Those books where you feel like (your) mental illness is portrayed accurately are few and far between. I found a gem in this book. Well-researched, sensitive to the intricacies of BSL, and so thoughtfully laid out.

For those reasons, if anyone ever asks me to recommend a book that deals specifically with certain anxiety disorders, I would handpick them this book. The thing that I always hate about the stereotypical synopsis like these (mentally ill character falls in love with boy and gets magically cured or suddenly gets better). This makes me want to scratch my head and shout "WHY!" in frustration because of the unrealistic expectations that this puts on.

So, this book is about a love story in essence. Steffi has been diagnosed with being "selective mute" since she was five years old. She's trying to get healthy by starting to take medication, seeing a qualified psychiatrist to help her along her journey of recovery. Wait for it, after she meets a new boy at her school, Rhys, who just happens to be deaf. That doesn't hinder their communication in their relationship, because they continually use sign language (BSL.)

Alas, her life isn't all sweet cherry pie(although this book made me feel like sweet cherry pie inside). She's a struggling human being who keeps on wondering if the only reason why she's in this relationship a mute and a deaf know how to naturally communicate with eachother. (basically doubting her love). Her day-to-day life still has struggles and her mental health isn't "magically cured", in fact the book describes her deathly thought spirals in detail.

My favorite part was seeing some kick-ass female friendship that Steffi had with Tem. These best friend moments were some of the funnest and real parts of the story by far. I felt a little bit jealous and found myself wanting to have such a close-knit bonding type of friendship in my life.

The only problem with this book in my opinion, is that near the beginning we get a description that Rhys is "brown-skinned" and Steffi's best friend Tem has experienced racism in the past and is of a minority. That's it. That's all the mention that we get of their racial and ethnic background. I was on the lookout for more specifics with this physical image and was disappointed that he author left this extremely vague.

However, seeing Steffi expressing happiness and seeing her being glowingly joyful made my heart burst with all the feels. That's why this book was worth the read.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review.**

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Sun is Also a StarThe Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 2.5]
Gif summary:

Maybe because I'm not a hopeless romantic, this book just wasn't for me. The only thing that made this book readable was that I could relate to Natasha's mindset. She is a skeptical cynic about the existence of love and God, and I feel like I've been sticking to that type of looking at the world as the book went on.

I hate instalove. I haaaate instalove. Did I mention how much I hate instalove? First of all, the idea that you could have "true love" and "fate/destiny" in 24 hours is completely unrealistic. Sure, it may be a cute idea, but I honestly thought that there was way too many coincidences of timing that made them be together again and again. The fact that this progressed so rapidly from a stalker to a meeting to a crush to supposed "true love" really turned me off of the message that this book was supposed to portray. You can't completely be enjoying a book and just rolling your eyes at the absurdity of the events that were happening.

My favorite thing about this was the peek of perspective that we got into relative strangers. We got to look into the life of a waitress, a flight attendant, a secretary, etc. Just everyday people that are doing their job sometimes behind the scenes, and we sometimes forget that they have their own human problems and struggles, for whatever reason.

The portrayal of immigration hit close to home, and at the beginning I was so excited to be reading a book with a character that's here illegally and being deported back to her home country. I feel in a similar life phase now, and I won't give more details than that I'm moving internationally, so I felt that I could finally find the character that I can sympathize with. Unfortunately, that crucial aspect got pushed past when the romance took the driver's seat in this plot.

If people who were actually born here had to prove they were worthy enough to live in America, this would be a much less populated country.

One of the reasons why I chose to pick this book up was because of the #ownvoices diversity included. And yeah, the representation seemed very authentic and real with the character's and the expectations of their parents. The strongest backstory that we could have gotten was from both of the fathers who were both immigrants here, and the snippets that we get from their past life do seem really realistic. Yoon did an excellent job trying to shine a light on the immigrant experience, when it came up.

**Thanks to BloggingforBooks for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Walk Into Silence (Detective Jo Larsen, #1)Walk Into Silence by Susan McBride
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A significant chunk of this novel was moving so s l o w. In my mind, when someone labels a genre book with "thriller" I think fast-paced, which what I was looking for here, but this sadly didn't deliver.

This is a whodunit that was almost completely predictable, there was nothing surprising that happening, and the so-called "plot-twists" were a flimsy attempt at trying to breathe some life into this book. We spend a majority of this book being miserably stuck in Jo Larsen's head, while she psychoanalyzes herself, and the victim of a murder's case (Jenny.) I found the thought process which repetitive, because it almost seemed like Jo cared too much about what went on in Jenny's life, never having even met the women, and to be honest making some bold statement about her mental health. I'm a big believer that you should never judge or assume something about someone else's illness unless you have actually known the person and spent time with them.

But, many people would say, Jo is a similar victim to this type of child abuse. It's Jo's job to get into her character's head and background. That may be so, but I wish that this detective had been more objective, instead we have her subjectively and deeply emotional involved, which detracted from her professionalism and her credibility.

As a reader, one of my pet peeves is having an extremely stubborn character for no reason, (like please, it's not even necessary). The author fabricated this character trait, and I was just shaking my head and clicking my tongue. I mean, if she accepted protection and safety measures (like police are supposed to be open to), some of these incidents wouldn't have happened. This type of dangerous risk-taking was honestly used as a plot device and made me feel very uncomfortable.

I didn't love this book, I would say that I mildly enjoyed it. But ultimately, it didn't have the punch that I was looking for.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Sound of RainThe Sound of Rain by Gregg Olsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know that feeling when you pick up a thriller that makes your heart beat so fast if your chest, that the thudding noise actually scares you? Those are the exact feels that I had with this book.

Most of the twists and turns are completely unexpected, and this is coming from a thriller reader who likes to play the predicting. Truly, some things were predictable, but they were always revealed in such a light that sent chills down my spine. I absolutely could not put this book rollercoaster of a ride thriller down!

This story follows the murder investigation of a very young child, who changes the life of the ex-cop and our narrator Nicole Foster. All of the character are very dysfunctional and full of flaws, and lies and betrayal run deep in these relationships. Also this is an intensely focused physiological thriller, with portrayals of mental illness and gambling addictions.

Sure she [Nicole] messed up, and I still don't know if she made the right choice at the end, but I can understand what place she's coming from and roughly where she wants to go. There's a window of time into her past, which I could appreciate because the flashbacks develop character growth. She doesn't stand up for herself enough, and was and is a sorry excuse of strength in character. Still, I couldn't help but say that she was a tolerable narrator, who was often straddling the moral line of right and wrong.

It's a couple of days later, and I still can't make sense of what the hell happened in the ending. I think that has to do with the fact that all of the characters were nonredeemable in my sight, but at least it made me stop and think. The impression that this book made will stay with me for a long time.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Portrait of Emily PriceA Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

This was just an average book in which my feelings are neutral (hence the 3.5 stars.)

So we follow the main character, Emily Price who is an art restorer at an insurance company and gets to be called to do a job in Atlanta. There she meets an attractive chef, Ben who lives in Italy and has come to visit his brother for a while. Sparks fly, then fall in insta-love and get married within 2 weeks. Surprisingly (or not?) Emily takes up Ben on his offer to fly to Italy there with him and move into his house which is also a castle.

Nothing really happens here. There are so blockades, nothing tying Emily into knots in this story, or something to stop the speedy romance from happening. Struggles and dark times are what make the story come alive for me, and there was disappointingly nothing of that here. I couldn't feel excited about her love interest because although there was apparent love between them, I never felt the connection there nor did I feel connected to the characters themselves.

The thing is, I can tolerate a romance book, but I also like it to have a bit of variety. There were two sisters in this book who could have stepped out and shone if the author just let them shine a bit more. I desired more conversations with Emily and Ben's two strongest supporters, their sister, and instead the author made them look like a lacking cardboard of a character.

One thing that I could appreciate were the mentions of art and the artistic tastes of people in Italy and clients that Emily worked for previously. That was one of the only things that made me perk up in my seat while trying to flip through these pages. But other than that, everything including the characters and plot feel quite flat for me, and I just wasn't feeling this story.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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The Girl from the Tea Garden (India Tea #3)The Girl from the Tea Garden by Janet MacLeod Trotter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Needless to say, I did not enjoy this book in the least.

Let me preface this review by saying that I am usually very picky with my historical fiction favorites. And this one let-me-down a lot, by dragging out the story to around 500 pages. So to explain, I don't know if this was the right time to read it, because I was in a mini reading slump because of this book. It was incredibly hard to find motivation to pick this book up, and the content didn't interest or compel me at all.

At the beginning, I didn't even know where this story was taking place. Maybe that's because I didn't read the first two books in a series (which I wasn't aware of). I knew that Adela and her family were mostly British, but I had no idea that they lived on an Indian plantation until late on in the book. I wish that Trotter could have made that more clearer, perhaps including some direct mention in the first chapter or so.

Alright, now what is this book about you may ask? It's about Adela, who starts out as a runaway wanna-be-actress in 1930s India. At first, I found her eleven year old self entertaining, I could even empathize with her. But alas, then when the romantic element came in and started dominated the story, that aspect ruined it for me. A trope that I hate the most was in here: insta-love and that almost completely put me off. Throughout 15 years, these two love interests see each-other just a couple of times, yet the plot-line is full of their longing and lust.

Honestly, I could never get on board with the relationship; because I found some parts of their relationship cringe-worth. What I didn't understand is why they acted the way that they did, almost like hiding from each other by playing a game of cat-and-mouse.

The ending was what I would call a "tie-the-ribbon" ending which I just can't bear. Here we are, on this emotional star-crossed journey and at the end it's just a quick tidying up. Why did this have to happen in such a short time? I thought that this book was all about being long drawn out romance that was slow burning. Just so uncharacteristic and inconsistent with the rest of the pace of the plot.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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All the Breaking WavesAll the Breaking Waves by Kerry Lonsdale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh man, this book is a perfect example of why I love mother-daughter relationships in women's lit. Almost on every page there was a line of dialogue that indicated some maternal instinct, and the way that Molly interacted with her daughter Cassie literally melted my heart.

In this paranormal vibes story, we follow Molly, who is a struggling single mother trying to raise her eight-year-old child Cassidy who has "abilities" that may possible harm or help her. To help her daughter get over these horrible nightmares, she goes to visit her grandmother who has had experience with this. There she re-meets her childhood love who she hasn't seen in around 12 years because of a tragic day (turning point) in her past that she will delve deeper into throughout the story.

As the week unfolds, our narrator jumps back and forth in time to give us a full picture of her life. In essence this book has central themes like: love, loss, acceptance, forgiveness, family, and motherhood. At the core though, it's all about how this young women is trying to save her child's life, save her own life.

My definite favorite character was Molly (a.k.a. our narrator) who is a deeply flawed human being and carries a weight of secrets on her shoulders. In her childhood she had to deal with mental illness and psychic abilities hate which have have scared her for life.But she also cares so damn much about her daughter and that take priority over everything else. Honestly, this is nerdy for me to admit but she made a completely interesting psychological study. While reading, I liked how the author really got into her deepest darkest secrets and all of the doors in her mind and the reasons of hesitation or her motivations.

Everything blends so well together, and I just wanted to warn you that from my personal experience, that I wouldn't classify this as a thriller or mystery at all. I would classify it more as a love story with multi-generational relationships that made my heart race with warmth. All praise goes to Kelly Lonsdale, who has the ability to write such harrowing tales that a reader can get lost in.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Shylock Is My NameShylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Let me just start out saying that I personally had a lot of problems with this book.

There are some misogynistic themes that greatly disturbed me and completely turned me off from reading this book. This book centers around an abusive father-daughter relationship and the way that the father was trying to act towards the daughter or completely control her was a pain to watch. I could definitively empathize with Beatrice and understand her motives in doing what she did. There were also lots of anti-Jewish themes that really bothered me personally because it's hard to see a character that's so deeply flawed and in my opinion an insane lunatic to downgrade his ethnic culture so much.

I wasn't engaged at all in the content, (i.e. I really didn't care to see what was going to happen next). Jacobson's word choice was very heavy and almost thick to get through. As someone who is ESL (English second language) there was some harder to define vocabulary that I just couldn't understand the meaning. So many times in this book did I express a strong desire to DNF, but I kept pushing on just for the sake of it.

It should be noted that I am not a fan of Shakespeare, nor am I familiar with the background of the play "The Merchant in Venice" so that definitively must have detracted from my reading experience. I was lost in the story because I didn't know what was going on, or what this author was even drawing a parallel to.

This book, this author just didn't work out for me. I was slightly grossed out by the focus of circumcision as the most important "plot point" or "conflict" in this book. It was just repetitive and unnecessary to the other parts of what the story was trying to convey (through Shylock's lectures/advice and Strulovitch monotonous internal monologues.) Overall, I think that I may have been better off without reading this book, and I don't think that I'll be continuing with the Hogarth Shakespeare series any further.

**Thanks to bloggingforbooks and the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Book of MirrorsThe Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 3.5]

Decently fast-paced thriller that looks for suitable for TV.

During most of the book, I felt completely addicted and rooted to the spot. I just wanted to pause life and drop everything to concentrate on this plot line. And that my friends, to me is the sign of an excellent thriller. This starts as a classic whodunit but takes some dark and twisty turns, exactly my type of spice.

I would classify this as a literary thriller set in the world of academia. Yes you've heard me right. Something that I haven't seen done before is that the three main characters were interacting with a manuscript of the deceased Flynn. There's a curious literary agent, who gets this mysterious query letter from Richard Flynn a couple of days before he dies claiming to know what happened at the murder scene of Wieder. Then there's a journalist who is hired to investigate this and digs very deeply into the history of this murder and possibly another missing manuscript. Lastly, the police officer that was on that case during that time, is now retired, but wants to follow up since this new information is uncovered.

There are three separate character's POV, which felt a little bit disorienting. It's like I was waiting for one of the character's to physically appear in another character's part, but it somehow never worked out that way. Not the great spider-web affect that I was expecting, more like lots of interviews and false leads. On the other hand, I can't resist multiple POVs, because they provide so much more flavor and intensity to a thriller that I just can't help but devour.

**Thanks to NetGalley the publisher for providing me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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My Not So Perfect LifeMy Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 4.25 stars]

Extremely mature and realistic, but also genuinely funny. Oh, did I mention how “real” this book was?

As my first Kinsella novel, this was the ideal escapist story that I was looking for. We follow a career-driven young adult, Katie (Cat) whose dream it is to be successful in London.This progression in her internship knocks her out when she is fired and loses her job. So she now has to wear the “Farmer Katie” hat and help her Dad with his newly opened camping site.

Being a millennial, the aspect of using social media to spread this not-so-perfect message was very appreciative. Of course, not everything is as it seems on Instagram and with the upbeat stories that she tells to reassure her Dad. Kinsella doesn’t sugarcoat it with Katie, she tells it with things like budgeting, not having enough money for your own apartment, and the crazy experiences of commuting.

This is some British chick-lit, but it’s like anything I’ve ever read. Of course granted, this is the first Kinsella book that I’ve tried (what have I been doing with my life??). There was some hilarious romantic comedy, where I was just loudly laughing out loud and holding my breath at other points. The romantic aspect is complicated, but I love me a slow burn, yee?

Hands-down my favorite character was Demeter. She was so complex and interesting; there were completely other sides to her personality that we didn’t see coming before. It’s a fascinating thing how we really got into Katie’s headspace and saw a shift in the perception of her boss who had an apparently “perfect life.” Around the halfway point, I had a lot of empathy and was on board with the motives and character of Demeter. I thought that their relationship was so special to see through the Katie who has grown up and matured a lot since the beginning of the book.

At the beginning, I thought that it was a little bit slow plotwise and I had a hard time getting into it. But once Katie hit the bottom of her career and life options, things started happened and she started changing and I could not put it down. (That’s why I read it in 2 days.) Needless to say, I was hooked and so that’s why you should go and read this too!

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me a copy in exchange for my honest review.**

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Her Nightly Embrace (Ravi PI #1)Her Nightly Embrace by Adi Tantimedh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book follows Ravi and his eccentric colleagues, who is introduced to a completely new way of life. Ravi is an Indian man who is a native Brit, and has been an English teacher, studied religious studies, and now steps into a whole new world of private investigations, and the reader gets dragged along in it with him. There are four distinctive sections of the story, wrote like separate scripts, which now makes sense because I later found out that this book is going to be adapted for TV. So, this types of plotline and writing style is perfect for this media consumption.

Mystery thrillers are becoming one of my go-to genres, and although this one kept my attention enough to compel me through, I just didn't think that the characters were fleshed out enough. We know the bare minimums of background, personality, and how these people operate, but I wish that the author could have elaborated on quirks and pet peeves and all those fun things that make a character unique. None of these characters were unique in my opinion, all of them were just generic people that I have seen done over and over again in generic thrillers. Stereotypes, if you could call them that.

Warning: there is much profanity in this book. I wouldn't say that it's meant for younger audiences, because while searching around there was 42 instances where the 'f' word was used. Complete insensitivity to younger(ish) readers such as myself, so just thought that this is a fair shoutout.

Overall, thought this books to be "meh" and the gaps between the bones of the story could be filled a little bit more, if you see what I mean.

Thanks to NetGalley the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my review.

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The Shock of SurvivalThe Shock of Survival by Nicole Field
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

[actual rating: 4.5]

In this story, we follow three main characters that all have their unique scars after they've won a bleak war that changed their lives forever. Ophelia is a stubborn kick-ass character who won't back down and is trying to just find herself and her own way in the world (a.k.a exactly my type of character). Then there Ben (short for Benedict) that is guilt-tripping himself into faults but stands as the leader of the threesome group of special magic users. I loved his character probably the most, because he's mysterious character that seemed undecipherable in my eyes. Alyxx is an intimate friend to our MC, who lives in a tree in the woods and has an adorable tail and pointed ears. She really reminded me of the "mother character" who was always out there trying to be protective to the MC, even when she necessarily didn't need that protection always. Then there's Dylan, who although he isn't that well-developed plays a key role in the war efforts and what happened in the plot line.

I think that this book did a brilliant job of subtly introducing us to the idea of polygamous relationship(s), and a real representation of the main bisexual character was excellently done. Why is this so rare? Because this book is #ownvoices we get a story that has personal experiences, which just enhances the diverse representation that I was looking for within this book.

Personally, my favorite stories are those intricate emotional shock stories after something traumatic happens, because: I think that we know that we can imagine what happened during the war, but the afterwords if just as important, if not even more to experience. This is a wonderful journey, that doesn't end when we end it there with them, and spans throughout the whole story in such a profound way that it really moved me. Because these characters were mainly 18 or 19, I got a distinct feeling that these were almost vets of the war and I felt like I could greater relate to modern day soldiers who come out of serving during wartime.

One of my favorite tropes was utilized here, the "best-friend-turns-to-lover" because I absolutely adore seeing a blossoming friendship grow and develop. It just absolutely warms my heart and gives me a fuzzy feeling. Although, to be clear the romance wasn't the "central" part of the story to my interpretation, rather a side plot that flowed into the river of the main plot.

My only big problem with this story in general, was that was some lacking backstory. All the mentions of the "war" were very vague and generic. I just didn't get the history of what exactly had happened and what a big deal or not this was and I think that would have been beneficial to the world-building. I do understand that there was some back and forth skipping between the time periods (5 years before, 2 years before, etc.) but that wasn't enough to give me a mental map of what happened during that dark gap in these characters' lives, which by the way, played a very central theme.

Overall, would absolutely recommend this brilliant book to everyone. Thank you so much Nik, for writing such a moving masterpiece.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange to my honest review.

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts, #1)Gilded Cage by Vic James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While enjoyable...this book is quite unforgettable in the sea of fantasy books that I've recently read. Nothing specific made it stand out.

Well folks, get ready for an unpopular opinion. In the moment, I really did enjoy reading this story unfold, but it seems like the premise is pretty generic. There are "blueblooded Equals" and then the rest of the "commoners" that have to serve a ten year prison sentence before they turn seniors (sixty). I've heard this book being compared to Red Queen, and if you loved that book, great! this is a read-alike for that. But unfortunately, as much as I tried I didn't end up falling in love with this book or the Red Queen.

A lot of the world-building didn't make sense, a lot of the magical elements didn't make sense. And I'm not the type of readers to just completely ignore plot-holes. Here are at least some of the things that I found lacking in explanation: [mild spoilers insue]

~If the Equals were skilled in magic, why did they need the slaves to serve them? Couldn't they just have magically done things with the click of a finger, without having to care and maintain for those extra bodies? I don't understand how this helps the general well-being or politics/economy of the body of Equals.

~My first thought when I opened this book was: how convenient that one of these characters were probably going to start a rebellion. What an unoriginal plot device that has been overused to death and I'm just so tired of. If you think about it logically, in the long history of this institution of slavery there must have been some uprising or rebellion. What happens now that just suddenly spurs this change by again (a main character)?

I have and will always adore books that run with multiple POVs, if they're done well. And because this is a very character-driven (more than plot-driven) story, we do get to experience growth and maturity alongside the time period that we view these characters. At first, I did have to write down each character and who they are in the big picture, because the author was throwing so many names at us. There are so many characters coming at the plotline at different angles and hammering away at the bigger puzzle, that I was pleasantly surprised that this was decently done.

[Pro tip from readers: Please put a table of contents with characters in the back of your book. It would be greatly appreciated instead of just making us write everything out for ourselves.Make it easy on us publisher, eh?]

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for my review.**

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Hag-SeedHag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let me preface this review by saying: This is my first Atwood book and I've never read "The Tempest" play, so I had no background experience while treading in. Sadly, this majorly detracted from my reading experience, but also why I give her the benefit of the doubt and may give her another shot from me in the future.

This book is all about this "professionally-wronged" produce, Felix, who is determined to make his dream of "The Tempest" become a reality. So he gets a teaching job at Literacy Through Theatre to prisoners at Burgess Correctional Institution and creates art. This is all a subplot against gaining some sort of revenge/retribution on his enemies.

I wish I could say that the form of this writing blew me away, I wish that I could say that Atwood absolutely outdid herself, but for me neither of those things are true. I found the execution of this retelling extremely fascinating, how (from what I understand) the play was playing out in real live, as well as on the screen.

There was no connection made with her writing style-dry and witty- or the her main character-Felix-which I could not understand for the life of me. I can give it to her: this concept is unique but bears no surprise, because this is just a water-logged and revised version of The Tempest from what I was lead to understand.

Thanks to Bloggingforbooks for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

The River at NightThe River at Night by Erica Ferencik
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A predictable unremarkable survival story that I couldn't get fully into. Far fetched and bizarre, which is something that I ultimately have no tolerance for.

I had some high expectations going into this, reading the editor's note, and was excited at the prospect of trying out my hand with this thriller. Earlier this year I read a great book with a similar plot, One Was Lost, so I would much rather recommend that one if you're on the look-out for these types of survival stories, the ones that you hear about on TV.

First of all, there are four "main" character, but we end up with only one boring narrator. I would like to see some more in-depth character building, with multiple POVs perhaps mixed in for the world-building. For me, there was no emotional or physical connection to the character, although I can appreciate the back story that the author was able to build. I can identify two or three of the characters that were just simply a plot device, and one of them was mentally ill/mute and it felt like he wasn't a 'real' character, and I have a real problem with misinterpretation of these sensitive topics.

Also, there was some unfair portrayal of rural people living in Maine and these city "elitists" that Wini and her 3 other friends representative. It really bothered me from the getgo on the inaccuracies of writing a story in this way, and then portraying these fleeting characters.

The plot is completely unrealistic and unsurprising, and I just found the idea of these extremely "cartoon" villains completely absurd and far-fetched. I just don't think that the author was able to pull this narrative off realistically, and that's the biggest no-no in these types of books that I can't afford to appreciate.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this in exchange for a review.**

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Monday, November 28, 2016

The PatriotsThe Patriots by Sana Krasikov
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A unique perspective into Communist Russia, and how far someone is willing to go to secure their possible escape from the rezien. Absolutely met all of my high expectations.

This inter-generational tale is just really a family saga in which it shows how the three generations are going to be affected by the actions of their parents, and how that manifests into their lives. It was an absolutely fascinating long, and although long it held my attention consistently throughout.
After finishing this book, I felt like I had gotten to grow up with the central character Florie and I was so thankful to be on this extraordinary journey of life with her. It rarely happens that I feel so emotionally connected to a specific character that I can looked back in hindsight and puzzle together motives, circumstances, thought process, etc

Taking a step back from the story, I can see that this is truly a spider web or characters and events aligning and that is some advanced writer's craft. I genuinely enjoyed how well-done the multiple POVs and timelines where done, because that type of weaving is serious work.

The length was extremely long for a historical fiction in my experience, but if you really want to get into it, it's worth the long haul. Granted, there are lots of disorienting rougher transitions that made me experience a slight case of vertigo, but if you could look past those spots I think that you could truly learn something out of this.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with and ARC**

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Everything You Want Me to BeEverything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Completely startling thriller... an unputdownable whodunit.

When your knuckles are white, your spine is hunched towards the screen, eyes glued to the words, you that this has got to be one of your favorite reading experiences, right?

This breath-taker is all about the murder and investigation of Hattie Hoffman. She the perfect student, daughter, friend; but you already know all of those stereotypes before going into this compelling story. What makes it a train ride is that its a whodunit with many unexpected twists and turns, which can be refreshing.

Who and why are the 2 biggest questions that must be asked, by the Sheriff Del, also a family friend of the victim's friend. There is immense character growth, and I think that he may have been my favorite police character that I had seen in a long time. Generally, I absolutely love having thrillers with multiple POVs with a law enforcer, but this guy had emotional connections to the victims so it was unique to see it from that perspective.

As a page-flipper, I am pleasantly surprised at the depth of conflicting emotions displayed here. It takes a close look at the boundaries of right and wrong, religion, curses, what is and means,etc. By the end you laugh and cry with these and have an overall better empathy as a person. Which is exactly why you should go and read this book.

**Thanks for NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.**

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Abandon MeAbandon Me by Melissa Febos
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It's always so hard for me to "rate" memoirs, because these are people's lives that we are talking about here. And it takes some gut to be so open and honest to many readers about some of your very private experiences. Don't get me wrong, I love memoirs, but I feel like I've read so many of them that I can be picky about which ones I prefer over others.

I found the content is this novel overly sexual. While I'm trying to not judge anyone here, I was personally put off from reading it. Sure, I could appreciate the voice of introspection that the author was putting forth, but there were no transitions from one scene to another. The "chapters" skipped around in timeline, story, and pace. As much as I tried to keep up with it, this memoir just didn't engage me in a way that I would have wanted it to.

Some of the writing felt like "stream of consciousness" and while it makes the appearance be very "raw" it also seems like some of the writing was unedited. On one hand it was extremely fearlessly vulnerable, with the opening of the mental space that the author put us in, I just don't know if I was personally ready to explore those themes in this memoir. There wasn't any clear construction, more freestyle which made it harder to grasp what the point that she was trying to convey.

I didn't feel compelled to pick it up, to continue on reading, but I was intrigued enough to keep on reading. This review seems to be full of contradictions, just as the book seems to be.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've come to the conclusion that Clare Mackintosh isn't the author for me. Earlier this year I picked up her debut novel "I Let You Go" because of high praise from trusted bookish peeps, but I ended up not loving it that much, or at best feeling lukewarm about it. When this ARC came up on NetGalley, because the last name felt familiar I decided to give it another chance.

I thought that as a whole, this book was extremely unrealistic in the sense that who would do this? I don't want to get into spoilers, because after all this is a whodunit, but I just could not understand why the said characters did what they did and how they played it off. Overall, I just had a lot of disbelief at some of the circumstances, so it wasn't exactly the fun realistic thriller that I had high hopes for, based on the synopsis.

There is a solid buildup growing, increased anxiety, tension, and paranoia that I was dragged into as a reader. I believe that's really an art, and the author did perform extremely well in that area. What added to that is that you have the POV of the stalker, who is tracking a character unknowingly and we get a look into his twisted thoughts.

Two POVs are split in this book, which usually don't work out for me that well. It's between what I would consider the MC Zoe Walker and a police detective Kelly Swift. I just thought that there was some unnecessary baggage and subplots from both sides, and I got slightly bored and just wished that those were overall cut-out.

One thing that I didn't know is that this is similar in a very specific way to Girl on the Train, in the sense that a lot of the setting is in the London Underground train system, and it has those creepy vibes. I personally hated Girl on the Train, because that book my my hair stand on end and gave me actual goosebumps.

In the end, while this was an entertaining thriller, it's very forgettable and I just feel "meh" about it.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange of my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Friday, November 18, 2016

The MortificationsThe Mortifications by Derek Palacio
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Extremely quirky and extremely bizarre.

This felt like magical realism for me, because while there weren't any "apparent" ghosts, you could feel their pulse throughout the story, which is completely fascinating to me. But at a point, the author went too much into psycho-analyzing the characters' choices, motivations, and decisions. And to be quite honest, I didn't care to listen to pages of their agony or analyzing all of their thoughts.

Towards the middle of the book, I started feeling completely disconnected to the characters and plotline. I was so bored that I actually kept on yawning-granted I read this mostly at night,but- that just goes to show that this book truly wasn't really keeping my attention in check.

I have a think for disliking dysfunctional family sagas, which isn't what I first expected when this book got into my hands. Expecting that it was going to highlight the immigrant experience more in-depth, which it did slightly, but that's the part of the book that I felt very lacking. There are just some disturbing things going on in the dialogue between some of the characters, and I personally wasn't compelled to keep on picking it up.

**Thanks for Blogging for Books for providing me with a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.**

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Difficult WomenDifficult Women by Roxane Gay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"They stood in the house where they had grown up filled with broken people and broken things.”

Brilliant and phenomenal writing about living the everyday female life. (whatever that is...)

Surprisingly, this is the first book that I've ever read by Roxane Gay, so it's definitively an introduction into her writing style. I personally really enjoyed most of her short stories that were in here, only a couple of them fell flat for me. Overall, I was thankful for the unique glimpse that she was able to give the readers into all different types of women's lives. She writes such strange and weird stories, but still managed to hook me in and make it look realistic.

Some common themes that threaded throughout were: poverty, privilege, marriage, love, motherhood, sex, loss, trauma.

I could really appreciate and get behind the way that women were portrayed. There were unapologetic, strong women you continue to go on despite all of the stuffs that's going on. Gay doesn't sugarcoat nor try to cover up the reality of these individual experiences, and that laid-bare honestly is what I've been looking for in these types of feminist novels.

The thing is, it's essential to read a book at the right timing. And sadly, this week hasn't been the right timing for me to read this sort of book, as I constantly was not only distracted but felt completely off-of-my-reading-game in several ways, and therefore I don't feel like I could be enjoying this to the fullest potential that it was meant to be. I may want to revisit some of my favorites later on closer to the publication date to relive this reading experience with the bookish community.

**Thanks for NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Irena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw GhettoIrena's Children: The Extraordinary Story of the Woman Who Saved 2,500 Children from the Warsaw Ghetto by Tilar Mazzeo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absorbing, heart-wrenching, and a must-read for all reader interested in this era.

" This is history, through a glass darkly, with all the attendant perils of the great darkness that was the Holocaust in Poland both during the Second World War and in the decades of communist rule that followed. I have used in all cases my best judgement as a historian and scholar and then proceeded to get on with telling the story of an astonishing group of men and women who saved from the darkness thousands of children." (Tilar J. Mazzeo in the Afterword of this book.)

As someone always interested in reading nonfiction WWII, and also 100% Polish, this book immediately rang my bells. I can proudly say that after finishing this, it is an unforgettable story in my stack of books. Big thank you to all of the meticulous research that must have been done by Mazzeo to make this book as historically accurate as possible.

This book describes the powerful journey of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic, who saved 2,500 children's lives from the Warsaw Ghetto. It is an incredible insider look into the Underground Resistance, one that I haven't ever studied so closely before and I was completely fascinated.

Even though this is a nonfiction biography story, for me it can be classified as a narrative. It just flows so well and I really felt emotionally connected and empathetic to Irena and could understand what risks and decisions that she had to make.

I'm still shocked that her heroic story is not well-known in history classes in high school, but maybe that's the way she would want it. This reading experience was deeply enlightening, even though it was quite difficult to get into that head-space. In my opinion, this should be a required reading, because it shows you that there is hope, that there is goodness in human beings even in the most bleak circumstances. Especially considering this current political climate, I really do think that this a valuable lesson to revisit, before history could repeat itself.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"But the real world doesn't go away. Racism exists. People are getting hurt, and just because it's not happening to you doesn't mean it's not happening."

Eye-opening and raw, this book changed my perspective, gave me something to think about, and educated my mindset about systemic racism in ways that I haven't known before. I had physical reactions of laughs of dark comedy, gasps of chilling shock, and tears leaking from my eyes.

Noah is the host of The Daily Show, and although he didn't touch upon that part of his life, he implements excellent dark comedy and musings into these pages, and I loved every word of it. I just hope that he writes another book soon, because I want more from him as a writer.

This is one of the best memoirs that I've read this year, and that's saying a lot because memoirs are one of my favorite genres, and this one came from a powerful narrative. <
Trevor Noah grew under the reign of apartheid in South Africa for his whole young life, and he describes the every-day various experiences that he had to go through. As a poor bi-racial boy who was raised by a strong bad-ass single mom, he describes details that he remembers from his life. He's the offspring of a Swiss father To be perfectly honest, some of them were unimaginable to my privileged brain, which made his life story that more fascinating. It felt absolutely miraculous to experience life from someone else's viewpoint that I've been ignorant about.

As a student of history, I thought that this had some heavy historical themes, but that was wall engraved from Noah's perspective walking through his life. And I wasn't aware of the specific history in South Africa, they don't teach that to us in school. But I think that I now see Africa differently than before reading this book, and that makes this experience completely worthwhile and valuable of my time.

The thing is, that even though this book deals with some very tough issues since the first page, this book was very readable and enjoyable to me. Because it's written in essay format, it doesn't go chronologically from event to event, instead focuses on the themes that Noah wants to display.

I think that this is a discussion that we needs to continually be having, especially in this political climate and so this is the perfect book to read to open that door for discussion.

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Under Rose-Tainted SkiesUnder Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I could really appreciate that this book does focus on mental illness and self-harm as a central issue in Norah's life. This wasn't just one of those books when she met a guy and two minutes later she is all cured and ready to face the world.My problem is with how an agoraphobic who couldn't take a step outside, suddenly one month later is going outside with her boyfriend. So from that perspective the love angle rushed the healing journey, which could have been portrayed at a slower pace.

The author already has a unique writing style, but she tried too hard. There were so many descriptive metaphors and flowery language and adjective that I kept on having the impulse of just editing out those sentences or skipping through them. An overabundance just never seems to be well-written to me.

The romance for me was super awkward and I didn't think that they had the chemistry between them that authors strive for couples to have. Norah had really high and unrealistic expectations for Luke and he really did appear to be too "perfect and cliche" for my taste. Another issue that I had was there was the "popular girl, cheerleader, flirt, perfect queen" character who was going after the love interest and had absolutely no character substance. Like at this point, having read a lot of romance novels, it really does get on my nerves when this type of narrow stereotypical girl is used just as a plot device. Aren't we over repeating that?

I didn't personally connect to the character of Norah, because I felt like the readers sometimes get too deep and too close inside her head, to the point where I had to put the book down because it was making me anxious, therefore lessening the pleasure of my reading experience overall. I did have to put the book down several times, and I felt like the author could have down a step back and switched it up with another character's perspective in 3rd persons (her moms, her therapists, Luke,etc.) so that it could be a refresher. Maybe the author was too close emotionally to this issue and could have made more distance between her experiences and Norah's.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in order for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wreck and OrderWreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book was such a slug for me to get through, plotwise at least. I felt like the author didn't really have a sense of direction of where the character's life is going, so we wandered around aimlessly with the character's boring monologues and introspective thoughts constantly being repeated on the page.

Like many others, I think that I'm not in the group of readership for it. I just don't relate and didn't connect to the main character at all. I thought that she was a spoiled brat that whined and complained about her oh-so-big problems that she got herself into. The content really frustrated me, because it seemed like the author was trying to overly push her political agenda on us (the readers) but I didn't feel like was supposed to be her purpose in this novel.

Basically I could equate what's inside this book as diary ramblings of a lost and unhappy soul, who is so "normal" that I really stopped caring what she did with her life on page 5. I can recognize what the author was trying to show here, a journey or exploration of oneself, it just didn't come out like that to me.

Sad to say, that this book has taken me painfully 6 hours of life, and I also regret wasting, so it's would be a perfectly ok option to DNF this book.

*Thanks to BloggingforBooks and the publisher for giving me a review copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The German Girl: A NovelThe German Girl: A Novel by Armando Lucas Correa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book surprised me, in the best possible way. I've considered myself a WWII buff for a long while now, but reading this book made me realize that I've never even heard of anything about the St.Louis. Well, this story is the story of a journey of friendships, relationships, and the actual trip and aftermath of across the ocean. We follow the life story of Hannah, a Jewish-born wealthy child living in Berlin. Her and her family make an escape sailing to Havana Cuba, where the climax of the whole story happens.

Rarely do I see dual perspective from different time periods work in a historical fiction novel, and this was sadly no exception. I just felt so drawn to the main narrative-Hannah's-that I really felt no emotional connection to the 2014 descendant, Anna. It's one of those things where you just want to skip the chapters with the other POV, and just continue being immersed in the life story of the main character.

Also, beware that the first 30% was extremely hard for me to get into, I just couldn't immerse myself completely into the story yet sadly. But I'm so glad that I was able to push through because it worth the effort and I couldn't recommend it enough to others.

My favorite part of this whole book was how the author had the ability to describe intricacies and the nuances of friendships between children that have their childhood taken away from then. The best relationship in this whole book in my opinion were the exchanges in dialogue between Hannah and her best and only friend Leo. That same concept later on repeats with Diego and Ana which was also heartwarming to watch from Hannah's perspective.

There are moments when it's better to accept it's all over, that there's nothing more to be done. Give up and abandon hope :surrender.That's how I felt by then. I didn't believe in miracles.This had happened to us because we insisted on changing a destiny that was already written. We didn't have any rights, we couldn't reinvent history. We were condemned to be deceived from the moment we came into the world.

This is probably the most memorable beautiful piece of writing in this book, and it's filled with some jewels as these. I couldn't get over how this book didn't cover up or shy away from racism, sexism, immigration, and depression/mental illness, and ignorance to all of these things all of which are hard topics to discuss.

The two main themes that resonated with me at least and were repeated over and over again were: the feeling of being "impure" and "unwanted". I loved how the author seemed to weave these two emotions throughout the whole plot-line, because I felt like it really was a driving point of Hannah's life in many ways. It kind of broke my heart every-time that I would see Hannah wrestling with these things that were so deeply instilled inside of her.

Overall, this is a book that opens your eyes and encourages you to more acceptance and love (or even simply tolerance) towards others that are different than you. Would highly recommend for everyone to pick this one up!

Thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

MischlingMischling by Affinity Konar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Let me preface by saying that I knew what I was getting into, because I am a huge WWII "buff reader". I'm always completely fascinated with everything that happened during this time period, but I'm also pretty picky because of the repetitive nature of this narrative.

However, with that being said, this story was told from a completely different perspective. Before this, I didn't know about the existence of "The Zoo" in Auschwitz. This was a separate place where twins and triplets were taken to be put under experimentation by Dr.Mengele. I could always appreciate a book that teaches me something new.

The two MCs of this story: Pearl and Stasha had a perhaps fantasy bond that I would strongly admire. It seemed their connection ran hard and deep, there looked to be no end to this "mischling love".

“Tell me,' she said, her eyes trailing the fly's escape over the fence and into the fields, 'what does it feel like - to be of value?'

I said that I didn't know. A lie, obviously. I knew the feeling of value well, I'd known it until Mama and Zayde were taken away, and it still remained - though in an altered form - with Stasha, who valued me more than herself. But I wasn't about to boast of this to Bruna, whose frenzy had enlarged in such a manner that the whole of her quaked. The index finger of her right hand shook the most. She pointed it at a building in the distance, a building that I'd later come to know as one of Mengele's laboratories.

'Please,' she entreated, 'tell me when you understand? I would like to know.”

^^ One of my favorite quotes that stood out to me the most.

I felt emotionally connected to only Stasha, because I felt like she was the beating heart of the story, at least as the narrator. It was written in 1st person, therefore you can really get into the thoughts of these characters; also had a multiple/alternating POVs.

One of the reasons why I didn't feel that emotionally connected was because of the tone. It was changing between naïveté and wise with the characters, which made me feel like the tone was too disconnected. Because of this I personally didn't cry. For me, that means that it doesn't pack a punch in my gut enough for the waterworks to start, therefore I couldn't rate this higher.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Other EinsteinThe Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Other Einstein is the story of a Mileva -Mitza-Marić, a footnote in Albert Einstein's studied life. You know what, I personally love reading books about forgotten histories with female protagonists. This book was absolutely an excellent example and accomplishment of what it means to take a closer look at the women enabling the "genius famous" men to do their work. The woman behind Einstein's work.

I was surprised to discover that there is actually lots of historical controversy on whether Mitza actually contributed or did all of the work behind some of Albert Einstein's work, and yet disappointingly got no credit. Over and over again there were just example of sexism and abuse that shocked me, because the way that the author wrote this had an engaging writing style.

I was completely absorbed in the story of Mitza's life, which I found to be absolutely fascinating. She definitively didn't take her education for granted, because she was a brilliant scholar who fought for her place at the Zurich University. She was studying physics also just has a genius brain for math, but is still struggling to be accepted in the classroom as a women. Her character is so complex and you can see kind of her life trajectory and it was neat to see how she tied in Newton's laws into her life story.

The only thing that I kind of had a problem with is how the climax/conflict came at the very last pages of the novel. I was honestly expecting this continually-boiling pot to break at some point earlier, and I kind of just got frustrated with how slow the characters were moving towards the conclusion.

Please note: That this is an imaginary fiction telling of their lives portrayed, and although there was an extent of research involved, Benedict does alienate admirers of Albert Einstein. I know I would definitively take this novel with a grain of salt.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**

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Friday, October 7, 2016

The WonderThe Wonder by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“One never imagined that as the decades went by, one might drift into an unbounded country. It struck Lib now how alone in the world she was.”

This book is truly a treasure for the historical fiction genre, because I let my whole mind and body feel the atmosphere that Donoghue has created. This takes place in the 1850s, in a rural Irish town, tucked away in some little corner of the world, as I like to think, so it was intriguing and doing something that you don't really see that often in literary fiction.

The best thing about this book for me, is that her writing literally transported me and injected me to that specific 10 day period of time and place. You really come to feel the various characters' frustrations and you grow to love main character(even though she's not the narrator)-Anne. You can really identify the sexism and non-sensitivity or lack of action that is happening all around by most of the secondary characters.

I had so much empathy for Lib, and all of her patience, that I kind of wanted to grow something at certain characters and her actions in this book were deeply admirable and have earned my greatest respect.

For me, the most fascinating thing was how much it touched on the religion of Catholicism and the corruption and various bad things that happened around that time because of people of that faith. As having an insider experience in growing up in this church, I was sometimes shocked at every page about how some people were being treated, and who they were being treated as. Donoghue makes you feel emotions: like rage, frustration, shock, scoffing,etc. and that is the mark of a excellent writer for me, if they can get a visceral reaction from me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

The Light FantasticThe Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

"One Nation, Under the Assassins, Indivisible, with Revenge and Punishment
for All."

I was so tempted to DNF this, and I really should have let it go as many other trusted reviewers have done. The multiple POVs were probably the most confusing I have ever read in a book, because I couldn't figure out who was narrating and where the flashbacks happened. I didn't connect to any of the characters, I didn't care what was happening in the plotline. The POV went from 1st person to 3rd person and then back again and so the reader had to constantly be adjusting

This story follows a group of "hurt" people on the internet who are planning violent actions that are to be happening in their school environments. I feel like this story has already been told, and there are better perspective on it to find elsewhere. There are 7 narrators, none of which I can remember anything remarkable thing about; in fact I just finished it and I can't remember one significant fact about any of the specific connection. And that's pathetically low for me.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC of this in exchange for my honest review.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

SiracusaSiracusa by Delia Ephron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book, and it was a struggle to see where to place this in my ratings. This book was good and unique, but nothing completely amazing. The pacing was extremely slow, because the climax was predictable and happens at the very end of the novel. I personally like plot-driven books with a lot of action, but of course this was heavily character-centered which I should have been more aware of before selecting to spend my time on this. The buildup was absolutely great, I could feel the tension and the suspense that the author had tried to intertwine with all of the masterful subtle foreshadowing that she was showing. If I were in that hotel room, I think that I could visibly seen the tension swirling around in clouds in the rooms when the "things" happened.

So, what Ephron creates is 4 individual voices that narrated a vacation to Italy and obviously Siracusa, and my only thing that these perspectives lacked what that I had wished we could have a 1st POV from Snow, because she is extremely shy we never know what is really going on inside her head. There is Lizzie, Michael, Taylor, and Finn, who are very interconnected threads in their lives. It is essentially interesting to be an outsider in these twisted situations that are going on sometimes "secretly". This story is a lot of rocky and broken marriages that just make me want to cringe with some of the things that were going on between specific characters.

"In life one rarely knows which remarks of the hundreds uttered in the course of a day will turn out to be auspicious."

If I'm honest, I almost gave up on continuing with this book, because I found the character extremely irritable unlikely. Although I could see specific instances justified but mostly I felt their behavior completely disturbing and their motives misplaced. There was some quotes that could really resonate with some of those things that they displayed about life.

Let's talk about the ending, without any spoiler because this is what ultimately disappointed me the most. I think that it was too "swept up" and I didn't like how some particular issues seems to be pushed to the and forgotten, while the readers weren't able to move on because the epilogue was 4 pages, not the timespan of four months later. Ultimately, because the ending broke the deal for me, I wasn't able to appreciate the book fully, or much less than I was expected.

**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC for me in exchange for my honest review.**

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Wizard's Forge (The Woern Saga, #1)A Wizard's Forge by A.M. Justice
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't you just love it when synopsis' are vague, or you just don't even read them 'cause you're afraid to get spoiled? I went into this book feeling completely blind, except I was judging by the cover art which is amazing. Let me tell you, I didn't know that i was embarking on a highly-entertaining ride.

This book had some elements that I preferred; it was plot-driven and fast-paced action which is right up my alley. But the author had way too many ideas that were all over the place. Such subplots could be completely eliminated and were utterly unnecessary. Also there were random time jumps where we wouldn't see what's going on for a couple of years in certain character's' life. I just didn't understand why the author chose the implement these, and I wish that she could have at least labeled them at the beginning of the chapters.

The plot unfortunately was very predictable for where it was going, because I foresaw the love interests and the conflicts. Lots of tropes that I absolutely hate were pushed in here, so that made the book similar to other books that I'm not a fan of. Again, we've seen this ideas before in epic YA fantasy, the author is simply recycling them here.

My biggest pet peeve is when I don't like the character or I don't connect/relate to them and that's a huge hindrance to how much this book enraptured me. It's my opinion that the characters were frankly underdeveloped and the secondary characters were just names floating in the universe that the author had created and I couldn't muster myself to care.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review/opinion.*

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Monday, September 12, 2016

The Wangs vs. the WorldThe Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Charles Wang, a Chinese man, a Taiwanese immigrant who has come to America to build a fortune in the makeup business industry. Then in 2008, after many successful years, he bankrupts and loses it all. He then proceeds to get into a shitty car to drive cross-country to his oldest daughter's Siana's place, a humiliated artist with boyfriend troubles estate in upstate NY. Along the way, some unexpected things happen and Charles continue to foster his bizarre ideas of redemption.

Another one of those buzzy books, that unfortunately felt disappointing to my high expectations that I have created. I think what sealed the deal is when I recognized how similar it was the "The Nest" in many ways. So fans of "The Nest" might be in love with this book, but the problem was that I was never a fan of "The Nest."

I think that my #1 complaint, was that there was no translation of the Chinese language within the story's dialogue in some places, therefore I didn't understand it. I am ok with the author wanting to include authentic phrases in her literature, but you at least have to let the reader know by translating what is going on!

Another thing that fell completely flat for me: this book was tagged as humour and supposed to be funny. Well, guess how many times I laughed out loud? 0 times. And I'm a quite amused person that is open to humour in literature, lots of books make me laugh lots of times. But the fact is, I just didn't find even one instance in this book where I could just lean back and make myself laugh.

All of the characters were unlikable and unlovable, and I didn't really personally feel connected to any of them, which is essential in my opinion, to the art of good storytelling. Siana, Andrew, and Grace all seemed to be unlikeable and unaccustomed to living life homeless or in poor conditions. I held absolutely no sympathy, at time I just wanted to shout "suck it up" while continuing to flip the pages of their self-pitying monologues.

Barbra seems distant and cold in the story, even though the author tries too hard to bring everyone together by the revealing ending. And Charles is very self-entitled, comes from a privileged group in society and thinks that he is the "highest of the high" which is an example of why I absolutely despise egotistic characters.

One thing that did ring a lot of my reading bells, at the beginning was that there were multiple POVs .That was one of the only things that I found absolutely entertaining about this book, it switches from one character miserable with their lives to the next one. At least it was at least a bit easier to see the general scope of their dysfunctional family through many different lenses.

If I just pointed out a lot of negative points, why didn't I rate this even lower? Well, for some specific parts I found it very entertaining. The author does have a knack at writing dialogue, when it's all in English so those interactions especially between the siblings were really only the highlights of the book for me.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Things We Wish Were TrueThe Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A story of untold secrets within a neighborhood is my one-sentence quip for this book. But along with that, it has some mysterious elements that are floating around in the shared air. From the synopsis, you can already gather that this "almost-accident" changed the summer here. I would beg to say that it's more, what happened because of the accident is that it brought everyone who was already connected in some invisible way together.

I feel like this is a very easy read with lots of subplots, so you do have to constantly be going around in your head trying to figure how this happened, or why she didn't tell him that, etc. Sometimes I even felt like there were some irrelevant subplots that weren't necessary and I wasn't interested in, that's why I would give away that one star.

There are a lot of family dramas that are involved in here, which leads up to the climax. I think that the one thing that I liked the most about it is that it's told from multiple characters POV, so basically all of the characters that are heavily involved. I noticed that someone commented on the fact that, based on observations, Cailey is the only one who was written in first person which may lead the reader to believe that she was the main character.

And I think that would be perfectly appropriate, especially since she was a newcomer who had moved again, so we can get that extra element of an outside perspective trying to assess "what the hell is going on in here?" and someone who doesn't necessarily know the extensive history of the people that are here.

The tension is visible in this book, because it seems like there are so many strained relationships that you are trying hard to figure out. Once I got hooked to this book, it was almost impossible to put it down, with is always the highest praise.

**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an e-arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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