Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Wife of Noble Character: A NovelA Wife of Noble Character: A Novel by Yvonne Georgina Puig
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Note, I know that there are comparisons Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth" which I have never personally read nor am I interested in reading more women's chic-lit.

I personally found the writing very simplistic and the characters unlikeable & unrelatable. There was so connection to the petty struggles, or "rich people's problems" and I honestly didn't care what was happening during the timeline of the story. Who knows? Maybe this simply isn't the fit for me. I usually tend to stay away from chick lit because I prefer some plot-driven actions and I felt like the narrative was running in circles around the main relationship and I wasn't invested in the outcome at all.

Vivienne was the stereotypical beautiful rich girl who didn't know what she wanted from her life. She is so "glowing and stunning" that she has the attention of a lot of (un)wanted attention from men and some very complicated unsatisfying relationships. It takes place in Texas, and I would say that it's an easy beach read although I would not reccomend it. I found the MC personality cliche and couldn't relate in any way to her as a women, but it did make me realize the long way to feminism.

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

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Ballroom: A NovelThe Ballroom: A Novel by Anna Hope
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was so hauntingly real. It touched on historical happenings around the time of 1911 like eugenics, horrors of asylums, and various crimes. The setting is richly described by the author, the way that she puts pen to paper really drags you beautifully into that world and makes you rethink what you thought that you understood about that time period.(Edwardian period of history)

There is a love story, but I would venture to say that it's a side plot-line that gets attention, but it's not the main thing that goes on in the story. It alternates between 3 narratives third person perspective, which I feel like that "overall" step-back perspective was perfectly appropriate. We have Ella, a woman who was declared insane for a simple showing of madness and has to adjust to confusing life at the asylum. John a hard-worker who has a lot of baggage from his past and not that much prospect for the future it seems. And Charles, one of the main doctors/violinists in charge of taking care of the patients as a staff member, brimming with ideas on how to get things "better" his way.

It's enough to say that although all of the character's story were quite intertwined, I could appreciate how individual their voices seemed. The symbol that the ballroom represented to the people housed there was genuinely "shone through" this book, and I was that it's as much realism as symbolism on the author's choice of title.

This book will make you cry, make you sigh, but you can't stop turning the pages. Absolutely fascinated by this book and would reccomend readers to open the first page into the journey of life.

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

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One Was LostOne Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was just the mystery/thriller that I needed, an easy read that was also a survivor story. But what jumped out for me the most was that this was a coming-of-age story for the MC, Sera. And really this is a journey of her trying to escape the place that's she in, both physically and in her mental image/space. The writer really did her job by opening a teenager's mind so that the reader could relate. The ending especially was so sentimental and I just loved how it wrapped up.

This book follows a group of seniors who are venturing into the isolated woods for their required field trip. Everything starts to go downhill after that point, the relationships and accusations are a complicated spider web; and I can't say much more without spoiling it. I would say that reading this book without looking through the synopsis is a good thing, because it gives too much of it away.

Was the writing excellent? Nah, I've seen much better; this here was not what shone through the book. I was kept on the edge of my seat with my knuckles gripping my Kindle the whole time and my breath hitched. I absolutely devoured this book in one sitting and couldn't put it down once the "train" (aka plot line) started moving along.

Did I really even care who the "person" was? Not really, I kind of already have an idea based on the clues, but that ok. We gradually find out who it was, even though the group may have their suspicions. It was supposed to be a who-dunnit, but to me I was more consumed with the character's interactions and relationships and actual journey, and that's just what I needed.

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

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Friday, August 19, 2016

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie LovettThe Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book featured a MC-Hawthorne- that was cliche stereotypical(weirdo) high schooler, who couldn't wait to get out of her hometown and school. She has a strange obsession with Lizzie Lovett, a girl for who she talked to for a total of like 4 minutes, and then later felt like she knew her and had a connection to her.

Every chapter was about missing Lizzie Lovett, and the author could have used Hawthorne's authentic unique voice to reach maximum potential by introducing other plot points in this book. I honestly didn't care for any of these characters or what they were going through, and that really disappointed me.

The plot and premise was moving along painfully slow and I was getting more bored and bored when nothing was happening except complicated drama in Hawthorne's life. I would say that the first 100 pages were fillers with no substances, because nothing other than day-to-day things happened. I never felt like I shipped the characters together in their relationship, so I felt like I wasn't "on board" with that aspect of the romance.

I didn't find any redemption in what has happened by the ending, and I didn't understand why the character was convinced of some supernatural elements that clearly didn't exist. This book was highly anticipated for me, but sadly it didn't live up to my standards and I would not reccomend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-ARC copy of this in exchange for my honest review.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I could appreciate that this was written in a very fast-paced way, and it definitively got me out of my reading stupor. There was some sort of action on almost every page, and it definitively kept me engaged enough that I couldn't stop flipping the pages. With that said, the writing was not enjoyable, I felt like it was an amateur teenager that was writing this, which would fit the book better. Not only that, but I felt very disconnected the main characters, and I didn't care about what happened to them, in part because of the way that the writing style was written in.

At the beginning, the story all focused on the kidnapped baby, on getting Cora back. During the middle/three quarter way, it strayed from that main path. It went to being all about the kidnappers and who they are and what their motives are instead of it being about the baby which the mother was so desperate to get back. And I think that it's at that point that the book lost my attention and I got frustrated with the direction that it was going in.

The mental illness representation was just portrayed inaccurately in this book, and that really put me off. I believe that postpartum depression and dissociative disorder should be represented in a more "real life" way, and not in the way that it was.

I'm not understanding the ending, because for me it was very unnecessary and why did the author write that in? It's kind of an open-ending, but that's what annoys me about it the most.

**I received an e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review/opinion.**

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This unique book had everything that I was looking for. Fantastical magic, diverse POC characters, and a healthy portrayal of lgbt relationships. I'm a big advocate for "we need more diverse books" and so I was so appreciative that there were LGBT characters and Latino ethnic minorities represented here, and thankful that this was published in the world. It was just a beautiful story that I could imagine it being played-out on screen and that was simply delightful. Another fellow reviewer (Lola Reviewer), had mentioned that this would make a fantastic cartoon series and I couldn't stop thinking about that possibility because I completely agree with that observation.

There are some loyal siblings relationships, and I loved the banter between them. They are all so different within their magic life; Lula (healer), Alex (Enchantrix), and Rose (psychic) and it follows the MC coming-of-age story. We are introduced to their unusual world of spirits and rituals that are inhabited in their familial heritage; and enraptured once something happens and Alex's whole family disappears into Los Lagos(reminiscent of Wonderland) and she has to go and rescue them. A villian is lurking, and ghosts/souls of dead people, and all the weird and beautiful creatures that one can imagine.

Sorry to Alex, but my personal favorite character is Nova, because I felt like he was such a multi-layered character who was the most mysterious about his past life and about his actions in present time. It pulled me through to just see how their relationship develops over time, and with him in the mix it was much more highly entertaining.

The ending made my heart race, because it was on so many uncertain terms and honestly a weird spot to end things, on a brink of a "big" event. I never felt "anxious" or on the edge of my seat-I really hoped it would all work out in the end-, but that's what may have contributed to why it's a pleasant read. Overall, you're going to embark on a magical journey with this book.

**Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing and e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.**

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Friday, August 12, 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful ThingsAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was very compelling, with unusual & interesting characters, yet I didn't root for them. Personally, I had very high expectations going into this book; it was a Book of the Month club pick and a lot of my trusted friends were giving it glowing 5-star reviews. And here I am giving it a 2.5 stars, and feel in the minority.

I think that the problem is, I never rooted or "shipped" for the main relationship to be happening, I only felt disgust and also that it was used as a plot-device to just propel the "love story" forward. We have Wavy, a damaged child who lives in a dysfunctional family with drug-addict parents. She was conditioned to become very independent at a very young age, and was silent and untouchable for a lot of her childhood. Then onto the scene comes Kellen, a rough tattooed motorcycle guy with also a rough past that he was rather forget. He takes care of her throughout her childhood, and becomes a part of her mini family When this turned into a love story because a 13 year old and 26 year old, or the "climax" scene, I just couldn't handle it and shook my head is disgust. I couldn't understand the acceptance or beauty in it.

I can't deny that this book is well-written, told from different perspectives that affect Wavy's life (her cousin Amy, her roommate Renee, her teachers, etc.) and alternates between first and third perspective which is a lot of writing devices to juggle in a book. What I can appreciate is that the author remains kind of unbiased in what you are supposed to be feeling while reading it, it's actually all up to the reader's interpretation. There was a major thing of how she portrayed the only "sane, sensible" adult in the situation, Aunt Brenda because I thought it was so unfortunate that she was seen as the "villain" and acted "villainous" when she honestly only had her best intentions at heart.

Then about the last part of the story, because I took a break from the book, I felt very disconnected and bored. It wasn't that the ending was bad or anything, I just genuinely felt disinterested in what would happen with Wavy and Kellen. I won't spoil anything, but suffice it to say that the ending was just average, and the "big reveal" was something that was hinted at and I just didn't care at that point of the past outcomes.

**I got an e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.**

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Monday, August 8, 2016

The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's astonishing how much of a questions she can answer without ever actually answer without ever actually answering of the questions... Even when she seems forthcoming, her answers almost always veer sideways, providing something like substances without giving away the heart.

I'll never look at a butterfly the same again. That's how much this horrifyingly-twisted book impacted my point of view. Since page 1, I literally could NOT stop reading and didn't even notice flipping the pages. The author is an excellent storytelling that this immediately pulled me in with a dark hook, and the narrator is clever in the interrogation room with all of her answers. Basically because it alternates between the current time at the FBI questioning and flashbacks to her childhood and teenage hood and her time in the "Butterfly Garden", but not in chronological order which makes the readers' brain work to piece together the story.

What made this an unforgettable favorite book, was that it took a close look at the real-life experiences and bonds of the victims. In this book there were complicated friendships with fleshed-out characters who all were such realistic humans. Many times I feel like how authors portray victims are in skewed versions of these emotional traumatic who can't joke around, and curse, and each be a piece of their family in the "Garden."

The main character, also the narrator, who is referred to as Maya is just a strong survivor that I immediately could emotionally connect to. She didn't feel like a cardboard cut-out, she felt like a young women with a backstory that shaped her and had strong motives to protect the people who are close to her. She is so blunt, and the author addresses all of these various issues in her experience very boldly, complete with medical/physical descriptions and the media process/coverage.

Overall, I can't count how many times my mouth was just hanging open in an "O" shocked because of what a sick psychopath is able to do, and the plot-twist at the end. It was the first truly "thrilling thriller" that I have read this year and I won't be forgetting it.

*Trigger warnings: rape, abuse, and sexual assault.*

**I got an e-ARC of this via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review/opinion.**

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Monday, August 1, 2016

In Twenty Years: A NovelIn Twenty Years: A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In my opinion, this book was a very cliche and unrealistic book of a reunion. The star of their family friendships, Bea calls them back to what would have been her 40th birthday on the fourth of July to give them surprise, only if there are all present. Not going too deep into things, the whole day turns into a complete disaster and there are problems from all of the different storylines that never seem to converge and come together. Everyone brings their own life issues to the table, and this is kind of a time that they are trying to deal with their life's crap, and although all of the characters (except Bea) were very unlikeable, someone the author has managed to squeeze in an unnecessary redemption arc that was developing there at the end?

That alone shows how unrealistic that fact is, because quite honestly the ending was bow-tied and the change seemed like it happened through 24 hours. Sure, you can coat your characters with introspection and have them have a monologue the whole vacation, but that just kind of gets dull and boring. I knew that this book would unnecessarily drag on because at 20% everyone already came to the reunion, and the rest was just written during the events that happened.

I didn't care about any of the character, didn't connect or agree with their actions/grudges. It is unrealistic that out of a group of 6 friends, two of them would become wildly successful, a rock singer and a CEO of a booming company. I didn't understand why the author would have felt a need to portray both negative viewpoints of being in fame; there could have been a contrast.

Although I wouldn't recommend this type of book to me, and I'm discovering that maybe it just isn't for me. These types of "family" dramas tire me out and want to make me stay far away from adulthood. This is a one-sitting type of read because it reads to quickly, which is probably why I didn't give this book 1 star. Overall, I am disappointed but why was I expecting that I would like this mess of character anyways?

**Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for giving me an ecopy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion/review.**

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