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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Thursday, September 8, 2016

3 out of 4 stars
You can find the book here
Release Date: December 22, 2016

I am always on the lookout to these types of books that take a deeper look at the culture of a specific city from a permanent resident's perspective, so this was right up my alley.

What I really appreciated was the way that the author seemed very introspective and thoughtful throughout this whole entire book, and how I could relate to the way that he was observing people. He touches bases like: culture, tradition, cleanliness, quietness, and the impact of technology. The whole book isn't really written from an emotional perspective, which fits this nonfiction narrative. It's more of a look at the psychological effects and why people in Tokyo do what they do, which immensely fascinates me; but if it isn't in your interest or you aren't in this mood, then maybe this isn't the essay collection for you.

He really starts to unpack the stereotypes and preconceptions that you may have of the city, and explores all of the hidden places that may be older but enjoyed by a regular like him. (jazz clubs, shrines, roof gardens, family-owned stores,etc.) The way that he wrote it makes me want to go and just travel to that place to explore the various ways of live in different parts of the world.

Not all of the essays were held in equal value, which is to be expected as I felt myself skimming and drifting off in some instances, but overall this made me think about how I perceive cities and how I have imagined Tokyo to be as. The author does observe the collective actions of most people around, so sometimes it did err on the side of stereotypical, therefore I wasn't completely satisfied. Although he would counteract that with discovering something extraordinary that he just had to share which defied the outer image. Overall, would reccomend this profound book to anyone who is yearning to learn more about Tokyo.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

You Will Know MeYou Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me isn't what I was expecting. I generally loved the way that Abbott can write tension and suspense into every packed-with-emotion page. The alternative POVs were necessary so that we could really dig inside the character's head and find out what they thought the "projected truth" was.

A murder mystery is what this is technically about, but don't let that offset you on this book. This book is more about the life of a teenage gymnast prodigy, something that we don't see very often and her parent's dedication/determination to let her have the Olympic gold success that everyone seems to think she is "meant' for. It's a slow-burning book where nothing plot-drive necessarily happens in the first big half, but that's ok because it then takes psychological look at "how far would you go for your child?"

I however, am not an Olympics watcher or sports fan, however I still found myself completely immersed in the little quiet politics and details of this lifestyle. Every word that Abbott uses is very sharp and precise, and that's why I just absolutely devoured her writing style and how the words impacted my understanding of the story arc.

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

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Friday, September 2, 2016

FaithfulFaithful by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars

I'll attempt to describe this book, but I don't' think that I can do justice to Alice Hoffman's expert writing!

This novel chronicles Shelby's journey of life, where at the beginning she starts as a mental health patient at a hospital and then transforms and grows up as the story goes along. She is just trying to recover from a traumatic accident that changed the course of her life and at heart this really is a coming-of-age and finding yourself story which I always seem to enjoy.

The side characters are all so fleshed out because there were some very unique people that had be perking up in my chair while reading the story. My favorite one was the (anonymous) postcard writer who remember that Shelby was alive at the beginning of that rough time and encouraged her to do "something" especially in the aftermath of that tragedy.

It did features themes like: Love, loss, lust, friendship, family, (un)faithfullness,etc. in a very profound way that made me connect to the character with empathy and understand their struggles. I was very invested in the outcome which is always a green light sign for me.

Trigger Warnings: abuse, sexual assault, self-harm

Overall, I fell very impressed with how this story was told and I will only give it high praises.

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

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