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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