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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