the dilemma of reading

the dilemma of reading

"Oh, all stories are the same, aren't they? Men and women fall in love or out of love. People are born; people die. It all ends happily or it all ends sadly, and the difference matters only to the people involved.”

--Gabrielle Zevin, Margarettown

Review
2 Stars
Select/Marit Weisenberg
Select - Marit Weisenberg

Coming from a race of highly-evolved humans, Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. But there’s something rotten beneath the surface—dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of people determined to keep their talents hidden and who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally disrupts the Jaynes’ delicate anonymity, she’s banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school.

Julia’s goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him—John Ford, tennis prodigy, all-around good guy. When Julia discovers a knack for reading his mind, and also manipulating his life, school suddenly becomes a temporary escape from the cold grip of her manipulative father. But as Julia’s powers over John grow, so do her feelings. For the first time in her life, Julia begins to develop a sense of self, to question her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide: can a perfect love be worth more than a perfect life?

 


What a strange and convoluted book this was!

 

I suppose I expected it to be a bit more fantastical, a bit more whimsical, a bit more sci-fi, and a lot more exciting, but... it wasn't. I started and stopped it many times because I kept getting bored.

 

I really just failed to understand a conflict early on between Julia and her father that ends up with her going to public school. I could not buy that premise and had a lot of negative feelings and questions as to why this was happening.

 

None of these characters felt particularly well developed to me. There was potential, but from a strange sibling relationship to a forced family dynamic to an almost suicidal friendgroup, all of the connections in this seemed very artificial and unreal. And don't get me started on the John/Julia thing--there was zero substance there. I couldn't get involved.

 

I like the idea of highly-evolved humans, but again, the backstory wasn't developed here and the future story wasn't really either. I think I'd be far more interested in reading about a character set in the future of these people. There was potential for a lot of commentary on the environment and on society, but these were all overlooked. It ultimately came off as having a cult-like feel and I couldn't really root for anyone.

 

There are far more exciting and engaging YA books upcoming that deal with important themes, and I'm not too fond of this one as a stand in for those.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
3.5 Stars
Love is Both Wave and Particle/Paul Cody
Love Is Both Wave and Particle - Paul Cody

This achingly beautiful novel considers how to measure love when it has the power to both save and destroy.

Levon Grady and Samantha Vash are both students at an alternative high school for high-achieving but troubled teens. They have been chosen for a year-long project where they write their life stories and collect interviews from people who know them. The only rule is 100% confidentiality—they will share their work only with each other. What happens will transform their lives.

Told from the perspectives of Levon, Sam, and all the people who know them best, this is a love story infused with science and the exploration of identity. Love Is Both Wave and Particle looks at how love behaves in different situations, and how it can shed light on even the darkest heart.

 

This is one of those books for which you have to roll your eyes a few times and remember that it's YA lit, so it's not necessarily supposed to be realistic sometimes, but if you can get past this, it's a stunner and a great exploration of relationships.

 

The biggest selling point of this one for me was the various interspersed chapters from other perspectives, and the way it felt like it really could be the project of high school seniors. I loved that. I loved the way other people put their opinions on our two main characters in and how these offered intriguing insights.

 

This story does throw you slightly in the deep end, starting off with an ambulance incident which already had my mind whirling with various character names, but I think that this style pays off, and that it's worth getting through the first few chapters and becoming oriented with the direction that it's taking.

 

I think that it could have benefitted by breaking away from the norms a bit more and focusing on the development of other relationships, but perhaps I ask too much.

 

Overall though, if you tend to enjoy multiple narrators or the traditional boy/girl alternating voice, this is a solid story.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Review
4 Stars
A Short History of the Girl Next Door/Jared Reck
A Short History of the Girl Next Door - Jared Reck

This book is worth reading, so go read it, but stop reading reviews because they'll probably spoil something. Don't read the description; it'll spoil something. (Those author comparisons… come on, whoever did jacket copy!) If you like YA, go read it.

 

Okay, that being said, now I will talk about this book in ambiguous terms that jump around the major event that happens a third of the way or so through. No apologies if you're intelligent enough to guess what happens. Here's the blurb:

 

Equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking, this unrequited love story will appeal to fans of Jennifer Niven, John Green, and Jesse Andrews. 
Seriously, how can you see a person nearly every day of your life and never think a thing of it, then all of a sudden, one day, it’s different? You see that goofy grin a thousand times and just laugh. But goofy grin #1,001 nearly stops your heart? 
Right. That sounds like a bad movie already.
Matt Wainwright is constantly sabotaged by the overdramatic movie director in his head. He can’t tell his best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her, he implodes on the JV basketball team, and the only place he feels normal is in Mr. Ellis’s English class, discussing the greatest fart scenes in literature and writing poems about pissed-off candy-cane lumberjacks.
If this were a movie, everything would work out perfectly. Tabby would discover that Matt’s madly in love with her, be overcome with emotion, and would fall into his arms. Maybe in the rain.
But that’s not how it works. Matt watches Tabby get swept away by senior basketball star and all-around great guy Liam Branson. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough, but screwing up and losing her as a friend is even worse. 
After a tragic accident, Matt finds himself left on the sidelines, on the verge of spiraling out of control and losing everything that matters to him. From debut author Jared Reck comes a fiercely funny and heart-wrenching novel about love, longing, and what happens when life as you know it changes in an instant.

 

So this ends up being a premise I've totally thought about in a different fashion--the idea of who is important to you, but how many other people even know that you're important to them? Who has the right to grieve? Who has the agency to speak after certain events? (I told you there'd be spoilers. There's no way to do this.)

 

Matt is lovely and so very real and such a great boy character! Am I the only one who feels like boy characters are often one-dimensional in YA lit? I loved the way he interacted with all of his friends and especially with Tabby, and I loved the way that he dealt with the circumstances and lashed out and was vulnerable and real.

 

While a lot more YA deals with this than proportionally is realistic, I felt like I could see this community reacting and I could see the events playing out. From Matt's parents and family to the way he plays basketball and looks up to his teammates, I felt like Reck had really delved into the personality of every character.

 

This is so much better than All the Bright Places, and I highly recommend it for those who love tragic YA romances.


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
3.5 Stars
The One That Got Away/Melissa Pimentel
The One That Got Away: A Novel - Melissa Pimentel

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren't.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There's barely time for a trip to England for her little sister's wedding. And there's certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can't help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past.

This was a super enjoyable book, but I think it's just got a great premise and was easy to read more than it actually being spectacular in itself.

 

I'm a hopeless romantic (when I'm not busy being a cynic) and I find the idea of one having a true person absolutely magnificent, so the idea of returning to one's true love is absolutely delightful to me, and that really got me through the book. (So should I read Persuasion now? Maybe. Maybe not.)

 

But I couldn't help feeling like I'd read this book before. The characters were all familiar--the overworked New Yorker girl, struggling to find love, the rich husband, the sister in love--but this wasn't necessarily a good thing. It just felt vaguely tired. And formulaic.

 

This is enjoyable and a very easy read, but I could have stepped away halfway through and not felt as though I was missing anything.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review
3.5 Stars
Love and Other Consolation Prizes/Jamie Ford
Love and Other Consolation Prizes: A Novel - Jamie Ford

For twelve-year-old Ernest Young, a charity student at a boarding school, the chance to go to the World's Fair feels like a gift. But only once he's there, amid the exotic exhibits, fireworks, and Ferris wheels, does he discover that he is the one who is actually the prize. The half-Chinese orphan is astounded to learn he will be raffled off--a healthy boy -to a good home.-
The winning ticket belongs to the flamboyant madam of a high-class brothel, famous for educating her girls. There, Ernest becomes the new houseboy and befriends Maisie, the madam's precocious daughter, and a bold scullery maid named Fahn. Their friendship and affection form the first real family Ernest has ever known--and against all odds, this new sporting life gives him the sense of home he's always desired.
But as the grande dame succumbs to an occupational hazard and their world of finery begins to crumble, all three must grapple with hope, ambition, and first love.
Fifty years later, in the shadow of Seattle's second World's Fair, Ernest struggles to help his ailing wife reconcile who she once was with who she wanted to be, while trying to keep family secrets hidden from their grown-up daughters.
Against a rich backdrop of post-Victorian vice, suffrage, and celebration, Love and Other Consolations is an enchanting tale about innocence and devotion--in a world where everything, and everyone, is for sale.

 

I was quite enchanted by the setting of this book and the amount of historical knowledge I gained reading about the World's Fair.

 

Especially as Ernest is an immigrant coming from nothing, Seattle is mystical to read about and I very much enjoyed all of the details of the politics of the time and the influence that various people from different backgrounds had, especially when hypocrisies were exposed and future implications highlighted.

 

The timeline worked quite well. The book is in a manner a mystery, as our view of Ernest's wife flipflops and evolves. One of Ernest's daughters is a journalist which adds a fascinating aspect also. While the meat of the story is in the 1910s, the elements from the present day that are included serve to give the book a little more momentum.

 

I felt like most of the characters had their own motives and desires which made the story all the more intriguing to read. I loved how characters that I thought I would never read about popped up again and grew up in their own manners.

 

At points this was a slow read, but it was solid nonetheless. This book was worth reading simply for the historical aspects and for the way that the World's Fairs were brought to life, and that an intriguing exploration of characters and growing up was included made it even better.

 

To know this was based on a true story makes it all the more charming and romantic.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review
3 Stars
The Other Girl/Erica Spindler
The Other Girl - Erica Spindler

From the NYT bestselling author comes a chilling new thriller about a ritualistic murder of a college professor that sends a small town cop back into the trauma she thought she’d put behind her.

Officer Miranda Rader of the Hammond PD in Louisiana is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis—but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from Jasper, just south of Hammond, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to leave the girl she used to be behind and earn respect in her position as an officer.

However, when Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the gruesomeness of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about a terrible night from her long-buried past. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop, and not just any cop—Clint Wheeler, the cop who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common—except Miranda. 15 years ago.

And when her fingerprints turn up at the scene of the first murder, Miranda once again finds herself under the microscope, her honesty and integrity doubted, her motivations questioned. Alone again, the trust of her colleagues shattered, Miranda must try to trust the instincts she’s pushed down for so long, and decide what’s right—before it’s too late.

 

While this dealt with the important topic of sexual assault and was a quick read, there was nothing in this that really stood out to me from other thrillers.

 

Unlike with other bokos, this one didn't have me on my toes and I was always kind of sure that everything would work out. I mean, 95% of books have everything work out, but normally I'm not entirely sure. Because of that, I never really felt nervous or tense or anxious about how the book would end.

 

This might be because I never really felt connected to Miranda. Sure, she has a tragedy in her backstory and a stubborn personality, but I couldn't quite bring myself to really care about her. The subplot of romance was more a subplot of sex and not something I entirely appreciated, perhaps because I felt like she was settling.

 

I did very much appreciate the statement that the book made about sexual assault and how commonly it goes unreported. Power and influence in the hands of a perpetrator create a serious problem, and this book is not afraid to examine these subjects. This is the biggest strength to the story.

 

This book is worth your time if you're looking for a decent book to fill some time, but it's not one I'll be raving about.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
3.5 Stars
Any Dream Will Do/Debbie Macomber
Any Dream Will Do: A Novel - Debbie Macomber

Shay Benson adored her younger brother, Caden, and that got her into trouble. When he owed money, Shay realized she would do anything to help him avoid the men who were threatening him, and she crossed lines she never should have crossed. Now, determined to start fresh, she finds herself in search of a place to stay and wanders into a church to escape from the cold.

Pastor Drew Douglas adored his wife. But when he lost her, it was all he could do to focus on his two beautiful kids, and his flock came in a distant third. Now, as he too is thinking about a fresh start, he walks through his sanctuary and finds Shay sitting in a pew.

The pair strike up a friendship—Drew helps Shay get back on her feet, and she reignites his sense of purpose—that, over time, turns into something deeper, something soulful, spiritual, and possibly romantic. Even Drew’s two children are taken with this woman who has brought light back into their lives. Perhaps most important, Shay learns to trust again as she, in turn, proves herself trustworthy to her adopted community.

But Caden’s return to town and a disastrous secret threaten to undo the life Shay has tried so hard to rebuild. It will take the utmost courage and faith if she and Drew hope to find healing and open their hearts to a brighter future.

 

Oh, Debbie Macomber.

 

I actually forgot that this was a Debbie Macomber book, having read it on my Kindle app without a cover, and then I got to the end and read an acknowledgement and started laughing because everything about it made so much sense knowing that it was one of hers. I think I've read a previous book in the series, because all of a sudden I recognized characters back and forth, and was very amused.

 

That being said, I think this is one of her better books of the last few--I hadn't been terribly impressed by the last two she's published, but I felt like this one had morals that were far less in-your-face and a really interesting premise.

 

Of course, the characters are overly goody-goody and the actions too picturesque--this IS a Macomber book, after all--but I LOVED that Shay was dealing with coming out of jail and presenting a whole new set of struggles. This was a very uplifting book that I'd quickly recommend to someone needing a dose of hope, and Shay's determination is lovely.

 

There is very little suspense and conflict, and Shay's brother doesn't really drive the plot, but I happily recommend this to Macomber fans!

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review
3 Stars
Emma in the Night/Wendy Walker
Emma in the Night - Wendy   Walker

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

 

The way this ultimately weaved together was fascinating, but ultimately not something I was super excited about.

 

Because the way this book was told was all gearing up for the ending, for the "plot twist," but it didn't really make the rest of the book that interesting to read. I was intrigued, yes, but I picked up a couple of other books while reading this and probably would have forgotten it had I not been reading to review.

 

This was another book were the details were quite clever and the way that they were strung together to create a picture was done well. I think perhaps I'm over having something at the end be a big reveal and then having all those details explained. I didn't feel like Walker had much respect for the reader in thinking that they could put pieces together.

 

Walker has strong concepts and I'll look out for her next book, but this one didn't quite do it for me.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
3.5 Stars
Emerald Coast/Anita Hughes
Emerald Coast: A Novel - Anita Hughes

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Anita Hughes's Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.

Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.

Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.

Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

 

This had some fun twists of romance to it, and definitely had a love story I wanted to support. I actually really enjoyed the setting in that I love hearing about rich people things and hating on what they do. The premise, also, was delicious--what a terrifically awful situation!

 

The characters could have come from any novel and I was never left wondering how the ending would ultimately play our, yet none the less, this was enjoyable. This isn't the most poignant, but was a lovely beach read.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
3 Stars
Mrs. FletcherTom Perrotta
Mrs. Fletcher - Tom Perrotta

From the bestselling author of The Leftovers and Little Children comes a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity on the frontlines of America’s culture wars.

Eve Fletcher is trying to figure out what comes next. A forty-six-year-old divorcee whose beloved only child has just left for college, Eve is struggling to adjust to her empty nest when one night her phone lights up with a text message. Sent from an anonymous number, the mysterious sender tells Eve, “U R my MILF!” Over the months that follow, that message comes to obsess Eve. While leading her all-too-placid life—serving as Executive Director of the local senior center by day and taking a community college course on Gender and Society at night—Eve can’t curtail her own interest in a porn website called MILFateria.com, which features the erotic exploits of ordinary, middle-aged women like herself. Before long, Eve’s online fixations begin to spill over into real life, revealing new romantic possibilities that threaten to upend her quiet suburban existence.

Meanwhile, miles away at the state college, Eve’s son Brendan—a jock and aspiring frat boy—discovers that his new campus isn’t nearly as welcoming to his hard-partying lifestyle as he had imagined. Only a few weeks into his freshman year, Brendan is floundering in a college environment that challenges his white-dude privilege and shames him for his outmoded, chauvinistic ideas of sex. As the New England autumn turns cold, both mother and son find themselves enmeshed in morally fraught situations that come to a head on one fateful November night.

Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.

 

This book was not at all what I was expecting, I'll give it that, but it was definitely entertaining.

 

It presented a very sex-positive attitude, which is refreshing to see. No, Mrs. Fletcher does not need any man to have a good time, and nor should she! I really loved that in contrast to a lot of stories about divorced women that are just out looking for another bang. I can't say I loved the explicitness at times, as sex scenes in general make me uncomfortable, but I appreciate that they were there and existed as they should.

 

I think the aspect I was most intrigued by was Mrs. Fletcher's son and the relationship he ends up having. Maybe that's because I relate more, both age-wise and personality-wise.

Brendan is kind of a jerk, but ends up having a little bit of a thing with a super activist, who resents herself for being attracted to him despite the privilege he obviously comes from. This dynamic was something that I thought could have merited its own exploration.

 

This gave an interesting perspective and I really appreciate all of the sex-positivity that it presented, but it was rather strange, and I'm not really sure that I liked it terribly much. It just seemed to be running in circles at points with no necessary conclusion.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review
4 Stars
Best Intentions/Erika Raskin
Best Intentions: A Novel - Erika Raskin

Marti Trailor is a mother of three, a New York congressman’s daughter, and wife to a successful obstetrician. Tired of playing the dutiful stay-at-home mom, she jumps at the opportunity to return to her stalled career as a hospital social worker. The catch? The job is at the same hospital where her husband works, and the doctor is not so keen. As Marti gets enmeshed in the world of the hospital—long hours, overworked doctors, entrenched and dangerous politics—she witnesses something that she cannot unsee. Marti takes it upon herself to do the right thing. But the right thing comes with unintended consequences, and before she even has time to plead innocence, Marti finds herself thrust under a dangerous spotlight. Peeling back the layers of one woman’s precipitous journey from stay-at-home mom to murder trial defendant, Best Intentions is Erika Raskin’s sophomore gem, a domestic mystery set against a captivating emotional backdrop.

 

So this book took me quite a while to get into, but then stopped me from sleeping all night because I was so stressed about what would happen...

 

This story is fabulous because Marti is a mother first and foremost and the love that she feels for her three kids is so passionate and so real that I was feeling incredibly protective of each of them. I also love the way she navigates the work place and the people she interacts with there as well as how she maintains relationships with close friends, with her family, and with her in-laws--the latter more challenging than the others.

 

I loved the trial, also. I guess though I've recently been devouring everything suspense, I've never read anything set in an actual court with a trial going on. I found the back and forth between the witnesses and the prosecutor/defender to be snappy and witty and I could very much envision it all coming together.

 

The entire political situation and the dynamics of the workplace were legitimately fascinating and probably raise some real world issues. I'll be passing this one on to my mum, who works as a nurse, to see what she thinks, but I was appalled by the situation and how overworked residents were. The family dynamics also stunk and I loved reading about them and seeing how they evolved.

 

It did take me a good third of the book to really start caring about anyone and to get invested. The ending felt a little sudden and I had to reread a bit to make sure I hadn't missed something. The middle, however, had me reading quickly and on the edge of my bed with my need to know what would happen. Sometimes the way that the flashforwards worked were also a little bit confusing, but common sense solved this.

 

If you're interested in nursing, social work, or court, or just enjoy good suspense novels, this will be right up your alley.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
2 Stars
In 27 Days/Alison Gervais
In 27 Days - Alison Gervais

Hadley Jamison is shocked when she hears that her classmate, Archer Morales, has committed suicide. She didn’t know the quiet, reserved guy very well, but that doesn’t stop her from feeling there was something she could have done to help him. Hoping to find some sense of closure, Hadley attends Archer’s funeral. There, Hadley is approached by a man who calls himself Death and offers her a deal. If Hadley accepts, she will be sent back 27 days in time to prevent Archer from killing himself. But when Hadley agrees to Death’s terms and goes back to right the past, she quickly learns her mission is harder than she ever could have known.

Hadley soon discovers Archer’s reasons for being alone, and Archer realizes that having someone to confide in isn’t as bad as he’d always thought. But when a series of dangerous accidents starts pushing them apart, Hadley must decide whether she is ready to risk everything—including her life—to keep Archer safe.

From award-winning Wattpad author Alison Gervais (HonorInTheRain) comes In 27 Days, a story of redemption, first love, and the strength it takes to change the future.

 

Oh, what a brilliant premise, what a fascinating topic, and what an ultimately mediocre book, I am sad to say.

 

Death was a character! There was another villain! And they both felt like caricatures and left more unresolved questions. I couldn't suspend disbelief because I was too busy saying "Really?" and pointing out holes.

 

I really disliked Hadley. She had parent problems, but I felt like these and the way that she just adopted Archer's family, though sweet, felt manipulative even to me. I wish she had had more of her own personality, or had maintained her old friendships, or had any attribute other than being a vessel for the story to happen.

 

I am extremely critical of books dealing with mental illness these days, having concluded that the simple addition of resources can go a far way. I felt like this treatment was very superficial, and like there was no real look into the deeper implications of Archer's mental health and bigger solutions. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, everything's great again. Yay.

 

Though I really wish I could, I cannot honestly recommend this book.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review
3 Stars
The Goddesses: A Novel - Swan Huntley

When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy's husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana's hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana—skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she's ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her. A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

 

This could be classified as an adult coming of age book in a way, and was quite strange.

 

I was expecting more magical realism, but this was far more psychological than anything else. I wanted it to be more of a thriller, and I think it could have succeeded more if it embraced this category over women's fiction.

 

The fascinating look at a sort of mid-life crisis going on was quite poignant, and the best part about this book was definitely seeing how Nancy's relationship with her husband evolved in relation to her own space in the world.

 

The end made the book worth it, and the sort of sad feeling, but the lack of regret (to be ambiguous without spoiling) added more of an honest note to the novel.

 

Overall, though, this book felt wondering, and I couldn't quite get absorbed into why I should care about what was going on.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
5 Stars
Nyxia/Scott Reintgen
Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad) - Scott Reintgen

Emmett Atwater isn't just leaving Detroit; he's leaving Earth. Why the Babel Corporation recruited him is a mystery, but the number of zeroes on their contract has him boarding their lightship and hoping to return to Earth with enough money to take care of his family.

Forever.

Before long, Emmett discovers that he is one of ten recruits, all of whom have troubled pasts and are a long way from home. Now each recruit must earn the right to travel down to the planet of Eden--a planet that Babel has kept hidden--where they will mine a substance called Nyxia that has quietly become the most valuable material in the universe.

But Babel's ship is full of secrets. And Emmett will face the ultimate choice: win the fortune at any cost, or find a way to fight that won't forever compromise what it means to be human.

 

OHMYGOODNESS this book was 10/10 and I am so in love and I need the sequel now and you need to read it now.

 

It's kind of like Divergent meets Ender's Game, and if anyone loved the Remnants series as much as I did, I have a feeling the sequels could have the same amount of philosophy.

 

And I could not put it down.

 

So nyxia is a substance found on another planet that can be manipulated in many ways, and that gives this book a fantastical element. But a realistically fantastical element. Like sci-fi with a bit of magical realism thrown in. It makes for a really unique plot that, though it incorporated elements of other books I've loved, was different to anything I've read before in many ways.

 

But the characters are really what sell this book. I am in love with each and every character because I feel like I got to know them all and they are all so very human and flawed and perfect and real. And there was such a variety, too! I do wish that some had been fleshed out more, but I felt like there was respect given to each of the different cultures that were represented as well. Even the medics in this book have their own stories and purposes.

 

I was especially enamoured with Morning and with Kaya. Oh, and Bilal--finally, an accurate representation of Middle Eastern culture casually in a book. The least interesting character was Emmett, our main character, but I love him anyway. His self-doubt and self-determination and adoration of his family made him a really easy narrator to follow beside.

 

The book has a futuristic element to it that gives Earth more intrigue too, and I loved elements such as music that were incorporated into it. I loved the commentary on healthcare and on money and on morals.

 

This is an excellent book. If you've ever enjoyed sci-fi or YA, I 100% recommend it. If you haven't, I still recommend it. Though maybe wait until the sequels are out so that you don't have to deal with a cliffhanger! :)

Review
3 Stars
Are You Sleeping/Kathleen Barber
Are You Sleeping - Kathleen L. Barber

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father's murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

 

This was fine. This was solid. This was unexceptional, but enjoyable.

 

If there had been more backstory to this, it might have been more captivating. I felt like the characters were pretty bland and needed some salt. Josie especially. She's gone and changed her name, completely reinvented herself. I want to know how this went about. I want to see her changing and know if that was hard for her. But we're kind of just thrown in the middle of things. I never quite understood why she couldn't forgive or at least talk to her sister.

 

I also felt like the women were angsty all the time and completely fell into a trope of being unstable. Her boyfriend, Caleb, could have made them angsty and could have caused a lot of conflict, but he and Josie just travel places and sometimes raise their voices a little but for the most part, skate by without the realistic drama I wanted to read about.

 

However, despite my issues with characterization, this was a pretty easy read and I enjoyed it all the way through. The podcasts were a lot of fun--I understand why so many people across the nation were captivated by them and drawn in.

 

There was a lot of telling to this story and I never quite felt very actively involved, which is a shame, because the plot was interesting enough and there was a pretty big mystery that should have had me flipping pages furiously.

 

If you're looking for a solid okay, this has a cool premise. If you want extraordinary characters, go somewhere else.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review
5 Stars
The Marriage Pact/Michelle Richmond
The Marriage Pact: A Novel - Michelle Richmond

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?

Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.

The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

 

Five stars. I'm sold. This book got me through and through. Go read it. Now.

 

I got ten percent into this one and thought to myself, "Wow!" I was intrigued. I needed to keep reading. It was a good thing that I was on a plane and thus able to tune out the rest of the world because this book drew me in and kept me there the whole way.

 

But at the same time that I'm telling you to read this, please don't. It's chilling. It's frightful. It's dreadful. It made me physically uncomfortable. (It definitely did not help the plane seat.) I felt so uncomfortable reading this because I dreaded what was to come--it was scary, though in a psychological sense, and I found myself fearing. I definitely shuddered out loud because of this book. I definitely closed it and told myself I'd stop, just to pick it up a few minutes later.

 

The plot is fabulous. I was still thinking about this book a few days later, and have already detailed it enthusiastically to two non-readers. I'm disappointed that I have to wait until it's released to go and tell everyone to read it. The ending did get a little bit hard to believe, but never realistic because the entire book had set it up to be so. It wasn't until after finishing this that I actually realised that it was so.

 

The detailing of this was very real. As someone who grew up in San Francisco, I fully vouch for this book. The details it provided were all believable and it contributed to how real this book was--I could see it taking place in the streets I used to walk down, which was a lot of fun. Jake and Alice additionally were interesting and real characters. Jake's job working as a therapist really made his outlooks interesting and I enjoyed all his thoughts about what made a good marriage and in relation to both kids and adults.

 

It was so clear how much he loved and respected Alice, too. I think everyone in a successful relationship has wondered why their partner is with them or questioned if the other person actually loves them back. Though Jake's tone could be clinical, I really believed his passion for multi-faceted Alice.

 

This is a must-read.

 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.