Category Archives: book review

Seeking Mansfield

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Image Courtesy of Goodreads.

*I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

2.5/5 stars (I rounded it up to 3).

This book started off with a good premise that I was genuinely absorbed in.
I love modern retellings of Classics so this book was right up my alley. The book is told from 2 perspectives (Finley & Oliver’s) chapter by chapter.

The book overall felt so stilted and almost unfinished. The initial chemistry between Finley and Oliver was there but then it just petered out. As a reader, I was never really given an explanation as to Oliver’s (alleged) deep love for Finley until at least halfway through. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really him loving her but was more-so him wanting to be Finn’s knight in shining armor. He says multiple times throughout the book that he wanted Finn to think for herself and give her own opinions, all the while pushing his own perspective. Also, a  lot could have been resolved had they both just spoken to one another like normal people.

On top of that, Harlan seemed like a genuinely caring character and his fatal flaw and subsequent actions were kind of out of left field. I actually thought that this book was going in a different direction where Finn realizes that this “stranger” who is only in Chicago for a small while is the breath of fresh air she needs. I like that they didn’t have “instalove” and she actually disliked him after first meeting him. But they both sort of won each other over unintentionally.

*Spoilers Ahead*
The one huge thing that I disliked was that after the play being shown, the book felt like a roller coaster ride and I swear I got whiplash from how quickly Harlan changed from a supportive boyfriend to being clingy and attention hungry. It just made no sense.
He was truly there for Finley when she needed him & it was because of his support that she was able to confront her mother’s past abuses towards her. But somehow, especially in Oliver’s point of view, he was still the bad guy for doing so? Because Finley was apparently (not verbatim) too “pure and innocent” to confront someone that hurt her physically and gave her PTSD that she still suffers from?
Please shoot me a message if you can make any sense of that.
And for him to go from “I actually don’t drink but that’s just my tabloid persona” to “I will get drunk off my behind and hook up with this girl because I was upset once” was just mind boggling. Another thing that confused me was how he was somehow made out to be the villain for helping Finley out with her Mansfield pre-interview. He knew he had the right connections to help his girlfriend out and was only trying to help her.

Another thing I massively disliked was the Oliver + Emma storyline. I actually felt bad for Emma because Oliver kept pining over Finley like a lovesick puppy, and it felt like he was using Emma at times. Not only that, but the bizarre scene where he overhears Harlan admit to his sister, Emma, that he only tried to win over Finn for a bet might as well have not been included because it went nowhere. I understand that they were trying to show that he wasn’t actually a good guy but it just felt so disjointed and randomly threw in for the sake of extra drama.

The worst part was when Harlan cheats on Finley with Juliette, Oliver’s sister. That honestly came out of nowhere and left the reader going “surely this must be an editing error?” I have several points with this 1)The character of Juliette was laughably bad. She was more like a cartoon villain than an actual person. Even terrible people have 1 redeeming quality but other than snark and insulting Finley whenever she got the chance, she had no other personality trait. A cardboard cutout would have been a better choice than her character. 2) Even after hooking up with Harlan, she has zero remorse. She actually accuses Finley of stealing him from her, despite the fact that she was in a relationship at the time.  3)And her “punishment” for that level of betrayal was something that belonged on a Teenage Sitcom, honestly.

And Nora. Oh boy. If it was possible to have someone be completely callous and somehow worse than Juliette, she was that character. This woman was more like the evil stepmother in Cinderella than a fleshed out character who was (possibly) a lawyer? She was just completely vindictive towards a 17-year-old kid and it kind of blew me away that not one person in that family (especially Oliver who was supposed to be so astute and observant) noticed her vitriol towards Finley OR the few times they did notice her snarkiness, they just turned a blind eye to it?
And somehow Finley still picks Oliver over Harley. Why?
*End of Spoilers*

Overall, I’d say it was a quick and easy read (the only reason it took me as long as it did was because of work) but I think it definitely could have used some tweaks to make it flow better. And while I do understand that this was a modern retelling, Harlan deserved better than he got for his character.

Much Love and Literature,

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

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Image courtesy of Goodreads.com

To all the Boys I’ve Loved Before was just the unexpected feel-good book I needed to read. I started this with trepidation since I’d read some not-so-favorable reviews about it but honestly, it was such an adorable book that I had a hard time putting it down.

The family dynamics were really different in this and refreshing, even. Yes, the 3 sisters fought and had their struggles, but it was never over the top or completely unrealistic.

And I loved Peter and really disliked Josh. Peter was the unexpected hero of the story to me. His charm had me actually smiling while reading the book, and I can honestly say that I wanted him and Lara Jean to actually end up together way more than Josh. Josh just seemed selfish to me. Like he wanted to have his cake and eat it too.
His relationship with Margot and then the confusion with Lara Jean (especially given ~the big reveal~ with him and Margot)  just never sat well with me.

Even the character of the younger sister, Kitty, was precocious without being annoying or dumbed down.

I know that this is a fairly short review but I’d easily give this a 4 out of 5 stars. This is a perfect lazy Sunday or Summer Beachtime read and I’m looking forward to reading P.S. I Still Love You soon.

My favorite heart melting quote from this had to be: “Margot would say she belongs to herself. Kitty would say she belongs to no one. And I guess I would say I belong to my sisters and my dad, but that won’t always be true. To belong to someone—I didn’t know it, but now that I think about, it seems like that’s all I’ve ever wanted. To really be somebody’s, and to have them be mine.”
Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Much Love and Literature,

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The Collector by John Fowles

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I was given this book from a friend and am so grateful for it (because books are the way to my heart, honestly).

With that being said, let me just say that I tried to like this book. I really did. But I could not bring myself to truly enjoy the book despite its content.

I’ve read macabre books (such as Strings) before so I’m no stranger to psychological horror. (Side note: Possible review for Strings coming soon since it really shook me).

The Collector started off slow but really picked up pace about a chapter in and I didn’t want to put it down. The narrator, Frederick Clegg, was clearly not just unreliable but a madman and a stalker to boot. Reading about his descent into further madness & eventual kidnapping of Miranda was shocking but still kept me turning the pages. Said unreliability was shown where he was so adamant that he would never assault her yet he took what he claimed to be “artsy” photographs of her. There was never any outright brutality (thank goodness) but it was heavily implied. I was rooting for Miranda to knock Clegg unconscious and escape somehow, especially in the first half.

The 2nd half was where the book lost me and I really struggled to continue reading.
While I felt a lot of pity for the character of Miranda, the writing style that Fowles switched to halfway through was both confusing and an outright struggle to read. I’m normally a speed-reader but the lack of proper quotations had me re-reading portions a few times just to understand who said what.

*Spoilers Ahead*

While I did sympathize with Miranda, I didn’t like her character at all. She was arrogant, selfish, and constantly patronized anyone she crossed paths with. (Needless to say, Clegg deserved any and all attitude and fighting he received from Miranda. I also liked her strength in that she didn’t give him the satisfaction of calling him by his name but referred to him as Caliban instead. And his utter mediocrity and banality were referred to as “calibanity” to further insult him).
I did feel a bit of pity for her in terms of her on and off again lover, G.P. He reflected her own arrogance in that he would constantly serve to remind her that he was so much more ~world-weary~ only because he was considerably older than her. They almost seemed like a good fit in that sense.
But, again, the writing and her annoying tone-of-voice completely threw me off.

The one redeeming factor was the tiny last portion where it switched the narrator back to Clegg. It sucked me in once again, and the tension and uncomfortable environment created when he chickened out of bringing a doctor to Miranda was almost palpable.

One would think that he felt an iota of guilt over being the reason that Miranda died (which was painful to read) but once he read her secret diary, he felt nothing which proved exactly how unstable he was. The last sentence where he begins plotting another kidnapping had my mouth just drop open. I didn’t expect that at all.
*End of Spoilers*

I would have to ultimately give this book a 2 out of 5 stars. Had it strictly been in Clegg’s perspective, this could have possibly received a higher rating. But the frustration and annoyance while reading the 2nd half was just not worth it. Even if you are into psychological thrillers, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this. A real life thriller I would recommend is Who Killed My Daughter by Lois Duncan. It’s tragic, heartbreaking reading about Lois’ loss, and will keep you guessing beyond the last page as to who did it.

 

Much Love and Literature,

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Seeds of Eden

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(photo & ARC courtesy of netgalley.com)

*I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

 

Seeds of Eden was my first ARC (advanced reader copy) so I was quite excited to start my ARC-review journey with it. And yes, I have zero shame in admitting that I enjoy YA fiction even as an adult.

The premise blurb on the site about this book seemed quite promising. It even reminded me a tiny bit of The Wrath and the Dawn with all of its intrigue. (Review for that is coming soon). There was a strong female character and a not-quite-hero that grew to be more. Even their relationship had a slow culmination which was a nice change of pace. And that is where the similarities end.

**Some Spoilers Ahead**

Let’s talk about the good first: The Biblical characters twist was an interesting spin on religion and even reincarnation. I thought that the spin on Evey being who she was was quite interesting and a unique concept. I also liked that when presented the truth about her life, Evey wasn’t just ready to go fighting in a blaze of glory. Nope. She cried and was heartbroken over her loss. She questioned nearly everything  she was told and even found it hard to believe at times (which was completely understandable given her past.)

Another thing I enjoyed was the lack of insta-love. Sure, she thought Conrad was cute but it wasn’t in an “the earth stopped” kind of way. Her wondering why she had dreamed about him actually made sense.

However, with that being said, we now come to the bad:  Conrad’s semi-persistence in pursuing Evey was incredibly annoying. Yes, I get that he had loved her for a long time but what started off as non-insta-love unfortunately transformed into something quite similar to it. The “love” between Evey and Conrad lacked chemistry. Conrad’s initial attraction to Evey seemed more based on who she actually was and that “pull” she had on everyone that actually him being drawn to her as a person. Not just that, but the emotional tug-of-war that they pulled with poor Helen was so immature and high-school-like that I had to remind myself that I was, in fact, reading YA. (Not that YA books all have that love triangle plot mess.)

The general character that was Aden was a bit lackluster to me given that he was mostly spoken about in 80% of the novel and his very short appearance in the final portion of the book was downright confusing. He just flip-flopped too much for my taste. And yes, I get that Evey has this ~magical~ hold on people but why was that hold only in private for Aden?
How could a man that had loved Evey for so long want to destroy the only family she’s known? (Even his hatred towards Conrad was a bit understandable, given his level of betrayal, but not towards the rest of them that were protecting Evey.)

*End of Possible Spoilers*

Overall, I’d give this book a solid 2.5 out of 5 stars. The reason being that while the beginning and middle were strong, well written, and kept me interested, the ending fell so flat for me. It was too much wish fulfillment (Armani gowns? Honestly?) and too little plot progression to the point where I kind of wanted Aden to win. Everything about the ending was just so rushed. It was almost as if the author remembered that this book was about to end so everything went to hell in a handbasket for our protagonist. And fast.

Even though it ended on a cliffhanger (not a spoiler since the book establishes that it’s part of a series), I’m unfortunately not really interested in reading any more about these characters.

However, if you’re a younger reader or a general fan of more romance-y YA, this might just be your cup of tea.

 

Much Love and Literature,

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The Children’s Home

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(photo courtesy of Simon and Schuster).

This book had so much promise and such a fascinating premise that I couldn’t help but snap it up at my local library from the new book section.

The beginning had the perfect ingredients for a gothic-esque mystery. A disfigured man, Morgan Fletcher, isolated in a house with only a housekeeper to keep him company. A mysterious group of children appearing at his doorstep one by one. A physician that slowly becomes a part of his and the children’s life. Sounds intriguing, right?

Yeah. Not so much.

*Spoiler Alert for the rest of the book*.

The first several chapters were engrossing and had me sucked in. I wanted to know more of the mystery surrounding Morgan and what caused his disfigurement and subsequent isolation. When the children of various ages began showing up at the house, I didn’t want to put down the book. Even the doctors presence after one of the children got ill had me turning the pages.

When the Social Workers showed up and the children essentially made themselves invisible to them, I thought for sure that the book would only get better.

Unfortunately, it only went downhill from there.

It transformed from a mystery to a mess so quickly.

When the ~major spoiler~ truth was revealed that Morgan’s horrific injuries were a result of his mother throwing acid on him followed by her ingesting it herself (not necessarily an accident as it was initially portrayed) I was aghast and also disappointed. She was an extreme manipulator that simply could not let go of her son and destroyed his life in the process. It was a cruel and vindictive act. Not an accident of fate.

The mystery surrounding the children also turned lackluster fairly quickly. Many things were never elaborated on such as: The fact that Moira never ages. (None of the children do). The bizarre mask given by David that Morgan could only use a handful of times to alter his appearance and voice to what they used to be, the factory visit to ultimately fight against…something(?), the sudden meeting with Morgan’s sister which didn’t result in much. It was as if everything had to be discussed but not explained?
And it’s not like a sequel was written to go into further detail–this was a standalone novel. The ending seemed so rushed and almost forced by the author just to have something to complete it, but it felt empty.
The children were revealed to be ghosts (or something similar) but also had some semblance of powers? It honestly was a mish-mash of theories and ideas that ultimately made no sense.

Final thoughts (spoiler free):

Given that this downhill slide starts a bit after the halfway mark of the book, I would give this a 1.5/5 stars. I was just incredibly underwhelmed and even bored at times. I can honestly say that I spent the latter part of the book saying out loud “this is so stupid.”

I definitely wouldn’t recommend it as a read unless you happen to be really into boring and semi-senseless novels.

 

Much Love & Literature,

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Finally. My first book review on here.

I wanted my very first review to be my favorite book of all time; but after finishing this today, I figured that I’d give that honor to the book that truly pulled me out of the book slump (readers block?) I was in for the past several months.

Sure, I’d read some books here and there but nothing that made me go “Okay wow. I need to start binge reading again”–until this novel.

Since this is my 1st post I just want to let my readers know of my planned layout. I’m thinking of posting the cover of the novel, the review itself (which will be detailed and have spoilers after a spoiler warning) followed by some quotes that were my favorites. What do you guys think? Do let me know in the comment section!

So here we go with my premiere review. : )

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The Girl on the Train was an incredibly dark and gritty novel. The protagonist, Rachel, who is unreliable to put it mildly, was frustrating to deal with initially.

Her constant drunkenness was beyond agitating to read about but it also was incredibly relevant to the plot and the issues she had with her memory later in the novel.

The story starts off a bit slow but then picked up pace pretty quickly. By the time the first 1/4 of the book was read, I really didn’t want to put it down.

SPOILER ALERT AHEAD:

As frustrating as her drunken states were, you really couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for her mid-way into the book. As the reader, you could see how much it impacted and ruined so many aspects of her life. Little did she know that it would end up being a blessing in disguise (of sorts).

Initially she came off as woman who was controlled by her addiction. But her character development was pretty well written. It was plausible and realistic. No one with that level of alcoholism would just turn a 180. It takes time and I like that that is shown with Rachel. Her own frustration at her blackouts was very palpable and even painful to read about at times.  When she finally starts to gain her memory and realizes the truth, that was just painful to read. You can’t help but feel truly bad for what she’s been through with Tom.

On that note, the fact that Tom ended up using her fragility to manipulate her, especially because she often got drunk to the point of not remembering was a shocker.  He was a sociopath that found his equal in Anna. I’m still not exactly convinced of her motives. There is a huge difference in a woman protecting her family at all costs and a woman who misses being a mistress and is willing to ruin the life and reputation of her now-husbands ex-wife. And Anna easily was in that 2nd category. Albeit, Tom manipulated her to an extent as well, he knew the kind of person she was on the inside and it echoed in the kinds of lies he told her compared to the ones he told to Rachel. Initially I felt bad for Anna, but that quickly turned to disdain once her inner monologue started up. She was just as vicious and manipulative as Tom was.

Scott ended up being a pawn in this book but he definitely had a darker side to him that wasn’t quite fleshed out. I feel that his character could have had more substance to him other than the distant man who may or may not be guilty of a horrendous crime.

The plot twist of who Megs’ killer was really threw me for a loop. My only complaint is that the ending felt so rushed. Everything was slowly building up and when the ending actually happened, it was as though someone had hit fast forward to just quickly summarize it all.

This book could have easily had 2-3 more chapters to really get to the meat of it all.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this hitchcockian flavored thriller.

I want to do 5 star reviews (to work easily with Goodreads) and I’d like to give this book 4/5 stars. It’s a great read for anyone that has long public transportation commutes and/or just a lazy Saturday to knock a book off their reading list. If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn or just dark and modern novels, I highly recommend this book.

Some of my favorite quotes from it are:

“The familiarity isn’t just in my head; it’s in my bones; it’s muscle memory.”

“He never understood that it’s possible to miss what you’ve never had, to mourn for it.”

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it (…) the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

And that is it. My 1st review.

Please please let me know what you thought of it and any changes i can make to the format/layout/writing/etc. I’m all ears and want to make sure that my readers have a pleasant experience with this!

Much Love and Literature,

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