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Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, LGBT, romance

Book Review: The Guncle by Steven Rowley

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“Grief orbits the heart. Some days the circle is greater. Those are the good days. You have room to move and dance and breathe. Some days the circle is tighter. Those are the hard ones.”

Patrick’s sister-in-law and friend, Sara, dies and his brother has to go to rehab for addiction and convinces Patrick to take the children back with him from the funeral to Palm Springs for 3 months while he takes care of his addiction. At first Patrick is very hesitant. Yes, he loves his niece and nephew but in short bursts. He’s fine handling them for weekend long visits with their mother or when he flies back to Connecticut to see his family but being their primary guardian for 90 days alone seems nuts to him.

Patrick has no idea what to expect – he’s been dealing with the loss of the love of his life in a car accident for years and doesn’t think he’s the right person to guide his niece and nephew through their grief when he hasn’t even handled his yet. With humor and a lot of heart, Rowley leads his readers through a journey of grief and family.

I really enjoyed this one. I think most of the characters were very likeable (except Patrick’s sister, yeesh, talk about overreacting to things). I especially liked GUP (Gay Uncle Patrick). I like that they made Patrick a super likable person whose vices and excesses never came before his own niece and nephew. It was easy to find his shenanigans cute and funny because you knew he would never do anything purposely to endanger the kids’ lives. Patrick used to be a famous movie star who was in a popular TV show that made lots of money (a la Friends) and after it ended, he moved out of LA to Palm Springs and stopped socializing with anyone but his gay throuple neighbors.

Even though this book is light hearted and funny, it deals with grief and death in a very real way. Rowley does not at all shy away from the hard parts of losing someone you love. Patrick is very determined to make sure the kids mourn and are able to talk about their mother in an open way, without pressuring them to snap out of it. Patrick even hopes that their kid resilience will be a way for him to mourn Sara too but he soon finds out that he would have to be the adult in this situation and show them a way to grieve in a healthy way. To do that, Patrick is forced to deal with the loss of the love of his life in a tangible way instead of the avoidance game he’s been playing with himself for years.

At some point while reading this book, I had to google – “Is Steven Rowley gay?” because this character would seem super stereotypical and offensive if it wasn’t another gay man writing this. Thankfully, he is gay and all my apprehensions vanished. This is my first Rowley book and I definitely will be picking up his backlist titles especially when I am going through one+ of my reading slumps. This book was utterly delightful and funny and I recommend it. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction

2 For 1 Review: The Henna Artist & The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi

ANovelPage reviews… – and in other news

THE HENNA ARTIST – Book 1

“There were three kinds of karma: the accumulated karma from all our past lives; the karma we created in this life; and the karma we stored to ripen in our future lives.”

It’s the 50’s in Jaipur, India, 17 year old Lakshmi has just escaped an abusive marriage and become a henna artist amongst many things. To make up for the shame she put on her family for leaving her marriage, Lakshmi is determined to have a better life. She is building a house to have her parents come live with her and be comfortable. Lakshmi’s clientele are the the wealthy, upper class and they sometimes confide in her. Playing the long game, Lakshmi keeps their secret as well as hers knowing that it would ruin everything she has built.

Everything comes crashing down when her ex-husband tracks her down and brings with him a surprise – Lakshmi has a younger sister named Radha. Lakshmi reorganizes her life to include her sister, who comes with a bunch of trouble and threatens to upend everything Lakshmi has worked for.

The book started out slow but once you get past the introductions, it quickly found its way and we begin to live in Lakshmi’s world. Joshi does a good job of portraying Lakshmi’s resilience and determination. Lakshmi quite simply does what needs to be done to survive. I was not a fan of her sister and found her quite unlikable but I had to keep reminding myself that she was just 13.

I enjoyed learning a lot about India and its history. I also appreciated how much research Joshi had to have put into this. One of Lakshmi’s many jobs including providing medical care with herbal and natural medicines. Joshi was very detailed in the many cures mentioned in the book and I was fascinated. I did this on audio and the narrator was FANTASTIC. Her voice was so soothing. Finding out the inspiration for this book was the author trying to reimagine what her mother’s life would have been like if she hadn’t been forced into an arranged marriage was a nice tid-bit to know. I highly recommend this book.

THE SECRET KEEPER OF JAIPUR – Book 2

He says you must be able to discern the intensity of a customer’s desire by looking into their eyes. That will tell you what to show, what to hold back, and how much the customer is willing to part with.”

The second book in this series continues 12 years later, Lakshmi is now married to one of the characters in Book 1 (I won’t spoil it for you), Radha is now living in France with her husband and two kids and Lakshmi’s protégé, Malik is now 20 years old and grown. Lakshmi and Malik now live in Shimla and she sends him back to Jaipur to learn the real estate trade and to keep him out of trouble on the streets. Before Malik leaves, he falls in love with Nimmie, a young tribal widow with two kids who is illiterate. Lakshmi isn’t exactly pleased about this and the two have some friction as they subconsciously compete for Malik’s time.

The book follows two stories. One in Shimla, when Nimmie discovers illegal gold being trafficked through the sheep in the mountains and in Jaipur when the newly constructed Royal Theater where Malik is doing his apprenticeship, collapses. We watch the two navigate their way out of trouble with the help of Lakshmi, of course.

While I enjoyed this sequel, I still preferred The Henna Artist. I think this is understandable as Book 2 wouldn’t have the same effect as being introduced to new characters. At the same time, it was nice revisiting characters that we have met and know. Joshi does a good job of writing this book in a way where it could be read as a stand alone and you’d still know what was going on. There was a brief summary and the only difference is Book 1 gives a lot of context.

Even though I found her unlikeable in Book 1, I was surprised to find that I was a tad disappointed that Radha was barely mentioned but I suspect that she will be in the final book of this trilogy. I know I swore off trilogies but I will be rounding this one out and looking forward to it. Not surprisingly, this has been optioned in Hollywood and will be starring Frieda Pinto.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, scifi, Uncategorized

Book Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

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“I penetrated the outer cell membrane with a nanosyringe.”
“You poked it with a stick?”
“No!” I said. “Well. Yes. But it was a scientific poke with a very scientific stick.”

The Martian was one of my favorite books the year it was released. It was the only science fiction book that had ever made me cry until this one. Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma and realizes that he’s in a spaceship but he doesn’t know why or how he got on one. He’s in what looks like a hospital room with two other people who are dead. He doesn’t even remember his own name and doesn’t know what he does for a living. As his memories fuzzily return, he pieces together what he’s doing on a spaceship.

The sun is dying because an organism (astrophage) is feasting on its energy. On one hand, the scientific community is excited at the discovery of an actual live organism in space but on the other hand, if astrophage keeps up its activities, earth is going to go back into another ice age which will result in the immediate death of 50% of the population plus multiple wars for the earth’s remaining resources. Alone on this ship that has been built with the resources of every country on earth, by the best minds the earth has to offer and staffed with volunteers that know that they’re going on a suicide journey to save earth, Grace has to figure out why this organism is affecting the earth’s star but not affecting Venus’.

Project Hail Mary is ridiculously imaginative and funny with amazing emotional payoff that you wouldn’t expect to get from a science fiction book. I think the best thing about Weir’s writing is because he’s an actual scientist and was for years before he ever wrote The Martian, his science writing always sounds plausible. I’m not an astronaut and yes, a lot of things in this book obviously hasn’t been invented but I think he creates enough of a situation where this would be the ideal ecosystem for the ramping up of science inventions and discoveries. If humans were to actually make this journey, it’d have to be pretty close. Also, you don’t have to pay attention to the actual science. As long as you get the gist of the stakes, you can relax and enjoy your reading experience. All you need to know is the world would be doomed if Grace doesn’t figure out how to get rid of the organism and spare the world another ice age.

Even if you do not enjoy science fiction, I still implore you to pick up this book. It is so much more than imaginative science. It’s about hope, friendship, humanity and realising how much we’re capable of when we give ourselves a chance to be great. Grace learns so much about himself on this suicide mission to save earth even though he isn’t scheduled to live more than a couple months after he sends back information to earth on how to save 7 billion people. Weir makes an unexpected and unbelievable contact when he thinks he’s well and truly alone but i’m determined to keep this review spoiler free. We also grapple with the ethics of suicide missions, while Grace’s memories keep coming back in spurts throughout the book, we’re confronted with a looming question of how he actually came to be a member of this team – was it really his choice and is he really a brave volunteer?

Weir’s enthusiasm for science is very infectious and you’re going to get sucked into caring about what happens to these amazing characters. Please ignore the science fiction tag and give this book a chance. The author has created an amazing world in less than 500 pages which had me sobbing at the end. I gave this one 5 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? Did you love it as much as I did?

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Our family histories are simply stories. They are myths we create about the people who came before us, in order to make sense of ourselves.”

Spanning multiple decades, Malibu Rising tells the story of the Riva family. The Riva family consists of the legendary singer, Mick Riva, their mom, June Riva and their 4 children – Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit. The story begins in 1983 on the day of the annual Riva end of summer party. This is the party that has no rules. No invites, no structure just word of mouth and people show up and let out all their inhibitions and have a good time. Every famous and non-famous person wants to be there.

By now, the Riva children are not in contact with their father anymore, their mother is dead and they are all famous in their own rights. They are all coming to the party with their own secrets. Nina’s famous tennis player husband has just publicly left her, Jay and Hud have secrets that they need to share with each other and Kit has her own private realization that she is trying to confirm. The book fills us in on all the backstory of each member of the Riva family while building up to the explosive end of the party.

“Alcoholism is a disease with many faces, and some of them look beautiful.”

I have written before, that Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors. I do think it’s really hard to miss with a TJR novel because the woman knows how to not only tell a story but create a world that feels so real. It’s very easy to read a TJR novel and forget that it is not a true story. Another thing about TJR is that she is so versatile that no two books of hers are quite exactly the same and she is not put in a corner when it comes to her writing style.

I was not disappointed by this book. I kept wanting to see what would happen and finished the book in three days, which is unusual for me. As mentioned earlier, this book spanned multiple decades and inevitably had to jump back and forth through the present (day of the party) and the past. In the present, it was heavy on the anticipation of what was to come and the culmination of the party and the secrets held by the Rivas. And in the past, TJR tells us in chronological order, how the Riva family came to be. Starting from how Mick and June met, his rise to fame, the struggles encountered and decisions made along the way.

“Maybe our parents’ lives are imprinted within us, maybe the only fate there is is the temptation of reliving their mistakes. Maybe, try as we might, we will never be able to outrun the blood that runs through our veins. Or. Or maybe we are free the moment we are born. Maybe everything we’ve even done is by our own hands.”

I marveled how this book was a balance of an easy fun read but was also a book that had you questioning the age old Nature vs. Nurture question as the Riva children despite good intentions find themselves making the same mistakes made by their parents and have them wondering if they were inevitably destined to make these mistakes because people tend to mimic what they grew up around or because it is their DNA? I also enjoyed the close relationship all the siblings had with each other.

While one of the things I liked was the crescendo approach that TJR built I’d be remiss not to mention that I thought the final culmination was kind of a let down and I thought it was all over the place. I don’t always need endings to be wrapped up in a bow but unless there is a plan for a sequel to this, I found it quite haphazard and it felt like loose threads galore. It all felt like the ending of a movie where the viewer could interpret their own ending. There was so much happening without enough context. Also, adding stories of brand new characters we had no attachment to previously seemed like frivolous fillers.

It wasn’t enough to stop my enjoyment of the book because the journey truly was a fun enough ride for me to forgive the destination. For those who have read another of TJR’s books, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (recommended read), you may recognize that Mick Riva was one of her seven husbands and that was a fun crossover to read. I gave this book 4 stars and would recommend this for your summer reading list.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

“Destiny could also be a choice, she realized. To believe or not, to be vulnerable or not, to go all in or not.”

Jess Davis is a freelance data scientist and a single mother who is juggling a lot of financial responsibilities while trying to be the perfect granddaughter and mother. Raised by her grandparents and raising her own daughter alone, she knows too much about being left by people she loves and is hesistant to venture back into the dating world. Her recent brushes with dating apps has left her even more convinced that dating is not for her in anyway but she is lonely and tired of being alone. Jess hears about Genetically – a company that claims to be able to match people based on a spit test. They claim to be able to determine who people are compatible with just by certain genetic markers and on a whim one day, she sends in her sample.

Jess understands numbers and believes that Genetically has the right objectivity needed, to find her soulmate. But tables turn when she is matched with Genetically’s founder, Dr. River Pena with a 98% match, something that has never happened in the history of Genetically. Jess has met Pena before and it was not a positive meeting. She sees him at the coffee shop she goes to every morning and he never tips, never smiles and is just grumpy.

Jess does not believe that he is her soulmate and refuses to go along with the process of getting to know him until the board of directors offer her $10, 000 to get to know Pena and bring publicity to their company ahead of the looming IPO. Despite her skepticism, Jess needs the money so she agrees to get to know him and go on a few interviews to help the company out, but she finds that she has signed up for way more than she bargained for.

This is hands down my favorite Christina Lauren book. I’ve read a couple and they always fall short of my expectations but this one was so much fun and heartwarming. The characters were completely loveable and made choices that even when I didn’t agree with them, I completely understood why. It was charming, funny and completely predictable but I didn’t care because it was srill fun to read. I finished this book in one seating. I love fake dating tropes and even though this is technically not one, it read that way and was delightful to read them fall in love and get to know each other while navigating the publicity that came with being such a high never before seen match percentage.

The usual end conflict in every romance book did not work for me. I thought the resolution was great but how it was handled was a bit wonky for me which is why this book only got 3 stars from me. I still really liked it and I definitely recommend it. I’ve been on a romance kick lately in a bid to get away from the real life problems and this one definitely pulled me in and kept my attention. I’ve heard people say this one had a slow beginning. I didn’t think so but just a heads up to stick with it if you fall in that category.

Have you guys read this one? Did you like it? Let me know in the comment section!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Nine Perfect Strangers - By Liane Moriarty (paperback) : Target

“I don’t get the obsession with strangers, her first husband, Sol, once said to her, and Frances had struggled to explain that strangers were by definition interesting. It was their strangeness. The not-knowing. Once you knew everything there was to know about someone, you were generally ready to divorce them.”

One day, 9 people come together at a health resort and spa named Tranquillum House. Tranquillum promises that whatever the reason for being there, they are able to transform your life in 10 days. The resort comes with unconventional methods such as no speaking, strict diets and lots of meditation, but they believe in the methods so much and let the guests know that it will require a lot of work on their end.

The guests consist of a fading romance author, a couple at their wits end, a family trying to get over a tragic loss, a stay at home obsessed with her weight, a former football player and a divorce lawyer. Also in the story is the head of Tranquillum House, Masha. We get to see her back story and learn what led her from high powered exec to slightly obsessive life coach.

“Sometimes your life changes so slowly and imperceptibly that you don’t notice it at all until one day you wake up and think, ‘How did I get here?’ But other times, life changes in an instant with a lightning stroke of good or bad luck with glorious or tragic consequences.”

I would not call myself a Lianne Moriarty fan. I liked her first book enough and the more I read of her, I found out that she had a format – group of people, some mystery that she builds up through the entire book and then just building around the whodunnit and then a weak let down but here I am, reading yet another title.

I am here because Moriarty (with the help of Nicole Kidman) has convinced America that she is a great author through the TV show adaptations. Big Little Lies was a phenomenon and my motivation for reading this is the upcoming Hulu adaptation of this (FOMO is real guys!). As much as I am not a fan, it was a case of right timing because it was just what I needed at the time.

“Relax and enjoy the journey. The stream will carry you this way and that, but will carry you forward to where you need to go.”

I think Moriarty did a good job of providing a back story to all characters. 9 characters seems like a lot, well 11 when you add Masha and Yao, her protege but I did not feel overwhelmed but I was able to follow easily. Frances, the romance novelist seemed to be the central character as we heard from her voice the most and Moriarty did a good job of making her real. She was the perfect mix of human – flawed and annoying and her thoughts sounded like the average human’s thoughts that they just never said out loud.

Moriarty did a good job of infusing life’s different complexities and issues that we encounter in different ways and at different stages in life, through these characters. She explores topics like death, self loathing, losing one’s self, family relationships.

“Don’t let your heart be a casualty of your head.”

The book was going swimmingly well and then somewhere along the way, it took a turn and became ridiculous. I don’t know if Moriarty just had nothing else to give but where she managed to make Frances human, she missed the mark with Masha. At the point where we delve into Masha’s life which she had been feeding us in bits and pieces, it just didn’t make any sense. Coming back to what was transpiring in the present time, it was so off the rails that I could not believe what was happening. I am willing to accept that this could have been on purpose to be in tandem with Masha’s spiraling but that might be a reach.

The end notwithstanding, if you are looking for a fluffy read where you enjoy the journey and not the destination, I actually would still recommend it. It served as a nice distraction and definitely scored high points in intrigue and keeping you interested in what was coming next,

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller

Book Review: Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

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“People thought silence meant the absence of noise, and sometimes it did, but other times it screamed so loudly she had to fight not to cover her ears.”

In the middle of an investigation for a missing girl, Lila’s husband, Aaron vanishes. The police are desperate to start looking for him even before 24 hours passes. The town is in an uproar. Aaron is a beloved school teacher who has never missed school. Everyone knows he doesn’t need the money because of a payout he received when his mum died. He is teaching because he loves kids and loves the job.

No one is more worried about Aaron’s whereabouts than Lila because, the last time she saw him, he was dead. Killed by her. And now, the body she set up perfectly to be found and ruled as a suicide, has vanished.

Pretty Little Wife is a domestic thriller and like most domestic thrillers you know exactly what you’re getting. This book wasn’t ground breaking or different. You’re not getting anything new but it was still a fun read. It was a fast read with every new information seeming even more outrageous than the last. Kane takes us through the days leading up to the disappearance. Going through Aaron’s belongings, Lila comes across a cell phone with videos that show her husband in a very compromising position. This is when the illusion of her marriage shatters. All the excuses she had made for her husband’s demands and behaviours over the years now seemed stupid.

This book started off really strong. We’re told upfront that Lila is guilty of murder or at the very least attempted murder since now that the body has disappeared she’s unsure if she was actually successful in her attempt. The first 100 pages flew by, and then half way it veered into very unrealistic territory. I wish the author had taken the time to craft a smarter thriller and not just tried to fit every horrible crime she can think of into one person’s portfolio. It felt like Kane was trying to create the most outrageous and gross villain she could think of.

Overall, there really isn’t much to say about this one without spoiling it. Even though I thought it was just an okay book, I still enjoyed reading it. It’s a very fast paced book and I finished it in one sitting. It was also super predictable, as I figured out who the real villain was very early on in the book. I recommend this one if you’re looking for something quick to get through pretty quickly and I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Have you read this one? If you have let me know what you think in the comments!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, romance, Young Adult

Book Review: Breathtaking by Courtney Turcotte Bond

“We all have a story – our reason to breathe. We don’t get to choose how it begins, the people who enter, or the pain that comes along the way.”

The book starts with 8 year old Cara and Adam. They’re next door neighbors and best friends. Cara’s life on the outside looks like she has it all. Her family seems like a perfect one but behind closed doors it’s a different story as her dad is an alcoholic and her mother deals with their problems by obsessively cleaning every corner of house. Adam being her next door neighbor is a blessing because talking to him through their bedroom windows and her writings, are the things that are able to keep her sane.

Fast forward to Adam and Cara being 16 years old, they are in high school now and things have changed a bit, as Adam is now a popular football player and Cara devotes her time to writing in Journalism club. Their friendship has taken on a different dynamic especially as they date other people. As they work to get their friendship back on track to what it used to be, a catastrophic event happens that changes everything for both of them.

You all know, I mostly go into books blind so I had no idea what the book was about when we were offered a free copy by the author. I am so glad I read this book because I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book handles a number of difficult issues but the book is never heavy and I think that was my favorite thing about the book, how digestible it was. I am one who enjoys books that are true to life with all of its ups and downs and I felt like the book depicted this very well.

It’s told from the perspective of Cara and I really felt like I was there with her in every step of her journey. The book was written so well because I felt every sadness and triumph that Cara felt. The characters felt real to me. Due to the chaos in Cara’s home, she spent a lot of time in Adam’s home and I really appreciated how Adam’s parents provided a safe space for her and always made her feel welcome. This might seem like a little detail but as mentioned earlier, is one of the things I was referring to as real life experiences. It was its own reminder that sometimes, family isn’t always blood.

One last thing that I really liked was the relationship between Cara and Reid. Bond did a great job of building the friendship first and it was refreshing reading about a relationship that was not over sexualized (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but I think the choice of keeping it chaste was in line with the vibe of the book.

The one thing that I didn’t care for, which isn’t really a knock and more of a personal taste, was how much poetry was included in the book. As mentioned, Cara is a writer so a lot of her writing is incorporated into the book. I have never been a poetry person, it’s just never been my thing so I am ashamed to say that for the most part, I skipped through the places where there is poetry. There were a number of twists and I’d say only two were unpredictable for me. The rest you could kind of see coming. I thought one of the twists was a tad convenient but I was okay with it because it helped wrap the story up.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I would totally recommend this book. As if the story alone wasn’t good enough, reading the author’s notes and finding out that the characters were based on real life characters made me like it even more. Bond found a way to make a book with heavy topics seem effortless and also inspiring. The pacing and the writing was enjoyable and I found myself looking forward to seeing how the story played out, which is all I ask for in a book. Support indie writers and go buy this book, it would be worth your time.

Taynement

african author, african stories, Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, literary fiction, race, romance, Uncategorized, Young Adult

Book Review: The Gilded Ones (Deathless #1) by Namina Forna

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“Like all the rest, giving us impossibilities and calling them choices.”

Deka is finally 16 and is ready to go through the blood oath ceremony that she hopes will declare her pure and make her one of the other girls. She has been othered all her life by her dark skin and tight curls but Deka is convinced that the blood oath ceremony will finally prove her worth and fetch her a husband.

What is the blood oath ceremony, you ask? Well, this deeply patriarchal society believes that on a woman’s 16th birthday, in preparation for her life as a man’s faceless and silent companion, she has to be tested for purity right before she is fitted with the mask she must wear for the rest of her life. You step into the temple, the priest cuts you. If your blood runs red, you’re pure. If it runs gold, you’re impure and the consequence is death. If you’re extremely lucky your first death will be your last. But on the day of Deka’s ceremony, her blood runs gold and changes her life forever.

As Deka struggles with her fate, a mysterious woman pops up and offers her a way out – come to the capital, be trained as a warrior and get absolution after her service or submit to her death. Of course, this is no choice at all. The Emperor is building an army filled with people like Deka (Alaka, as they’re called in the book) to fight against the Deathshrieks – monsters that attack the city and whose screams can blow out a human’s ear drums.

“Every girl knows it by heart. We recite it whenever we enter a temple – a constant reminder that women were created to be helpmeets to men, subservient to their desires and commands.”

This book starts with a bang. Forna apparently does not believe in easing her readers into the world and letting them settle. Within the first 10 pages of this book, the blood oath happened and it never let up after that. Hearing about the tenets of the religion practiced in Deka’s world made me think we were being set up for some priest conspiracy but when Deka’s blood actually ran gold I was like oh wow! I didn’t expect that to be literal at all.

The world building in this YA fantasy is very unique. I enjoyed seeing how the various villages and fractions interpreted the religion. Racism and colorism is also rampant in this world. Forna does a great job of establishing a baseline for what this world is supposed to be and its norms and rules.

“Are we girls or are we demons?”

I love a training fantasy book. Any fantasy book where a school or a training facility is involved has my heart. Once Deka gets to the Capital and the training commences, seeing her struggle to discard all that she had heard about women being second class citizens (a concept that was driven primarily by her religion) was interesting. Women aren’t allowed to run or even walk in a hurry, a woman must be demure and quiet at all times. Hearing that every day of her life, accepting that as a truth and then being forced to train as a warrior must have been quite the challenge.

The life ordinary women in Deka’s village were forced to live was simply insane. Every time the author dropped another detail, it made me get so mad at a world that isn’t even real!

“Never forget: the same gift they praise you for now, they will kill you for later.”

I think it’s common knowledge by now that I hate romance in my fantasy. It completely takes me out of the story. The romance in this book was not different. I think it added nothing to the plot and could have been completely left out. Also, this book is very obviously a debut novel. The writing is really great in some areas and extremely clunky in others. It needed to be tightened up a little. I hope this installment does well so she can get a better editor.

All in all, I quite enjoyed this one. If you liked Children of Blood and Bone, you’ll like this one. Even if you didn’t like it but are looking for a good YA fantasy book, this one is so much better and the author has great potential to be even better. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads and I’m looking forward to the next two books which promises to be even better. I tried really hard not to drop any obvious spoilers about the ending.

Have you read this one? Let me know in the comments!

Leggy

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

“I feel like everyone fakes who they really are, when deep down we’re all equal amounts of screwed up. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.”

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Violence

Lily is a 23 year old who lives in Boston and we are introduced to her at her father’s funeral where she says nothing during what was supposed to be a eulogy. That same night she meets Ryle Kincaid, a neurosurgeon and a whirlwind romance ensues even when he says he is not a relationship type of guy. We get to know Lily better as she flashes back to her childhood via her journals. We see how Ellen (the celebrity and talk show host) was a focal point in her life and the important part it played when she meets the first love of her life, Atlas Corrigan at age 16.

Flash forward to present day and life is good for Lily. She starts a lifelong dream of owning a flower shop and her new employee, Alyssa who also happens to be Ryle’s sister becomes her best friend and things are good with Ryle – until the first incident happens and we enter into a journey with Lily as she asks questions about her present and explores her past to determine what her future will be.

“Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

I have actually never read a Colleen Hoover novel and to my knowledge, this was a change of pace and I am glad this was my first venture into her world. This was a story that was about the complexities of life with a sensitive topic as its focal point and it was written and depicted very well. I think the book summary doesn’t do it justice as it portrays it more like a romance novel with a love triangle involved which is not the case at all. What I liked most about this book were the many layers. Yes, it had domestic violence but it was not the only focal point. This is also a story about friendship, PTSD, family problems, homelessness and that made it rich.

“All humans make mistakes. What determines a person’s character aren’t the mistakes we make. It’s how we take those mistakes and turn them into lessons rather than excuses.”

I like that this book gave me perspective. We always think domestic violence is cut and dry and it’s this mean and evil person but Hoover paints a picture and makes you ask what happens when the person isn’t this mean ogre and is by all accounts a “great” guy. The fact that Hoover was able to make me feel conflicted even though it was clear as day is a testament to how well the book was written.

That’s what fifteen minutes can do to a person. It can destroy them. It can save them

At times, I felt Lily sounded juvenile but then I had to remember that she was 23. But that was me nit picking because another thing Hoover made me realize is, strength comes in different forms and in so many ways, Lily was strong. I enjoyed seeing the friendship develop between Lily and Alyssa because most romance novels focus so much on developing the relationship with the man but not nearly enough on the friendship, so seeing this support was refreshing. This book was not perfect. I gave it 3 stars because it did still have elements of the romance genre that I am not particularly a fan of. It gave me a glimpse to how other Hoover books might be. The elements I speak of are scenarios that aren’t necessarily always realistic. Where things just happen to work out easily that would otherwise in the real world be a headache.

“It stops here. With me and you. It ends with us.”

Overall, I do recommend this book because you get a combination of things and it was an easy book to get through in terms of writing. It wasn’t tedious which is still a mystery to me how it still maintained a fluffy vibe. One of my favorite things about the book was the author’s note, so if you get a chance make sure you read that. It gave context to why she wrote this book and how it was based on her personal experience. I liked seeing how it gave her a different view of her own mother and a different appreciation.

A lot of people have mentioned how it made them cry, I am personally not a book crier and I can’t say I felt that emotional rollercoaster that most felt but that’s personal. If you are the kind who looks to books for a good cry, this might do it for you.

Taynement