Review: The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Published by: Pamela Dorman Books

Publication Date: August 23rd 2016

Pages- 320 pages

Format- eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★ (3.75)

How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even—yourself?  

People are capable of almost anything. . .
Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they’ve kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

 

I’d like to thank Pamela Dorman Books for approving me to receive an eGalley of The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Couple Next Door is the first thriller I have read in 2016 & I am very glad that it was a good one. I love my thrillers filled with plot twists & dark complex characters. The Goodreads synopsis gives you a brief description (as it should) about the life Anne & Marco Conti lived with their infant daughter. I gave this read 3.75 stars, I only docked it a bit because towards the end it started to get a bit too twisty & even though these are fictional characters, the deception started to feel like over kill. I still enjoyed this book until the very last page, it definitely would make a great movie or 2 hour episode on Law & Order.

I won’t give away too much of the details since this is a thriller/suspense that will be released this coming Tuesday the 23rd but I’ll give you the basics. Anna has a passion for a art & up until the birth of her baby, she used to work in galleries. She comes from a very wealthy family. Marco has his own start-up business & quite the opposite family background, born to hard-working Italian parents. He fell in love with Anne & her passion for everything Art, he thought she was sexy, beautiful, interesting.

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Everything changed once baby Cora arrived…

Every new couple experiences challenges when bringing home their new baby, Anne suffered from mild Postpartum depression & also another more vague mental disorder. She became a stay-at-home mom dedicated to her new baby while Marco worked on his start-up. Their lives changed the night they decided to attend the next door neighbor’s dinner party. They thought if they took the baby monitor & checked up on baby Cora every 30 minutes, that all would be well…until it wasn’t.

This book was for the most part plot driven (as are most thrillers) but we do get background history for Anne. We’re also taken into Anne & Marco’s marriage which when we meet them, is tearing at the seams. The house is not filled with the happiness & cheer that usually accompanies new babies. Anne walks around stoic, trying to keep it together when motherhood is pretty much kickin’ her butt. Her husband is aware of her depression but doesn’t really know how to be around her, she instead is treated like glass by everyone. Everyone except her neighbor Cynthia who is an attractive, confident, and flirtatious woman that used to be close to Anne before she had the baby. Cynthia continuously gets on Anne by saying things like “what happened to you Anne?” & “you used to be interesting”. It was these types of comments that led Anne to accepting the dinner invitation. These interactions were also the most frustrating for me but that’s simply because I know how friends that don’t have children of their own, drop like flies when you enter parenthood. Anne had a mental disorder prior to baby Cora & things only escalated post baby. I wasn’t very content with the way Anne as a character was handled even though I also understood the others reasons for having certain thoughts.

We are also introduced to detective Rasbach who I would have liked to get to know a bit better. He is in charged of investigating the kidnapping of baby Cora & since the story is told in third person, we get to hear his thoughts all throughout the investigation. That being said, I enjoy a good character profile on detectives because they for the most part are very interesting. Rasbach seems to be desensitized after years in his career seeing the the worse cases. He firmly believes that everyone has their limit, that given the right circumstance anyone is capable of anything. This plays into the investigation & no one is safe from suspicion, especially not Anne & Marco.

Overall, The Couple Next Door was a page turner & it delivered with EPIC plot twists. Now if you are expecting for everything to be wrapped up & squared away at the end…then this may not be the thriller for you lol. I however, was satisfied with that ending because Anne will most likely stay with me for a very long time. I seriously felt the need to protect her as did the characters surrounding her. I do feel that this story also carries a strong message in that mental illness is something to be taken seriously. Red flags went up the minute that Anne’s therapist went on vacation & she didn’t follow advice to see the other therapist in the office until then. I think that 75% into the book, I just wanted her to be OK but couldn’t shake the feeling that it would never be OK the more she expressed her wish aloud to see her regular therapist. If I had to sum The Couple Next Door up in one word it would be TRAGIC. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a thriller/suspense dealing with mental illness, tragedy, and not-so-happy endings.

 

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at @Breaking The Spine, which spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Wintersong

Author: S. Jae-Jones
Book: Hardcover, 448 pages
Expected Publication: February 7th. 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne

 

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Goodreads:

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

 

Wintersong had me at Goblins & the Underground. I am very much intrigued by this world & the female protagonist. On Goodreads, the community is calling this a “Labryinth re-telling” I never watched the David Bowie movie but will now in anticipation of this new book. I think our Goblin King will be just as interesting being the Lord of Mischief & all i’m sure trouble he shall stir 😉

Is it just me, or is anyone else also getting Beauty & The Beast vibes?

 

Askismet Mistook Me For Spam Today

Today I made my rounds commenting on a lot of your blogs my fellow book lovers. This evening I noticed something strange. I hadn’t received a single notification after mid-morning…now, my blog is still fairly new but it’s never crickets. After testing over at Gretchen’s page ChicNerdReads, we quickly realized none of my comments were posting.

After some research in Word Press Community Forums, I found an answer dating 5 years back. WordPress uses a spam blocker called Askismet & sometimes Askismet will mistake your IP address as spam and Blacklist you. Today, Askismet mistook me for a bot! & all of the comments I poured my soul into went straight into your spam folders.

Solution: Obtain enough approved comments from those of you I commented on & happened to be tossed into your spam folders. Once I obtain enough approvals, Askismet will re-learn my IP & take me off the virtual Blacklist in 1 to 2 days. Yes, this means you probably won’t see all of the wonderful comments I leave on your Top 5 Wednesday/Waiting On Wednesday….Unless of course you look for me in Spam where all the losers are benched (for no reason it can happen to anyone) -_-

I will continue making my rounds tonight & tomorrow, so please check your spam folder for little ol’ me & if you happen to like me…be a dear & click approve 🙂

I hope this post helps anyone going through a similar situation or even going forward 🙂

Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab *Spoiler free*

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Grenwillow Books

Publication Date: July 5th 2016

Format: Hardcover (July Owlcrate)

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Page Count: 464 pages

Rating: ★★★★★

 

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@Lair_Of_books

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

 

“Violence begets violence”  only in Verity, when a violent act is committed, a monster forms. A shadow that sticks with you tainting your once pure soul. In a city where violence is rampant, the monsters thrive & outnumber the humans. The city is split into North & South, ruled by two very different leaders with a very different approach to keeping humans safe. After what has come to be known as the phenomenon, there are three types of monsters roaming in the dark: Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai. Each of these monsters have different ways of killing or reaping.

“Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,

shadow and bone will eat you raw.

Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,

smile and bite and drink you dry.”

“Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,

sing you a song and steal your soul”

“Monsters, monsters, big and small,

they’re gonna come and eat you all!”

Governing the North we have Callum Harker who offers protection from the monster’s for a price. Only the more fortunate families are able to pay & he keeps tabs on those under his protection. Governing the South we have Henry Flynn who protects his side of the city with the help of a task force he’s put together to keep everyone safe. Both these men also utilize the monsters in one way or another. When Kate Harker manages to get herself expelled from 6 different schools, she finally ends up back to where she wants to be…in North City, by her dad’s side. Callum Harker however, much preferred to keep Kate a safe distance away nonetheless, he enrolls her in Harker Hall. Right where she wanted to be. Kate feels she can prove herself to be a real Harker by being close to her dad and controlling the city. Once word reaches the South side of the city, the Flynns decide to enroll their son August Flynn in Harker Hall. The idea being that if ever the truce that has kept both sides at peace were to break, they could use Kate Harker as leverage. August Flynn just like Kate would also like the chance to prove himself to his “dad” by joining the fight or doing something useful. He thought that he could watch over Kate & this would be his contribution since he wasn’t allowed to be physically involved in the fight.

I loved Kate Harker’s character, I never knew what to expect from her since she seems to walk to a dangerous beat. Kate’s suspicious nature made it impossible for August to maintain his cover & once she pieced the puzzles together, I really couldn’t tell what she would do. If I loved Kate…then I honestly ADORED August Flynn! I don’t know why I got Johnny Depp/Edward Scissorhands vibes, but I did & I LOVED THAT MOVIE! so it was easy to make him come to life. Where Kate was true grit, August was a much softer soul which is ironic given his true nature. I loved that Victoria Schwab did not include any love interests as part of the story, this to me was just what was promised, a story about good vs evil. How none of us are 100% good or evil, there is a bit of gray for most if not all. In this book you will NOT find a hero, a love story, a victory. You will however get morally ambiguous characters that you can’t help but love. This Savage Song stands apart from anything I’ve read this year & I’m adding it to my All Time Fave Reads shelf now that it has surpassed my expectations after reading my first Schwab A Darker Shade of Magic two months ago.

Favorite Side Character: August’s sister Ilsa, a Sunai with a beautifully dark song she only uses if absolutely necessary. I need more Ilsa! especially after that ending!

Soundtrack I listened to: Dark Violin Songs by Max Ablitzer (specifically the Ghost Song) even though all throughout the pages of this book, the monsters song which is sung to children as a cautionary lullaby…imprinted itself in my brain & I liked it so if that makes me a bit of a weirdo then so be it! *averts eyes*

I buddy read This Savage Song with Gretchen @Chicnerdreads & devoured it in just a few days as did she! it was so dark & sorrowful yet it lured me in every time I opened it’s pages and even when I wasn’t reading, I was thinking of it. Beautiful & haunting are just some of the words to describe this read, Ms. Schwab has now become an auto-buy author. The wait til Our Dark Duet will be loooong & hard lol.

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Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey & is now moderated by Sam from Thoughts On Tomes. Each week there’s a different bookish related topic (this varies & isn’t always strictly books) & you get to list your top 5 books or bookish answers related to the topic. This week’s topic is Authors You Are Waiting on Another Book FromThese are your favorite authors who you want to write another book but haven’t yet. Or they are writing something, but no title or synopsis has been released and it isn’t coming out until 2018. Try to keep this to authors who haven’t announced anything concrete about a new book, not authors that have a highly anticipated release coming out before the end of 2016.

 

The entire day I walked around with only 4 until I got home & walked past my shelves….yea sometimes all you need is walk past some shelves to jog that memory 😉 These topics lately have been requiring a bit more thought & I LOVE it!

 

1. Pierce Brown- Morning Star, the conclusion to the Red Rising trilogy was an absolute roller coaster of a ride & I did NOT want to get off! I am a Howler for life & need more of this beautiful man’s work…I follow him on Twitter & Instagram just for the little crumbs he throws our way. A spin off is definitely in the works but there has been no mention of a publication date, he is in the writing stages from what I can gather…sigh…can’t rush greatness 😉

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2. Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus, One of my favorite books for the beautiful lush world it introduced me to. I had never read nor listened to anything so magical & haunting until I came across this woman’s work & as I mentioned to another blogger earlier today, this author shrouded in a bit of mystery just like her book SooO if anyone knows ANYTHING about Ms. Morgenstern & the possibility of a new book please share *crosses fingers, does a little chant*

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3. Benjamin Alire SaenzAristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, I read this book & instantly fell in love with this man’s poetic style of writing. From what I’ve gathered, it’s hard to get a book out of this guy lol, but every once in a while he drops a gem. Goodreads has been updated with a cover-less photo of There Will be Other Summers (Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe #2) but no publication date, this saddens me 😦

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4. Kathryn StockettThe Help, What ever happened to Ms. Stockett? I am not one to read much Historical Fiction but The Help pulled me in from page 1! This book did an amazing job in covering race & politics in the 60’s. The characters have stuck with me both after reading the book & watching them come life on the screen.

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5. George R.R. MartinA Song Of Ice & Fire- I don’t think this needs an explanation because I’m pretty sure I’m one of MANNNNY holding our breaths for the next book in the series…MY MAN PLEASE DON’T MAKE US WAIT ANY LONGER!

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So, these are my Top 5 Wednesday picks. Please let me know if any of you fellow book bloggers are also eagerly awaiting any of these authors & drop your link down below so that I can take a gander 😉

 

 

Review: Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour

Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 15th 2014

Format: Paperback (I own)

Genre: Young Adult Fiction

Page Count: 312 pages

Rating: ★★★★1/2

 Goodreads Synopsis:

A wunderkind young set designer, Emi has already started to find her way in the competitive Hollywood film world.

Emi is a film buff and a true romantic, but her real-life relationships are a mess. She has desperately gone back to the same girl too many times to mention. But then a mysterious letter from a silver screen legend leads Emi to Ava. Ava is unlike anyone Emi has ever met. She has a tumultuous, not-so-glamorous past, and lives an unconventional life. She’s enigmatic…. She’s beautiful. And she is about to expand Emi’s understanding of family, acceptance, and true romance.

 

Some of my 1st thoughts reading Everything Leads to You, were that Nina LaCour hit the nail on the head when it comes to toxic relationships. During the first few pages, we get introduced to Emi who is attempting to put a stop to the break-ups & make-ups between her & her slightly older girlfriend Morgan. Morgan is attracted to Emi & suggests an open relationship whereas Emi is in love with Morgan. Things are made a bit more difficult seeing as they both are working on the same film production. Emi is an aspiring set designer & Morgan is a bit more established constructing sets. Very early on Emi decides that this 6th time is the last time & the following quote stuck with me because as someone who has been in a similar situation many years ago, I can relate…

“When you love someone, you are sure. You don’t need time to decide. You don’t say stop and start over and over, like you’re playing some kind of sport. You know the immensity of what you have and you protect it.” 


This quote really made me think…is this always true? I can honestly say that I’ve been in Emi’s shoes & in the moment didn’t understand that it is possible to love someone more than they actually love you (I was also very young). In Emi’s situation, I definitely can see how this quote applies. Morgan was clearly not on the same page which led to toxic behavior. I’ve also been in Morgan’s shoes, and chose to let that person go because I wasn’t ready. Emi setting out to move on from Morgan sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Detaching herself from Morgan was made easier by the AMAZING friendship Emi has with Charlotte, who also happens to be working on the same movie. Charlotte is the art department assistant and aspiring museum curator. We get to follow Emi & Charlotte around all of L.A. as they shop around for vintage furniture, art, and props to be used in the film. I don’t think we get enough female friendships in books so this was like a breath of fresh air. I loved Charlotte’s loyalty & fierce protectiveness over Emi.
It was during one of Emi & Charlotte’s set shopping excursions that they come across an estate sale for a deceased big time Hollywood movie star. They also happened to have purchased a record which contained a note that would lead them on the hunt for answers. So Emi & Charlotte juggle life on the set of a major film & amateur detective work…I don’t even know if you would call it amateur, they were pretty darn good at it lol. Now from here on out, I’m going to get spoilery because I just have way too many feels after reading the last page…

 
*************************************Spoilers Lay Ahead, Beware of the Spoiler******************

 

Emi’s decision to investigate the note she found in the record they purchased at the estate, to me felt like a much needed distraction. All throughout the story as they hunt for answers, Emi continues to express her feelings that she is meant to be looking for these answers. The possibility of something greater awaits her at the end of this search. The note was left behind by an A list movie actor who had a one-night stand & as a result an estranged daughter. In his note he expresses his loss for words on their one-time coffee date. A father faced with his adult daughter and her child, his grandbaby. In the note he leaves info for his daughter Caroline to claim her inheritance, the only problem is that Caroline is deceased as well. FAST FORWARD……That grandbaby has all grown UP! Her name is Ava & the dynamic duo that are Emi & Charlotte have managed to track her down. Ava is homeless & living in a shelter after she decided to leave her adoptive mother’s home. Ava has only one best friend in the shelter whose name is Jamal & he is just as loyal and protective as Charlotte is over Emi. Once the trail leads to Ava, Emi is instantly attracted to her. No, it’s not instalove. One of the things that I loved about Emi is that she is confident & comfortable in her own skin. The fact that she likes girls was not made to be this huge reveal which I appreciated. So many things were well done with this story that I can talk about for hours but instead I’ll name a few:

  • The inside look to film production—the behind the scenes look.
  •  Emi’s journey with learning the ropes of a career in set design—you start from the bottom & work your way up and sometimes that means not always getting your way. Seeing Emi struggle with this lesson was very relatable.
  •  The vivid details given to describe how Emi envisions her ideas & makes them come to life on set.
  •  The realistic approach taken when filming an independent film vs. a major film production.
  • Again, the fact that Emi’s sexuality wasn’t center stage to the storyline.
  • Female friendships…I need a Charlotte in my life lol.
  • AMAZING parents—Emi’s parents seriously have to be the coolest with their shared bond of West Coast Gangster rap lol.
  •  The representation of financial diversity—Emi/Charlotte are well off compared to Ava and her best friend Jamal. A discussion is had btwn Jamal, Emi, & Charlotte where he points out that although Emi’s parents are cool & received degrees for studying and being well versed in hip hop culture…he has lived the life they have studied & it wasn’t fascinating, but scary.

The only reason why I docked this half a star was because I think this would’ve been EPIC as New Adult vs. YA Fiction. I can understand how some found the way things came to be as a bit unrealistic however, I got so much from this story that I didn’t judge it by how real their quest for answers felt. Overall, I loved the writing style & the friendships in this book. It was an enjoyable read with many smile worthy moments including THAT LAST LINE!!! Looking forward to reading more of Nina LaCour’s books.
 

This Or That Book Tag

& I’m back with my tags! I have a few to catch up on over the next week so for those who tagged me last month, don’t be surprised if you see me pop up in your feed now 😉

Thank you Pierina Reads for tagging me!

This tag was created by Ayunda @ Tea And Paperbacks & this one is all about your reading preferences, thank you for creating this tag!

Here are the rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

 

Reading on the couch or in the bed?

I remember when I used to LOVE reading in bed, then I acquired a husband & 2 tiny humans lol. Now, I alternate between reading on my commute to work & my bathtub. Most of my reading is done on my 1.5 hour ride to/from work & I even have instrumentals on my phone ready to block out all of my fellow New Yorker’s.

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Male main character or Female main character?

So…ok…lol. I read another bloggers answer last night & commented on her post saying that I feel the same way. We agreed that our inner feminists were prob giving us the evil eye HAHA! I LOVE a strong female kick ass protagonist but I’ve mostly read male protagonists & really enjoyed them. It hasn’t been until recently that I started finding some of my most favorite female protagonists, mostly in YA Fantasy and can’t get enough of them!

Sweet Snacks Or Salty Snacks?

I’m not much of a snacker when I’m reading but there’s always that special night…IMG_1572

Trilogies Or Quartets?

Quartets Only if the the 3rd book was EVERYTHING & MORE! I’m greedy with my fictional characters.

First Person POV Or Third Person POV?

I enjoy a book with multiple POV’s especially when you get a big cast of characters you love. It’s like a special treat awaits me every time I start a new chapter & it’s my fave character’s POV.

Reading At Night Or In The Morning?

This is another habit that has changed for me, it used to be that I liked reading at night but now due to my life being re-arranged I actually enjoy my morning reading. Nights are reserved for my TV series.

Libraries Or Bookstores?

Bookstores ALL the way! besides the fact that my library exists only to deceive bookworms (Please see July Wrap up post for pics of my sad Library) LOL. I actually enjoy everything from seeing the new releases on their shelves to wandering from floor to floor inhaling my favorite smell in the world. Oh I get comfortable, Starbucks in one hand and B&N member’s coupons on the other…I make the most of these visits lol. Don’t even get me started on Strand Bookstore!

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Books That Make You Laugh Or Books That Make You Cry?

Laugh…the more the better. I can appreciate a sad book every once in a while but if a book can make me laugh in the middle of a crowded NYC train, then it’s an instant fave.

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Black Book Covers Or White Book Covers?

Hmmm…I really love the look of the U.K. white covers, so crisp & beautiful. Now if the question was about the page color, I would say BLACK!

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Character Driven Or Plot Driven Stories?

Character. I love my character’s complex & love getting a ton of insight as to why they do the things they do. What drives them? In the end, I always fall in love with a good character & they are what remains after I read the last page.

I tag:

Laura@ReadingLust

Deertalesblog

TeacherofYA’s Book Blog

Kenyanlibrary

In A Bookish World

A book Lover’s Corner

The Jouska

Kourtni Reads

Meltotheany

Bookwish

Review: Monstress Volume 1 by Marjorie M. Lou & illustrated by Sana Takeda 

Monstress Volume 1 (collects issues #1-6)

Published by: Image Comics

Publication Date: July 19th 2016

Pages- 192 pages

Format- eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: 4.5 stars



I’d like to thank Image Comics for approving me to receive an eGalley of the graphic novel Monstress Volume 1 via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
 
Confession:
I first caught wind of Monstress on Panels.net, the exact article I read listed this graphic novel as the best of 2016 so far & Panels has never steered me wrong

 http://panels.net/2016/02/02/the-best-comics-we-read-in-january/

Besides the fact that the cover is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G!!! I immediately noticed our POC (aka people of color) female protagonist & knew that I had to read this one but at the time there were only single issues. I patiently awaited the 1st volume only to see that Netgalley had it listed & I went for it (already ordered a physical copy from Amazon).
Monstress has steampunk vibes & artwork that jump off the pages & demand that you take note of all the intricate details of each page. I’m a steampunk fan so this was like eye candy for me, kudos to Sana Takeda’s beautiful illustrations…also, did anyone else catch the blurb by the MAN himself, Mr. Neil Gaiman?!?!😱😱😱🙌🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼

Plot:
I usually include the Goodreads or Amazon synopsis in my reviews except for when they are spoilery & this is one of those instances. Please stay away unless you want to be majorly spoiled as I was. Monstress is set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia where we are introduced to Maika who is a teenage Arcanic (human-like monsters) being sold into slavery. As the story unravels we learn that a civil war took place between humans and the Arcanic, permanently creating a divide. We familiarize ourselves with some of the complex politics & history behind the war. Maika has felt the effects of the war in more ways than one, all of which have shaped her into one badass character. Maika is intelligent & strategic. She is resilient & persistent. Circumstances have slowly shaped her and you get a sense of power as soon as you meet her. Maika also seems to have a dark side to her which makes her all the more interesting. If you’re looking for a graphic novel that is rich in an alternative history, politics, corruptness, war, experimentations, tons of female characters, and eye catching graphics like I am, then Monstress is for you.
 
 
Characters:
 
I think by now you’ve gathered that I LOVE Maika so instead I’ll talk about some of the other characters…

· Tuya– travels with an eagle by Maika’s side, we don’t get any back story on Tuya but we know that Maika is very close to her
· Sophia Tekete– a Cumae (referred to as a witch nun) scientist that is very skilled with knives & is known for experimenting on the Arcanic
· Atena– Also a Cumae who works in the Cumae council, a scientist good with #’s
· Yvette Lo Lim– Sophia Tekete’s mother, I still don’t know this woman’s deal other than she’s sinister & has weird eating tastes

I thoroughly enjoyed Marjorie M. Liu’s story & eagerly await the 2nd volume, ESPECIALLY after that ending!!!!

Highly recommend 😉
 
 
 
 

Review: Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee

Gemini by Sonya Mukherjee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Format: e-ARC (NetGalley)
Page Count: 336 pages
Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Goodreads Synopsis:

 Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives—no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they’re slowly becoming more apparent.
Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys.
As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister’s, and figure out what it means to be her own person.


I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster for approving me to receive an arc of Gemini via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. This also happens to be my very 1st arc & I’m glad that it was Gemini.

Gemini turned out to be a very fast read for me, which is to say kudos to the author for the pacing which was on point. I enjoyed being given a seat at the table with Clara & Hailey; a set of conjoined twins in their last year of high school, and all of their friends. When we first meet Clara & Hailey, the author lets us know that they are polar opposites. Whilst Clara is more subdued, into the sciences, enjoys blending in as much as possible…Hailey is more of an extrovert with pink hair & black eyeliner, a very talented artist with a wanderlust soul. The girls are very much in sync in more ways than one. Although they are only attached by their lower spinal region (each has their own unattached set of legs), the twins share sensations from the torso down. If Clara were to stub her toe, both she & Hailey would feel the pain.

The setting for the most part is the twins high school in a small town where they share a group of girlfriends. Hailey & Clara’s parents are two college professors who left L.A. and relocated to the small town of Bear Pass in an attempt to give the twins a quiet & less complicated life. In the small town of Bear Pass, everyone knows each other & for the most part have gotten used to seeing and being around the twins. One of the best parts of this book had to be the twins support system within their small circle of friends. Juanita (twins’ BFF) was a Godsend, she never treated the twins any differently & was always a great listener, even when she had issues of her own to deal with. Friends like Juanita are one in a million.

Clara & Hailey are in their last year of high school & with graduation right around the bend, came a lot of anxiety over identity. The girls have an amazing bond and each one wants the other to live the life they always dreamed of yet it all seems impossible to attain. They tackled the topics of dating, college, living independently, the possibility of having the very risky surgical procedure to separate them, and lastly the financial costs. In the background we are introduced to their parents and we learn a bit about their lives before the twins & what led them to move away from a big city. Although the interactions between the twins and their dad were brief, I really enjoyed his parts and could tell that he was more open minded. The twin’s mom on the other hand, had pretty much become a master of all trades. Besides being a professor, she tailors all of Hailey & Clara’s clothing, maintains an active role/presence in their school to make sure they have everything they need and drives them to/from school in a van that accommodates them. Mom is also fixated on watching videos of unsuccessful surgical procedures of conjoined twins in an effort to reassure herself that she made the right decision when she opted to keep them together in their infancies. Their portrayal of concerned parents who have sacrificed a lot for the love & safety of their children felt authentic.

I gave this book a 3.5-star rating only because I struggled with telling the twins voices apart. The book is divided by the twins in alternating chapters & as much as they are described to be polar opposites, I couldn’t differentiate between the two and often found that I had to go back to the beginning of the chapter to see whose perspective I was reading from. Since I was already invested in the story & was rooting for the girls, I put in the bit of effort to look back and see whose narrative I was reading but I can see how it may affect others reading experience.

Overall, I really did enjoy this story and the fact that the ending was not made out to be some sort of happy ending but instead felt like  a new beginning for Hailey & Clara. I would recommend Gemini to a friend.

July 2016 Wrap Up & Haul 

July July!!! Hit me by surprise when I checked my Goodreads to see what I read during the month of July, a total of 8 books/graphic novels. One of the books that I read was actually a Library book, my first in over a decade. Stepping foot into my Library felt like a blast from the past for about 10 seconds before I eyed the empty shelves. Now, my Library is located in Williamsburg Brooklyn which for those who aren’t from NYC, happens to be hipster central nowadays. It’s walking distance from luxury condos (I’d probably have to sell a kidney for 1 months’ rent), art galleries, tons of coffee shops, and… you get the picture right? I was under the impression that my 1st visit would be met with a beautifully stocked Library & when this was not the case, I had a ton of questions for the Librarian who didn’t look quite too happy to be approached. Turns out, they’ve gone digital & a request for a book can be made online so that the book may be delivered to your local branch for pick up. This all sounds great since now you can almost guarantee you’ll get the book you are looking for…. yet…I still felt some sadness over the bare shelves that during my childhood held stacks & stacks of adventures and stories.
The top floor held some of my fondest memories with my mother (sadly, there aren’t very many). My mother would stay in the poetry section reading love poems and writing them in her notebook while my sister & I stacked up on Goosebumps & Sweet Valley High. Sweet memories that I’ll cherish while living in this modern world 😉

On to my Wrap Up:



The Fireman by Joe Hill– 3.75 Stars

https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/review-the-fireman-by-joe-hill/

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman– 5 stars
https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/review-illuminae-by-amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoff/

Chasing River by K.A. Tucker– 5 stars
https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/15/review-chasing-river-by-k-a-tucker/

Surviving Ice by K.A Tucker– 4 stars
https://lairofbooksblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/review-surving-ice-burying-water-4-by-k-a-tucker/

Graphic Novels- I went on a Saga spree with NO regrets! I was going to review them in the blog but I was absorbed by the binge SMH so I’ve linked my mini reviews, more like ‘feels’ & after thoughts lol

Saga Volume 3– 4 stars (link to my Goodreads mini review)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1696157127?book_show_action=false

Saga Volume 4– 5 stars (link to my Goodreads mini review)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1697036687?book_show_action=false

Saga Volume 5– 5 stars (link to my Goodreads mini review)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1350882555?book_show_action=false

Saga Volume 6– 5 stars (link to my Goodreads mini review)

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1641774601?book_show_action=false

July 2016 Book Haul:

In the month of July I came across some amazing deals that demanded I suspend my book ban for a bit 😂😂😂 but I can honestly say that with the exception of The Walled City, I was actively looking out for these titles😊

For those interested in ‘booktography’ hehe…please follow me @Lair_Of_Books (link at the very top of the blog page)

& On a sick day my hubby brought home these two beauties 😍😍😍