Diversity Spotlight Thursday

Diversity Spotlight Thursday

 

Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a new weekly meme hosted by Aimal over at Bookshelves & Paperbacks. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post here.
This is my 1st week participating in the Diversity Spotlight Thursday meme & I couldn’t be more thrilled to see a fellow blogger do something positive & uplifting to bring some diverse reads to the forefront. Thank YOU Aimal!!!! 😉

 

A Book I have Read

 

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 More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

More Happy Than Not is one of my favorite LGBTQIA YA & I devoured it in two sittings. The setting felt very familiar to me coming from a block in Brooklyn where the people also felt like family (especially in the Summer). Aaron (main protagonist) has left an imprint in my soul. Adam Silvera made Aaron’s pain, guilt, confusion, and heartbreak all feel very real. This kid could not catch a break. I’m looking forward to this author’s next book as I did enjoy his writing style very much. If you’re a fan of Junot Diaz, I believe you will also enjoy Adam Silvera’s writing. Fair warning: bring tissue before you pick this one up.

“I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending- it’s a series of endless happy beginnings”

 

 

A Book On My TBR

 

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Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Goodreads Synopsis:

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, a historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Though fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, Mercy can’t sit by while they wait for the army to bring help—she still has the “bossy” cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenage girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

 I’ve had Outrun the Moon on my TBR for a few months now & found a hardcover copy in Strand Bookstore for $9 in the beginning of August. I actually jumped for joy when I found this book *covers eyes* lol. Well, did you guys & gals read that synopsis? I mean, for those of you who like me enjoy a kick ass protagonist who also happens to be a POC, Outrun the Moon looks to be promising. Also, It will be interesting to read about Chinatown in San Francisco seeing as I’ve only visited Chinatown in NYC where I live.

 

 

A Book Releasing Soon

 

Labyrinth Lost

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas #1) by Zoraida Cordova

*To be released September 6th (next week)

 

Goodreads Synopsis:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Praise for Labyrinth Lost:

“Zoraida Cordova’s prose enchants from start to finish. Labyrinth Lost is pure magic.” -Melissa Grey, author of The Girl at Midnight

“Magical and empowering, Labyrinth Lost is an incredible heroine’s journey filled with mythos come to life; but at its heart, honors the importance of love and family.” -Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

“A brilliant brown-girl-in-Brooklyn update on Alice in Wonderland and Dante’s Inferno. Very creepy, very magical, very necessary.” -Daniel Jose Older, author of Shadowshaper

“Labyrinth Lost is a magical story of love, family, and finding yourself. Enchanting from start to finish.” -Amy Tintera, author of Ruined.

I am currently reading Labyrinth Lost as I was lucky enough to have been approved for an eGalley just a couple of days ago. I am OBSESSED ladies & gents! So much so, that I’ve already ordered my physical copy & cannot wait to see my post office person (top fave person in the world) deliver it to me *SqueeeEE* this read is dark with elements of Alice in Wonderland, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and Dante’s Inferno. We have an entire POC cast & Zoraida Cordova’s writing is…#Ownvoices.

 

I’d love to see some of your Diversity Spotlight posts, if you’ve participated this week please leave your link. I’m trying to grow my diverse reads TBR since I know now that I am lacking in this area. Hope you all are having a beautiful Friday’s Eve 😉

Review: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Series: How to Hang a Witch #1 (future books will be based on other descendants, not sure if the series name will remain the same)
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: July 26th. 2016
Genres: YA/Fantasy
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★

 

Goodreads Partial Synopsis (full spoilery synopsis here):

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

 

With the fall season come all of my favorites…hot cocoa, warm sweaters/scarves, fallen leaves, reds/Brown’s/creams/yellows, and last but not least…WITCHES! my favorite season is upon us & I decided I’d pick up How to Hang a Witch in anticipation of its arrival. To best describe HTHAW, I would say that it has some elements of both the CW’s Secret Circle & the 90’s cult classic “The Craft”. I picked up HTHAW after hearing that it was a Young Adult book loosely based on the Salem Witch Trials. The fact that the author Adriana Mather is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather, an influential person (not in a good way) in the trials, further motivated me to give this book a go. I’ve always been intrigued by Salem’s history & plan one day in the near future to visit the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts https://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/.

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Now, on to my review… 

We start off with our main protagonist Samantha Mather arriving in Salem with her stepmother Vivian, a decision made to be able to better cover her father’s hospital expenses. Sam’s dad is in a coma at the start of the story & it is clear that Sam and her dad Charles are very close. Relocating from New York to Salem, Sam isn’t feeling very optimistic about a new high school. Believing herself to be cursed because of all the accidents that have taken place around her, Sam is just trying to keep a low profile. Whelp! This may have worked in any other place that wasn’t Salem but as a direct descendant of Cotton Mather (just like our author), she doesn’t exactly receive the warmest of welcomes. In a town filled with the descendants of the original key players of the Salem Witch Trials, Sam is unfairly left to deal with the tension & animosity stemming from Cotton’s role in the tragic events. We get introduced to a group of high school students that go by the name “The Descendants” aptly named since they all are direct descendants of the original accused witches & townspeople. They were also all named after their descendants, we have Susannah, Alice, Mary, Lizzie, and John. They all dress in black & stick together in everything they do. The town itself takes its history very seriously and respect the descendants and their families. Salem is now all about witches, down to the sheriff’s cars that proudly display witches on their doors. The teachers honor the accused by assigning a yearly project to re-enact the trials. Sam seems to be outnumbered, everyone from the students, teachers, and librarian look at her & see only her ancestor Cotton Mather. Not exactly helping (but I loved!), was Sam’s take no ISH from nobody attitude. Not easily intimidated, Sam does seem to view the girls as dangerous after a series of “incidents” leave her shaken up.

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The Craft

At first I thought to myself, are these people really going to ostracize this teenage girl before giving her a chance? I kept reading & the accidents that happened around Sam in New York seemed to have followed her to Salem…. maybe there’s something legitimately wrong with Sam? I won’t give away the answer, but I will say that I loved the paranormal aspects of this book. I also really enjoyed the small town feel & how Sam a native New Yorker adjusted to the change of pace. As a fellow New Yorker, just like Sam I found myself wondering who I could & could not trust in this town. I loved that she & her stepmom moved in to her dad’s childhood home and the description of a grand old house. The house itself having many charms & secrets. Most of all I enjoyed the flashbacks to conversations between Sam & her dad during tough moments in her life. It was in these moments that we got a glimpse of Charles, the man in the coma. Sam would often think about her dad & what he would say to give her the courage to stand up to adversity.

The supporting cast of characters were small seeing as Sam didn’t really make any friends, but the standout character for me was Mrs. Meriwether. Sam’s neighbor who also happened to be her dad’s childhood best friend, lived alone next door with her son Jaxon who is the same age as Sam. I LOVED Mrs. Meriwether once I began to trust her & stopped thinking she was trying to poison people through her delicious baked goods haha! (Kudos to Ms. Mather for re-creating a town filled with distrust). No but seriously, the woman can bake! Every time there was a scene with her, she was baking in the kitchen all sorts of different recipes for her bake shop & I swear I could smell the pastries! Smh. Then there was her son Jaxon, who befriends Sam upon his mother’s request but quickly ends up falling for her. This is only made more innnnneresting by the introduction of a certain paranormal character. This character, I won’t say what he is…was my absolute FAVORITE character in the entire book.

Ok, so far I’ve only had good things to say about this book…why the 3-star rating? Some of you may ask. I cannot discuss the reason in too much detail for fear I may spoil the ending but simply put, Sam’s beginning felt very much like her ending—lonely & incomplete, even as the author is telling us otherwise…

Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Published by: Algonquin Books

Publication Date: September 6th 2016

Pages- 352 pages

Format- eGalley (Netgalley)

Rating: ★★★ (3.5)


Goodreads Synopsis:

International bestselling author Gayle Forman’s trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again.

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention–meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we’re going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.

With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

 
I’d like to thank Algonquin Books for approving me to receive an eGalley of Leave Me by Gayle Forman via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Maribeth Klein used to have big dreams of one day climbing the ladder to success in the world of magazine publishing. She had a bestfriend/roommate & they were as inseparable as Thelma & Louise. Both Maribeth & Elizabeth worked for the same magazine, they shared the same career dreams and were on the fast track to making them come true. Then Maribeth married her college sweetheart, the guy who 10 years’ prior had decided to move to San Francisco & persue his career. They had made plans for a life together in New York & he ditched them. This unexplainable break-up would stay with & follow her to NY 10 years later. Maribeth & Jason re-connect in NY and one things leads to another. They get married and have twins, life gets a bit challenging but Maribeth takes it all on with little to no help from her husband. Her relationship with Elizabeth has changed, she is now her boss and Maribeth is just trying to maintain both home & career. The book opens up to Maribeth having a heart attack in a period of 48 hours. I had mentioned in my Monday Musings this week that I found this interesting because the percentage of women who are asymptomatic while experiencing a heart attack is startlingly high. It was very realistic to see a working mom overwhelmed by life’s many stresses.

I requested this eGalley because I thought to myself…harrowed mother of twins experiences a heart attack & isn’t able to recuperate w/out her family making her feel like she’s a huge inconvenience…this could very well be me. What happens when you’re everything to everybody & then one day you’re not physically able to fulfill that role…will they notice your absence? will they reciprocate all of the love, care, and attention you’ve invested in them? I’ll be honest, while reading Maribeth’s story I was split in two halves. One part of me was angry at her husband Jason for not stepping up to the plate to take over the reins with the kids. The second half, not at the fact that she chose to pack up & leave but rather, that it was for such an extended period of time & another issue I can’t mention because *spoilers*.

Ever read a book & just reject every single character & their story from the minute you meet them? such was the case with Leave Me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the passively aggressive Maribeth OR the sub-par husband Jason. I also wasn’t keen on her best friend Elizabeth for that matter. It took the last 100 pages for Maribeth & crew to win me over (wish it hadn’t taken this long) & make me understand that this was her journey. Sometimes it’s the road less traveled that we must take. To take care of others (especially little ones), we must first take care of ourselves. Maribeth leaves her home in need of respite & recuperation from bypass surgery post heart attack but gets so much more than what she left to obtain. Truly unhappy in her life she at some point lost herself in the day to day cycle. Maribeth is also a woman with tons of unresolved issues. She is adopted & her heart attack has managed to stir up a need to dig in to her origins. Her journey was of mind, body, and soul. During her time away she made some friendships & it was these supporting characters that lifted her up & helped her find her way. I absolutely loved the age disparity between Maribeth & her new neighbors (in her new home away from home) Todd & Sunita. Todd is a gay young man who is obsessed with all things Steelers. Todd has been entrusted by Sunita’s parents to room with & look over her. Sunita is a young college aged Indian woman who is very high spirited & able to keep up with Todd’s quip’s. Along the way, Maribeth also befriends Janice who played a crucial role in her journey. There is one other character that Maribeth meets, Stephen…a doctor with a mysterious past. I appreciated the end results of this relationship however, I was not in agreement with certain happenings 😉



Photo from Theharriedmom

 In conclusion (lengthiest review yet lol), I think every mother has had the fleeting notion of liberating themselves. We are human & the ultimate sacrifice we make is when we decide to have children. Life will throw many curve balls your way & with age come health issues. We can either meet these challenges OR retreat & replenish until we can build up the strength needed to meet such challenges. Although I don’t see myself taking Maribeth’s road, I do believe that we all need a bit of space so as to not lose ourselves. If there is a partner at home, a little appreciation goes a long way. Similarly, all relationships need to be watered to grow. I closed this book feeling like Gayle Forman sneak attacked me in the heart…
 

Rapid Fire Book Tag

Thank you Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek for tagging me on this. If you’re not familiar with Drew’s blog, head on over but be warned, all of his posts are filled with humor guaranteed to make you look quite crazy if read in public places.

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Tag Questions:

 

E-Book or Physical Book?

Physical book, I started my own little library at home & enjoy staring at my shelves for unusually long minutes at a time. I do however read e-books for my more lengthier reads (usually Fantasy/Sci-Fi) because if I want to finish a 700 page book, it’s gonna have to be at night while my tiny humans are asleep. Also saves my pages from humidity & sogginess when i’m hiding from said tiny humans in the bathroom (it has to be daddy’s turn some time hehe).

Paperback or Hardback?

Hardback, I can’t even look at a broken spine w/out wincing. In the 3rd grade I scored my 1st “job” working in the school library. Part of my duties were binding up damaged spines with thick colored tape…it was the saddest job ever & this includes my stint working in a pharmacy.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

In-store. I love EVERYTHING about the experience from the moment I step foot through those doors. The book smell, new releases front & center, the book lovers quietly browsing, member’s coupons combined with 30% off in store deals (this gal knows what she’s doing lol), and the high I get from walking out with a new book & bookmark in hand smh. I also order online & take advantage of some amazing deals/steals, but nothing quite feels the same as a book store for me.

Trilogies or Series?

Series. Unfortunately I haven’t found many trilogies that left me truly satisfied (exception: Red Rising trilogy). As long as the books being put out are good then I don’t mind continuing.

Heroes or Villains?

I always choose anti-hero (sorry Drew lol). There’s something about a potty mouthed, sarcastic, loner of a anti-hero that I’m always rooting for. I don’t see myself filling the shoes of a hero but i’m not a fan of many villains either.

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A book you want everyone to read?

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta’s story filled me with sorrow & appreciation. So many of the vaccines & scientific/medical advances were made off the cells in her body taken without her consent.

Henrietta Lacks

Goodreads synopsis:

Henrietta Lacks, as HeLa, is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. Cells descended from her may weigh more than 50M metric tons.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave.


The journey starts in the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s, her small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia — wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo. Today are stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells, East Baltimore children and grandchildren live in obscurity, see no profits, and feel violated. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.  

Recommend an underrated book?

Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave

I can’t attach a synopsis for this book since the publishers didn’t want to give anything away about this story but I can promise you that it’s one worth picking up. On Amazon the following is listed for this book:

Little Bee

Amazon:

“We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. And it’s what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds.”

The last book you finished?

This Savage Song by Victoria Shchwab & it was DELICIOUSLY DARK! my review can be found here.

The Last Book You Bought?

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

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Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

Nothing weird recently but while on maternity leave…a clean diaper…a pacifier clip…I mean the possibilities were endless.

Used Books: Yes or No?

I have a few, there’s a store nearby the hubby’s office that carries some used books in tip top shape (yea I said that lol). For the most part I don’t buy used books because my mild OCD would drive me nuts at a torn cover or cracked spine.

Top Three Favourite Genres?

Fantasy, YA, & Literary Fiction

Borrow or Buy?

Buy. I don’t borrow because although i’m great at returning, I have learned that others are NOT. So in order to prevent anyone from asking, I don’t ask to borrow anything myself 😉

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Characters or Plot?

Characters. I think in my last tag I mentioned that characters make the story for me, they are the ones that remain after i’ve turned the last page. My current read has me wanting to leave the characters in the dust as I high tail it out of that fictional world -_-

Long or Short Books?

Long. I like tomes, as long as by the time I reach page 500+ you’ve gotten somewhere important in thy quest.

Long or Short Chapters?

Short, I get anxious when I don’t see an end chapter in the horizon lol.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

And I Darken by Kiersten White (soon to read anti-hero)

The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)…Need to read to catch up to hubby

The Lies of Lock Lamora…(thank you Drew, it’s now in my online shopping cart lol)

Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh…PLEASE..put me in stitches!

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Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional. Take me awaaaaaaaaaaaY! Far Far awaaaaaaaaaaaY!

 Audiobooks: Yes or No?

Yes. I do audible especially for memoirs narrated by my favorite comedians & Neil Gaiman…cuz he has the perfect story telling voice…In my mind he is my uncle lol (don’t judge)

 Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

Ha! after I said don’t judge…HELL YEA! it’s the 1st thing we see, I am terribly vein with my books *shame* not with real life people though.

 Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

I agree with Drew, either or if it’s done well but I have also seen it go horribly wrong.

 A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

World War Z (sorry not sorry)

 Series or Standalone’s?

OooOo tough one! I like both, can’t choose one here *don’t make me*

 

I Tag:

Dee at The Bookish Khaleesi

TeacherofYA’s Book Blog

Stephanie at Between Folded Pages

Amanda at Hanging With Amanda

Beth at Reading Every Night

Melissa at BookNerdMomo

 

 

Musing Monday’s 

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme created by Books and a Beat (originally known as Should Be Reading & A Daily Rythm) that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

I’m currently reading…

Up next I think I’ll read…

I bought the following book(s) in the past week…

I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…

I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…

I can’t wait to get a copy of…

I wish I could read ___, but…

I blogged about ____ this past week…

This week’s random question: name a favorite book you’d take to the beach.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

 
What I’m currently reading….

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

I received an e-galley on Netgalley for Leave Me by Gayle Forman & I’m finding it extremely difficult to find any of the characters likable. This is my 1st Gayle Forman book & it’s also her first adult fiction book. The main protagonist is experiencing the stresses of work, marriage, parenthood, with little to no help. The book opens while Marybeth is experiencing a heart attack which I found interesting since a lot of women who experience heart attacks, are asymptomatic. Marybeth made a major decision that steers the course of the story in a very different direction…she packs up her bags and leaves her family behind. At this point I NEED to know how this all ends even if I’m not the biggest fan of the characters in this book. I’m already at the half-way point of this book & should have a review up this week.
 

Up next I think I’ll read…

How to Hang a Witch (How to Hang a Witch #1) by Adriana Mather

I do love my History but what made this subject a favorite for me in school was when we learned about the Salem Witch Trials. Ever since then, I will read anything Salem/Witches that I come across. I also happen to watch the deliciously dark tv series Salem. I know How to Hang a Witch is more of a fun take on the descendants but even for this, I’m game! I do however find it interesting that the author of this new series is a direct descendant of Cotton Mather who played a crucial role in the Salem Witch Trials. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Adriana Mather (http://www.ew.com/article/2016/08/19/adriana-mather-how-to-hang-witch) & she talks about the next book in the series How to Sink a Ship. Book 2 will have some of the witches from this first book however, it will be set around the events of the Titanic. I looked a bit further into this interesting author & it seems that she has some pretty heavy hitters for ancestors, some even from The Revolutionary War. I don’t think my background is as innnnneresting but who knows, she’s making me wonder…

Has anyone else read Leave Me by Gayle Forman? I’m interested to read some takes on it. If any of you happen to have partaken in Musing Monday’s today, drop that link in the comment box & I’ll swing on by 😉

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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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 😉