Book Tour: Rite to Reign Box Set + a GIVEAWAY

Hey y’all!! Today i’m super excited to be introducing you all to a box set urban fantasy meets paranormal romance!! The books look absolutely amazing, and as always the blog tour is beautifully set up, so make sure you check out all the cool book options in this set!

Continue reading “Book Tour: Rite to Reign Box Set + a GIVEAWAY”

Review: The Glass Castle (A Powerful Memoir NOW IN THEATERS)

The Glass Castle

By Jeannette Walls

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.24

Genre: Memoir

Publication Date: January 17th 2006

Format Read: Paperback

Goodreads Summary: The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing–a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.

halfway (48)

THIS CAME OUT AS A MOVIE LAST WEEK!!! IT’S OFFICIALLY IN THEATERS!!! TALK ABOUT GOOD TIMING, JOCE!!! (please excuse me as I give myself a pat on the back for being amazing)

In all seriousness, I planned reading this book so that I’d be able to watch the movie when it came out, and I could not be more happy that I did.  It’s been on my mom’s display shelf for years, and I was a little reluctant because it felt like it could be super boring (I mean, it’s NONFICTION).  But there was nothing not to like about this book.  It was SUPER GOOD, SUPER INTERESTING.  Jeannette’s story is so inspirational and beautiful, and the way it was written kept my interest the entire time.  Even if you’re not normally into nonfiction, I would recommend this one.

halfway (49)

I know there’s really no such thing as “characters” in this book, because they are all real people, but I’m going to do this section anyways.  You felt for every single person in this book, especially Jeannette, and I think they were fantastically well developed so that you could see each side of them– the one she saw as a little kid, and how that perspective developed as she got older.  I felt like not only did I know the characters, I WAS Jeannette the entire time I read it, and I understood exactly WHY she felt the way she did towards her father and mother.  It was powerfully done and I think made the story.

halfway (50)

This was non-fiction!?!?!?!

I keep asking myself this question over and over again because it seems too painful to be true, and yet the details are too precise and heart wrenching for it to be anything but.

The Glass Castle takes you through Jeannette’s entire life up to this point, starting from her first memory.  Her life is absolutely insane, because her parents were essentially impoverished nomads who were poor simply because they chose not to do anything about it.  This led to a very unique perspective on life for all of the Walls children, and that comes through in her writing.

I’m really reluctant to say anything more because I’m afraid of spoiling the “shock factor” which made this book so powerful to me.  But it’s incredible.  Genuinely emotionally shockingly beautifully powerful.  Read it and you’ll understand.

halfway (70)

I mean, this is really sort of hard.  It’s sort of told in terms of short stories, because obviously the author is writing over a really long period of time, and so she has to skip the “less important” parts in order to fit it all into the fairly skinny little book.  Her writing style was detailed and yet informative, and extremely emotion-evoking.  Like it left me sobbing multiple times.

halfway (71).png

I LOVED THE CASTING FOR THIS MOVIE!!! I mean, Brie and Woody were both PERFECT in their roles, and the other girls that played Jeannette were equally as incredible, I couldn’t believe that they were CHILDREN because they were so impressive.

Although the movie didn’t follow the true events exactly, or show all of the parts of the book, it did a really good job and I thought it captured the true essence of the story.  I would 10/10 recommend.

halfway (56)

This book was SO SO SO GOOD PLEASE READ IT.  I am so overwhelmed by this entire story, the beautifulness of it, and the way it was written.  I think it deserves to be read just because it makes you appreciate your own life so much more, and gives you such a great appreciation for what other people go through.  Plus, honestly it’s a true pleasure read, you can really enjoy it and feel like it’s a novel. So what are you waiting for! Buy it already!

View on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

halfway (47)

Have you read Glass Castle? Watched it? Are you looking forward to it? What did you think!!?!?!


joce-sign-off


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Review: The Bone Witch (Dramatic Details and an Amazing Plotline)

By Rin Chupeco

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.53

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: March 7th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary: The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer.

Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

halfway (1)

This is one of those books that takes you a while to get into, but once you do you don’t want it to end.  I think part of the reason for this is that it’s a series (which I didn’t realize when I requested it) and it takes place in a world very, very different from our own, which meant that it required a lot of worldbuilding.  Plus, Chupeco uses a lot of flouncy, descriptive imagery in her writing, which makes me vaguely nauseous at times and reminds me of the reason that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jane Eyre.  It just felt like there were some paragraphs that took FOREVER to read, just to describe a girl’s hua (a type of apparel with Asian roots)

That being said, I still adored the story and gave it 4 stars because the characters were magnificently developed, and the plot was interesting.  It kept me going throughout because I desperately needed to figure out what would happen to Tea.  The book follows her story, so it is sort of a fantasy coming of age novel, which is something that I appreciate.  Plus, there’s elements of (semi-unrequited) romance, evil beasts which must be defeated, and a girl struggling with her identity.  It’s perfect.

While I read, I was reminded a lot of the book “Memoirs of a Geisha” mainly because the life of an Asha, which is what Tea was training to be, is basically like a magic Geisha who at times has to go out and slay beasts.  Since I always found geisha life mildly appealing (don’t judge please) now my main goal in life is to be an asha.  Anyways, back to the review…

halfway (2)

Tea, the MC, was super cool.   And her name is pronounced Tay-uh, which I didn’t know until about halfway through when some minor character had trouble pronouncing her name.  Not only could she use magic to raise the dead, but she was totally badass and a strong character, which made me love her.  There was no “I need a man to save the day” whatsoever in this book, which was one of my favorite parts ever.  I thought Tea was very very well developed and relatable, because you never saw her as just one thing.  From the opening scene, she was this super powerful Asha, but also had some weaknesses, strong family ties, and wasn’t immune to what other people thought of her.  Chupeco made her this incredible female lead while still showing that she was vulnerable, which made me relate to her more than I would have otherwise.  She was also super dynamic, because she went from being somewhat more nervous, frightened girl to someone who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which is exactly the type of progress that I love to see.  And this is only book one.  The fact that it isn’t going to take Tea the entire series to become “tough” is a testament to the writing and makes me wayyyyy more excited to read the next books in the series.

There are virtually no men in this novel except for the love interests, and Tea’s brother Fox, whom she rose from the dead.  I think that made it very women’s empowerment-y because it was women that were teaching and helping Tea “come of age” without the influence of a male role model to help her.

All of the minor and side characters in the novel had strong backgrounds and you could see how they became the people which they are today.  You wanted the best for all of them, especially Mikaela, Tea’s sort-of mentor.

halfway (3)

Hmmmmm…. what can I say here.  The plot was very very good, but at times I felt like Chupeco put the story on hold in order to write overly detailed descriptions.  And I don’t mean there wasn’t a lot of action in parts, because there was always stuff happening, and Tea developing, but there were a lot of paragraphs of description that almost made me ditch the book in the opening parts.  I don’t understand why there had to be so much flouncy detail.  I think part of it was Chupeco wanting to make the reader understand teh worldbuilding aspect better, but the bottom line is that it put me to sleep and caused me to move very slowly through the book, since I just didn’t want to pick it up.  That being said, I felt like it got better– or I just got used to it– as it went along, and the story itself makes it worth pushing through the beginning.

The plot contained flashforwards every chapter or two to Tea on a beach after she has already gone through a lot of her story.  In the whole book, the story lines never intersect, which is weirdly cool.

The ending has a sort of present-timeline plot twist which is confusing to everyone (I think) even if you had guessed that it would come, because Chupeco doesn’t really explain it at all.  That being said, I think it’s coming in the sequel and that we haven’t caught up in the past timeline plot yet.

A lot of this story had a coming of age, geisha training vibe.  I wouldn’t recommend this book if you’re looking for a tale of adventure and defeating monsters.  It’s not that.  It’s more about Tea’s emotions and the way which she develops both as our protagonist and in her feelings and confidence.  I think the next book will have more of a defeat the system feel to it, but this book did not, so bottom line is you won’t enjoy it if that’s what you’re looking for.

halfway (5)

I think I’m going to make a list, because listing is fun and why not.

  1. Tea’s development and the way she was always portrayed as just as strong, if not stronger, than men
  2. Mikaela and the motherly yet all powerful role she played in the book while still having weaknesses
  3. The wordbuilding.  Let me tell you that it was amazing.  Like, so unique and vibrant and real.  You literally wear your heart in a necklace, and have to kill this unkillable monsters called daeva on a yearly basis.  I felt like I was really in the world, and could imagine it just as well as I can my own.  (That’s actually why I put Chupeco in my dream worldbuilding panel, if you were wondering)
  4. Likh’s whole story line was perfect, but I can’t really explain without including spoilers so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
  5. The plot twist at the end of the past timeline was so so so good
  6. All of the side character’s personalities and yet realness.  Nobody was a one dimensional character, not even the “mean girl”, thank gods for that.
  7. The geisha-ness

halfway (6)

Another list, you ask? Why not, I say!

  1. The excessive description
  2. The romance aspect that wasn’t really going anywhere but just felt like two people who had a crush on each other but neither would admit it but not in the awkward tension kind of way, just in the “we’re too little to be in a real relationship” way
  3. Not much else!

halfway (7).png

This whole book drew a lot from Asian culture, and the MC is a PoC, which is great and super rare in the fantasy genre as a whole.  I wouldn’t consider myself an expert on the culture, but I do think that  it made the book more real than it would have been otherwise.

There was a minor character, one of Tea’s friends, who ended up being transgender and coming out over the course of the book, which is really awesome because of how accepted and the fact that Tea never once thought that it was anything out of the ordinary.

halfway (8)

The dark asha (so basically Tea and Mikaela) cut themselves in order to draw their runes in the air, which I’m not really sure is a trigger or not, but I figured I’d include it.

halfway (9).png

“I would much rather remain undetected in the shadows than saunter out into the light, with my flaws out for all to see.” (chapter 11)

halfway (10)

Once you got past the over description, the book was really solid, and I’m very excited to read the next books in the series when they come out.  I think the worldbuilding was incredible, and would highly recommend to fans of YA fantasy who don’t mind it being minimally action-y.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Add on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon


Check out my social media:

Twitter  Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress | Our Voices Matter

~ Now Venture Out and Change the World ~

Review: Go Set A Watchman (Not What I Was Expecting At All)

By Harper Lee

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.31

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: July 14th 2015

Format Read: Audiobook

Goodreads Summary: From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision–a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

halfway (1)

*The following review contains spoilers for To Kill A Mockingbird*

HAPPY 3 YEAR PUBLISHING ANNIVERSARY!!!! I totally didn’t plan for the review to line up like this, but then I only had to push it back one week, so it seemed worth it and I moved stuff around and went for it!

The only reason that this book was even published at all is that it was written by Harper Lee.  This book was never meant to be published, and you can tell from the way it’s written.  It’s 90% dialogue, there’s not much plot going on, the flashbacks are weird and make the whole thing messy, and it’s just generally a mess.

That being said, it was still good to read about Scout again, and I think her character stayed true.  I felt like she was the same little girl, and in the parts where she was just sort of commenting sarcastically about what everyone else was doing, I really liked it.  For me, the first half was far better than the second, which is why it managed to get 3 stars despite a very, very unsatisfactory wrap up and ending.

 

halfway (3)

In the book, Scout goes back to Maycomb for a visit, since she now lives in New York City.  Atticus has this disease where he can barely pick things up and his hands shake all the time, Alexandra lives there full time to take care of him, and sweet sweet Jem is dead.

Basically, Scout (known now as Jean Louise) learns just how racist literally everyone in her entire town is, and she talks to them about it.  That’s the entire plot.  In the beginning it was interesting because the flashbacks were fun and I was just enjoying Scout, but it got old and the end discussions between Atticus and Jean Louise, then between her Uncle (who I don’t think was in TKAM) and her, were just way too long.   It was obvious that this book was NEVER MEANT TO BE PUBLISHED.

halfway (2)

They ruined Atticus.  In this book, he was a racist asshole, as were all of Jean Louise’s relatives.  It was terrible.  It made me hate them all.  Even though maybe they were well written, it was just so out of nowhere given TKAM that I had trouble believing it.  It’s clear that Lee wrote this book first, and that there was a reason she never tried to publish it.  Because the characters didn’t line up at all, and it would have destroyed a true classic image.

Scout was the same, rash, rebellious.  But her relationship with Harry (a boy from her town) felt forced and wrong and something that the real Scout wouldn’t do.  That being said, I love her and she was the only character I like, even though I think even she had a poor ending to the novel.

halfway (5)

Going back to Maycomb, albeit in a very very very different context.

halfway (6)

Ruining Atticus and the stark lack of plot.

halfway (7)

Well, all the black people are treated terribly, and told that they’re animals, so there’s that.
halfway (8)

RACISM EVERYWHERE.  It hurts even more coming from someone we thought we could trust (now I know why I’m so sad.  We all idolize Atticus just like Scout did.  Damnnnn)

halfway (10)

This book was not nearly as good as I was expecting, but I think it’s a worthwhile read for people who enjoyed TKAM and want a little insight into Lee’s creative process.  But it’s not something to read just as someone interested in fiction in general, or just finding a good book to read.  If that’s the case, skip it and preserve Atticus in your brain.

Buy on Amazon

Add on Goodreads

Let's Talk


joce-sign-off


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Review: I’ll Give you the Sun (This was so adorable and full of emotion and I LOVED IT)

By Jandy Nelson

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.14

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication Date: September 16th 2014

Format Read: Kindle

Goodreads Summary: A brilliant, luminous story of first love, family, loss, and betrayal for fans of John Green, David Levithan, and Rainbow Rowell

Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant novel from the acclaimed, award-winning author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once.

halfway (1)

This book was AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL and I cannot promote it enough.  If you haven’t read it yet, you need to, because it’s one of my favorite YA books of all times, not even exaggerating.  The main concept was that Noah and Jude, twins, had to go through and live their life and deal with all of their problems of growing up.  I think Nelson did this really well, because you were super in touch with each of their emotions and you knew what they were thinking and you felt for them while you were reading their chapters.  It was beautiful.

The book was told from 2 time frames and 2 different perspectives, which made the book totally different than it could have been otherwise.  Noah’s perspective was told when he was 13-14 years old, and Jude’s perspective was told when she was 16.  A lot of shit went down in the in between years, and so it’s sort of a starting point and ending point for all of the drama of their teenage years, but yet the perspectives alternated so you never got the full story all at once.  I adored it.

 

halfway (2)

Noah is a gay, super artistic kid whose only dream in life is getting into CSA, the super prestigious art school near his house.  I think Noah was the character you felt more sorry for throughout the novel, because he was a genuinely really really really nice kid, and most of the stuff that happened to him wasn’t really his fault.  He had a lot of trouble in school, and was RELATABLE AF for me at least because he just wanted to fit in and not be bullied and yet he couldn’t because he felt different and although our reasons are very different I just felt for him.

Jude is a totally different animal.  In Noah’s perspectives, she’s this super popular flirtatious girly girl who fights with her mom and brother.  In her perspective, she has become a reclusive, hidden potato of a child on a BOYcott (she’s not dating or flirting with boys).  So obviously something big happened to her, and that makes you want to know more and figure her out.  But tbh she wasn’t the nicest person in the world, although I still loved her.

Oscar and Brian.  The love interests.  Oscar was Jude’s redeeming feature, because you SHIP THEM SO HARD.  They are perfect and I adore it.  Brian and Noah I ship too obviously and I think the whole thing is adorable aaagghghhh cannot compute.  The romance level of this book was so on point because there was no insta-love and yet there was no fighting, bad boy cliche act either.  It was just real.

halfway (3)The plot of this story was mainly driven by relationships (mostly family) especially NoahandJude vs. Noah and Jude and the way which those dynamics played in.  This really worked for me because I’m very character based, so if you like contemporary I think this would work out really well for you.  I can’t think of much else to say.

halfway (5)

Guillermo (I forgot to mention him in characters) is the most mysteriously incredible mentor ever.

ART!! I want to art so badly after reading this book

Unique perspective.  Jude and Noah have such different voices that Nelson captured perfectly.

The whole book

romance

beautifulness

the whole book (did I say that already?)

 

halfway (6)

Jude, maybe? Their mom, maybe? Life and what it does to them, maybe?  but not the book, at all.

 

halfway (7)

Noah is gay! and he’s not gay like trying to find his identity, and the whole book is not just about his gayness, which makes it more honest and real and awesome.
halfway (8)

cheating, attempted suicide, depression

halfway (10)READ THIS BOOK PLEASE OH PLEASE GODS.  I loved it so much and will forever recommend it to everyone until the day that I die.

Buy on Amazon

Add on Goodreads

Let's Talk

Have you read this book? Have you read anything else by this author? What did you think? Which characters did you love and which did you hate?  Do you have any other book recs that you think I would love just as much as this one?


joce-sign-off


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Review: Final Girls (Holy Shit My Head’s Still Spinning)

By Riley Sager

My Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.23

Genre: Psycho Thriller/Mystery/Slasher 

Publication Date: July 11th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook

Goodreads Summary: Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.  Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.  That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Overview…

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! It was one of the most incredible psycho thrillers that I’ve ever read, kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time, and had a very, very good ending that helped pull the entire piece together.  I first came across this book when Stephen King (yes, THE Stephen King) recommended it via Twitter, and I cannot explain how excited I was to receive an e-ARC and have the opportunity to read it.  The best possible compliment I can give the book is that it reminded me somewhat of a Gillian Flynn novel, and was definitely up to her standards, although of course it was uniquely Riley Sager.  But, if you enjoyed the likes of Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, I can promise you that you will adore this can’t-put-down read.

The Plot…

Wow.  Just wow.  That’s really all I have to say for this section.  Sager did such a good job of creating a plot which moved quickly enough to be an edge of your seat read, but not so quickly that you felt as though it was rushed.  Although there were elements of “action” throughout, there were also plenty of scenes which took their time to unfold, and the fast paced scenes were all the better for it.

Although there were plot twists, very good ones, it always seemed realistic, and in fact probable, after the fact.  That’s something that I love about this book.  It never felt like they were stretching to create a plot and thereby doing something which didn’t fit with the natural character flow.  Twists were VERY, VERY surprising, but in hindsight you could see how/why.

What I think made this book special was that throughout the book, Quincy can’t remember what happened to her at Pine Cottage, the place where all of her friends were killed by a psycho named Joe and she was brutally injured.  Because of the way it unfolds, you know that there is something more to the story but you don’t know what.  To pull you in, Sager occasionally utilizes flashbacks to Pine Cottage so that you see what is happening slowly, as present day occurs.  I think this offered a good change of pace and kept you hooked the entire time.

The Characters…

The main character, Quincy, has a lot of issues that she attempts to cover up throughout the novel.  She seems afraid of facing her real self in a way that makes her at once vulnerable and strong.  Even though she is a Final Girl– supposedly the toughest and the strongest– she has a plethora of weaknesses, and everything seems real.  

Sam, the other mainest character, is a deeper, more mysterious personality, and that helps add a lot to the book.  Whereas Quincy’s emotions are all laid out there for the readers to see, Sam is a mystery who you struggle to uncover, and yet she somehow seems so developed the entire time.

Reasons I Loved It…

It was overall an amazing read.  Thrillers are always exciting, and I loved this one because the whole premise was likely to happen.  3 mass murders, 3 female survivors, all lauded by the media…. It’s just so cool and such a 21st century thing.  After the general concept, Sager did a great job at actually DOING something with her plot and bringing it to life.  It would have been easy to make a flat story line, but Sager did the opposite.

Ugh Moments…

Umm this is a 5 star review so I don’t really think there are any?  Like I honestly can’t think of any flaws whatsoever and that’s worrying me slightly? I’ll edit this if I think of anything.

Diversity and Triggers…

I can’t really think of any diverse characters in this novel whatsoever, so you aren’t going to get any of that.  

As far as triggers, there are TONS of mentions of mental illness.  Quincy has anxiety and just a generally messed up brain and has to take Xanax for it.  Her mental disorder causes her to steal things and drink too much wine, but IMO this is a normal reaction for someone who saw all of their friends murdered in college??  It never stereotyped or grouped all illnesses together, so it wasn’t making a comment on mental illness in general.

There was also a boy named Joe who was locked up in the mental institution, escaped, and murdered all of Quincy’s friends at Pine Cottage.  That being said, once more it is not stereotyped and there is other development with this character.

Obviously, the book contains violence, including many deaths, stabbing, and strangulation which, although to me that sounds exciting, may be worrisome to others.  Also there are drug and alcohol references.

Summary…

IF YOU READ ONE THRILLER THIS YEAR IT HAS TO BE THIS ONE.  I know it’s early to say this, but I think it might be one of my favorite reads of 2017, and it most likely would have been in the top 5 of 2016 as well.  I will be on the lookout for more of Riley Sager’s books in the future, because it was that good.

Oh Also Look at the Other Cover…

I used the cover up top of the one I actually read, but there is another (prettier) one that I couldn’t resist sharing.30215662

Add on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Disclaimer: Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! Also, I am an Amazon Affiliate, so if you are interested in purchasing this book (which you totally should be) use my link and I will receive a small comission 🙂

joce-sign-off


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Review: The Nightingale (LOVE This WWII Perspective)

🙂

By Kristin Hannah

Rating:  đź™‚ 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.54

Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)

Publication Date: February 3rd 2015

Format Read: Audiobook via Library Overdrive

Challenges met: Read Harder Challenge

Goodreads Summary: Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

Overview…

I cannot explain enough how much I loved this book.  I cried about 50 gazillion times reading it, mostly because it was sad, but also sometimes because I was happy.  This is a WWII book, which I know can get old for a lot of readers, but it was such a new, interesting take that it seemed completely new.  Isabelle and Vianne are both sisters from France, which was taken over during WWII by the Germans, and so they were essentially living in German controlled territory, billeting with soldiers, and trying to run secret revolutions.  That sounds dramatic, but everything fit, and there was so much personal relationship details that everything felt so so so real.

If you read one book this year, I would hands down say that it has to be this one, because it is rare that a book moves me this much, and I couldn’t stop listening.  One thing I would say is that I sort of wish I read it rather than listening because there were so many pretty, well written phrases that I would have wanted to see in print.  But I’m a nerd so maybe that doesn’t go for everyone.  (plus, I would have finished it wayyyyy faster)

 

The Characters…

The main characters in this book are Isabelle and Vianne.  They are sisters, but total opposites.  The rebellious, impulsive younger sister Isabelle, and the mature, takes care of everything Vianne.  Now, Hannah ran a serious risk of just creating one dimensional stock characters, based on the background and everything, but she managed to do anything but that.  The two sisters were alive and real and you felt for their every movement, you wanted them to succeed, you cried for them, and by the end they were your friends.

Vianne sort of annoyed me in the beginning, mainly because the way she behaves is so contrary to my personality, but she was still a great character, and she ended up growing on me and becoming a super loved character, so stick with her.

The other characters in this book, although less prevalent, are very very well developed through their actions and words, and the whole word is 3 dimensional.  I don’t know how everything felt so alive, but I felt like I was in France, in WWII, the entire time, and it hurt.  It made everything SO AMAZING.   I cannot explain enough how perfectly incredible this book was.

 

The Plot…

There’s nothing that could have been done better in this book.  The plot alternated 3 ways, between an old woman who was being moved into a nursing home in present day Oregon, Vianne, and Isabelle.  My personal favorites were Isabelle’s chapters, just because she’s exciting and lives life on the edge so her chapters usually had more action in them.

Vianne filled the book with emotion and despair and portrayed the more traditional housewife-with-husband-at-war outlook, although I can assure you her experiences were far from stereotypical.

The old woman thing was a really cool idea– it kept you guessing until the very end which sister it was.  Also, it allowed Hannah to show the present day and recap on what happened to all of the characters in the interim, which I LOVED because it meant I didn’t have to sit there thinking “did _____ marry ____?” or anything else… it was given to me.

I will tell you that although the entire book was powerfully, incredibly written, the ending was by far the best ending of any book I’ve ever read.  It was PERFECT and I don’t think Hannah could have changed anything to improve it.  Your relationships to the characters came through so strong,  and everything was asdfghjkl EMOTION!

Diversity and Triggers…

(as always, this section contains minor spoilers so you should just ignore it if you aren’t concerned about anything in particular)

I’ve got nothing in the diversity spectrum for you, but it was 1940s France so cut it some slack.

As far as triggers go, there is rape in one portion, death (of children especially), and concentration camps.

Summary…

YOU NEED TO GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK TODAY, NO EXCUSES!!!! It was remarkable, wonderfully written perfection.  I can’t even write because I feel like crying just thinking about it.  All I can say is, get the book.  And I want to know if you read it and what you think!!!!!

Add on Goodreads


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | TumblrBloglovin’Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture out and Change the World ~

Review: The Fourth Monkey (Awesome Twist With Sexism and Too Many Details)

BEFORE WE START: JUST A REMINDER THAT YOU ONLY HAVE UNTIL THE END OF APRIL TO SUBMIT YOUR BOOK BLOGGER AWARD NOMINATIONS.  READ THE RULES HERE! I would appreciate it if everyone could spread the word 🙂

By JD Barker

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 4.53

Genre: Police Mystery/Serial Killer Thriller

Publication Date: June 27th 2017

Format Read: Phone Ebook via Netgalley at Agent Request

Challenges met: What’s in a Name?

Goodreads Summary: For over five years, the Four Monkey Killer has terrorized the residents of Chicago. When his body is found, the police quickly realize he was on his way to deliver one final message, one which proves he has taken another victim who may still be alive.   As the lead investigator on the 4MK task force, Detective Sam Porter knows even in death, the killer is far from finished. When he discovers a personal diary in the jacket pocket of the body, Porter finds himself caught up in the mind of a psychopath, unraveling a twisted history in hopes of finding one last girl, all while struggling with personal demons of his own.  With only a handful of clues, the elusive killer’s identity remains a mystery. Time is running out and the Four Monkey Killer taunts from beyond the grave in this masterfully written fast-paced thriller. 

Overview…

This was the first police procedural type thriller I’ve ever read, and so I was really excited about that aspect going in.  However, I found that these are NOT my ideal reads, which was a bit disappointing.  I think what saved this book for me was that there was another time line within it, which was written from the perspective of the 4th monkey killer (4MK) himself, back when he was a child.  This part was far, far better, and I would always look forward to the flashbacks, told by way of a diary.  Overall, I enjoyed the book, and even some of the police parts were interesting, and so I would recommend, especially if you enjoy police thrillers.

The Characters…

The main character was police Detective Sam Porter.  He’s a middle aged married guy, 50s (I think), and he’s worked on the force for years, mostly on the 4MK cases.  However, at the time the book starts he was supposed to be on a “break” for reasons which we don’t find out until later in the book.  His assistant, Nash, is also a Detective, and the two are almost always together.  One of the biggest problems which I had with the characterization in this book is that these two seemed to be almost identical, until the very end.  I felt like JD Barker was imposing his sense of humor on both of the characters, which led to them being very much alike in many ways, even though Nash was supposed to be the more outgoing, funny one.

The side characters– Clair and Watson specifically– were quite well developed and offered awesome distinctive personalities to the book.  I think Clair might have had her own pov chapter at some point as well, which is something I like.  A strong, young woman is something that I can get behind.  There were lots of other characters which flitted into and out of these scenes, but none were well developed and I kept mixing them up and not remembering their names, at no loss to the meaning of the novel, so I think it’s a bit irrelevant.

Although Porter was the MC for most of the book, 4MK writes a diary which is “read” throughout and offers a different perspective to the novel.  These parts were my favorite, because 4MK had SUCH a distinctive, strong personality that was very very creepy and yet kind of cool at the same time.  Plus, his mother was FREAKING WEIRD but yet awesome at the same time, because she was so damn strong, and the father was cool too.  (I’m not a psycho I just think it was cool).

Another perspective, from a kidnapped girl, was (IMO) a good part to read, because she was a strong girl even though she was suffering, and she fought so hard, which is definitely a positive.  Not saying her name because that part is a semi spoiler.

The Plot…

There was alternating POV between 3 main people, and then one more who just had a single chapter.  I liked this because it created more suspense, and also provided some interest in the slower parts.  As I said earlier, I wasn’t a huge fan of Porter’s POV, but it was broken up well so that the boring parts never lasted for too long.

In general, I thought pacing was good, but it did move quickly.  There wasn’t much time for world building or character development and you were pretty much figuring out everything on the fly.  I think there was one scene where they went back and recapped what 4MK was for the readers, but other than that it was go-go-go.

What I Loved…

I loved the pacing of the novel, and the twist at the end.  You could 150% see how it happened looking back, but I never for an instant guessed the truth.  The way they piece everything together is really really cool as well.  It causes the reader to keep guessing along the entire time.

I could have read an entire book of just 4MK’s childhood perspective, and that really made the book for me.

The whole idea of the 4 monkeys, which comes from some type of ancient myth, is so creative!

What I Hated…

This book was GROSS.  Like I can’t explain how gross.  I’m not one to be turned off by intense descriptions, but this book had me cringing and skim reading because I was feeling sick by the descriptions.  If you’re not one for gore or vivid detail, I highly suggest skipping this read.  But, on the other hand, congrats to Barker for writing in such a realistic way 🙂

The Porter/Nash personality complex sort of threw me off a little bit in the beginning.

Sexism…

ALRIGHT PEOPLE.  LISTEN UP.  This was the biggest problem with the book for me.  Although Barker wrote 2 very strong, independent women who knew what they wanted and went for it, there were underlying notes of sexism in much of the book.  This not only pissed me off, but at some parts made me slightly uncomfortable, and caused me to dislike the male characters a bit.

Clair was one of the youngest women to ever work her way up at the police station, and she’s described as super good at her job, tough as nails, doesn’t take BS from anyone.  However, Nash (one of the biggest side characters) consistently flirted with her and spoke in a manner to her that was incredibly unprofessional, and made me squirm.  Nothing physical ever happened, but he spoke down to her often just because she was a woman.  This was considered funny by many of the characters, despite the fact that Clair was consistently warding off his advances.  MEN: JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT A WOMAN DOESN’T MEAN SHE WANTS YOU.  If a woman is constantly declining your flirtation or sexual passions, then you need to leave her the fuck alone.  This works the other way too.

In the diary flashbacks, 4MK (as a child) looks on with lust at his older (meaning 30s) female neighbor while she is naked, and while she is hooking up with his mother.  This could be blown off, but then later the neighbor states that she knew 4MK was there, but she enjoys having her body looked at because she wanted to be desired.  To me, this perpetuates rape culture, where men believe that women want to be stared at like pieces of meat, and that if they wear revealing clothing it’s because they want the man to “like it”.  It’s troubling that a woman in the novel could so easily say something that goes directly against what we are fighting to change in our society today.

I don’t know if Barker intended this, as he did create strong women in his writing, and the MC has obvious affection and respect for his wife, but I do fear that the one scene described above, combined with Nash’s actions, create an underlying theme of sexism that shouldn’t be ignored.

Other Triggers…

Homosexuality– yes I know this of itself is not a trigger.  But you should know that in the book, two women were sleeping together for a long time, and they are not looked on very highly for it.  Then again, they are both married, and it’s their husbands who find out, so that could have kind of a lot to do with it.

Abuse– There is a man in the book who beats his wife, and tries to rape someone else, but there are no particularly strong details, and it only happens in one chapter.

It’s very gruesome, as I said earlier, so if you are not okay with that, then don’t read this book.  I can’t think of anything specific to point out, so we’ll leave it at that.

Summary…

This review has gotten really long, so I’ll keep this quick.  I loved the story and the twist at the end, and thought that the plot had good flow.  The police part was my least favorite, and the diary my favorite.  Most of the character development was good, except for the overlapping of the MC and his sidekick.  There was sexism though, and this caused it to lose a star in my review.

Add on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley at the request of an agent in exchange for an honest review.


Check out my social media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now Venture Out and Change the World ~

Review: Invisible Man (This slow, long read had meaning in the end)

By Ralph Ellison

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.83

Genre: Racial Commentary Fiction written pre-civil rights movement

Publication Date: 1952

Format Read: Physical copy from school

Challenges met: Read Harder Challenge

Goodreads Summary: First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.

Overview…

I have to admit, I really, really struggled with both reading this one and rating it.  I had to read it for school, which meant exactly one chapter every two days, writing about 55 pages of annotations overall, and doing otherwise annoying discussions about the book that eventually felt flat, boring, and repetitive.  And for that reason, when I finished, I was about to click the 2 star button on Goodreads.  I really was.  And then (luckily for you all) I rethought, and actually went back to my feelings in the beginning of reading this.  They were different.

In the beginning, I loved this book, it was original (compared to what I’ve read), and it had tons of great imagery, symbolism, everything.  Literally every color or object symbolized something else which is CRAZYYYYY.  Ellison is quite literally a genius.  I feel like even if you don’t pick up on all the symbolism, you’ll still like the book.  The biggest problem I have with this is that it’s long.  Reading it in a classroom exacerbated that problem.  I genuinely believe that if I read this on my own, I would have gotten less out of it but enjoyed it more.

The Character…

There was really only one main character in this book, and the others sort of drifted in and out at intervals.  The main character/protagonist/narrator is unnamed, but he was excellently developed.  As a southern black boy in the 40s gone north, there is an interesting dynamic yet, as Ellison went through similar circumstances, I believe that he was able to master it.  Although he is very, very frustrating, it stayed true to his character while still allowing him to change and progress, and so therefore it could be called a bit of a coming of age novel.  I can’t really say much about him because there isn’t much to say, but I do believe he was well written.

The Plot…

For me, this is where the book loses the large majority of its points.  The plot is weird, and for the first half I almost feel as though it is jumping from short story to short story, albeit in chronological order.  Ellison only wanted to show the most interesting, important parts, and for that reason there were many time hops and odd stories.  You have to take the whole thing with a grain of salt, because even though it seems unrealistic there is a point that the author is trying to make.

Another problem I had is that it became repetitive.  It was as though you knew what was going to happen (if not what, then how) so there was no real point of reading the book anymore.  I felt it could have been 200 pages shorter and still had a powerful impact and gotten its point across.

Highlights…

I loved the way that the side characters in this book were characterized even though they kept changing.  They were given firm personalities and in their own way shepherded the Invisible Man on his journey to worldly discovery in a very realistic way, which I enjoyed.  

Lowlights…

It was too long, had too much symbolism, and tried to make things far more complicated than they actually had to be.

Diversity and Triggers…

Well, this is easy.  It’s about a black boy/man, and takes place in Harlem, so there’s a fair amount of honest racial diversity.  Also, one of the characters is gay although you probably won’t realize it without Sparknotes telling you, since he only shows up for 1 chapter and you have to infer off of descriptions.

Triggers is a bit more difficult.  There’s A LOT of racial inequality being shown, and sometimes that shows itself in less than pretty ways.  Expect electro torture and cruel treatment.  That being said, I suppose the diversity critics of today would say that it’s an “own voice” novel as Ellison was black and writing of some of his own experiences.  So at the very least (I’m assuming) there’s accurate representation.

Oh and also there’s a whole chapter or 3 about incest and rape (separately, I promise).

Summary…

The character in this book was frustrating yet real, but in the background there were tons of less than realistic things going on that sort of turned me off.  Also, it was way way too long.  I would say read this book if you are willing to slog through a slow read in order to learn a powerful message of race and being perceived in different ways/stereotypes, and this book IS a classic.  But, I wouldn’t recommend as a pleasure read, unless you have a very twisted sense of pleasure.

Buy on Amazon (affiliate link w/ no added cost to you)

Add on Goodreads

joce-sign-off

Review: Truly Madly Guilty (It had me hooked, but was missing something)

By Liane Moriarty

Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Goodreads Rating: 3.55

Genre: New Fiction w/ mystery element

Publication Date: July 26th 2016

Format Read: Phone Ebook

Challenges met: Read Harder Challenge

Goodreads Summary: Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong? Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.  Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.  Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?  In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

Overview…

I went into this book not knowing a lot, and so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I’d already read a Moriarty book in the past, so I figured it would be something similar, and I was very happy with what I got out of this book.  It isn’t one that I think everyone needs to read, but while I was reading it, I was hooked.  Moriarty has a gift of slowly revealing information in a way that leaves you constantly wanting more, but not becoming bored.  Although it is “slow to unfold” as some reviewers have put it, I believe that the way she did give out information was in just the right quantity.  You never felt like she was intentionally trying to elongate it, nor did she use any of the “cliches” of a novel like this which would make it lose its value.  I don’t know how else to put that without spoilers, but I thought she made everything very realistic to the situation.

The Characters…

There were a ton of characters in this novel, namely three couples, 3 children, a grumpy old neighbor, a crazy hoarder mom, and one of the couple’s parents.  Keep in mind while I write this that this book was written for adults with adult MCs, so “mom” is about 60 while the MC couples are in their late 20s-30s (I’m guessing, they might be older).  The POV alternated between all 6 individuals which make up the couples, but rather than adding to confusion, this clarified a lot and allowed for wayyyy better personality development of everyone in the novel.  And, as the point of this book was to evaluate the impacts of one “mysterious event” it made sense to see the emotions of everyone who was involved.  

I think Moriarty did a great job of characterizing everyone in her novel, even though she had A TON of work to do in order to accomplish this.  Everyone has distinctive personalities, and although you may not like some of them, you have to admit that they are honest and real and the people act in accordance with their personalities.  What I love is that there’s no miraculous “change overnight” scenes.  That doesn’t fit with the way Moriarty works.  I was especially impressed with the way each person had an individualized personality– there were no generic characters here.  One thing that I would complain about is that a couple of them were stereotypes– the big, over friendly Italian, and the girl with parent problems who developed OCD.  That being said, at least they were all different, and their relationships were well done.

The Plot…

I loved the way Moriarty did this.  The reason her story worked is that she incorporated so many small details, with slow revealing, so that the reader was on the edge of their seat the entire time.  

The POV shifted among all of the characters present at the barbeque, which added to the effect of slow reveals, because you slowly learned how everyone felt about the moment, and eventually it began coming together.  It also made me think about how one event can severely impact EVERYONE’S lives, even if it seems like it shouldn’t really matter.

Diversity and Triggers…

As far as diversity goes, there’s not really that much to say, except for the fact that it’s nonexistent.

Triggers, let’s see, there’s a lot.  We’ll go no spoiler first: strippers/sex club, drinking, OCD, hoarding, therapy, marriage problems, lots of people with “issues”.   

And now, for a major spoiler, just cursor over the next sentence, because I’m writing it in white.  If you read this, it will ruin most of the book’s mystery element, which is what makes it so good so I wouldn’t recommend it.  A young child nearly dies with her parents watching, and it is described fairly vividly multiple times with CPR recover, and is the central focus of the whole plot.

Summary…

Overall, I adored this book, and found it really good, but it was missing something that made it PERFECT.  There’s nothing much that I can genuinely put my finger on, and it might just be because I’m too young to relate directly to the characters and situation, but they just didn’t seem real enough for me to give it 5 stars.  That being said, I would 100% recommend, especially if you liked What Alice Forgot, which is another book by Liane.

Add on Goodreads

Buy on Amazon

Disclaimer: I’m an Amazon Associate, so if you buy the book, use this link so that I can earn a commission with no extra charge for you!

joce-sign-off


Check out my Social Media:

Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin’ | Email | Goodreads | FictionPress

~ Now venture out and change the world ~