Category: Book Reviews

Oct 12

Review of Roseblood by A.G. Howard

Book Reviews 1 ★★★★★

Review of Roseblood by A.G. HowardRoseBlood by A.G. Howard
Published by Harry N. Abrams on January 10th 2017
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Goodreads five-stars
three-flames

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

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Guard your throats and hide your eyes. He’s not dead, you fools. Legends never die.

Roseblood by A.G. Howard was one of my super anticipated reads this year, mainly because I absolutely loved the sweet romance of the only other A.G. Howard book I’ve read, The Architect of Song. Then, I started seeing all these really crappy reviews and I got scared. I wasn’t expecting the next great classic novel or anything (because that is not what Howard ever seems to have tried for her books to be), but I mean…damn, son! Some of the reviews were super salty! So I put it off for awhile, but when I finally picked it up I read it in less than 24 hours. Haters gonna hate. Don’t let it put you off if you enjoy gothic/paranormal stories. This is one for the shelf. However, if you are expecting realism or originality (by the way…no story is completely original, let’s get that straight) off the charts, this book is not for you.

It’s pretty much this dramatic, but thankfully Rune does not share Christine’s affinity for swooning.

Roseblood is a modern gothic novel. And by gothic I mean “portentously gloomy or horrifying.” Not to insult anyone’s intelligence or anything, but I think a lot of readers were expecting something else and when they got over-the-top-gothic-romance they felt kind of let down. Now to me, that sort of book is like a dark chocolate truffle – I don’t read them that often, but when I do I thoroughly enjoy them! This book was exactly what I was expecting after The Architect of Song.

Characters:

First of all. All her weird abilities/paranormal stuff aside – I LOVE RUNE. SHE KNITS TO KEEP HERSELF CALM AND THE BIGGEST MARK OF HER AFFECTION IS HER MAKING SOMETHING FOR YOU. Ahem. Please excuse all the yelling but the girl is my sister from another mother, I swear. She gets it. She’s a maker, and I love her. Even if she makes some seriously DUMB choices partway through the book. Because of course agreeing to be blindfolded and driven away to a rave is the epitome of smart decision making…oh to be so young and optimistic again. Rune’s problem is unique in the books I have read (not the reasoning behind it that’s eventually revealed, but I’m not giving spoilers). and at times seems a little bit…silly. But I can feel her pain and  the embarrassment it causes her.

Then there is Thorn, who is very attractive and has the saddest back story ever and of course melts our collective heart with his wounded hero-ness. He’s not perfect, which is nice – he’s made some rather crappy choices in life and even though he tries to make amends and be a good person there are all those dark shadows. I like to consider myself immune to wounded heroes, but the truth is…I’m just not.

World-building:

Ahhhh! The setting is the definition of atmospheric. Rune’s boarding school is set in an old theatre, complete with lonely hidden rooms and dingy passages, old gardens and older chapels. I adore it. I want to live in the gardener’s hut. *wink wink* You’ll have to read it to find out about the hut…Oh, did I mention it’s set in Paris, France? So jealous. I want to visit Europe sooooo badly.

Plot:

I never lost my interest, all the way through this story. Considering I read this in the middle of one of the worst reading slumps I’ve had in a couple of years, that’s quite an accomplishment. The plot is a little predictable, as most romances/gothics are, but I didn’t think it was so much so as to make it unenjoyable! Also, while this is more of a sequel, of sorts, to the original Phantom of the Opera, there are enough similarities to leave few surprises for someone familiar with the original. Thankfully though, Rune is not the hapless, vapid Christine. I liked the way it was resolved and I really wish there was going to be a sequel!

5/5 stars, 3/5 flames because phew, Rune and Thorn do get the blood flowing just a little bit! If you need a chocolate-truffle-brain-candy sort of book, I highly recommend Roseblood and another of A.G. Howard’s books, The Architect of Song! Oh, and this book would be a PERFECT atmospheric read for Halloween, especially if you’re participating in the Halloween Read-A-Thon. 😉

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five-stars

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Oct 06

Review of Achilles by Greg Boose

Book Reviews 0 ★★½

Review of Achilles by Greg BooseAchilles by Greg Boose
Published by Diversion Publishing on September 26th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads two-half-stars

The year is 2221, and humans have colonized an earthlike planet called Thetis in the Silver Foot Galaxy. After a tragic accident kills off dozens of teenage colonists, Thetis's leaders are desperate to repopulate. So the Mayflower 2, a state-of-the-art spaceship, sets off across the universe to bring 177 new recruits to the colony. For Jonah Lincoln, an orphaned teen who's bounced between foster homes and spent time on the streets of Cleveland, the voyage is a chance to reinvent himself, to be strong and independent and brave the way he could never be on Earth. But his dreams go up in smoke when their ship crash-lands, killing half the passengers and leaving the rest stranded--not on Thetis, but on its cruel and unpeopled moon, Achilles. Between its bloodthirsty alien life forms and its distance from their intended location, Achilles is far from an ideal resting place. The situation is already dire, but when all of the adults suddenly disappear, leaving the teenage passengers to fend for themselves, Jonah doubts they'll survive at all, much less reach Thetis. Especially when it appears Achilles isn't as uninhabited as they were led to believe.

I wanted to love this book. It sounded so cool, and like a break from the ton of fantasy/fairy tale type books I’ve been reading. Achilles was a book that, try as hard as I might, I just could not really get into. However, if you’re big on science fiction you might love it! It did remind me of the first season of LOST…which, I, ahem, also discontinued a couple of episodes into Season 2 because I simply couldn’t stand all the craziness and constantly losing people.

Me, pretty much the entire book.

Characters:

I’m very character oriented when I read books. Characters are more important to me than world-building or excitement factor.  In Achilles, the characters feel very flat and many of them feel the same. I got so confused because I could NOT keep many of the supporting cast separate. Not helped by the fact that many of them weren’t even given names (referred to as “the hacker,” etc.) until several chapters after they appeared. Jonah, our MC, I thought was going to be likable but he turns out to have a bad case of navel-gazing and I just…cannot. I feel bad for him but I spent most of my time being annoyed at the way he was written. Also, he’s supposed to be this hard-ass kid that’s suffered abuse and came out still standing, yet his reactions to a lot of the things that happen are not how abuse victims and soldiers (he’s been in a military training facility for some time by the time the book starts) react. It makes the whole thing kind of unbelievable – really jolted me out of my suspension of disbelief, which is necessary for any kind of fantastical fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, fill-in-the-blank). I really didn’t feel anything for the rest of the characters either, and I was a little – ok, a lot – put off by how some of them did unexplained 180-degree flips without any real reason. Very suspicious and never explained, so the conclusion I am left with is that the author just…didn’t notice? Ugh.

Oh, also – CAN WE PLEASE HAVE MALE AND FEMALE INTERACTIONS WHERE THE MALE IS NOT SUDDENLY OVERCOME WITH AN UNAVOIDABLE HARD-ON?? I swear, so many times, when a book is written from the male perspective, he’s so distracted by female characters physicality that he turns into an idiot and it gets really old. I refuse to believe that the male population of the world is run solely by hormones.

World-building:

I think this is where the author spent most of his time! The world of the moon Achilles is harsh and brutal and I actually felt grossed out by some of the descriptions of the creatures inhabiting it (hard to do…I’m an EMT and few things turn my stomach anymore). It seemed like something new was introduced in every chapter. Sometimes it was hard to keep up but it was definitely intriguing.

Feels:

I usually put this section first, but this time I am putting it last because…er. I really didn’t have any. This book failed at making me feel anything but relief it was over. I am not interested in finding out what happens next. It didn’t really end on a cliffhanger, though there are lots of things about Earth’s colonization of Thetis that are not explained and have very dark implications – the main points of the story were wrapped up and that’s all I cared about.

 

Thank you very much to Diversion Books for sending me the ARC! I was delighted to read and review even if it turned out to not be my cup of tea. 

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two-half-stars

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Sep 21

Review of The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

So, story behind this review. My dear husband is a wonderful man who is very supportive of my reading and book buying habits – but he doesn’t read himself, at least not for enjoyment. The other day we were in Books-a-million (the only town I’ve ever been in with one of those that was still open for business), and he randomly asked me if I’d ever heard of a book called “The Cay.” I hadn’t. He said it was one of the last books he remembered reading, because he had to read it in 6th or 7th grade for a class in school. I was a bit shocked that there was a book on a school reading program that I hadn’t read,  so naturally I had to go looking for it. Lo and behold, they had a little Yearling paperback copy and it came home with us.

Review of The Cay by Theodore TaylorThe Cay by Theodore Taylor
Published by Yearling on May 28th 2002
Genres: Children's Lit
Pages: 144
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-half-stars

Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed.   When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.”    But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy.

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect going into this. I’d never heard of the book or the author despite it apparently being a “children’s classic” (??), but Gary Paulsen (didn’t we all read Hatchet?) wrote the introduction so I thought it surely couldn’t be too bad. I was super skeptical though, on reading the blurb…I mean, it’s clearly meant to be a demonstration of how we are all PEOPLE above whatever color our skin is, but I was concerned that a book written in 1969 might not be as socially aware as it was thought at the time of publication.

It was an entertaining enough  little story, if a little slow at times. The style is a little dated, and I think modern kids might get bored (my husband said it was a slog for him), but an avid reader would breeze through it. I’m still a little on the fence as far as the representation. Timothy, the black man who saves Phillip from the sinking ship, is West Indian and repeatedly described as ugly – it does seem that most of his ugliness in Phillip’s eyes is due to his age, though whenever Philip has a disagreement with Timothy he blames it on Timothy’s race. At first he agrees with his mother’s statement on black people, “They are different and they live differently. That’s the way it must be.” Gradually however, he changes his mind as he actually gets to know Timothy and Timothy cares for him week after week. It was definitely predictable, but the addition of Stew Cat was sweet and I loved how he and Philip were such good buddies.

Timothy’s dialogue is ALL written in dialect, something that is not only (in my opinion) annoying to read but also tends to belittle the character speaking the lines. I understand it can and is sometimes only used as a device to help the reader imagine the way a character sounds – after all, there are a lot of different accents in the world – but it’s an older device and has fallen out of favor due to the frequent implication that the person is inferior in some way. Also, its use makes it more difficult for some of the intended audience to comprehend the dialogue.

The dialect issue was probably my biggest one with the book, since by the time the resolution comes Philip has entirely revamped his view of black people (and we hope, of anyone else different from him). I was also bothered by another aspect of Timothy’s story, but can’t really discuss it without spoilers, so….I’ll just leave it at that.

Overall, it was an okay book. I think there are much BETTER books on the market now, that would suit the purpose of helping privileged kids see outside of their world, but in 1969 this was probably pretty revolutionary.

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three-half-stars

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Sep 10

Sunday Post #4 – The Miracle Morning and Getting Back to Myself

Book Reviews, Books/Writing, Life 2 ★★★★★

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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Bear with me folks, this post is part weekly update and part book review! This week I focused really hard on something I’ve been lacking a lot of lately – taking care of myself. I am always taking care of other people. At work, I not only take care of patients, I take care of co-workers that work under me or are less experienced. I also seem to attract anyone with problems and everyone likes to talk to me – which I find very ironic, since I am generally very quiet and keep to myself. At home, I take care of my husband – which is, of course, a mutual thing, but I still feel like I need to make sure he is happy and not starving, etc. etc. I do things for myself, of course, but I never completely immerse myself in any of them. I always have one eye and ear out on the people around me (even when I try my hardest to at least APPEAR like I am ignoring them in hopes I won’t be interrupted).

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Sunday Post #4 – The Miracle Morning and Getting Back to MyselfThe Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
Published by Hal Elrod on December 7th 2012
Pages: 140
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

What if you could miraculously wake up tomorrow and any-or every area of your life was transformed? What would be different? Would you be happier? Healthier? More successful? In better shape? Would you have more energy? Less Stress? More Money? Better relationships? Which of your problems would be solved? What if I told you that there is a "not-so-obvious" secret that is guaranteed to transform any-or literally every area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible? What if I told you it would only take 6 minutes a day? Enter The Miracle Morning. What's now being practiced by thousands of people around the world could perhaps be the simplest approach to creating the life you've always wanted. It's been right there in front of us, but this book has finally brought it to life. Are you ready? The next chapter of your life-the most extraordinary life you've ever imagined-is about to begin. IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP TO YOUR FULL POTENTIAL...

Last weekend, I read The Miracle Morning after hearing it much raved about, particularly by Kara over at Boho Berry. I was dubious, not going to lie. I already get up super early in the morning and the idea of voluntarily getting up even earlier wasn’t very appealing. However, I decided to give Mr. Elrod and his S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing) a try. The book in and of itself was inspiring, with all kinds of motivating quotes.

I’m on my sixth day of The Miracle Morning, and while I’m not sure my actual productivity has increased or anything like that – I feel better. I feel better about myself, more motivated, more relaxed, more confident. I can’t recommend this book enough, and for EVERYONE – students, entrepeneurs, professionals – wherever you are, the principles in this book are applicable. Are they new? No. But, if you’re like me, maybe it had never occurred to you how to string all these things together for your own maximum benefit. Hal also has a way of writing that just makes you want to GO DO THINGS and also makes you think you can conquer the world – all very invigorating.

I want to point out that I was initially rather sketch on this whole idea, because I thought for sure it would be a gimmick to get you to buy more of Hal’s products. Actually, anything he references in the book as far as handouts, online community, etc – is FREE. I was very pleasantly surprised. I joined the Miracle Morning FB group, but haven’t really participated as to be honest I really prefer the bullet journal-centric Boho Berry Tribe group! It seems to have a lot of the same vibe – positive, energetic, uplifting, motivating – all while being just as obsessed with bullet journals and art stuff as I am. Haha.

Let me know if you read and give this a try! I’d love to hear how it works out for you. Or if you’ve already tried it, I’d love to hear about that too!

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With all that said, I am still trying to find a schedule that really works for me. Getting up early and having some “me time” has definitely helped, but I am still struggling to balance writing, work, and family commitments. I’ll figure it out eventually. In the meantime…

Next Week on the Blog:

Down the TBR Hole #25
A Super Almost-Secret Squirrel Announcement
Maybe a book review?

Yeah, see. Not so organized. But still here, and feeling hopeful and like I might actually start swimming soon, as opposed to just treading water!

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five-stars

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Aug 26

Hyperbole and a Half Review

Book Reviews 1

Hyperbole and a Half ReviewHyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Published by Touchstone on October 29th 2013
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 371
Goodreads

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

PicturesWordsStories about things that happened to meStories about things that happened to other people because of meEight billion dollars*Stories about dogsThe secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Someone gifted me this book in APRIL! I read it almost immediately, but between having ALL sorts of feelings about it and the move, I never put up a review. Obviously it’s been hugely popular (131,295 ratings on GoodReads!), but it just wasn’t on my radar due to my general dismissal of graphic novels. Then I read Marissa Meyer’s Wires and Nerve in January (also never reviewed) and became OBSESSED with them! I still have only read a handful but I have SO MANY on my list now. But I digress. Presenting my long overdue Hyperbole and a Half review!

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Hyperbole and a Half is hilarious and immensely relatable. IMMENSELY. Allie is clearly a nerdy, bookish, animal-loving introvert, and so many times I felt like the book was ABOUT me. Sidenote: I had no idea this was where the phrase “ALL THE THINGS” originated, despite it being one of my favorites! I laughed until tears ran down my face, and then a little bit later I actually cried, because I couldn’t believe someone else actually felt the way I had the last year or so. I took pictures of the pages to send to my best friend, because I hadn’t been able to explain to anyone how I felt, and this book had just done it.

Just wanting to stop existing. Just wanting to disappear. Not permanently, really, at least not in my mind.

How did she articulate that so well? I could have written that myself if I could have just figured out how. She goes on to briefly mention that she discovered she was not the only one who felt this way, that while not a healthy state of mind, it did not make her weird or an outcast, even if it felt like that. She obtained help for her depression and went on to feel like her usual self again, able to enjoy her relationships and her dogs. She doesn’t dwell on it, and the book moves along to happier, more hilarious scenes…but this is what really stuck out to me and earned this book a permanent place on my shelf and will have me recommending it to every introvert kindred spirit, ever.

Allie Brosh ahas been disappointingly silent in the past couple of years, with nothing else released that I could find. But, as a fellow introvert, I get it. I do hope she comes back, but she deserves her privacy for her own mental health and her life. 🙂 In the meantime, you can read through all her old comics here, and she her most recent media interview seems to be this YouTube video from Will Wheaton (wait, what? He’s not just a Big Bang Theory construct??).

 

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Aug 06

Review of Night Swimming by Steph Bowe

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

Review of Night Swimming by Steph BoweNight Swimming by Steph Bowe
Published by Text Publishing on April 3rd 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 311
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads three-half-stars
one-flame

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

I bought this book after reading a review of it over on Paper Fury. Because Cait does amazing reviews, and I’d be wanting to read something from an Australian writer/publisher, and she’s Australian so obviously she would be a good judge of Australian YA books! Perfect. This was, actually, my very first Aussie read (I feel embarrassed admitting that but ehhhh I’m going to try not to feel awkward). So without further ado, my review of Night Swimming!

Feels: Just…awwwww. Lots and lots of awwww moments. Between the besties Kirby and Clancy to the awkward anxiety of a new crush, there was just so many times I got a case of the warm fuzzies. Also, Kirby’s grandfather. My heart hurt for him, and for Kirby and her family. I remember my great-grandmother as dementia set in for her, and it was absolutely heart breaking. It’s difficult sometimes as a teenager or young adult to see our loved ones growing older when we feel like we’re just starting out in life.

Characters: I love Kirby. She is unapologetically (though sometimes embarrassed) nerdy and unfashionable, and I wish I had her self confidence. Her quirky family, complete with unaffectionate mother and absentee father, is endearing even while they exasperate Kirby. Clancy is just hilarious and unpredictable (except to Kirby, who knows him better than he knows himself, it seems) and I loved how he repeatedly scandalized their small town with his antics.

There is a lot of minority representation in this book. That was probably my favorite part, besides the general Australian-ness (is that a word?) of it, which had me chuckling over slang I didn’t quite understand. Kirby is gay, while Clancy and Iris are both minorities. I was a little sad that the book glossed over Iris’s mental health issues, but I guess you can only do so much in a relatively short book.

Plot: So, this is where I felt the story was a bit weak. The plot line just sort of dragged while it skipped around somewhat and left me a little bit confused about what was going on in places (though maybe if I had paid a little more attention to the dates at the top of some of the chapters, that would have helped). There are a couple of side plots that were interesting but then turned out to not be so interesting or they were just finished off so quickly it felt a bit disjointed. Then at the end it felt like the author realized something exciting needed to happen and threw that little disaster in the works to shake everything up. Which it did, but it didn’t have enough time to resolve, in my opinion.

Oh! How could I forget.

You’re welcome.

STANLEY! You should definitely read the book just for Stanley. Because everyone, apparently, needs a pet goat.

Overal, 3.5 stars. 1 flame because there are a couple slightly sexy scenes but nothing over the top or that I felt would be inappropriate for a young teen reader.

three-half-stars

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Jul 16

Review of When Dimple Met Rishi

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

Review of When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Published by Simon Pulse on May 30th 2017
Pages: 380
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Ok, prepare yourself. This review of When Dimple Met Rishi is not the most rational thing I’ve ever written, because I was left in an ooey-gooey pile of feels after finishing this book! I was not. prepared. Modern fiction isn’t generally my thing, but the blurb for WDMR was just too awesome and I had to pick it up. I’m SO GLAD I did!

Yep.

First off: Dimple. I love her so much! She’s quirky, she’s nerdy, she’s spunky, she’s smart and not embarrassed by it (something I really struggle with). She’s not perfect, and she’s not cookie-cutter. I adored her reaction to Rishi’s first words to her – THAT was perfect. Appropriate? “Nice?” No. But no one is perfect, and we all have different ways of dealing with situations. I’ve seen a little of the mumbo-jumbo i.e., people getting their underpants in a wad over some of the things she does, and my opinion is still that NO, she is NOT perfect, and most readers will love her more for it.

So then, obviously: Rishi! He’s cute. He’s also SUPER traditional. Somehow he manages to be cute at the same time, and I’m still a little confused by that. Hehe. I think Rishi grows as a character the most in the course of the book. He becomes more of his own person, rather than the “good boy” who wants to please his parents so badly he will give up parts of himself to do it.

The story introduced me to Indian culture more and better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t have any friends or even acquaintances from that background, so I was a little lost in the beginning by some of the terms and traditions that were more alluded to than explained. Eventually I figured everything out, but I did end up Googling a couple of things.

I also bawled. At one particular point. I was just so crushed and I couldn’t BELIEVE I felt so strongly about “it” because at first I was all for Dimple just saying EFF THIS to everything…but as I read I realized that completely bucking her family’s traditions is not, actually, what will make her happiest. However she IS a modern American woman and as such…she totally does things her way.

Dimple and Rishi’s relationship and them growing into themselves is obviously the main focus of the story, but there are a couple of side plots as well. The first involves some of the other students at the camp they are attending and how disrespectful (to say the least) the rich, white students are to anyone who is “other,” as Dimple puts it. The second involves Rishi’s brother and Dimple’s roommate and I was intrigued enough to hope for a sequel with them as the major characters.

WDMR was one of the most satisfying books I’ve read this year. While of COURSE I would love to read more of Dimple and Rishi’s story, it is beautiful and amazing just as it is and I closed the book entirely happy. 5 stars!

five-stars

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Jul 12

Review of The Hate U Give

Book Reviews 2 ★★★★★

Review of The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
on February 28th 2017
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 453
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

I’ve been trying to write a review of The Hate U Give for weeks and weeks now. It’s difficult to put my thoughts about it into a cohesive form, so I’m just kind of going to put a few things out there. Also, I’m aware that this book is HUGE because of it’s subject matter and representation. I read it BECAUSE of that, because I know that I am in the majority and I want to understand what the minority goes through and feels. I realize a book will never give me a complete understanding, but I do think reading #ownvoices books can help. The entire point of reading is to learn and to travel and experience things in our mind that we can’t or don’t have the opportunity to experience in our place in the world.

THUG is an important book because it so thoroughly places the reader into another person’s shoes. Because it was written by someone who has been there. She didn’t have to do research to see how Starr and her friends and family would talk – she knew, because her family is Starr’s family, her town is Starr’s town. This isn’t someone from the outside looking in and writing about it, this is someone writing what they have seen right in front of them.

Read The Hate U Give to see the world outside your comfort zone. Read it to understand why people have and do react the way they do to words, implications, and events. READ. IT.

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The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen—people like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe.

The Great 

  • Angie Carter does a fabulous job of giving her characters unique voices. I could hear each character distinctly and it was amazing. I felt like I was following Starr around, eavesdropping.
  • I was completely immersed in the story. When the pivotal point of the story, the shooting, happened, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. I felt sick. I had to put the book down and go compose myself. At first I tried reminding myself that it was just a book, but of course that didn’t work because OH YEAH STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS PRETTY OFTEN and IN OUR WORLD and…yeah.
  • This book helped me understand a lot of things. It helped me see a lot of things for the first time. Every town I’ve ever lived in (except in Korea, heh) had two sides and I never completely understood why it was that way, when segregation was a thing of the past decades ago…supposedly. Starr’s struggle to be more, her struggle with her feelings for Chris, and to bridge what seems to her (and to the reader) to be the two sides of her life, encapsulated everything I’ve ever been confused about or wondered why when it came to those two sides of town.
  • FAMILY. I freaking love Starr’s family. Her parents’ relationship isn’t perfect but it’s there. Her entire family – her blended family, there are step and half brothers and sisters in there too – is there for each other. They pull together. They may picker and fight but in the end they are there and it’s amazing.

The Other Thing:

  • I, personally, was really disturbed by the wrecking of the town and the looting/destroying of property that went on during some parts of the book (mirroring, obviously, a lot of actual events as well). HOWEVER. What really came home to me was that while no, I didn’t agree with the characters doing it, I finally understood to some extent why. I understood that it was a form of expressing how angry and scared Starr and her friends and neighbors were, of the injustice and prejudice that seem to meet them at every turn. Did that make it right? No. Starr even says so later. But I finally had some sense of why things like that happen.

Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.

5 stars.

five-stars

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Jun 18

Review of The Fallen Kingdom

Book Reviews, Books/Writing 6 ★★★★★

When I was approved for a NetGalley copy of this book, I could not have been more excited! This was totally me:

And then I put off reading it for months because I’m terrified of endings. Then when I did read it, all I could do was flail because it was still months from being released. So now…drumroll please! I can finally bring you my review of The Fallen Kingdom, the last book in Elizabeth May’s delightful The Falconer Trilogy (but hopefully far from the last book she publishes).

Review of The Fallen KingdomThe Fallen Kingdom (The Falconer, #3) by Elizabeth May
on June 13, 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Goodreads five-stars
two-flames

The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer's story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion.

SPOILER ALERT for the first two books of the series! You can read my reviews of those here: The Falconer (Book 1), and The Vanishing Throne (Book 2).

The Fallen Kingdom picks back up exactly where The Vanishing Throne left off – at least in Aileana’s mind. In reality quite a bit has happened and I was super confused for a few chapters. This would be a negative EXCEPT Aileana is just as confused as the hapless reader and so it’s perfect. She slowly pieces together what happened to her and everyone else and while she’s just as much a badass as ever (and still feels the need to remind us of that now and again), she is not as in control as she seemed before, despite having all the unnatural powers of the fae. Aileana is human, and humans imbued with fae powers…well, it’s not working out so well for her.

Kiaran…um. Well. Kiaran is just as dark and broody as ever. His day/night personality was more in evidence here, and it was more disconcerting than ever before. However…he still wasn’t as dark as I was expecting. Good thing…I guess? He’s the Unseelie King, he’s supposed to be evil and dark and twisted…and he was, but we don’t really see that directly. Also when Kam actually gets to him it was a little anticlimactic because he really didn’t seem all that different. The end though…be. still. my. bleeding. heart.

Aithinne as queen of the Seelie fae is just as amazing, hysterical, and badass as ever. I still adore her. I still want her to be my best friend.

She still has the best lines in the book but I unfortunately can’t quote any of them because my ePub file expired and my copy of the book hasn’t arrived yet. Bad book blogger.

I LOVED the way the legend of the Morrigan and her sister was woven into the story. I definitely need to brush up on my Scottish mythology/folklore, because I’m fairly certain I was missing some subtle nuances but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

As you can see, I had a few issues with the story, as characters weren’t quite what I expected or weren’t as developed as I hoped…but Elizabeth May managed to write such an amazing story with characters I was SO committed to, and also to not make it a happily-ever-after fairy tale. It has aspects of it, but…it’s not entirely, and that was part of what made me rate it 5 stars.

I can’t wait to see what Ms. May writes next! She’s definitely on my auto-buy list. Personally, I would love to see a book (or two or three) with Aithinne as the main character. Hint, hint, Ms. May. 😉

Many thanks to Chronicle Books and NetGalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review!

five-stars

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May 01

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men Review

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Healing for Men ReviewHerbs for Men's Health: How to Make and Use Herbal Remedies for Energy, Potency, and Strength by Rosemary Gladstar
on July 11th 2017
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 224
Goodreads four-stars

Increase your energy, vitality, potency, and strength with easy-to-make herbal remedies! Focusing on 24 herbs that powerfully support various aspects of men’s health, renowned herbalist Rosemary Gladstar shows you how to make teas, tinctures, baths, and foods to address the most common ailments affecting men, including heart disease, hypertension, infertility, stress, and prostate disorders.

This book is a slight departure from my usual reviews, but I was so excited to be able to read this book as an ARC! I have long admired Rosemary Gladstar’s other herbal remedy/medicine books, and as my husband was recently diagnosed with some health problems I was eager to see what things might be out in the herbal world more specifically for him. As Rosemary notes in her opening, most herbals focus on women MUCH more heavily than men, and in general you run across more women in alternative medicines and fields.

The book covers many topics of interest to men, including of course virility, prostate issues, memory functions, heart health, and many others. It is much more in depth than Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide (naturally), but it “matches” the cover very nicely! I’ve pre-ordered a copy. The photography is PHENOMENAL. Seriously, I would buy it just for the pictures. There are recipes and case studies, but while Rosemary alludes to scientific studies, I couldn’t find any actual citations for them in the book. If you’re researching this kind of thing, you’re probably already aware of the sad state of affairs when it comes to scientific studies of natural/herbal healing and medicine, so perhaps this is not surprising, BUT I would have greatly appreciated better end notes and citations. Things like that are very important, as many doctors and the general public are still convinced that the only positive influence anything other than a pill has on a person is due to the placebo effect. Rosemary Gladstar and (obviously) many other herbalists, whether professional or amateur, believe otherwise…but it is not enough to believe, and in the scientific world case studies alone are not enough evidence. Due to the lack of notes, I knocked off one star. However, if you have done your research elsewhere this is an awesome book to add to your shelf for the dozens of recipes and suggestions within, whether you’re male yourself or you have men in your life that you love and care for. Be well!

P.S. This was originally supposed to be released on May 31, 2017, but now GoodReads has the release date as July 31 so I’m confused.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC for review. My opinions were not influenced in any way.

 

 

four-stars

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