Book Review: The Light We Lost

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Synopsis:

He was the first person to inspire her, to move her, to truly understand her. Was he meant to be the last?

Lucy is faced with a life-altering choice. But before she can make her decision, she must start her story—their story—at the very beginning.

Lucy and Gabe meet as seniors at Columbia University on a day that changes both of their lives forever. Together, they decide they want their lives to mean something, to matter. When they meet again a year later, it seems fated—perhaps they’ll find life’s meaning in each other. But then Gabe becomes a photojournalist assigned to the Middle East and Lucy pursues a career in New York. What follows is a thirteen-year journey of dreams, desires, jealousies, betrayals, and, ultimately, of love. Was it fate that brought them together? Is it choice that has kept them away? Their journey takes Lucy and Gabe continents apart, but never out of each other’s hearts.

This devastatingly romantic debut novel about the enduring power of first love, with a shocking, unforgettable ending, is Love Story for a new generation.

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Review

I wanted to love this book. I really did. I thought the premise was great and I’m a sucker for a tragic love story. But unlike Will and Lou in Me Before You, I found Lucy and Gabe to be totally unlikable characters.

The novel is told in the point of view of Lucy, who’s telling the story to Gabe. The story is of their love, beginning with how they met on September 11, 2001 and all the events that followed. I think anyone who was alive on that day, especially if they lived in New York City, remembers where they were on 9/11. It’s just something you can’t forget. So in this way, I could see why Lucy and Gabe felt such a strong connection to each other. On a day that was filled with such darkness, they were able to find light with each other. It’s truly a romantic idea.

However, I don’t think their intense connection excused their actions. I tried desperately to feel sympathetic, or rather, empathetic, towards the two of them but I just couldn’t support their decisions, beginning with the way Gabe informed Lucy he was leaving New York to be a photojournalist in the Middle East. I don’t want to spoil it, but it was the worst possible time for him to tell her that, but he was too selfish to care. Similarly, Lucy was too irrational to think through her decisions later on, whenever it came to Gabe.

There were definitely some nice moments in this book that I enjoyed and the writing itself was definitely beautiful, but overall, I was disappointed with this novel. If you’ve read The Light We Lost, let me know your thoughts on it below!

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“He said not only would he not break you, that he’d help put you back together.”

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Book Review: So B. It

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Synopsis

She doesn’t know when her birthday is or who her father is. In fact, everything about Heidi and her mentally disabled mother’s past is a mystery. When a strange word in her mother’s vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi sets out on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past.

Far away from home, pieces of her puzzling history come together. But it isn’t until she learns to accept not knowing that Heidi truly arrives.

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Review

Full disclosure, I’m currently studying at The New School and Sarah Weeks, the author of this book, is my professor. That being said, I really enjoyed this book.

Prior to taking Sarah’s class, I was aware of this book but I don’t think I ever read it, or if I did, I don’t remember it. The story follows Heidi, who lives with her mother, So B. It, and their neighbor, Bernie. Heidi’s mother is mentally disabled and can only say a few words, but one day she says a new word, “Soof,” and Heidi can’t get it out of her head.

Soon after, she finds an old photo of her mother, who’s pregnant with Heidi at the time, and a bunch of others at a Christmas party. Heidi notices the name of the place where the party is taking place and decides she most go there to finally get some answers about where she and her mother came from. If you’re wondering how a young girl could make such an incredible journey, it’s all because of her luck.

Heidi is just lucky. No one knows why, that’s just how it is. Using her “power” she’s able to get money from slot machines to pay for her necessities and just happens to know the right people to follow onto the bus so she doesn’t look suspicious. Through her journey Heidi learns more than she ever bargained for and afterwards, her life is never the same.

What I loved about this book was Heidi’s little family with her mom and Bernie. While her mother suffers from an unnamed illness, Bernie suffers from agoraphobia, which means she can’t leave the house. This is another reason why Heidi has to be so independent; there are a lot of things she just has to do on her own. But I loved how even though this isn’t a “traditional family” you could still see all the love in it. While this story definitely broke my heart in some ways, I still laughed and my heart felt full while reading. That being said, I’m very happy Sarah’s writing a sequel because I want to know what happens next for Heidi.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, but I’m not sure I would read it again. This is a story I think every one should read, but for the sake of my emotions, I don’t think I could read it twice.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“You can’t miss what you don’t remember ever having.”

ARC Book Review: Mary Rose

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Synopsis:

Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.

After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.

Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J. M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps into the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Adaptive Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is out today, exclusively at Barnes & Noble.*

Mary Rose isn’t the kind of book I typically read. It was weird and strange and mysterious, and I was so intrigued I just had to keep reading until the end. Mary Rose is a mystery wrapped up in the shell of woman. She’s beautiful, but there’s clearly something off about her. Her boyfriend, Simon, however, doesn’t mind that at all. In fact, it seems to make him more infatuated with her.

When Simon and Mary Rose take a trip to her childhood home in England, Simon learns that Mary Rose disappeared for 33 days when she was child, on an island in Scotland. There was no explanation for her disappearance or how she suddenly reappeared, seemingly fine. For some reason, Mary’s parents were content with not knowing, and though they took her to psychologists over the years, eventually they just resigned themselves to the fact that they’d never really know.

Still, Mary Rose clearly had issues. Even though she couldn’t remember what happened to her on that island, she had nightmares and drew very strange drawings all the time. What I loved about this novel is that this story toes the line of realism and fantasy. I wasn’t sure if Mary Rose was taken to some magical land for the 33 days or if a regular human person had taken her. I also wasn’t sure if the island was this really scary place or if it just became that because of all the stories people told about it.

As I kept reading, just like Simon, I needed to know what happened to Mary Rose. Why was she the way she was? Was she even a real person or something else entirely? And was there a reason why Simon, and seemingly all the men around her, were attracted to Mary Rose, or was that just a coincidence? All these questions are what made the book fun for me, because I was intrigued by the mystery and I felt thoroughly satisfied by the answers given at the end.

My biggest frustration with the novel was definitely the characters. While I could understand why Simon was interested in learning what happened to Mary Rose, I honestly couldn’t understand why he stuck by her side for so long or didn’t get her help. Maybe love is just blind, but the things Mary did would make me run for the hills or at least offer up an ultimatum, that she either needed to see a doctor or the relationship was over.

I also just couldn’t sympathize with Mary Rose, but I’m not sure I was supposed to. The novel is told in close third person, switching between Simon and Mary. Mary was definitely going through a hard time, but the way she handled a lot of things bothered me. Really, I just wanted this woman to see a therapist throughout the entirety of the novel and it bothered me that the only explanation for why she didn’t was because she went before and that didn’t work out for strange reasons. Still, I understand this was also a plot device so I can forgive the author for this, but it did bother me.

Overall, I recommend this novel if you’re into mysteries and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. There’s a short essay in the back that explains the history of Mary Rose, which I found very interesting since I took an Alfred Hitchcock class in college, and I could definitely see why this story would’ve interested him. It was also interesting to see how this story started as a play and then the screenplay written for Hitchcock to now this book. I liked the changes Geoffrey Girard made and I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed this novel if it was told in the original way.

Therefore, read the book if you like mysteries and questions about the supernatural. If you’re not into that kind of thing, I’d say skip this one. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is enjoyable.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I probably won’t read it again, but it’s perfect for Halloween.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“Better to know the blow that was coming at you than let it catch you unawares.”

ARC Book Review: All the Crooked Saints

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Synopsis:

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

Maggie Stiefvater has been called “a master storyteller” by USA Today and “wildly imaginative” by Entertainment Weekly. Now, with All the Crooked Saints, she gives us the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family, a masterful tale of love, fear, darkness, and redemption.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Book Depository

Review

*I won a free advanced reader’s copy of this book at Brooklyn Book Festival. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is released today.*

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that although I really enjoyed The Raven Cycle series, I wasn’t all that enthralled with the plot, because it didn’t make any sense to me. Thus, I wasn’t sure how to feel about this new book by Maggie Stiefvater. It didn’t help that the book quickly came under fire for it’s representation of Mexican Americans after it was first announced. Despite all these things, I ended up really enjoying this novel.

The story is told in the third person, with the same kind of magical realism voice that I loved in the The Raven Cycle books, and looks at a Mexican American family, the Sorias, living in Bicho Raro, Colarado in the 1960s. The Sorias have been done throughout generations to be saints that can give people miracles, which help them overcome the darkness inside of them. Although this novel is definitely about the Sorias as a whole and the pilgrims that travel to get their miracles, it’s really about the three young Soria cousins: Beatriz, Daniel, and Joaquin.

Daniel is the current Saint of Bicho Raro and it’s his job to give the pilgrims their miracles, but because this is a Stiefvater book the miracle isn’t something simple. Instead there’s two parts to the miracle. First, Daniel brings out the darkness in the pilgrim, which can manifest into pretty much anything, and then it’s the pilgrim’s job to figure out how to get rid of their darkness. Until they do that, the pilgrims don’t leave Bicho Raro and the Sorias don’t kick them out because they believe a pilgrim might find success later and return the favor. Also, the Sorias don’t engage with the pilgrims because they believe they can “catch” a pilgrim’s darkness.

I really enjoyed all the characters in this story. I liked how they each handled miracles and how it affected their perspective on the world around them. Additionally, I was actually interested in all of their histories. This story gave me The Sun is Also a Star vibes, because it gives the background for almost every character. It was also interesting seeing this divide between the Sorias and the pilgrims, since they all lived in the same place, but at times it felt like they were in two very different worlds. I also enjoyed the little bits of romance in this story as well. They were subtle and cute and I would’ve loved more, but the amount given was sufficent.

Lastly, in terms of the representation of Mexican Americans, since I’m not Mexican I can’t speak for how a Mexican person will feel about it. I thought it was well done, though I’m confused as to why Stiefvater named the town Bicho Raro when that means weirdo in Spanish. Perhaps because this story is a bit weird? Who knows? Besides that though, I thought the characters were well thought out and not stereotypical. Therefore, I highly recommend picking up this book today and giving it a read.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Always take blame for your own actions but never take blame for someone else’s.”

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Book Review: Kill the Boy Band

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Synopsis:

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.

We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him-his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.

We were not planning on what happened next.

We swear.

From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make-or break-the people we call “celebrities.”

Purchase From:

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Review

I’ve had this novel in my possession for a while now but I didn’t actually get around to reading it until I downloaded the audio book in prep for a job interview. If you enjoy audio books, I highly recommend this one. Though I didn’t totally love this story, the narration along with the interesting British accents definitely made this book funny and enjoyable for me.

The novel is told in the point of view of the main character who’s name I can’t recall and think that’s indicative of how very rarely it was said. Or, how interested I was in her as a character. Checking Goodreads, someone says her name is Lydia. That doesn’t sound totally right to me, but again, I’m really not sure, but let’s just go with it. So Lydia, along with her so-called friends, Erin, Isabel, and Apple, have this brilliant idea to get a room at the hotel their favorite band, The Ruperts, is staying at so they have a better chance of meeting them.

The Ruperts were obviously a parody of One Direction. Literally each guy in the band is named Rupert and they all auditioned for this fake reality competition show called So You Think the British Don’t Have Talent? and were then pushed into being a group solely because they all had the same name. Each of the girls have their own favorite in the band, as is typically the case when it comes to boy bands.

There’s Rupert P., the worst member of the band who auditioned by juggling; he’s Apple’s favorite. Rupert L. can’t tell time; he’s Isabel’s fave. Rupert X. is the bad boy; Erin was aligned with him. And then the narrator (Lydia?) was in love with Rupert K., who if I had to make a 1D comparison here, I’d say he’s the Harry of the group.

The four girls’ plan was already a bit crazy, but this book was all about poking fun at fandom culture and how absurd it’s gotten. So, naturally, as the story moves forward, the girls’ situation gets more and more complicated, and it begins with Apple kidnapping Rupert P. It pretty much goes downhill from there.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. It was hard to get into at first because I can’t remember a time when I was ever obsessed with a celebrity at the level at which these girls are. However, I know there are people who very much feel this way about certain celebs so thinking about that I found the book funny and an interesting commentary on fan girls. I also liked that while the author poked fun at the whole world of fandom, she also gave fangirls the credit they deserve. Call them crazy, but 1D would’ve never blown up the way they did if it wasn’t for all their “crazy” fans.

The way the author played on that singular power that fangirls have was very interesting in this novel and I liked it a lot. I think my biggest issue was that I found the characters to be annoying most of the time. Like I said, I couldn’t really relate to them so I automatically felt like a lot of what they were doing was ridiculous and so clearly a bad idea that I was like, “How did you let it get this far?”

In the end, I think Kill the Boy Band is a fun and silly read but I probably wouldn’t pick it up again.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“The joy you find as a teen, however frivolous and dumb, is pure and meaningful.”

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Book Review: Warcross

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Synopsis:

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I am a big fan of Marie Lu so it broke my heart that I missed the opportunity to get an ARC of her newest novel, Warcross, at BookCon. However, the wait was totally worth it and now I’m kind of glad I didn’t get to read it early because I NEED THE SEQUEL YESTERDAY!

Okay, so this is going to be a brief, vague review because I don’t want to spoil anything or give anything away. Here’s what you need to know, besides the fact that you absolutely must read this book immediately. The protagonist is Emika and the story is told solely from her point of view and this is the first story Lu has done in this style and I absolutely loved it.

At the start of the novel, Emika is struggling. She’s broker than broke and unfortunately her one shot at getting the money she needed to pay her rent slips right through her fingers. Because of this, she ends up attempting to do a very risky hack during the opening ceremony of the international Warcross championships. Warcross is this crazy virtual game that pretty much every one in the world plays using these glasses with what’s called Neurolink. Essentially, the glasses let you escape the real world and enter the world of Warcross.

Emika’s hack goes awry, however, and she ends up revealing herself to the world. But instead of getting arrested (again), Warcross creator Hideo decides to hire her to try to find Zero, a hacker that’s threatening the game. Next thing she knows she’s on one of the international teams competing in the Warcross games while on the hunt for Zero, who she soon realizes is more dangerous than she first thought.

Filled with action, romance, and twists that kept me up late reading because I COULDN’T PUT THIS BOOK DOWN, Warcross is one of my favorite books by Lu (The Midnight Star is still my all-time fave). I can’t wait to see what happens next in this incredible world she’s created and there’s so much more I want to know about these characters. If you haven’t picked up Warcross yet, I highly recommend you pick it up ASAP and then come back here so we can discuss that ending.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it immediately!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Everything’s science fiction until someone makes it science fact.”

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Book Review: When It’s Real

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Synopsis:

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy Awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

I haven’t read The Royals series by Erin Watt, but I’d seen When It’s Real floating around Instagram for a while so when I was browsing the Strand, I impulsively decided to buy a copy, book buying ban be damned. Thankfully, it was totally worth the buy because I absolutely could not put it down and when I finished it I reread it again. Yeah, it’s that good.

The story is told in the alternating POVs of Oakley and Vaughn, beginning with Oakley. As is unfortunately the case with a lot child stars, Oakley has now become known more for his outrageous parties and the revolving door of women entering his bedroom than his music. It’s been a few years since he released his last album and his manager informs him that the only way he’ll be able to work with the best producer in the biz is to change his image.

What better way to do that than to date an average nice girl? Enter Vaughn. Her elder sister just happens to work at the management company that reps Oakley and when Oakley’s manager sees a pic of Vaughn, he believes she’s the perfect girl for the job. There’s only one problem, she has a boyfriend. And also, she doesn’t want to do it.

But Vaughn is then made a offer she can’t, in good conscience, refuse. Thus begins her fake relationship with Oakley. Typically, it takes a lot for be to behind a fake relationship story. There has to be a good enough reason for it, and in this case I thought there was.

What I loved about this fake relationship story was although I figured Vaughn and Oakley would end up together this didn’t feel like an insta-love story to me. You actually get to see Oakley and Vaughn slowly realize there’s more to each other than the other realized. Additionally, I liked that this wasn’t really a love triangle kind of story either. I won’t spoil it, but I’d be surprised if you find yourself rooting for Vaughn’s boyfriend.

Overall, I really enjoyed everything about this story. Vaughn was super relatable and I loved her family. Oakley was totally swoonworthy and the steamy scenes were perfect. Also, the plot was really well done and I loved how this story ended because it did surprise me a little bit. So if you haven’t read this book yet I highly recommend picking it up.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“The good ones put your character to the flame and burn away all the rest of the shit until you come out a better you. She’s one of the good ones.”

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