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:

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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.”

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: Stalking Jack the Ripper

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Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.

Purchase From:

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Review

I’d heard a lot about this book, mostly on bookstagram, but didn’t decide to give it a try until I received an ARC of it’s sequel, Hunting Prince Dracula. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to get into this story I just did not enjoy it. The story follows Audrey Rose, a young woman in high society who is fascinated with cadavers. Thankfully, her Uncle Jonathan is a scientist who also enjoys exploring dead bodies but Audrey Rose’s father doesn’t approve. Thus, Audrey must sneak around to do her scientific work, which gets more and more difficult as she begins to get invested in solving the Jack the Ripper case.

The main premise, or mystery, of the story is of course, who is Jack the Ripper? While I hoped the answer would be surprising, I guessed who it was pretty much right away. Maybe I’m just a naturally suspicious person, but I didn’t trust this person from the get go and all the false leads were such obvious red herrings that they just confirmed to me my suspicions were right. So yeah, the mystery didn’t thrill me and the “twist” left me feeling meh.

Additionally, I could’ve done without all the gross descriptions of dead bodies, but that was too expected in this novel. However, if you’re squeamish I highly wouldn’t recommend this book. It literally begins with Audrey cutting into a body.

The best part of the novel was the bit of romance between Audrey and her uncle’s student, Thomas. The two work together to solve the case of Jack the Ripper and of course they fall for each other, because that’s what happens when you stick two teens in a room together for too long. Sorry, my sarcasm just slips out sometimes. I really did enjoy their scenes together and they pretty much got me through this book.

Even so, as cute as I think Audrey and Thomas are together, I actually don’t really care about them or any of the other characters. Nothing about the story made me want to know more or keep reading, and so I felt the story dragged. I began skimming towards the end just I could finally be finished with the book. Because of this I’ve decided not to read the sequel, though I did give it try. I just can’t get into this story. Maybe it’s just not right for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow!

Stars:

2 stars

Favorite Line:

“Roses have both petals and thorns, my dark flower. You needn’t believe something weak because it appears delicate. Show the world your bravery.”

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Book Review: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo

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Synopsis:

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered.

Enter Quentin, a transfer student from China whose tone-deaf assertiveness beguiles Genie to the brink of madness. Quentin nurtures Genie’s outrageous transformation—sometimes gently, sometimes aggressively—as her sleepy suburb in the Bay Area comes under siege from hell-spawn.

This epic YA debut draws from Chinese folklore, features a larger-than-life heroine, and perfectly balances the realities of Genie’s grounded high school life with the absurd supernatural world she finds herself commanding.

Purchase From:

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Abrams Books for Young Readers. 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 now on sale.*

Let me start by saying this book is kind of weird. There were multiple times during my reading of this novel where I said to myself, “Wait, what?” For example, very early on it’s revealed that Quentin has a monkey tail. I still don’t fully understand how he hides this from regular people.

However, despite the strangeness of the story I find myself being pretty sucked in to Genie Lo’s story. I found her strive to get accepted into an Ivy League school and leave her life in suburbia behind relatable. I also really enjoyed her friendship with Yunie and liked how their friendship was kind of tested during the novel.

Genie and Quentin’s relationship was also interesting and also a little strange. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to like him at first or not. Genie certainly didn’t, and rightly so. Still, as the novel went on, I started to really ship them and they had some cute moments that made me laugh and smile.

As far as the demon fighting goes, though, I wasn’t all that impressed by that plot. It seemed pretty easily resolved in the end to me; however, there was a nice little twist that did surprise me. Even with the twist though, I didn’t really find the villains impressive and I was annoyed with Guanyin, the goddess that was supposedly on Quentin and Genie’s side. The way she treated Genie annoyed me and made no sense to me. I felt the same way about Genie’s mom, as well.

There were also some plot points that just seemed to fall off and never really be explained. For example, I’m not sure what the relationship with Guanyin and Quentin really was in the past. And Genie’s involvement with volleyball team seemingly disappears entirely halfway through the novel, as well as the girl who tormented her.

Overall, I wanted more from this novel. I could’ve done with a little more romance, more action, and more of Yunie. I believe this is a stand alone, but I’d actually be interested in seeing this story continue, because I think it could only get better.

For now though, this novel just didn’t do it for me.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

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Book Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding

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Synopsis:

Seriously… I’m Kidding is a lively, hilarious, and often sweetly poignant look at the life of the much-loved entertainer as she opens up about her personal life, her talk show, and joining the judges table of American Idol.

Purchase From:

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Review

According to Goodreads, I started this book in September 2016. As much as I love Ellen this book just didn’t hook me and it was a book I definitely didn’t have a problem putting down, multiple times. Even so, Ellen’s wit and natural humor definitely made me laugh a few times and I highly recommend listening to the audiobook, rather than just reading the book.

One of my favorite parts about listening to this book five years after it was first published is remembering all the things Ellen has done and been through. She discusses her coming out and her brief stint as an American Idol judge, which I totally forgot about. She also jokes about her frustration with Pixar making sequels to just about every movie except Finding Nemo, which was extra funny now that the sequel has been made (and was very good).

Ellen also dropped some words of wisdom and advice that were so ridiculous I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, even while I was doing a run. This book just reminded me how incredibly kind and amazing Ellen is and I was happy to learn a little bit more about her by listening to this audiobook. I just wouldn’t listen to it again.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.”

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