Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag

Sunday, June 30, 2019

17 comments


End of June already?  How in the world did we get here so fast? I guess it's time to take a deep look at the books I read so far (without freaking out)!   I was here thinking of what the best way to write this post when I came across the Mid-Year-Freak-Out-Book-Tag! No, I wasn't tagged, but hey, I was never shy and I'm not about to start now...

As far as I can tell, the #midyearfreakoutbooktag was originally created by booktubers "Read Like Wildfire" and Earl Grey Books , but I was not able to locate one of them on YouTube.


BEST BOOK you've read so far in 2019?

This was the first book I read from Blake Crouch and it blew my mind away!
You can read my full review here .


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

BEST SEQUEL you've read so far in 2019?

 Without a doubt that would be #ACOMAF by Sarah J. Maas!  If you haven't read this series, I suggest you run (don't walk) to the nearest library to grab it!  You're still here?


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

NEW RELEASE you haven't read yet but want to?

I loved The Night Circus so I'm really looking forward to reading The Starless Sea!
Ok, I know that this book won't be released till later in the year, but if I could only get an Advance Review Copy...


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

Most ANTICIPATED RELEASE for the second half of 2019?

I already pre-ordered Leigh Bardugo's new book, Ninth House and I have a feeling I will be waiting by my door on the day of the delivery 🖤


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT?

Ok, I'm probably the only person that might think that, but I DNF Caraval 😟
It just didn't do it for me.



BIGGEST SURPRISE?

The Hype is real! If you ever wished you could combine Star Trek with a sparkle of Guardians of the Galaxy, look no further.  Aurora Rising has it all! 


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

Favorite NEW to you AUTHOR?

I just recently read Pachinko for my Book Club and it was, quite simply, one the most memorable books I have ever read!  Min Jin Lee became a favorite!

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


Newest FICTIONAL CRUSH?

Daxton Hughes from Meet Cute by Helena Hunting.  I'd love to be the girl sharing that milkshake with him (among other things)...


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


Newest FAVORITE CHARACTER?

Sixteen-year-old Bri! She turns her anger into lyrics and uses her voice to tell everyone about the injustices of the world we all live in...That's what  I call #GIRLPOWER !


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


Book that made you CRY?

When I finished reading Speak No Evil, I wanted to shout, or maybe go out for a walk, or get drunk, but instead, I just sobbed on the couch.  How can such a short novel (215 pages) pack such an emotional punch?  You need to read it yourself and let me know what you think...


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


Book that made you HAPPY?

The Music Shop is an irresistible love story about two very different people and the music that brings them together.  A treasure to be cherished by all music and book lovers! 


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

Favorite Book-To-Movie ADAPTATION you saw this year?

Written with the funny & intelligent lines that are common in all Gaiman’s novels, except this one was written with Terry Pratchett, and the result is a satirical novel that makes you keep thinking how crazy some of the lines sound, because they actually make sense...


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤


Favorite REVIEW you've written this year?

That's a tough question.  I like every review I write.  I do it because I enjoy it, so it's not an obligation, it's my opinion.  I'm not sure I can choose an all-time favorite, but maybe the one that touched me the most, which was Recursion by Blake Crouch.

🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤



Most BEAUTIFUL BOOK you've bought so far this year?


🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

What BOOKS do you need to READ by the end of this year?

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black and Storm and Fury by Jennifer L Armentrout and
SO many others that I find difficult to name all!



🖤🖤🖤🖤🖤

There you have it.  I'm not going to tag anyone so feel free to #TAG yourself, and let me know if any of these books made to your list as well! 
✌🏼
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Recursion by Blake Crouch

Friday, June 21, 2019

9 comments

#AudiobookReview

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Recursion by Blake Crouch

Release date: June 11th, 2019
Genre:  Sci-Fi / Thriller
Published by Penguin Random House Audio
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:

Barry Sutton is driving home from another long shift as an NYPD detective when the call comes in. A woman is threatening to commit suicide, and someone’s got to try to talk her down. Only as he stands on the rooftop, mere inches away from her, does he realize that the woman is infected with False Memory Syndrome, a mysterious disease that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. When Barry is unable to save her, he’s rocked to his core–not only by her death but the fear that he’s been exposed to this devastating illness.

Helena Smith is a brilliant but frustrated neuroscientist. If she could only get the funding, she’s sure she could build the ambitious device she’s long imagined–one that would allow people to preserve their most intense memories and relive them whenever they want. So when a billionaire entrepreneur offers to bankroll her project, she jumps at the opportunity–even if there are some strange conditions attached.

As Helena’s efforts yield stunning results, Barry investigates the mystery behind the woman he failed to save. He finds himself on a journey as astonishing as it is terrifying, ultimately revealing the true danger posed by Helena’s invention–and a plot that could bring about the end of reality as we know it.

Weaving together Barry’s story and Helena’s in ways even the savviest reader will never guess, Recurson is a brilliant science fiction thriller about time, memory, and the illusion of the present, built on our inability to escape the flashbulb moments that define us.


MY THOUGHTS:

If you haven’t read Blake Crouch’s latest book yet, I have no doubt that once you do, it will be the only thing you’ll want to talk about for DAYS!!!
The book synopsis makes you believe that there’s a new disease, FMS (False Memory Syndrome), except, FMS doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything this story throws at you.  It’s mind-twisting and it left me doubting reality as I know it.  I remember feeling this way when I watched Inception, except I was never quite satisfied at the end of that movie…but Recursion was EXCEPTIONAL!!!

Sorry, I’m rambling...

  I’m a sci-fi fan and even though the whole concept of time-travel has been explored in a lot of books and movies, Crouch was able to explore a new angle, one that merged actual scientific advances into a fictitious reality that might not be too far from the near future.
His narrative is fast-paced, leaving the reader with no time to think twice when turning the pages.  To make it even more interesting, there’s also a love story ♥.

“Time is an illusion, a construct made out of human memory. 
There’s no such thing as the past, the present, or the future. 
It’s all happening now.”

  It was a bit hard to keep track of the dates and timelines from the audiobook, but once I started writing down a few important dates, it got a lot easier to follow.  There’s really nothing that I disliked in this book.

“Life with a cheat code isn't life. Our existence isn't something to be engineered or optimized for the avoidance of pain. That's what it is to be human - the beauty and the pain, each meaningless without the other.”

I’m waiting for Recursion to be adapted from book-to-movie so I can place it with the TOP 5 “time-travel” movies :
1. Dr. Who (the original Time Lord)
2. Back to the Future
3. Looper
4. Terminator
5. Inception

CONCLUSION:
If you could go back in time to change an old memory, even though the impact to the timelines might be impossible to predict, would you do it?

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Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Thursday, May 23, 2019

7 comments

Book Review

BOOK REVIEW: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting

Release Date: April 9th, 2019
Genre: Romance / Rom-Com
Published by Forever
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran - quite literally - into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either...

Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can't help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn's new celebrity client, there's even more at stake than Dax's custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she'll be promoted to partner.

The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?

MY THOUGHTS:

What would you do if you stumbled into your TV crush? (Taylor Kinney, I'm talking to you)!  
I'm very clumsy and I can just picture myself saying all the wrong things and totally acting like a fool... 

#MeetCute is a SUPER Cute, romantic story, that was impossible to put down. I started reading it in the middle of Saturday afternoon and only stopped it because I needed to go to bed. I finished it first thing on Sunday morning ☕️.

Don't be fooled by the cute cover.  This book has all the feels.  It's loaded with a roller coaster of emotions from tragedy and family-drama to humor and swoon-worthy scenes (and OMG, talk about passionate)! It’s also full of charm and you can’t help but fall in love with the main characters as well. It totally surpassed my expectations and now I want to read Helena Hunting’s other books 📚

If you're looking for a great book to read this summer, pick this one up! You won't regret it. 😉

Needless to say, I'm a fan now!!!♥

“I think it’s interesting that you have a thing for the teenage version of me 
but you’re not all that fond of the real, adult version.” 

#MeetCute left me with such a happy feeling in the end, that I just had to create a playlist 🎧:

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Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

10 comments


#AuroraRising #Squad312

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Aurora Rising

by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Release date: May 7th, 2019
Genre: YA / Sci-Fi
Published by Penguin Random House Audio
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the academy would touch . . .

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass tech whiz with the galaxy's biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger-management issues
A tomboy pilot who's totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty's squad isn't even his biggest problem--that'd be Aurora Jie-Lin O'Malley, the girl he's just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler's squad of losers, discipline cases, and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.


MY THOUGHTS:
A squad of misfits. A girl frozen in space over 200 years.  An ordinary mission turned into an intergalactic heist, filled with action, sarcasm, and the possibility of inter-species love…

If you ever wished you could combine Star Trek with a sparkle of Guardians of the Galaxy, look no further.
Aurora Rising has it all!

“They're not the heroes we deserve. They're just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.”

Aurora Rising is told from seven POVs.  We’ve got:

Ty - the Alpha
Scarlet - the Face
Cat - the Ace
Kal - the Tank
Zila - the Brain
Fin - the Gearhead
Auri - the Mystery Girl

As the team plots their mission (heist) to break into an impenetrable space fortress , we start learning about these characters and their strengths.  They might not belong anywhere else, but they do belong together…

What impressed me the most was how Kaufman/Kristoff duo developed the characters and this futuristic world.  Honestly, the character development in this book blew my mind away.  Each character was given enough background, vivid details and unique personality traits, that I was stunned to realize the audiobook was only 14hrs long.

And while I don’t usually read sci-fi, I really enjoyed Aurora Rising.  I was rooting for Squad 312 and hoping they would all make it to the other side, mainly because I am super curious to find out what else is in store for them.
Are they going to save the galaxy?
Will a romance (or two) develop as well?
Is it a mere coincidence that they are graduates of The Aurora Academy and the girl they found frozen in space is called Aurora?

I’ll leave you with the Aurora Academy quote:

“We, The Legion
We, The Light
Burning Bright Against the Night”.

Note: The audiobook narrators did a Terrific job in this one! There are as many narrators as main characters, which makes it super easy to follow the story when the POV changes

Thank you @PRHaudio for the free #audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions are my own.

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Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Monday, April 29, 2019

14 comments


#speaknoevil

BOOK REVIEW: Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Release Date: March 6, 2018
Genre: Fiction / LGBT / Contemporary
215 Pages
Published by Harper
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences.

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala’s second novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.


MY THOUGHTS:

Some book reviews are really easy to write...others, not so much.
Why is that? You might ask.
Because every now and then you encounter a book so extraordinary, with such a powerful message, that all of a sudden you lose the ability to form words.
Speak No Evil is one of these books.

When I finished reading it, I wanted to shout, or maybe go out for a walk, or get drunk, but instead, I just sobbed on the couch.  How can such a short novel (215 pages) pack such an emotional punch?
This book covers so many different issues (race, sexuality, religion, culture tradition, privilege), that I'm certain I won't be able to even give all the kudos it deserves.

“On the bad days, there is no color. I know there are colors. I can see the colors, but the world looks gray. The sounds are muffled by a crackling web of static that sits behind my eyes and buzzes in my ears.” 

Through this heartbreaking story about coming of age in a conservative immigrant family, Iweala takes us on a journey of self-discovery with Niru, who is torn between the guilt of not being the son his parents expect him to be and the freedom to accept (and love) who he truly is.  His brother OJ, advises him to not pick fights he can't win, when it comes to their parents, but Niru finds it hard to believe his brother would suffer the same judgement from their father.     

“I'm late, the kind of late that suggest I have no regard for the emotional health of my Nigerian parents who probably think I've been kidnapped by the enemies of progress.”

The story was beautifully written, with a natural flow and page-turning effect.  The characters felt realistic, specially with the recent prejudice events we watch on the news.  As we follow Niru and his friend Meredith through the differences in family values and culture, we see how easy it is for the human race to hate one another simply because of being different.

“I'm still me, I want to say to him, your son, but that would hardly help if I am currently everything wrong with the world.”

My final take is that this book should be a requirement in high school.
All teenagers should read it.
All parents should read it.
Everyone. Should. Read. This. Book.







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The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Thursday, April 25, 2019

15 comments

AudioBook Review


AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: The Music Shop 

by Rachel Joyce (Steven Hartley, Narrator)
Release Date: January 2nd, 2018
Genre: Fiction / Music / Romance 
8 hrs 30 mins
Published by Penguin Random House Audio
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads Rating 

BOOK BLURB:

1988. Frank owns a music shop. It is jam-packed with records of every speed, size and genre. Classical, jazz, punk – as long as it’s vinyl he sells it. Day after day Frank finds his customers the music they need.
Then into his life walks Ilse Brauchmann.
Ilse asks Frank to teach her about music. His instinct is to turn and run. And yet he is drawn to this strangely still, mysterious woman with her pea-green coat and her eyes as black as vinyl. But Ilse is not what she seems. And Frank has old wounds that threaten to re-open and a past he will never leave behind ...

MY THOUGHTS:

The Music Shop is a nostalgic homage not just to vinyl lovers in general, but to a time when record stores were a place where one could go and talk about their love of music…

The year is 1988 in England.  Frank owns a neighborhood record store that only sells vinyl.  He refuses to sell tapes and/or CDs, but the record Reps keep telling him companies will stop making vinyl.  Production costs are too high and CD sounds are much cleaner.  Frank’s few clients love him.  Frank is like the music-guru-therapist, who can find you the exact music you need to listen in order to ease your troubles.  Together with his only employee, Kit, and the surrounding shop keepers, Frank is part of a community that accepted and welcomed him, and life is good.

“Music is about silence… the silence at the beginning of a piece of music is always different from the silence at the end… Because if you listen, the world changes. It’s like falling in love. Only no one gets hurt.”

Everything changed the day that Ilse Brauchmann fainted in front of his store.  Much to Frank’s surprise, Ilse confesses that she doesn’t listen to music…and so their journey begins.  They meet every week from then on, so that Frank can teach Ilse about music.  He teaches her about Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Sex Pistols, Joni Mitchell.  He talks about what he hears and feels when he listens to certain songs, and he tells Ilse to just listen…

“For Frank, music was like a garden – it sowed seeds in far-flung places. People would miss out on so many wonderful things if they only stuck with what they knew.” 
 
Joyce gave us a cast of characters that is funny and peculiar in their own ways.  In between music lessons, a lot of things happen, and just like real life, people move on, little shops close and music becomes digital.  You’ll need to read this beautiful book to find out what happens…   

“Because life goes on, the music told her, even when you think it can’t. Yes, there is fear. There is real cruelty. Not knowing what the fuck. Those things are there. But listen because there is this too—this beauty. The human adventure is worth it, after all.”

The Music Shop is an irresistible love story about two very different people and the music that brings them together.  A treasure to be cherished by all music and book lovers! 

The audiobook narrator, British actor  Steven Hartley, did a fantastic job!  I will be looking for other audiobooks narrated by him ♥
And, because this book touched me so much, I just couldn't resist ordering a copy of the physical book for my own collection.


”There was once a music shop. From the outside it looked like any shop, in any backstreet. It had no name above the door. No record display in the window. There was just a homemade poster stuck to the glass. FOR THE MUSIC YOU NEED!! EVERYONE WELCOME!! WE ONLY SELL VINYL!!”

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The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Monday, April 22, 2019

13 comments

BOOK REVIEW: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Genre: Romance 
320 Pages, Paperback
Published by Berkley 
⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2  My Goodreads Rating 


BOOK BLURB:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

MY THOUGHTS:

The Bride Test is a cute and quick romance. It’s the perfect beach read!

Just like in The Kiss Quotient, one of the main characters, Khai is autistic and needs help understanding what is love. He's actually pretty sure that he is unable to love. 
Esme, on the other hand, feels that Khai won’t love her for who she is - she believes she's not good enough - so she tries to be someone else.

I enjoyed the story but the main characters didn’t pull me into it.  I didn't feel the chemistry between them. The romance didn’t capture me as much as the previous book did.  Even Khai’s older brother, Quan, felt like a much stronger character whenever he would show up in the story.   

Without getting into spoilers, I also felt that the ending was overdone and a bit unrealistic (I know it's fiction, but it felt too 'soap-operish' for my taste).

Of course I knew it would be hard to top the romantic, game-changer that was The Kiss Quotient, so definitely give The Bride Test a try, which by the way, you can read it as a stand-alone book.  And feel free to drop me a note once you read it.

"She got you a mail-order bride from Vietnam, Khai."

"Why do you say it so it sounds so bad? She's not a 'mail-order bride'. I met her in person."


Note: I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 


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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Thursday, April 11, 2019

6 comments

Book Review #neverletmego

BOOK REVIEW: Never Let Me Go

Release Date: April 5th, 2005
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia
288 Pages, Paperback
Published by Vintage Books
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:

Hailsham seems like a pleasant English boarding school, far from the influences of the city. Its students are well tended and supported, trained in art and literature, and become just the sort of people the world wants them to be. But, curiously, they are taught nothing of the outside world and are allowed little contact with it.

Within the grounds of Hailsham, Kathy grows from schoolgirl to young woman, but it’s only when she and her friends Ruth and Tommy leave the safe grounds of the school (as they always knew they would) that they realize the full truth of what Hailsham is.

Never Let Me Go breaks through the boundaries of the literary novel. It is a gripping mystery, a beautiful love story, and also a scathing critique of human arrogance and a moral examination of how we treat the vulnerable and different in our society. In exploring the themes of memory and the impact of the past, Ishiguro takes on the idea of a possible future to create his most moving and powerful book to date.


MY THOUGHTS:

“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. 
Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.”

I had to wait a couple of days before writing this review, because I needed to actually evaluate how this book made me feel (all the feelings)... I enjoyed reading it and was really interested in the whole plot and mystery behind it. But then the whole mystery is revealed and I was angry, but I wasn’t angry at the author. I was angry at the human race. At how history can so easily repeat itself and become acceptable by all. Justified by the necessity to save a few lives...

The beauty of the book is how the author approaches the subject of what makes us humans? How can we define being human? Is it because we have memories? Express emotions? Feel Love? Maybe it is the ability to differentiate right from wrong, but that can get all twisted when the world you live in is unethical, by removing the ability to choose one’s own purpose.

I can’t wait for my book club to discuss this book later on this year!

“All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.”

I know the book was made into a movie but I'm not even sure if I want to watch it, because I have a feeling it will be nearly impossible for the story to translate well into the screen...

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

Thursday, March 28, 2019

4 comments


BOOK REVIEW: A Court of Mist and Fury

Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult
626 pages (kindle edition)
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads rating

BOOK BLURB:

Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas's masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

MY THOUGHTS:

Wow!
Holy Fury Madness! I just finished this book and already downloaded the next one because I MUST read it NOW!

As much as I enjoyed the first book of this series, #ACOTAR, I felt it was a bit slow and it lacked action, which this one is full of.  We are introduced to some new characters that are extremely likable, funny, and give the story that "best friend" feeling. Feyre’s character also grows in this book, as she learns the extent of her powers and becomes the heroine we’ve been waiting for.  And Rhysand, the High Lord of the Night Court, finally reveals his true character and intentions, which made him my favorite character!

Everything in this book is bigger and better.  The love scenes are high on the steamy meter.  I mean, HIGH.  The warriors are stronger.  The battles are written with such detail that made my imagination go wild and free (think Game of Thrones battle style).  Sarah J Maas masterminded every detail in this book, from every magic spell to little hints...like the injustice in a world where females are not allowed to be warriors because their purpose is to breed... oops.   

#ACOMAF is a FANTASTIC read.

One last thing: I was lucky enough to attend an event last weekend and met "the" Sarah J Maas (she signed my book) and I was impressed by how nice she was (even after a long day of signing books).

“To the Stars who listen - and the dreams that are answered”. 

“When you spend so long trapped in darkness, Lucien, 
you find that the darkness begins to stare back.” 
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Instagram Burnout - Take Back your Power

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

21 comments



Consider this scenario:

You start blogging, but you soon realize that a blog with no readers is destined to remain secluded in an "alterweb" reality.  You then discover that being active on Social Media will grant you the powers (visibility cloak?) you have been searching for.  Here comes Instagram, the photo-sharing platform with thousands of different communities worldwide and enviable perfect pictures.
WOW!
You start following people and they follow you back.
Yay!
You get inspired to take better pictures.
Write better captions.
Research #hashtags.
Post at a certain time of the day.
You spend the entire Sunday taking pictures for the week ahead.
Come Monday, you're tired. Burned out. Only had 5 hours of sleep and need to go to work.
And you haven't been writing lately. As a matter of fact, it's been over 2 weeks since you wrote a blog post...

Does that sound familiar?
Welcome to my world!

I started questioning myself when I realized I was spending too much time focusing on my Instagram feed instead of writing for my blog.  I allowed Instagram to take over my time. I did that.  It was nobody's fault but my own.

We talk so much about work/life balance, but where do we draw the line with Instagram (or Twitter, or Facebook)?
How much of our own personal worth is determined by how many followers we have?

I love to read and I truly enjoy talking about books, meeting authors and actually, just writing.  And I have met some incredible people thru Instagram.  I wouldn't want to lose that, but I think it's time to take my Power back, so I consulted with 4 fantastic #Bookstagrammers (let's call them FUNtastic 4) and asked them for help answering a few questions...


CASSIE @happybooklovers

1) You mentioned something in your stories the other day that truly touched me. It was kind of a reminder that what we see on Instagram is not “real”...like, we book reviewers don’t read one book a day, even though it might look like we do.  What inspired you to write that message?

I have a lot going on in my personal life right now: I bought a house, work is very busy, and I work multiple jobs so my hours have been booked! Plus I have quite a few weddings and showers right now. Between all that and making time for myself, my breaks have needed to be shorter and easier on my brain. For me, that means watching a quick episode on tv, walking, or yoga class. I haven’t had a lot of time to read! I felt like I was letting my followers down by not having a new book a day to talk about, but I knew I couldn’t be alone, so I thought I’d throw it out there and see how many of us felt like that!

2) What piece of advice would you give to others who are dealing with self-doubt when they’re on instagram?

I’m still dealing with this myself, so it’s definitely a work in progress, but my biggest thing I stress to others and myself is that this is FOR FUN! The minute it’s not enjoyable, I need to take a step back. I love books so much, and I don’t ever want that passion to die, so sometimes when I feel stressed, I make myself take a step back so I don’t resent this community or books, because ultimately those are not the cause of my stress! They’re my escape, and I always want this to be fun.

3) How can we use Instagram as a tool for positivity?

To use this positively, I actually have a few rules for myself, and I think it’s important for me to remember. If I don’t like a book, I never post about it. I always want to be truthful, but instead of hate-posting, I just talk more about other books I love rather than one I hate. I also always try to leave nice, thoughtful comments. It sounds silly, but I love each and every comment that people leave, and we all get tired of the “hi follow me!” comments. When someone takes the time to leave a lovely thought or response, it makes my day and I can engage in meaningful conversations with that person! So I always try to do the same with others, starting engaging convos rather than a quick heart emoji (but fun emojis are also always appreciated!)!


JENA @jenabrownwrites

1) You have a beautifully curated Instagram feed, one that keeps me curious just to find out what your latest creation is.  How do you remain authentic while dealing with Instagram pressure?

First, thank you so much! My feed is a constant work in progress, figuring out what works for both my followers and me. The hardest thing is not succumbing to “peer pressure” and posting only popular books. Those are the posts that tend to get the most “likes”, but it becomes difficult to be your true self that way.
Social media is a very intimate thing. I had to decide how much of myself I was comfortable sharing, and then really open those parts of myself up. But when I did, my followers responded, and my overall experience has been much more satisfying. It doesn’t mean I have to show everyone everything, just what I’m comfortable with. But the more honest I am, the more fun I have, and the more I get to know people. Which is really my goal. I want to connect with people and find genuine friendships that carry over into the real world. I think remembering that, instead of going after likes is what keeps me grounded and focused.

2) How long does it usually take for each picture to go live - from concept to final product?

That actually varies on the photo! Some come to life very quickly, I have an idea and it all works. But some take more time. Either figuring out the angles, or how to fit things in, or how to create the entire thing in reality versus my brain. The more complex the photo, the more time it takes to set up and get right. But I probably spend around an hour per photo. Set up, taking the photo, and editing. I try to take photos in advance too, so that I can simply post every morning. That doesn’t always work, but when it does, life is good :)

3) If you could start your Social Media “life” again, what would you do differently?

What a fantastic question!!! Oh, past Jena, please take this advice. Stop worrying about what other accounts are doing. Don’t let FOMO take over and have you accepting books you really aren’t interested in. Take the time to really decide what your brand is, and stick to it! People like you, people will interact with you, but it’s important to find the right audience.
I definitely would have had a theme earlier. I fought it for almost a year. And I’d be more myself. I was trying to be too something for everyone, and it showed. I think the biggest thing would be to be more my true self. And to figure out what my goal was. I think at first I wanted to be a big account and get all the books. Which, ironically, made it less about the books. When I stopped accepting everything and requested less, I began to enjoy what I was reading and posting became easier. Kudos to those huge accounts for juggling all those demands, but it quickly became something that overwhelmed me. So I would for sure skip that learning process if I could.


JENNIFER @jennsbookvibes

1) What’s your relationship with Instagram like? 

I love it! I don’t know if any other social media platform has the ability to do what “bookstagram” has done in connecting book lovers all around the world.

2) As an influencer, do you feel the pressure to always post “perfect” pictures ? 

I don’t really consider myself an influencer 😂.  And I don’t necessarily feel pressure to take perfect photos but I do feel pressure to take a lot of photos. Posting a crafted picture and clever caption every single day can get overwhelming.

3) Do you think it’s important to take breaks from it? Why?

YES! For me personally bookstagram is a hobby. I don’t have all the time in the world to commit to it so it is something I do for fun.  The second it feels not fun or like a job I take a step back. It’s really important to me to get joy from it not stress or I don’t think I would be able to stick around.


NIKKI @saturday_nite_reader

1) Do you feel the pressure of posting every day?

I used not to worry about the pressure of posting everyday until I heard that the algorithm and your engagement is reflective upon your instagram participation. Now I stress every now and then about posting everyday. It is very hard to keep up, especially since you still have to read in order to share books!

2) Did you ever feel overwhelmed by it all?

It is very overwhelming. When you realize how much time and energy you put into: taking a picture, writing your review or introduction of a book, determining what time to post, and then keeping up with comments. I work full time and #bookstagram is my hobby. I do not get paid to post or share my thoughts and I constantly ask myself if my input is worth it. I am still trying to figure out a balance.

3) Any tips on how to balance work/reading/writing reviews/instagram & family?

I don’t have any profound tips, but recently found myself in a reading rut and took a weekend break from social media. It was really nice to not feel like I have to keep up, read on my own time, and pay attention to things I’ve been neglecting. When I came back on Monday I was lighter and didn’t take myself too seriously or overthink photos or posts, I just focused on fun. So my best advice is if you find yourself overwhelmed more than finding enjoyment: take a break. We will be here with open arms when you return.

🤩👏🏼

A BIG Thank You to these ladies!!!  Seriously, you're all SuperStars 🤩
Please visit them when you have a chance!

In my case, I needed to remember why I started doing this in the first place: to have FUN, talk about books and creatively develop my writing skills.  I am unable to be creative when I'm stressed out, so I need to prioritize and consider my goals.  That's the right answer for me.

As a matter of fact, working on this piece, getting in touch with the FUNtastic 4 already helped me regain my focus!❤️

I'll leave you all with some Food for Thought:
  Any time you think Instagram or any other social media is doing you harm, take a break from it.
Disable notifications.  Go for a walk.  Call a friend and go out for coffee. Set time limits.
And if you're feeling anxious and/or constantly questioning if you're good enough,  please don't be afraid to ask for HELP.


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Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Sunday, March 17, 2019

12 comments

Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: June 28th, 2011
Genre: Fantasy / Fiction / Humor
373 Pages (Kindle Edition)
Published by HarperCollins ebooks (first published 1990)
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth's mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .


MY THOUGHTS:

I loved the concept of an Angel and a Demon joining forces in order to stop the predicted Armageddon from happening. Why? Because they each like living among humans and eternity will be rather boring when this world ends.
No more sushi. No more books. No fast cars. Ugh!
And so they start their journey to find the Antichrist, “the Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Father of Lies and Lord of Darkness”...

Written with the funny & intelligent lines that are common in all Gaiman’s novels, except this one was written with Terry Pratchett, and the result is a satirical novel that makes you keep thinking how crazy some of the lines sound, because they actually make sense...

“God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e. everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”
― Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

Remember the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Here we have the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse (because times have changed)...and what if the AntiChrist disagrees with his role in the whole plan?
Teenagers do tend to think for themselves, do they not?

Good Omens the TV series is one of the most anticipated shows of 2019. I’m looking forward to watching this book adaptation!


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On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Thursday, February 28, 2019

11 comments


#BookReview

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: February 5th, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
464 pages
Published by Balzer + Bray
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.


MY THOUGHTS:

This book was PHENOMENAL!!!
4 syllables…rhymes with…
Nominal
Abdominal
Comical…huh, I’m obviously not good at this :-(

Seriously now, #OnTheComeUp has propelled Angie Thomas to stardom !
 
You know how we constantly see book reviews stating how “the story flows”?  Well, here it actually does.
The story moved without disruption, made me feel the struggles, hear the battles (emotional & musical) and when it finally came to an end, left me satisfied at getting to know the characters.  All of this in 2 days, because I was unable to put it down (and I only read at night).

The characters were so real.  Sixteen year-old Bri, our main character, is a funny, sometimes moody teenager, who loves video games, Star Wars and hip-hop.  She’s talented and she wants to be a rap star.  She worries about a boy she might have a crush on.   What she shouldn’t be worried is if the food in the fridge will spoil because the electricity got cut off.  Her family struggles.  Her mom lost her job and her brother can’t get a decent one even with his college education.  It’s tough for a teenager (hell, it’s tough for anyone) to see her mom and brother trying to do everything right and being unable to pay the bills…while some other people in the neighborhood seem to be doing just fine.

“I’ve always had this theory that God is a sitcom writer who loves to put me in ridiculous situations.”

A racial profiling incident in the school infuriates Bri and when she decides to turn her anger into lyrics, she is faced with the impact that her song has on the community.  The challenges Bri and her family face escalate to larger proportions after that, and the decisions that each of them makes bring us deeper into the reality and unfairness of the world we live in. 

Angie Thomas has repeatedly stated that this book was “her love letter to hip-hop” and it is, in some ways, a #1 hit song.

If you’re reading this review, go and get this book.  Buy extra copies and give them to the people you care about.  You won’t regret it and they will thank you for it!


“Just recognize when you say brilliant that you're also saying Bri.”

📚📚📚📚📚


Quick Note: I got my Signed First Edition copy of On The Come Up + a specially curated playlist inspired by the book, with my box subscription of NowInBooks 💙 
You can get $10 off your first box when you use my code 10REPMP

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Monday, February 25, 2019

11 comments

BOOK REVIEW: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Release Date: May 5th, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult
419 pages
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️My Goodreads rating


BOOK BLURB:

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.


MY THOUGHTS:

I’ve had A Court of Thorns and Roses on my #TBR for a while.  I’ve seen all the hype around the series but kept pushing it aside.

To my luck, one of my book club buddies also wanted to read #ACOTAR so we decided to do a Buddy read.  You can find her review here  https://www.instagram.com/p/Btro9okBM3o/

A Court of Thorns and Roses is the first book in the fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas.  It’s constantly labeled as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, being the tale of a kidnapped girl, two Faerie High Lords and a curse that needs to be broken. I’d like to think it’s Beauty and the Beast meets Twilight, but that’s just me.

I will admit that the first half of the book was slow and didn’t quite impress me. I guess because it was clearly inevitable that Feyre and her captor, Tamlin would eventually fall in love (him being super handsome and all),  I wished their love story would develop a little faster.  That said, once the story picked up, I couldn’t put it down.

The attention to scenery and character development in this book is incredible.  Feyre started out unimpressive.  And by the end of the book, this simple mortal girl had grown into a confident warrior, who was not afraid to face evil while trying to break the ancient curse.  Tamlin, the shape-shifting High Lord and hero in the story, is stubborn, smart and sometimes a beast.  One of my favorite characters was Lucien, the loyal High Lord emissary.  He is funny, brave and downright adorable.  Oh, but let’s not forget Rhysand, the other High Lord in this story.  We’re never really sure of his intentions and the mystery behind his actions only makes him interesting and is the build-up we needed for book 2.

A few things I appreciated:  This is not a children’s book.  There is sexual tension and love making.  It was also refreshing to read a fantasy book where the heroine is not a virgin that needs to be saved.

Overall, I really enjoyed #ACOTAR and am looking forward to starting book 2, A Court of Mist and Fury.


“It’s a rare day indeed when someone thanks you for bringing them to their death.” 


“A High Lord who loved to fly - trapped under a mountain.
Shadows not of his own making still haunted those violet eyes.
I wonder if they would ever fade.” 
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Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

10 comments




Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: February 7th, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction / Cultural
502 pages
Published by Grand Central Publishing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating


BOOK BLURB:

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan's finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee's complex and passionate characters--strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis--survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

MY THOUGHTS:

This was, quite simply, one the most memorable books I have ever read (right up there with The Kite Runner)!

It's an extraordinary novel about perception, prejudice and above all, the resiliency of women and the loyalty of their family.  Even though this is a Korean-Japanese historical fiction, make no mistake, the emotional impact is universal... 

The story spans over 7 decades and it tells the epic saga of a Korean family in Japan.  The author managed to provide us with such a rich cultural experience.  I had no idea that Ethnic Koreans born in Japan were not Japanese citizens and were under constant threat of deportation (I don't know what the current state in Japan is), so the book was also a reminder that discrimination and prejudice are present everywhere (Ugh!). 

Even the book's opening line is profound enough as to warn you to be prepared for the masterpiece you're about to read:
“History has failed us, but no matter.” 

The character development is flawless in his book.  The psychology of each character is detailed in such a way that it drew me closer to understanding their angst and suffering.  It's also very interesting how the author touched so many different topics: disability, pregnancy, shame, suicide, hope, organized crime, wealth...that were somehow linked to the main theme, which was search of identity and acceptance.

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage” 

Can we talk about the title now?  
Pachinko is the name of a very popular arcade game in Japan.  By comparison, life is a game of chance, and just like a pinball machine, it can spin you out of control and randomly drop you in different situations...

“Sunja-ya, a woman’s life is endless work and suffering. There is suffering and then more suffering. It’s better to expect it, you know. You’re becoming a woman now, so you should be told this. For a woman, the man you marry will determine the quality of your life completely. A good man is a decent life, and a bad man is a cursed life—but no matter what, always expect suffering, and just keep working hard. No one will take care of a poor woman—just ourselves.”

This book is also on the #SOMAbookclub list for 2019.  

While reading this book, I had both the paperback book and the audiobook from the library, which I used to go back and forth.  Do you ever do that?
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Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Friday, February 8, 2019

7 comments


Book Review

BOOK REVIEW

Release Date: August 14, 2012
Genre: Fiction/Humor
330 Pages
Published by Little, Brown and Company
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating



BOOK BLURB

Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces--which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades.

Where'd You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are and the power of a daughter's love for her mother.

MY THOUGHTS

Captivating and whip-smart!
A remarkably funny novel with a clever mixture of cultural jabs, social inadequacy and over-the-top private school politics. 

Even the writing style here is unconventional, in the form of e-mails, letters, FBI classified documents and a famous TED Talk.  I have to confess that at first I thought this style would be boring and I’d lose interest, but, Semple manages to weave all this information together, while keeping it funny and adding one tumultuous event after another.

The story is told by Bee, as she tries to piece together the puzzle that her mom has left behind.  Her dad is an Executive at Microsoft and works crazy hours.  Bee and Bernadette have a loving relationship.  What people see in Bernadette as inclusive and anti-social, Bee thinks it’s normal.  When Bernadette disappears, Bee decides to find her at all costs.

I liked Bee. She was my favorite character.  A sassy, smart teenager that actually understood her mom, even with all the eccentric/weird acts.

I also found it fascinating how the author was able to give us a few characters that started one way (one sympathetic/another hateful) and then changed completely throughout the book.  Some might say that’s not realistic but I think that in reality, people change their opinions and minds all the time, so the fact that a few of the characters here changed, made the book more relatable to me.

Bee’s obsession with Antarctica was also cute and eccentric in her own way (she is her mother’s daughter after all).

But who is Bernadette and why did she disappear?
…You’ll need to read the book to find out. The movie comes out in March, so hurry up!

Oh, and after you read it, let me know if you’re a Subaru or a Mercedes…
🚗

“People like you must create. If you don't create, Bernadette, you will become a menace to society.”

“I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back.
It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn't fall, because Mom was in the world.”



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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Monday, February 4, 2019

8 comments

Book Review

Release Date: First published in November, 1939
Genre: Mystery
300 Pages (paperback)
Published by Harper Collins
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ My Goodreads Rating

BOOK BLURB:

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

One of the most famous and beloved mysteries from the queen of suspense, Agatha Christie!  More than 100 million copies sold and now a Lifetime TV movie.

"Ten . . ."
Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious "U.N. Owen."

"Nine . . ."
At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

"Eight . . ."
Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . one by one they begin to die.

"Seven . . ."
Who among them is the killer and will any of them survive?


MY THOUGHTS:

An invitation.  A nursery rhyme.  10 Strangers with nothing in common, except...

My first Christie's novel and now I understand why she is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling fiction writer!

Anyway, remember playing the game Clue? Well, this book starts a bit like that, where the reader tries to figure out whodunit from the little bits and pieces the author provides us with.

The plot is suspenseful, easy to follow, yet, it's neither graphic nor bloody, so it's safe to say it won't give you nightmares. It's also clever and a quick read.  The more you learn about each of the 10 strangers, the more you think that the murderer could be any one of them.   

And the ending made me consider the possibility of re-reading it...maybe I missed a few clues?

Can't wait for my #SOMAbookclub discussion this month, but first, I will watch the BBC miniseries!




"One of us in this very room is in fact the murderer". - Agatha Christie
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