*Confetti* I’d love to fully review all of these, but I either read them too long ago or did not have a strong opinion on them. After going the route of reviewing every single thing I read, I think I got burnt out. No one loves a burn out. Except maybe their mother. Unless its a burnout in a Disney movie. Then the mom is dead. Do you think the writers at Disney have parental issues? How hard is it to portray a present parent? Presently, I present you with my perceptions of books I read after I took a break from this blog. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. *cough*
Firstlife by Gena Showalter
Synopsis: Tenley “Ten” Lockwood is an average seventeen-year-old girl…who has spent the past thirteen months locked inside the Prynne Asylum. The reason? Not her obsession with numbers, but her refusal to let her parents choose where she’ll live — after she dies. There is an eternal truth most of the world has come to accept: Firstlife is merely a dress rehearsal, and real life begins after death.
In the Everlife, two realms are in power: Troika and Myriad, long-time enemies and deadly rivals. Both will do anything to recruit Ten, including sending their top Laborers to lure her to their side. Soon, Ten finds herself on the run, caught in a wild tug-of-war between the two realms that will do anything to win the right to her soul. Who can she trust? And what if the realm she’s drawn to isn’t where the boy she’s falling for lives? She just has to stay alive long enough to make a decision…
I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads. It was fine, it was action packed, it was love-triangly. But I wasn’t wow-ed by any means. The creativity is there, but it’s JAM packed with many, many tropes and cliches. While I enjoyed reading it, I thought it was very predictable and I kept thinking how much more interesting it would be if X and Y happened. I’ve read better, but I’ve also read worse.
How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Synopsis: Salem, Massachusetts is the site of
the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?
If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.
I picked up this book for the sole reason that it was a Salem Witch Trial book written by a descendant of one of the main facilitators of the witch trials, Cotton Mather. I wasn’t disappointed, but I also think I would have enjoyed this a lot more 10 years ago. It was just slightly too juvenile for me, but I don’t regret reading it. It really was a great idea, and well written. One reviewer mentioned that this would be great as a Netflix series like The Vampire Diaries, and I couldn’t agree more. I gave this book 3/5 stars.
The Sugar Men by Ray Kingfisher
Synopsis: Susannah Morgan has been settled in sleepy North Carolina for almost sixty-five years, but is still haunted by memories of her escape from the holocaust as a child.
For most of her life the flashbacks have been a lonely obsession – one she has managed to hide from her children. But as her life draws to a close her memories start asking questions, and the only way she can find answers is to return to the scene of the unspeakable crime.
Against the wishes of her children she flies back to Germany to find her truth. What she discovers there explains so much about who she is, who her children are, and how the wretched legacy of the holocaust is wide and deep and persistent.
I love reading Holocaust survivor stories, and when I saw this for free on Amazon, I jumped right in. I really wish I hadn’t. I found this book to be grossly under-researched, awkward in delivery, and generally unbelievable. It was so bad, I found it to be disrespectful to the real survival stories that are out there. If I could give this negative stars, I would. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
The Royals Trilogy
Paper Princess | Broken Prince | Twisted Palace
I enjoyed this series enough to read all three of them, but I felt a lot of the characters were problematic. They portray abusive relationships and adult content, so read at your own risk, children. I gave all of these 3 stars on Goodreads.
The Unkillable Kitty O’Kane by Colin Falconer
Synopsis: When fiery and idealistic Kitty O’Kane escapes the crushing poverty of Dublin’s tenements, she’s determined that no one should ever suffer like she did. As she sets out to save the world, she finds herself at the forefront of events that shaped the early twentieth century. While working as a maid, she survives the sinking of the Titanic. As a suffragette in New York’s Greenwich Village, she’s jailed for breaking storefront windows. And traveling war-torn Europe as a journalist, she’s at the Winter Palace when it’s stormed by the Bolsheviks. Ultimately she returns to her homeland to serve as a nurse in the Irish Civil War.
During Kitty’s remarkable journey, she reunites with her childhood sweetheart, Tom Doyle, but Tom doesn’t know everything about her past—a past that continues to haunt her. Will Kitty accept that before she can save everyone else, she needs to find a way to save herself? Or will the sins of her past stop her from pursuing her own happiness?
I found this book to be very depressing. It was good, don’t get me wrong, but poor Kitty goes through so much shit (for lack of a better word) throughout the book. She’s a real magnet for tragedy, and almost nothing went her way. While Kitty is based on real people and real events, she is more a combination of people rather than a single person. I think it would have been more interesting to read about the woman who ACTUALLY survived multiple ship sinkings. Anyway, I gave this 3 stars.
I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Synopsis: When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.
A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.
Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.
Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.
To be honest, I didn’t even remember what this was about. I certainly don’t remember if I liked it or not. Take from that what you will. I gave it 3 stars.
Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie
Synopsis: On the night of Guinevere’s birth, a wise woman declares a prophecy of doom for the child: She will be gwenhwyfar, the white shadow, destined to betray her king, and be herself betrayed. Years pass, and Guinevere becomes a great beauty, riding free across Northern Wales on her beloved horse. She is entranced by the tales of the valorous Arthur, a courageous warrior who seems to Guinevere no mere man, but a legend. Then she finds herself betrothed to that same famous king, a hero who commands her willing devotion. Just as his knights and all his subjects, she falls under Arthur’s spell.
At the side of King Arthur, Guinevere reigns strong and true. Yet she soon learns how the dark prophecy will reveal itself. She is unable to conceive. Arthur’s only true heir is Mordred, offspring of a cursed encounter with the witch Morgause. Now Guinevere must make a fateful choice: She decides to raise Mordred, teaching him to be a ruler and to honor Camelot. She will love him like a mother. Mordred will be her greatest joy–and the key to her ultimate downfall.
I loooved this one. This book was so epic, and I enjoyed every second I spent reading it. It was a bit slow at times, and Gwen is very much the damsel in distress, but I thought that it was so interesting to hear the old tale of King Arthur from her point of view. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as it was over 800 pages long, but I thought it was worth it. Especially since I was in the middle of a Game of Thrones post season 7 slump. I gave this book 4.5 stars on Goodreads, subtracting .5 stars for Gwen’s damsel/male dependency. But I attribute that more to the time period.
P.S. From Paris by Marc Levy
Synopsis: On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.
Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”
Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?
This was cute. I thought the dialogue was a little awkward at times, but it was translated from French to English so I can’t complain too much. I gave this 3/5 stars.
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Synopsis: Revenge is worth its weight in gold.
When her father is murdered for a journal revealing the location of a hidden gold mine, eighteen-year-old Kate Thompson disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers—and justice.
What she finds are untrustworthy strangers, endless dust and heat, and a surprising band of allies, among them a young Apache girl and a pair of stubborn brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow.
But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, a startling truth becomes clear: some men will stop at nothing to get their hands on gold, and Kate’s quest for revenge may prove fatal.
I am a long time fan of Little House on the Prarie vibes, and I was here for this book. Those are terrible comparisons, but they’re the closest I can think of at the moment. Please hold your angry mob until the end of the presentation, please. If you loved True Grit, you’ll love this. If you didn’t love True Grit, I think you’ll still love this. Also, think about how amazing that cover would look on your book shelf. I gave this 4 stars.
The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee
Synopsis: An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.
As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal totalitarian regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?
Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.
She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.
This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.
I rarely read non-fiction, but when I do, it’s epic. I thought this book was incredibly interesting, especially since I don’t really know much about North Korea. Whether you want to learn about the world’s most ruthless dictatorship regime, or like to be inspired by a young woman who had the strength to navigate through series of life-changing, often life-threatening challenges, this book will do you both. 4.5/5 stars.
History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
Synopsis: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.
Previously, on Christen’s blog… I had mentioned on a Top Five Wednesday post that I had never read an LGBTQ book and listed History Is All You Left Me as one of the books I wanted to read to remedy the situation. Well folks, I went out, bought it, read it, LOVED it. It made me laugh, it made me sob, it made me feel so many emotions that I can barely begin to tell you about them all. This was my favorite read of 2017, and I cannot recommend it enough. 5/5 stars, 10 stars if I could.
That’s all folks!