Who knew that half of the books only TBR were only available through NetGalley?? I certainly didn't, which is why it has taken me ages to sign up for it! Now that I had a taste of it I wish I'd done it sooner - it's amazing!!
My other reason being that NetGalley is only digital, and I prefer hard copies, but lately I noticed that ebooks were catching my eyes more and more so I went with it - and I'm so happy. Can you tell? I'm ecstatic! They have so many good titles, obviously signing up is half the battle as you have to go through "the dreaded approval/denial", but hey, if you don't try - you will never know.
So here are some titles that I recently requested - most of these I already been approved for, and some I haven't yet, but I'm still including them because "fingers crossed" I will get approved.
1. The Lido by Libby Page
(Simon & Shuster)
I am currently reading an enjoying this one. It's got a lot of humanity in it - which I've been craving a lot in books lately.
Rosemary Peterson has lived in Brixton, London, all her life but everything is changing.
Twentysomething Kate Matthews has moved to Brixton and feels desperately alone. A once promising writer, she now covers forgettable stories for her local paper. That is, until she’s assigned to write about the lido’s closing. Soon Kate’s portrait of the pool focuses on a singular woman: Rosemary. And as Rosemary slowly opens up to Kate, both women are nourished and transformed in ways they never thought possible.
In the tradition of Fredrik Backman’s A Man Called Ove, The Lido is a charming, feel-good novel that captures the heart and spirit of a community across generations—an irresistible tale of love, loss, aging, and friendship.
2. Convenience store woman by Sayaka Murata
I've seen this one around quite lot, and one of my 2018 goals into read more books by asian authors and about asian culture, so this is a win win.
Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person.
Sayaka Murata brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. With some laugh-out-loud moments prompted by the disconnect between Keiko’s thoughts and those of the people around her, she provides a sharp look at Japanese society and the pressure to conform, as well as penetrating insights into the female mind. Convenience Store Woman is a fresh, charming portrait of an unforgettable heroine that recalls Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and Amélie.
3. The third hotel by Laura Van Den Berg
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
This one I've seen recommended by a lovely bookish soul that I follow on Instagram, so I really wanted to give it a go. Thank you Netgalley!
In Havana, Cuba, a widow tries to come to terms with her husband’s death—and the truth about their marriage—in Laura van den Berg’s surreal, mystifying story of psychological reflection and metaphysical mystery.
Shortly after Clare arrives in Havana, Cuba, to attend the annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema, she finds her husband, Richard, standing outside a museum. He’s wearing a white linen suit she’s never seen before, and he’s supposed to be dead. Grief-stricken and baffled, Clare tails Richard, a horror film scholar, through the newly tourist-filled streets of Havana, clocking his every move. As the distinction between reality and fantasy blurs, Clare finds grounding in memories of her childhood in Florida and of her marriage to Richard, revealing her role in his death and reappearance along the way. The Third Hotel is a propulsive, brilliantly shape-shifting novel from an inventive author at the height of her narrative powers.
4. The myth of perpetual summer by Suzan Grandall
(Gallery, threshold and pocket books)
This one has been on my radar for a while, and to be honest the name is what draws me in the most!
From the national bestselling author of Whistling Past the Graveyard comes a moving coming-of-age tale set in the tumultuous sixties that harkens to both Ordinary Grace and The Secret Life of Bees.
Tallulah James’s parents’ volatile relationship, erratic behavior, and hands-off approach to child rearing set tongues to wagging in their staid Mississippi town, complicating her already uncertain life. She takes the responsibility of shielding her family’s reputation and raising her younger twin siblings onto her youthful shoulders.
If not for the emotional constants of her older brother, Griff, and her old guard Southern grandmother, she would be lost. When betrayal and death arrive hand in hand, she takes to the road, headed to what turns out to be the not-so-promised land of Southern California. The dysfunction of her childhood still echoes throughout her scattered family, sending her brother on a disastrous path and drawing her home again. There she uncovers the secrets and lies that set her family on the road to destruction.
5. One part woman by Perumal Murugan
(Grove press, black cat)
Selling over 100,000 copies in India, where it was published first in the original Tamil and then in a celebrated translation by Penguin India, Perumal Murugan’sOne Part Woman has become a cult phenomenon in the subcontinent, captivating Indian readers and jump-starting conversations about caste and female empowerment.
Set in South India during the British colonial period but with powerful resonance to the present day,One Part Womantells the story of a couple, Kali and Ponna, who are unable to conceive, much to the concern of their families—and the crowing amusement of Kali’s male friends. Kali and Ponna try anything to have a child, including making offerings at different temples, atoning for past misdeeds of dead family members, and even circumambulating a mountain supposed to cure barren women, but all to no avail.
A more radical plan is required, and the annual chariot festival, a celebration of the god Maadhorubaagan, who is one part woman, one part man, may provide the answer. On the eighteenth night of the festival, the festivities culminate in a carnival, and on that night the rules of marriage are suspended, and consensual sex between any man and woman is permitted. The festival may be the solution to Kali and Ponna’s problem, but it soon threatens to drive the couple apart as much as to bring them together. Wryly amusing, fable-like, and deeply poignant, One Part Woman is a powerful exploration of a loving marriage strained by the expectations of others, and an attack on the rigid rules of caste and tradition that continue to constrict opportunity and happiness today.
6. Lying in wait by Liz Nugent
(Gallery, threshold, pocket books)
From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre” (Sunday Mirror).
“Someone told me once that to create true art you must be willing to bleed and let others watch.”
Funnily enough, I knew I wouldn't enjoy this book before I even read it. So why still read it? Well I was on a quest to read all of the Amy Harmon works because her books are magnificent, but I guess there are exceptions in every situation.
Also I disliked the cover from the very first time I laid my eyes on it - it's weird, but I think not liking the cover also influenced my opinion on the book. I guess I'm just a cover whore.
“Why don’t you focus on where you’re going and less on where you came from?”
I honestly don't even know where to start - I guess I should say that this is the only Amy Harmon book that I actively disliked, and I read 8 of her books already.
First off, the writing - the first 100 pages of the book are completely horrendous. It felt like somebody completely different wrote it. Normally Harmon's writing is lyrical and beautiful, and inspiring. This felt like something I'd read on a WatPad (which there is nothing wrong with, it's just not what I expected). A Different Blue was full of "he threw his hands up into the air", "he ran his hands through his locks", "I clipped", "growled", "sashayed to him" and more, - very cringe-y.
I alsmot DNF'd the book, but lately I've been dnf-ing so much that I felt I had to finish something! So I kept reading. The writing did get better as the book progressed, and so did the plot (sadly, by the end of the book the plot plummeted back to the ground).
I wasn't able to identify with, or for that matter like, any of the main characters. Blue was irrational and bitchy, and while I did see the reasons for it - it just didn't do anything for me. There were some moments where I felt for her, but even that wasn't much.
Darcy, despite his British old fashioned manners, was a complete jackass and I just don't understand the attraction at all. There was no spark, no rhyme or reason for them to be each other's love interests. Also the constant reminders that he was from England were outright annoying, okay we get it - you're British, you have an accent - get over it!
The only character I more or less liked was Tiffa - she was fun and so full of life, she just didn't get enough page time.
The book seemed to have no plot, or maybe too many plots - I honestly am not sure. So many things were happening, but then they all just ended up going nowhere. Things that could have gone somewhere and that could have had a big impact weren't explored nearly enough. Manny and Graciela seemed like great side characters to build a story on, but around 30% they were just whisked away and only mentioned once after - such a waste.
Also I really disliked how "my sister wanted to kill herself because of you" arc didn't go anywhere at all! It was just brushed aside and never mentioned again, and the message behind it was so important! Very disappointing.
The whole purpose of the book, besides the romance (bleh) was that of Blue suffering because she didn't know who she was and where she came from - which I didn't find tragic at all, so that plot line was extremely weak to me. Sure, she didn't know her family history but she had a full life - she was taken care of, fed and clothed. so many kids have it way worse and they don't even complain half as hard as she did. And in the end when everything unraveled and came together, well, it was all very anti climatic.
If you want to read something by Amy Harmon, I'd recommend Making Faces, The law of Moses/Song of David, or if you are feeling like reading a romantic fantasy The Bird and the Sword. A Different Blue is a very weak novel comparing to all of them and doesn't do this author justice.
Look for the nearest dumpster because this is garbage! Trash. Total trash.
I'm rude and I'm not even sorry. How this book ever got published I have absolutely no idea.
I was really in the mood for a Tudor era novel. I found this book in the library book sale for 50cents, and let me tell you - it's not even worth that.
Normally, I have the rule if I don't reach the 100 page mark, I don't rate the book, but in this case I am more than happy to make an exception and give this 1 star (even though it doesn't even deserve that).
So what went wrong here? Well, everything, but mostly the writing and the content.
This reads like a trashy romance fanfic (minus the actual romance). The author obviously has no idea how people of that era spoke, so it's full of modern slang and curse words.
Anne Boleyn's favorite word is apparently "damn".
King Henry has words such as "skedaddle" in his vocabulary.
Anne's cousin just tells her to "f@ck off" and so on.
Just as the author has no idea how to write in the language of Tudor era, it is more than clear that she also has no idea about the history itself. The events are short and brisk - it literally feels as if the information was taken from "quick history notes" or something of that sort. Names are just thrown around without any explanation who is who and where they came from - I was so confused the whole time.
In conclusion - don't waste your time. I only read 48 pages, but it was more than enough to realize what a joke this book is. Will definitely be un-hauling this.
“A marriage is hard work and sometimes it’s a bit of a bore. It’s like housework. It’s never finished. You’ve just got to grit your teeth and keep working away at it, day after day.”
This is my last Moriarty book (that is until she writes more) and sadly my least favorite one. It even topped Truly Madly Guilty (which I rated 3.25) all the rest of her works I absolutely love.
I am pretty sure that this is her debut novel, so I didn't want to be too critical of her writing, but this book just didn't do anything for me. Normally her books make me laugh out loud, or gasp with surprise, but not in this case. Not a single laugh, the whole reading experience was kind of meh.
“You can still bake a perfectly good cake while losing your mind.”
The whole plot of the book makes completely no sense. I mean it's not convoluted or anything, it's just very unbelievable, and quite frankly - boring. First of all I never understood why they suddenly decided to threat Sophie as family, or why she was the center of attention at all. She was only means for other plot line as far as I can tell. She was enjoyable character to read, at times. At other times she was just a desperate 40 year old who needed to get laid asap. Funny, but also kind of annoying.
I think I only truly cared about Grace, and Margie as well, but her character could have used a bit more page time. Grace was hard to read, but oh so important. Grace was the reason why I love Moriarty's books - she was truthful, she had many flaws and she was battling a very hard battle and nobody else really noticed, until it was too late.
"Baby Munro Mystery" - a big shocker, so interesting, need to solve it! NOT. I did guess the twist, well I got the wrong woman, but I pretty much guessed it. It makes no sense, but those who read the book will understand.
There was a very funny "coming out" plot line which I enjoyed a lot. But I could also tell that the book was older (written in 2005) because it contained a lot of prejudiced opinions which I didn't care for at all.
The last "shocking revelation" was indeed shocking, but since it was literally revealed in the last page it felt more as an afterthought, than an actual plot twist. "The Munro Baby" plot twist wasn't enough, so I feel like that other twist was just thrown in the end, and it really shows.
This is a book that can definitely be skipped, but if you are like me, and would like to read all of the books from an author I'd say don't keep it to be the last one you read. Read Big Little Lies or What Alice Forgot - those are much better, they pack a good punch and they are also quite hilarious.
The only reason I can think to read this book would be for relationships in this big, dysfunctional family - the "mystery" part of it is a total crap.
“She knew her own worth. She would seize her destiny with all the strength and spirit within her, and bend them all to her will: every man kneeling and every woman overshadowed.”
I've read the advanced reader copy of this book, and since the book was published a while ago (better late than never, right?) I don't know if anything was changed in the final copy, although from where I'm standing not much would have needed to be changed at all.
This is probably my favorite ARC I've ever read, and I honestly cannot believe that this was a debut. Julie Dao writes with a refined and skillful hand and I cannot wait for what her next books will bring.
Also, kudos to her editing team because this advanced copy was the cleanest, most grammatically correct book I've ever received. I can just tell how much love and dedication to detail this book received and it definitely payed off - I am so freaking impressed with it!
“For that is the way of the world, Guma’s voice echoed. Some are given a rope to the moon, and others claw up the sky.”
The story follows Xifeng, a beautiful and suffering woman, who believes in destiny more than anything in the world. She believes she's destined for more and is prepared to see it through. Xifeng is not your typical protagonist, because she is the opposite of that. She is beautiful and she knows it, and uses it to her benefit in every opportunity she can. She's selfish and vain and she won't let anything stand in her way.
Do you like her and the path she takes? No. But you also can't tear your eyes away from the pages because you just have to know how her story will play out.
“Xifeng tilted her face, a pale moon in the evening of the water. She felt like a goddess in the shimmering light. She was a poem come to life, each vein was a lyric.”
This is branded as Asian retelling of Snow White, but the story is so intricate and indigenous that you don't see the references to the original narrative until they are right in front of your face.
The writing was absolutely beautiful, for the most part, there were few times when it felt very stiff - as if the flow was somehow broken and words just stumbled around till they found the rhythm again. If you're not into high fantasy and descriptive writing, I admit that it might be too much in places, but if you are - then you're in for a treat. Quite brutal, but delicious treat.
“She was a monster, a bride of the darkness, and she rose to face her destiny as though it were the blood-red sunrise of a new day.”
At some moments it did feel as if Xifeng just couldn't make up her mind, and I know it was meant as a portrayal of her fighting the good and evil inside of her, but sometimes it just came out as wishy-washy. But I loved the strength of her, and I loved how she refused to belong to any man - Xifeng is quite the feminist!
My goal this year was to read more books in Asian setting and this book just reminded me why I made that goal - because I love the setting so much. The imagery, the legends and the customs - it's all so intricate and almost magical to me.
Julie C. Dao got a new fan with just one book because I cannot wait for the second one. We got a glimpse of what's to come, and most importantly who to come on the scene, and I am already so intrigued.
“She used to cry roughly three times a year. Now she seemed to cry three times before breakfast. Could that be considered progress?”
I try not to use stock photos for my reviews, but the library copy of this book was so battered and dirty that I didn't have the heart to take any pictures with it.
I enjoyed the 1st book of this series much, much more. The only thing that improved in the book two was the writing - it was more refined and less juvenile, but unfortunately that was the end of improvements.
“She got tired of herself. She got tired of not being able to say what she wanted or do what she wanted or even want what she wanted.”
The only character that had an appealing and meaningful story was Bee, everybody else's storylines were just a mess. Bee's storyline honestly saved the book for me, I really loved exploring the attic of memories with her, and watching her reinvent herself.
I couldn't stand Carmen in this book at all - she wasn't my favorite in the first book, but here she definitely took the gold on the most annoying character ever. Her story arc was exactly the same as in the first book, but with a different parent - total waste of time.
Tibby was as usual coarse and bitter and unlikable, which made no sense considering what she went through in the first book. I really thought that her character would be different, but she kept making the stupidest choices for absolutely no reason.
“I mean putting yourself out there in the way of overwhelming happiness and knowing you're also putting yourself in the way of terrible harm. I'm scared to be this happy. I'm scared to be this extreme.”
Lena's character was completely lost in her romantic arc -which was so incredibly unrealistic. Lena was my favorite in book one because she had personality - she loved art, books and she knew what she wanted from the world. Lena in book two was a lovesick puppy with absolutely no personality left - it was disheartening to read.
Despite the uninteresting and repetitive plot lines, this was still a good summer read. I am just hoping that the next book is much better, otherwise that will be the end of this series for me.
Well, this is the book that made me realize just how much I dislike ya contemporaries. I mean I knew that before, I can count on one finger how many ya contemporaries I enjoyed (Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe), but this one was the last straw. No more for me. And no more jumping on the hype train (I say it a lot but I mean it this time).
Speaking of Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe - I would recommend that book over this one a million times over. Ari and Dante was beautiful - it was poetic, it had substance and soul. Simon VS Homo reads like a fanfic.
Despite being a book about a gay teen who hasn't come out yet, this book had a very judgmental and prejudiced feel to it, which was quite baffling.
I still don't know if the jokes about one character's skin color and heritage were supposed to be funny or racist, because they definitely weren't funny.
I don't know why the book that is supposed to be very diverse would promote gay boys but dismiss lesbians (because for girls coming out is apparently easier - words that came out of a main character's mouth), which is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
I don't know why the book would ever say that boys fetishizing lesbians and girls fetishizing gay boys is okay.
And I don't know why a book would think it's okay to uplift one group of people while making fun of the other.
The writing was pretty awful, the side characters were one dimensional and served only as an addition to otherwise very linear story line. The high school scenery wasn't interesting (at least to me) and the jokes weren't funny at all (I think I'm too old for the humor that this book portrays).
Also, all of the social media (the word "Tumblr" was used at least every other page), video games, movies and manga references were a definite overkill.
And I just thought of something. If this was a book about a straight boy fantasizing and masturbating about girls he never met in real life, only online - he would be considered a pervert and a jerk. But somehow if it's a gay boy doing that it's considered normal? Nobody would read the book if this was a straight boy saying and doing the things that Simon did, so what are the standards here?
I know many people love this book, but I couldn't find anything to like. The writing and the one dimensional everything were definitely the biggest factors that made me give up on this book.
Freelance BETA reader.