The main reason as to why I picked this book up:
"Cora Bellamy is a woman who thrives on organization. She’s successfully run her own dog training business for years, perfectly content with her beloved rescue pitbull as the main man in her life."
Sure, the cover caught my eye too, but once I saw the words rescued pitbull I was sold. As an owner of a pitlab mix dog I am sick and tired of people judging the poor breed for what we, as humans, did to them (and sadly still continue to do).
Will a cub tiger try to eat you or will it cuddle you? Baby animals do not learn their instincts until they are are taught them - by their mother or by a human. As shocking as it sounds a pitbull dog doesn't want to fight another dog for your entertainment . But it will do it if its trained to do so. So before you call a pitbull (or a doberman, or a boxer or whatever breed you have prejudice with) a monster, think about the true monsters behind the dog who enjoy watching innocent animals fight to death so they can make money on it.
I got a bit off topic over there, but some things you just can't keep inside. I enjoyed every single bit of this book that had to do with dogs - dogs of all shapes and sizes. Cora is a dog whisperer and the bond she was able to share with each dog made me pet my dog twice as much as I normally do (and I already pet her a lot!)
The only reason this book wasn't a complete winner for me was because I didn't really care for the tv-show plot. There was just too much tv-show talk in it - I read books because I don't care about tv-shows, so obviously I don't really want to read about them. But it did propel the plot forward and all of the things that happened were nicely wrapped up in the end.
Cora was a great main character - she was shy, but strong. She had her baggage but she always came through when important things were on the line. And her devotion to her profession was truly remarkable. We need people like Cora in real life! The love interest, or should I say the lust interest of Cora's infuriated me, but in the end I was able to see where Cora was coming from and forgave her.
The side characters were well developed and added nice dimension to the story. I really enjoyed Maggie, although her falling out with Darnell and then falling back in was a bit too easy to be believable.
Despite the happy ending the book wasn't the lightest of reads for me. As a loving dog owner it was incredibly hard to read about abuse and injustice many dogs had to go through. And from the hands of their owners! It broke my heart and I definitely teared up more than once while reading.
I think that this will make a great summer read for both dog lovers and those who don't know much about dogs and how they operate. If I had to classify this I'd say chick-lit + dogs. The book is actually rich on good dog advice (thanks to the author's dog training background) so I think I also learned something from it.
This review wouldn't be complete without a picture of my own dog, so reading world, meet Luna (named after a Luna-cat in Sailor Moon).
Big thanks to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket books for an advanced e-copy of this book. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart. Life on the leash will be published in September of 2018.
Reusing a photo because e-books don't photograph that well.
I have so many questions.
- Why didn't anybody tell me how bad this was?
- Why did I fall for the pretty cover yet again?
- Why didn't I DNF'd it?
- Why YA fantasy isn't really fantasy at all?
- Why did I spend $2 on it?
I do have to say that this had tons of potential. Tons! But sadly it was all wasted away. Partly because of the super Insta-romance, and partly because of the very detached writing.
I have never read a book where writing was both very good and very, very bad. The beginning pulled me in because I liked the writing - it was simple, yet it did the job. For few pages at least. But the more I progressed the more I felt detached from the story. It wasn't telling, it was showing and there's nothing worse than that in a fantasy novel. It also felt second hand, as if the story was being re-told. Details were glazed over, there was no world building whatsoever and the fight scenes were non-existent.
For a book that for the bigger portion of it focuses on a tournament - the actual tournament was so short and so under-described that I had to read over again to make sure I didn't miss it. The fights were explained in 2-3 sentences tops and they all ended as soon as they began. I was flabbergasted! The book wanted to show these women as awesome warriors yet it skipped and glazed over all of the fight scenes? I could have used way less fawning over "his pretty chiseled chin line" and more of actual fighting.
Which brings me to the romance. The romance was more instant than the instant coffee and I couldn't care less about it. Curiously enough there was no actual romantic development, despite the main character always thinking about "her lover". There was no connection, no tenderness and no apparent reason for that romance to bloom. She saw him for the very first time and boom she knew he was the one! Bullets left the gun slower!
If we ignore the nauseating romance the book still doesn't have that much to offer. Cool magic concept that wasn't explored nearly enough. Side characters that didn't get enough page time. World that didn't get any world building at all. And the only details we got were as to which color sari she was wearing and how thick her eyes were lined in kohl.
I also wasn't a fan of the "religion" in the book. The author's note states that it was tweaked from an actual religion, and I don't like that. You either create your own completely unique religion, or you follow an existent one to the tee. Also the whole thing was undeniably disgusting - a "king" who's got hundred wives and over two hundred "whores" and he would "spend time" with 4-5 of them at once. Ewwwwww.
The plot did have some interesting turns here and there, but it just wasn't enough to make up for how atrociously predictable the whole book was - every YA cliche possible - this book got it. If you strip away the fantasy setting this was pretty much Shatter Me by There Mafi (it just popped into my head and now I can't unsee the similarities).
This should teach me once again not to trust pretty covers. I don't know if series get better or worse after this and I don't know if I will be picking up the rest. Not soon that's for sure.
Writing these little "immediate TBR's" helps me to stay on track with my reading, especially with my ARC's. So here we go.
Currently reading (and not liking at all)
The Hundredth Queen by Emily R King
I bought this on Amazon on a while, mostly because of the gorgeous cover )I never learn!).
I am at 50 percent mark and so far this turned out to be a nauseatingly predictable YA with every single cliche possible. I am thinking about def-ing it, it's just that bad.
Also I am not very keen on the "Indian religion and culture being changed ever so slightly to comprise a new religion for this book". In my opinion you should either create a completely different and new one for the book, or just follow the existent one to the tee.
Net Galley ARC's TBR
Life on the leash by Victoria Schade
Cora Bellamy is a woman who thrives on organization. She’s successfully run her own dog training business for years, perfectly content with her beloved rescue pitbull as the main man in her life. She’s given everything to her business, and her lack of social life (or slobber-free clothes) has been completely worth it.
I'm going to be honest - the main reason I want to read this book is this "perfectly content with her beloved rescue pitbull as the main man in her life". I am so sick and tired of pitbull breed prejudices so I'm hoping this book does this extremely loving, albeit a bit too energetic breed justice.
Although the cover does not have a pitbull on it, so that's already a reg flag. Will see, will see.
Fawkes by Nadine Brandes
Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father’s plot to assassinate the king of England.
Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared, but are carried out in dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.
I am in the mood for 17 century novels for some reason. when life was dim and every sneeze turned out to be a deadly disease. Also, the cover is beautiful.
First of all - look at the cover! Look at it! It's so beautiful. Was the cover the reason this book caught my eye? Absolutely, I am a cover whore after all. And then I read the description and I was completely sold!
When I was reading this book a thought sprang to mind "this is what "Stalking Jack the Ripper" should have been. Minus Jack the Ripper. There are a lot of similarities between the books, but they are also very different from each other.
We have the strong feminist character, who is actually a strong feminist character - not just pretending to be one, the macabre world of the dead bodies and dissections, and a mystery.
The Impossible Girl was impossible to put down for the first 50 percent of the book. The plot was moving beautifully, the main heroine, Cora was a delight to read about and the topic was fascinating. I loved, loved Cora's secret identity! It was just such a cool perspective to read from.
The other 50 percent of the book dipped pretty low on the fascination scale - it was a bit too repetitive for my liking and few things happened that left a bad taste in my mouth. But it did pick up later on with a roller coaster speed and I was back engrossed into the world of living and the dead. The plot twist, while I myself figured out early on (I just read A LOT of mysteries when I was a teenager so honestly not many things can surprise me) was still pleasant from the writing point of view. It was definitely done the correct way. And the madness that ws uncovered with that twist? Disgustingly brilliant!
Things were pretty bad for a while for poor Cora, and when you think they couldn't have gotten worse, they of course did. I'd say that the last 20 percent of the book were pretty stressful to read through. Which is how it should be in a mystery book!
I can tell that this book was brilliantly researched and I genuinely enjoyed all of the medical things portrayed in it - and I am the world's biggest hypochondriac! For the side characters I enjoyed Suzette a lot, which I didn't expect myself to do and I liked Dr. Blackwell, but I wish she got more page time to be honest - there was so much more potential to her.
Some parts were laced with pretty great humor which made me laugh out loud. There was a part which made me feel very unconformable and I was flabbergasted at how Cora had no proper reaction to it whatsoever. If I saw what she saw I'd be scarred for life, but I guess she was a very tough girl after all.
This will be published in the late September - perfect in time for Halloween, when all of us crave macabre books! I definitely recommend!
Big thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital advanced copy for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
The Cast is a wonderful and emotional story of friendship, illnesses and loss. I think it would be perfect for bookclubs - there is a lot to discuss in here! I'd especially recommend this book to be read in the month of October - if you read this, you will know why. Hint, no not because of Halloween.
The cover caught my eye - I loved the greens and the blues, and the casual prettiness of it. And for the cover whore like me - thats an important aspect of the book.
I do have to say that The Cast deals with some heavy topics, although it handles them with a gentle hand. But if anybody out there is as much of a hypochondriac as I am - beware.
Before I talk about the cast (get it?) I wanted to mention quickly that this book is very rich on jewish traditions and customs - which was so great to read, because I feel like I've learned so much. It was also nice, because to be honest I haven't seen many books out there featuring jewish characters (besides the ones set in time of WWII of course).
There are quite a few alternating points of view, but the main focus is on Becca. A childhood cancer survivor. I was rooting for Becca all the way through.
Nolan, well in my book Nolan can jump up his own ass and die! For me there was no redemption for him. I understand what his point of view meant to portray, but I just couldn't get on board with it.
Jordana was next after Nolan in her annoyingness, although I might have disliked her so much because I saw pieces of myself in her. Jordana's ocd and constant need to control and micromanage everything showed me that maybe some of my tendencies in life aren't pretty.
Holly, oh Holly. I absolutely adored her. There was not enough of her in the first part of the book, but later she became the central figure and oh my goodness that was tough to bear.
Lex was fun to read about and surprisingly I totally understood and supported where she came from, and why she did hat she did.
Seth was alright, but his POV was kinda annoying, mostly because his inner dialog was so childish I had to keep rolling my eyes.
Adam and Sal did not have enough page time , especially Sal - I feel like I even don't know Sal at all.
This was a solid 4 star read all the way through, but the ending did feel rushed and a bit unfinished so down to 3.75 it went.
I am very happy that I read this - it just randomly caught my eye on Netgalley, and surprise books often turn out to be the best books.
Big thanks to Get Red PR, SparkPress and NetGalley for an advanced copy of the book. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
Well this was fun! Sick and twisted, but fun nonetheless.
Going into this I thought that it was going to be a contemporary murder story, but it wasn't the case. The story starts in 1980, and I think that the time period chosen added a very nice touch to the overall feel of the book.
Is there anything worse than smother-mother? No. And apparently there is also nothing more terrifying than a smother-mother either. The format is quite different, as the main murder and its murderers is given away right in the beginning, so in the sense the mystery is already known to the reader. I was very curious how the rest of the book would play out and what ways the plot could possibly go.
With that said, I devoured this book within 24 hours - I just could not stop reading! The plot took some interesting turns, and while none of them were too shocking they still kept my attention glued. But I think what definitely propelled this book forward was the amazingly messed up cast of characters.
There are three points of view. We get a very twisted and mental, but oh so calm character - which was the most terrifying one to read. We also get a person who knows, but can't do much about it, except keep covering it up. And we get the victim's sister, which is probably the only semi-normal character of this book. Emphasis on semi, because none of them were truly normal.
The three different points of view weave the story perfectly - I especially liked how they interlocked and crossed on the most important parts. The character study in this book is simply superb.
I went into this book not expecting much, but it turned out that this was just what I needed - a very twisted, very wrong, but oh so fun murder book. It's not gory or brutal in any way, but it's still very ghastly and macabre, thanks to the messed up characters. I will definitely be picking up another book by Liz Nugget in the future, because I really dig what she did here.
Big thanks to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket books for a digital advanced copy of this book. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
"What in the world did I just read" - sums up this book very well. At least for me. Aside from giving it a low rating I actually do not think that this is a bad book, I think that this is a brilliant book - for the right audience.
The closest thing I can compare it to is The ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman, so if you enjoyed that one you will probably love The Third Hotel. Myself? Not so much. I didn't enjoy Gaiman's book and I didn't much care for this one, although it was still very readable and I wanted to get to the end to see how it plays out. Which it didn't, not really.
I like a little ambiguity here and there, but The Third Hotel is ambiguous on top of ambiguous - and at that point what is the story even? When the author leaves too much to reader's interpretation the story telling ceases to be, it looses its direction and it loses its own voice.
Everything would be made okay if the ending at least gave us something, but it doesn't. I finished the book, but I feel like I haven't, I still have so many questions and absolutely no answers. Sure, that is the point of this type of writing, but to be honest I'd rather have hard, but set in stone truths than delirious musings that go nowhere.
I had the same problem with The ocean at the end of the lane, if only the ending made it worthwhile, if only some things were confirmed. But nothing was, and I just end up wondering about the book that wasn't probably even a book, just a figment of feverish imagination, on author's part that they wanted to share with the world. A brilliant figment nonetheless, but you have to be in a state of mind for it. And I just wasn't, because those types of books are just not my cup of tea.
The writing itself was absolutely gorgeous - that was the main reason I kept going, I absolutely loved it. It was simple, but yet complex. It gave away nothing, but at the same time it told so much.
I cannot tell much about the story without having to explain the whole thing, but I did enjoy the side exploration of Agatha Alonso, I also felt like her story was the only one that got some sort of finish. Mostly I was just left with questions about Clare:
"Did she do what I think she did?" "What is she?" "What is wrong with her?" "Why? Why? Why?"
Big thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux as well as NetGalley for a digital copy provided for a review. All opinions are my own, and come from the heart. The Third Hotel will be published on August 7,2018.
“One bright day in the last week of February, I was walking in the park, enjoying the threefold luxury of solitude, a book, and pleasant weather.”
By reading Agnes Grey I've sufficiently accomplished my goal of reading a book from each Bronte sister.
Despite many similarities in sisters' writing and the messages that they are portraying - the three of them are also very different.
The first sister I had the pleasure of reading was Emily, and it's easy to assume that she was the risk taker of the written word. She embraced the wildness of the moors and the madness of true love, she let her imagination run untamed and her emotions unchecked. All of those qualities created a painful, but also very beautiful masterpiece of Wuthering Heights.
Charlotte, while not shying away from the madness of love either, focused more on the resilience of human spirit and how ones principles get them through all trials. Jane Eyre was full of surprises as we watched her bravely walk through her hardships and onto the unexpected path of love, that in the end was a saving grace for both her, and her beloved.
Anne's writing is definitely the most polished of them all. Her sentences are carefully constructed and all of the words are picked with a goal in mind. Not once Agnes Grey went out of bonds, not once she fell into her temptations or got lost on the path she was taking, no matter how bleak and gloomy it was.
“It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.”
The hypocrisy level in this book is absolutely hilarious and Agnes handles it all with such cool and stoic exterior, she's such a little sweetheart. But Agnes is not without flaws herself. The whole duration of the book I kept wishing that she would stop caring so much about what her friends thought of her - everything she did, everything she persevered to endure was to keep her face and honor in front of her friends, and to me that just wasn't a good reasoning.
I absolutely adored how awkwardly honest Agnes always was, and how she herself always admitted it.
“No, thank you, I don't mind the rain,' I said. I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.”
Most of the side character will make you blind with rage, especially Rosalie Murray - that girl was so backwards I was surprised she could walk a straight line. The novel portrays very well how riches and negligence will make anyone rotten spoiled and how amidst all of that those who have their principles in check will persevere no matter the trials.
While not as emotional as works of her sisters, Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey is an excellent quick read - if the simple plot doesn't do you well, then read it simply for the excellence of writing.
2018 for me is a year of exploring, a year of not being stuck in one genre, a year to learn and a year to grow. And a year to try and read a bit more classics. So here are some that Definitely want to get to in 2018.
1. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
I've already started on this one and I am really liking it. One of my other goals was to read at least a book by each of the Bronte sisters, and Anne is the last one, I've already read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister whose family was in financial difficulty. She has only a few choices for employment. Agnes experiences the difficulty of reining in spoiled children and how wealth can corrupt morals.
2. Picture of dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
This has been on my TBR foray too long, it's about time I stop postponing it and just read this. I do have very high expectations for it.
Horror hides behind an attractive face in The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde's tale of a notorious Victorian libertine and his life of evil excesses. Though Dorian's hedonistic indulgences leave no blemish on his ageless features, the painted portrait imbued with his soul proves a living catalogue of corruption, revealing in its every new line and lesion the manifold sins he has committed. Desperate to hide the physical evidence of his unregenerate spirit, Dorian will stop at nothing--not even murder--to keep his picture's existence a secret.
3. Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
I feel as if I'm the only one who hasn't rad this yet.
In seventeenth-century Boston, Hester Prynne shoulders the scorn of her fellow Puritan townsfolk for bearing a child out of wedlock. For her refusal to name the father of her daughter Pearl, Hester is made to wear a scarlet "A" stitched conspicuously upon her dress. But though she bears the stigma of the shame her peers would confer upon her, others feel the guilt for her transgression more acutely—notably the pious Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale, the confessor with whom Hester and Pearl's destinies are intimately bound up.
First published in 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne's historical study of guilt and sin has since been lauded as the most important work of fiction by its distinguished author, and a landmark of American literature.
4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I will be honest, the first time this book fell on my radar was when I watched Friends and Rachel said that this is the only book she read more than once. So, obviously I wanted to read the classic for myself as well. I have also scored a very nice hardcover version of the book in a thrift store - and while it does look pretty as a decor piece, I do need to read it eventually as well.
Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.
5. Villette by Charlotte Bronte
If I manage to stick to the schedule this would be my 3rd Bronte book in one year. I am really curious about this one, it being the last book of Charlotte ever. By this point Charlotte must have been very lonely, as she was the only living sibling left, so I cannot wait to see the emotional impact of this novel.
With her final novel, Villette, Charlotte Brontë reached the height of her artistic power. First published in 1853, Villette is Brontë's most accomplished and deeply felt work, eclipsing even Jane Eyre in critical acclaim. Her narrator, the autobiographical Lucy Snowe, flees England and a tragic past to become an instructor in a French boarding school in the town of Villette. There, she unexpectedly her feelings of love and longing as she witnesses the fitful romance between Dr. John, a handsome young Englishman, and Gineva Fanshawe, a beautiful coquette. The first pain brings others, and with them comes the heartache Lucy has tried so long to escape. Yet in spite of adversity and disappointment, Lucy Snowe survives to recount the unstinting vision of a turbulent life's journey - a journey that is one of the most insightful fictional studies of a woman's consciousness in English literature.
One of my 2018 reading goals was to read more books by asian authors and about asian culture, so this book was perfect for that.
I've seen Convenience Store Woman being compared to Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman and while I do see the resemblance, I don't necessarily agree with the comparison.
Eleanor Oliphant was definitely a quirky character (my favorite kind) but I was able to relate to Eleanor on a deep emotional level, while Keiko from Convenience Store Woman felt very detached and unemotional, which I wasn't able to relate to, but enjoyed nonetheless. Both women follow the same thought process, but Convenience Store Woman definitely takes things to a more bizarre and at times, disturbing level.
I absolutely loved the message this book was trying to relay, I just wasn't very keen on it's delivery. While I enjoyed the brisk and to the point writing style, it also felt incomplete at times - I wished to know just a little bit more, just few more details to be able to paint a complete picture.
Maybe I wasn't able to emotionally identify with Keiko much, but the book did make me feel one emotion very strongly - I absolutely despised Shiraha. With every insult he spewed out of his filthy mouth I just wanted to set him on fire and see his skinny, dirty form writhe in pain. He definitely takes a gold for being the most infuriating, hypocritical character ever created! It's astonishing really, how in so little pages a character managed to be so horrid.
This book does a phenomenal job painting the even day horrors of society - it is truly terrifying just how messed up we are.
So, who is Keiko? Is she really broken and needs fixing, like her parents told her all of her life? Or is she the only one who sees things clear? Is she a waste of space or is she a workaholic who lives, breathes and eats her job? You will have to read to find out!
Convenience Store Woman would be perfect for book clubs, school discussions and just any social event involving books. Because this short gem of a novel contains many lessons that need to be heard.
Many thanks to Grove Atlantic, Sayaka Murata, and Netgalley for the copy. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart. Convenience Store Woman will be published on June 22, 2018.
When your eyes are glassy and your nose is dripping and your heart is full - you know you just finished a good book.
I honestly don't know what drew me into this book? The drawn cover with cheery blue waters and skies? The description? Or the fact that this book is marketed in the likes of A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman? Probably all of them combined - and boy am I happy that I picked it up.
Despite picking it up because it was similar to A man Called Ove I was astonished at just how similar the two books actually were.
There was an elderly grieving person, there was an unlikely friendship, infertility, heartwarming romance, a wedding, a gay couple and a strong community. Check, check, check. This is honestly my only grief with this book - it was just way too similar.
I especially liked the anxiety representation in this novel - it was real and relatable and it brought a great dimension to the story. I also think that I am a sucker for unlikely friendships and this book has got one of the best ones.
But I am even a bigger sucker for a tangible, soft and oh so romantic love story. Rosemary and George's love was so real I could feel it pouring over the pages. Their relationship was the most beautiful thing I've ever read about in a book. I adored them and I aspired to be like them - they were so unapologetically in love and it showed in everything they did.
I cannot wait for July so this book gets published and I could post some quotes from it - I highlighted a lot of them! There were some true gems there. I definitely recommend this book, especially because the story is about a lido (an outdoor pool) and it's almost summer time - you won't find a more perfect book! Also, get our your swimsuits out because this book WILL make you want to swim.
Big thanks to Simon & Shuster and NetGalley for a complementary arc copy provided for a review. All opinions are my own, honest and come from the heart.
Freelance BETA reader.