Monday, June 22, 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again. Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew.

Thank you NetGalley for this ARC!

There were a lot of things to love about this book. I absolutely loved the twist on the original Cinderella story and the fact that every single aspect of the well known fairy tale was dissected and torn apart. I loved the fact that this fairy tale was not what it appeared to be, which is the case with most fairytales, I am sure. I thought Sophia was a fantastic character. She was headstrong and stubborn and completely determined to be able to make her own choices about who to marry and who to love. She is in love with her best friend, Erin, and would rather spend her life with her than be forced into marriage with some man she hardly knows and who will most likely treat her like she is a piece of his property.

So there were a few issues I had with the story, which is why I am giving it three stars instead of four. One issue I had was the insta-love that Sophia felt towards Constance. At the beginning of the story. Sophia is SO in love with Erin, but then it seems as though those feelings are completely forgotten when she meets Constance. I do understand Sophia's reasons for why she felt that Erin wasn't good for her, but it felt like her relationship with Constance happened way too quickly and it felt forced to me. I also felt that the world building was a little lacking. I didn't fully understand why Prince Charming did the things he did and why he created the laws that he did. His motives didn't make sense at all and he just wasn't a well developed villain. The whole patriarchy society also started to become a little too much. It felt weird that there wasn't a single decent man in the entire kingdom. Why would the King's rules make it so that EVERY man in the kingdom felt the need to treat women like crap? That part also felt a little forced to me.

I did think the book was pretty good and worth a read. I just wish certain things had been done better.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

REVIEW: Chosen Ones (The Chosen Ones #1) by Veronica Roth

Synopsis: A decade ago near Chicago, five teenagers defeated the otherworldly enemy known as the Dark One, whose reign of terror brought widespread destruction and death. The seemingly un-extraordinary teens—Sloane, Matt, Ines, Albie, and Esther—had been brought together by a clandestine government agency because one of them was fated to be the “Chosen One,” prophesized to save the world. With the goal achieved, humankind celebrated the victors and began to mourn their lost loved ones.

Ten years later, though the champions remain celebrities, the world has moved forward and a whole, younger generation doesn’t seem to recall the days of endless fear. But Sloane remembers. It’s impossible for her to forget when the paparazzi haunt her every step just as the Dark One still haunts her dreams. Unlike everyone else, she hasn’t moved on; she’s adrift—no direction, no goals, no purpose. On the eve of the Ten Year Celebration of Peace, a new trauma hits the Chosen: the death of one of their own. And when they gather for the funeral at the enshrined site of their triumph, they discover to their horror that the Dark One’s reign never really ended.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC for this book!

I was torn about my rating for this one. I think that maybe it deserves 3.5 stars. I loved the premise for this one. Someone else compared it to a book about what happens after superheroes do what they are supposed to do and save the world and I think that about sums it up. Sloane, Matt, Esther, Ines and Albie were the Chosen Ones and they were able to fight the Dark One and win. Now they have to do with the aftereffects and some are having a harder time than others. I loved Sloane, the main character. She is a bad ass who portrays this image of being someone who doesn't care, but she does care . . . a lot. She is also suffering from PTSD from what she went through and it doesn't help that Matt (also her boyfriend) is acting as though she should be over it by now. I also loved the character of Albie and I liked his relationship with Sloane. Matt and Esther though just seemed . . . meh.

I think the problem I had with this story was that it was so incredibly slow. And maybe that's due to the world building. but there was just not a lot happening for a large part of the book. When they were taken to another dimension, I thought the story might pick up again and it did for a while. But then there was just a lot of training and a lot of standing around, not doing anything. But close to the end, it picked up again and I absolutely loved the cliffhanger at the end. So even though there were many slow parts, I thought this was a worthwhile start to the series and I am looking forward to the next installment.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2 

Saturday, June 6, 2020

REVIEW: The Book of Rosy: A Mother's Story of Separation at the Border

Synopsis: When Rosayra Pablo Cruz made the wrenching decision to seek asylum in the United States with two of her children, five-year-old Fernando and fifteen-year-old Yordy, she knew the journey would be incredibly difficult, dangerous, and potentially deadly. But violence had made life in Guatemala untenable; Rosy knew her family’s only chance to survive was to go north. After a perilous journey that left them dehydrated, starved, and exhausted, Rosy, Fernando, and Yordy crossed into Arizona. Almost immediately, they were forcibly separated by government officials under the Department of Homeland Security’s “zero tolerance” policy. In The Book of Rosy, Rosy and Julie Schwietert Collazo, founder of Immigrant Families Together, the grassroots organization founded to reunite mothers with their children, tell Rosy’s story. They expose the cruel conditions of the detention facilities, the unbearable anxiety of having her children ripped away, and the faith and love that helped her through the darkest time.

First of all, thank you so much to NetGalley for this ARC! 

This is such a timely book. Full disclosure: since we are in the middle of race riots and police brutality issues, this was an even harder book for me to read. I had a very hard time keeping my attention on this story at times, just because my mind kept drifting to everything else that was going on right now. I am frustrated and tired at what is happening in our world. For that reason, and that reason alone, I had a hard time focusing on this book. But I was so touched by Rosy's story of being separated from her kids at the border. She was applying for asylum, which is NOT A CRIME. It is so awful that these mothers were separated from their children, not knowing where they are or when they would be reunited. I thought Rosy did a really good job of explaining life in Guatemala and why she made the choices she had made. She explained that she had no way of knowing what the new Trump policies were, but she also explained that even if she had known, she most likely would have still made the choices she did because of what her life was like and because of the danger surrounding her kids. And man, the journey from Guatemala to the US was no joke and it is obvious that people who do it feel like they have no choice. After Rosy arrived in US, the reader is introduced to an entire network of people who are dedicated to reuniting mothers when they can and helping them adapt to life in the States. This is such a moving story that is definitely worth the read. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thursday, June 4, 2020

REVIEW: Things You Say In A Fire by Katherine Center

SynopsisCassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because she doesn't fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don't date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping...but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she's worked so hard to be taken seriously?

I thought this was a wonderful story that was even more emotional than I could have imagined. Cassie is a female firefighter and is a total badass. But she is also a bit emotionally disconnected because of events from her childhood. I could really relate to Cassie. She had so much anger from events in her childhood and she was determined to hold a grudge against her mother. Been there, done that. Yes, she theoretically knows that the she needed to learn to forgive and let things go, but naturally, that is so much easier said than done. I love that this story was about forgiveness and love and I loved to see Cassie's growth throughout the story. I did think the romance part was a little much for me, just because it happened so fast. By the end of it, I was as in love with Owen as Cassie was; I just didn't feel it as quickly as she did. I will definitely be reading more by this author,

RATING: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Review: Now A Major Motion Picture by Cori McCarthy

SynopsisIris Thorne wants to blaze her own path. That's easier said than done when you're the granddaughter of M. E. Thorne, famous author of the Elementia series, hailed as the feminist response to J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. And with a major motion picture adaptation of her grandmother's books in the works, Iris can say goodbye to her dream of making her own way in the music industry. So when Iris and her brother get invited to the film set in Ireland, she's pretty sure the trip will be a nightmare. Except Iris can't deny the rugged beauty of the Irish countryside. And brushing shoulders with the hot, young cast isn't awful, especially the infuriatingly charming lead, Eamon O'Brien. Iris even finds the impassioned female director inspiring. But when the filming falls into jeopardy, everything Iris thought she knew about Elementia—and herself—is in question. Will making a film for the big screen help Iris to see the big picture?

This was a beautifully written book. I absolutely loved the setting of Ireland -- the author did a great job of making me want to visit that incredible country. I think one of the reasons this wasn’t a five star read for me was that Iris was a hard character to like. Don’t get me wrong, I understood why she was so angry and afraid. But all the negativity was just a bit much to take at times. Her brother, Ryder, was so incredibly adorable and I hated that she took her anger out at him sometimes and blamed him for things that weren't his fault. I did think she really grew as a character and I loved that she started to realize she had to follow her dreams and not those of her dad. I love character growth and the author did a great job with that. Her dad seemed like a real jerk, since he hated Fantasy books and tried to make his children hate them and since he pretty much left the raising of his son to his daughter. But surprisingly, he grew a bit as well. This book as a whole did grow on me. I loved the relationships and the making of the movie.

This was a four star read for me! I will definitely be reading more from this author. 

Ruth Ware: Fan or Not a Fan?

Synopsis: Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her? But something goes wrong. Very wrong. Some things can’t stay secret for ever

Is anyone else a fan of Ruth Ware? I have to admit that I am not. This is the second book I have read by her and both were three star reads for me. The first book I read by her was The Woman In Cabin 10. I thought that one was slow and too much like Girl on a Train, except on a ship. Well this premise was fairly original, but still very, very slow.

Actually, I think this one was even slower than The Woman in Cabin 10 -- most of the book revolved around a hen party for Clare, who was Nora's best friend as a child and those scenes just weren't that interesting. The author lets the reader know right away that something bad happened at the hen party and that is what intrigued me right off the bat. The initial scene of Nora running through the woods was very intriguing. The problem is that after that, nothing really happened, aside from a little leftover drama from when the characters were young. There wasn't any suspense until there were a little over a hundred pages left in the book. At that time, I did become engaged again and it was hard to put down. Even though I had guessed part of the twist, there were still a few surprises. But because I was not that invested during much of the story, I had to give it just three stars. I think this one was it for me. No more Ruth Ware.

Are you a fan of Ruth Ware?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

REVIEW: A Bridge Across The Ocean by Susan Meissner

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

February, 1946. World War Two is over, but the recovery from the most intimate of its horrors has only just begun for Annaliese Lange, a German ballerina desperate to escape her past, and Simone Deveraux, the wronged daughter of a French Resistancespy. Now the two women are joining hundreds of other European war brides aboard the renowned RMS Queen Mary to cross the Atlantic and be reunited with their American husbands. Present day. Facing a crossroads in her own life, Brette Caslake visits the famously haunted Queen Mary at the request of an old friend. What she finds will set her on a course to solve a seventy-year-old tragedy that will draw her into the heartaches and triumphs of the courageous war brides--and will ultimately lead her to reconsider what she has to sacrifice to achieve her own deepest longings. 

This book was a total surprise. I thought I was getting a typical WWII historical fiction book about war brides and their stories 0f survival during the war. There is one thing the premise does not mention: there is a huge supernatural element. The main character from the present, Brette, can communicate with "Drifters" (i.e. ghosts). Even one of the POVs is that of a ghost. Pretty freaking awesome really. Brett comes from a family of people who can see Drifters. She has never gotten involved and she sees this as more of a curse than a gift. She avoids talking with them and even avoids eye contact if she can help it. But then she gets involved with a Drifter haunting the RMS Queen Mary (a site I really want to visit now that I have read this book) and she feels that solving this mystery will help with her own feelings about her abilities. 

The mystery in this book went in a direction that I was really not expecting. Besides the present day Brette, we meet two very different women whose stories collide on the ship. Annalise is German and is running from a secret past. It also isn't easy to be German at the very end of the war because people's feelings are running high. Then there is Simone, the daughter of a French Resistance fighter in search of a fresh start after the trauma she has endured. The story kind of goes back and forth between the Drifter and the present day and the women on the ship and we get glimpses of the women's stories before the war and what led them to the ship. It sounds confusing, but the author did a great job and I never got confused with the characters or the timelines. It's hard to speak much more about the plot because I really don't want to give it away, but I will say that the mystery was so well done and the characters were so well developed. There was such a great blend of historical fiction with the supernatural. There were a few times when I thought I knew the identity of the Drifter or that I knew what happened on the ship, but I ended up being totally wrong. I loved that the ending surprised me. This was a great read and not as emotional as other WWII books, which is a really good thing. The book actually focuses most of the mystery on the events on the ship and those events take place right after the war. This is a great read and I highly recommend it.

Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one.