Journal Review Series: No Exit

Happy Pub Day to Taylor Adam’s, No Exit!

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39938177Synopsis: On her way to Utah to visit her dying mother, Darby Hall encounters a blizzard that leaves her stranded at a highway rest stop.

On less than half a tank of gas, and a dying cell phone with no reception, she essentially finds herself stranded. Not only that, but Darby discovers that one of the four other travelers she encounters has a dark secret.

By chance, she glimpses a child locked away in an animal crate in the backseat of a van. And so the horror starts to unfold as the questions race through her mind. Who is the owner of this van? And why do they have a little girl locked inside?

Darby is determined to set this girl free, but in order to do so she needs to hatch a plan otherwise she risks endangering herself, the trapped girl, and possibly the lives of three other strangers.

Journal Review: 

no exit journal review

Quote:

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Final Thoughts/Recommendation: This book is stressful! Be prepared to dedicate an afternoon to reading because you will not be able to put it down. Taylor Adams creates a twisty-turny thriller that will have you holding your breath and gripping the pages until your knuckles turn white. If you’re in the mood for a proper thriller then definitely check this one out!

What is everyone else reading this week? Now that I got some male authors out of the way, it is time for a new perspective on things. I’m going to be picking up I Am Malala next (while low key trying to finish The Wartime Sisters before its pub date next Tuesday). 🙂

Until next time bookworms!

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Journal Review Series: The Dreamers

As you might have guessed from the title, I am starting a new series of posts on this blog. Right now, I am lacking in creativity, so the title of these types of posts might change when I feel more inspired. But for now voilà!

So one of the things I decided to do with my journal this year, was to include more bookish content. I wanted to not only track the books I read, but also the author (to check if I was reading diversely), pub dates for my Netgalley reads, and to include some individualized spreads for the notable books I read.

With these goals and ideas in mind, three bookish journal spreads/sections were born. In order to maintain my focus within this post, I am only going to share with you a couple of pages from one section in particular.

I guess I’m calling this section my book review spreads? I know it is extremely creative. Truthfully I haven’t titled it anything, the section just kind of grew into what it was as the ideas for it bounced around in my head.

But there are two basic components to these sections. A quotes page and a review page. The first page or cover page will list either one quote or, in the case of The Dreamers, several. And page two will be a brief, handwritten review of the book. Any overflow of thoughts will be accounted for here on my blog. And I will also include the synopsis’ here.

Ok well, I have rambled on long enough about what it is I’m doing. Let’s dive into this and talk about The Dreamers. 🙂

The Dreamers

I was graciously given an ARC of The Dreamers through NetGalley. So first and foremost, many thanks to Random House and to the author’s reps for that. This book will be published on January 15th, so if it sounds intriguing, you won’t have to wait much longer to read it! 🙂

Synopsis: In a college town located in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep, and doesn’t wake up. She falls into a deep sleep that no one is able to wake her up from. Then another girl in the same dorm room falls asleep, and then another. And then panic begins to erupt throughout the college campus. Pretty soon, it becomes clear that this mysterious sleeping sickness isn’t just infecting college students, but spreading into the town around it.

A quarantine is established and the National Guard is summoned to take control of the whole town. Several stories of those who live in the town unfold as they try to come to understand what the illness is, how it spreads, and how they can stop it.

Journal Review:

the dreamers review

Quotes Page:

the dreamers quotes

Final Thoughts & Recommendation: As you can see from the review page, I gave this one a 3.5 star rating. I would recommend it as it does offer a lot of beautiful insights to human nature. There is a lot of plausibility in what occurs and there are many nods to how our current society operates. You believe in the probability of something like this happening, which makes the story even more compelling. There are also a lot of abstract concepts (like the idea of dreams) tied into this one. The reason this rating fell in the middle of the road for me was because I feel like it builds up so much that you expect there to be a tangible explanation of the sleeping disease. But I didn’t get that. If you have that as your expectation, I am sure you will be bound to love it. So yes, in short, I do recommend this one!

What is everyone reading this weekend? I hope whatever it is, its a good one! 

Until next time bookworms!

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Review: For Better and Worse

How seriously would you take these wedding vows if something like murder was on your spouse’s mind?

First of all, Happy Pub Day to Margot Hunt’s novel, For Better and Worse! For my BoTM subscribers you will definitely want to add this as an extra book for your January box. If you aren’t a BoTM subscriber, you should still find this one on a bookstore shelf somewhere!

My quick & dirty thoughts on this crime thriller: Seriously gripping, heart pounding, and nearly impossible to put down while you’re in the middle of it.       38350063

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On their first date back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke bonded over drinks, dinner and whether they could get away with murder. Now married, they’ll put the latter to the test when an unchecked danger in their community places their son in jeopardy. Working as a criminal defense attorney, Nat refuses to rely on the broken legal system to keep her family safe. She knows that if you want justice…you have to get it yourself.

Shocked to discover Nat’s taken matters into her own hands, Will has no choice but to dirty his, also. His family is in way too deep to back down now. He’s just not sure he recognizes the woman he married. Nat’s always been fiercely protective, but never this ruthless or calculating. With the police poking holes in their airtight plan, what will be the first to fall apart: their scandalous secret—or their marriage?

For Better and Worse expertly executes the question: how far would you go to protect and save the people you love? 

Told in three parts, two of them from Natalie’s POV and one from Will’s POV, we understand there are multiple sides to every marriage, just like there are with individual people.

What is great about this one is the slow build. We slowly learn about their marriage, the scandal that is rocking their small town, and then around page 80, suddenly we are hit with the blunt object of this plot. Soon after, everything spirals into chaos.

You can feel Nat’s heartache and Will’s anxiety and guilt through their individual sections. Hunt is wise enough to bring an array of emotions to the surface as no two people would react the same to some horror of this magnitude.

One slight issue I took with this one was Will’s commentary of their marriage. It was a typical guy thought process, so logically it made sense, but I didn’t like some of the thoughts he had surrounding his wife. They were a bit eye rolling and chuckle worthy because sometimes men need to get over themselves and take responsibility for their actions; just like women are forced to. He did show some growth towards the end, and Nat was also more prominently featured so I think that saved my overall rating for this one.

For all my thriller fans out there, this is one you definitely want to pick up!

So it’s Tuesday and we are literally three [d: drie] weeks away from the end of the year! What is everyone out there reading to wrap up their year? Or are you taking a break to work on some other things?

I have at least two more blog posts planned for the year, and then I think I will take some time to work on that monster of a novel I started and then only got about halfway through during NaNo.

Until next time bookish buds!

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Review: Sarah’s Key

3688715Or Elle s’appelait Sarah [e: Her Name Was Sarah] as it is called in the original French version, is a melancholic tale about a Jewish girl, Sarah, and the effects the Holocaust has on her life.

Two stories unfold from two different time periods, and will eventually converge in an unexpected way. The first story is set in France during the German occupation in 1942. We are thrust into a little apartment of a girl named Sarah. She is awakened by a loud pounding on the front door. She goes to her mother, who opens the door, and they are told that they are leaving and that they ought to collect some belongings.

As Sarah quietly retreats back to her bedroom, we meet her younger brother, Michel, who sits in a cupboard in the wall. It is their special hiding space. He tells her that he will stay behind and hide, that he will be safe. Quickly, Sarah agrees by locking him in the wall of the apartment, shielding him from the terrors she is about to witness and with this single act exposing him to other terrors she will never know.

Her family then begins their dark and horrific journey to Auschwitz.

Interspersed between Sarah’s story, we meet in present day Paris, Julia Jarmond. An American expat journalist living in Paris, Julia’s marriage to her husband is strained and she feels something is missing in her life. Then she is given the chance to write about Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup, since the 60th Anniversary of this tragic time is coming up. Through her research, Julia stumbles upon Sarah’s story and also upon the history of her husband’s family apartment.

She feels a compulsion to remember. To unearth all the memories and secrets from the past. To somehow make sense of Sarah’s story and what became of her. And its through Sarah that Julia finds what has been missing in her life.

The beginning of this book draws you in, gets your heart pounding, and makes you clench the pages tighter as you read through Sarah’s story. There is a heaviness that accompanies Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing on the subject matter. It is good there is the lightheartedness of Julia’s rather ‘ordinary,’ story in comparison to break up the flashbacks.

The writing is descriptive and the word choice is deliberate. The sections are short and this is a book that can quickly be devoured. I really enjoyed the juxtaposition of past and present. It might seem like a method of writing done many times, but this story is wholly unique.

I give it four stars and high praise. I recommend for anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction or fiction that shows how the past informs the present and the future.

Anyone else out there read Sarah’s Key or Elle s’appelait Sarah? What about other reading recommendations from the WW2 era? I have quite a few on my TBR list that need read, but am always open to hearing recommendations. 🙂

Until next time bookish buds!

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To review or not? Do you review ‘bad’ books?

This is a question I have been asking myself with my latest NetGalley read. Should I review it on my blog? Or should I just send the obligatory mediocre review via the NetGalley website?

I know a lot of bloggers fall into the “keep your mouth shut,” category, and I think that is well and good. Why should a reader/reviewer waste anymore time creating content for a book he/she/they disliked? Does crafting hate about a writer and their work turn them into a troll? Yeah, I guess it could if not handled respectfully.

But just like anything in life, we have to take the good with the bad. And I think the same goes for book reviews. But here are five [d: vijf] things I think about after reading a not so stellar book in order to determine if I should or should not review it on my personal blog.

  1. Is this an author’s debut work or are they a seasoned author? I believe writing is a process. The more you write, the better you become. Perhaps an author’s first read isn’t that great, but maybe they will get better as time goes on. (Unless you are super lucky and amazingly talented and your first work is a total hit. J.K. Rowling, what a show off.) This is one thing I try to research on, and try to address if it is something that can be turned from a negative comment into a positive.
  2. That brings me to my next point: try to find a silver lining. I like to describe myself as someone who always tries to look at things from multiple angles (aka what some people might call ‘overthinking’). But this is just how my brain is hardwired. So I think that is why I try to always turn something I perceived to be negative into a positive. Or to try and get into the author’s mind, and argue for what they intended in an effort to make the review come across as less negative. Here’s an example of what I mean by this cut from one of my reviews this year:

    “The dialogue also felt a bit awkward to me. It was overly formal and explanative at times, which made it sound either cheesy or just cringe worthy. After reflecting on this a bit, I think the author was trying to set a “southern tone….”

  3. Is there problematic content in the book that isn’t addressed in a healthy fashion? Are women or other minorities used as plot devices to further the white, male agenda? Are there troubling sex scenes that seek no type of resolution? Whatever you consider ‘problematic content,’ I think these types of things should be addressed. I think it’s important to explain why you felt a book or some component of a book perpetuates something negative in society. And for that reason, calling out these things in a review is acceptable as long as you have valid points to back up your argument.
  4.  Am I not the “target audience?” As much as we want to believe that all books are for everyone, there might be times when this doesn’t ring true. Books are created for a lot of reasons, but one of the major ones is: are they profitable? A lot of market research goes into books and an author’s fanbase that come from the major publishing houses. As a result, they discuss things like which audience they want to target and capture with each read. We as readers aren’t aware of what ‘audience group,’ each book is targeting, and as a result, we might pick something that research suggests isn’t favorable to us. Now, this doesn’t mean we as readers are limited in what we are allowed to like or dislike. I’m just stating that publishers and authors might take different approaches to writing, editing, marketing, if their intent is to appeal to a specific target audience. Sometimes works don’t appeal to us  for that reason. This thought process usually generates the “this read wasn’t for me, but might be for someone who likes x, y, or z…” statement.
  5. Can I understand something better about the book or what the author’s overall message was by reviewing it? Basically, does the book you were not so crazy about have a good overall message? Is it worth exploring in more detail through your review? Is there something worthy about it that you want others to know about? This kind of also ties back to my number two [d: twee], but is more specific in what it is asking. I think if there is some golden nugget that is wholly unique in a book you’re not a fan of (yes it’s happened to me before), then it is worth reviewing and mentioning.

I know these things might seem like they take a negative review and turn it into a positive one, but I don’t think that is the case. I think this thought process works to create constructively criticized reviews. And I think it also helps answer that burning question of: do I review this book or is it just a waste of time?

The answer to my initial question of whether or not to review my latest NetGalley read was found as I wrote up this blog post. I think it is important to offer up an honest review to the team who gave you the free advanced copy, which I have done. But I don’t think you are under any obligation to do a full court media press of it, if you don’t have more than a few sentences of commentary to offer up.

How do you all feel about bad book reviews? Do you have some type of rational behind writing them? Or do you just don’t mention them at all? Would love to hear some differing opinions on this as its my first ‘opinions,’ piece! 🙂

Until next time my bookish friends!

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Two Reads in One (Week That Is)!

As you can see from the title, I finished two reads this past week and am super excited about it! Normally I only have time to finish one in a week, if I am even that lucky. Balancing hobbies with adult responsibilities can be a challenge, especially around the holiday season, am I right?

Luckily I am a planner, and 95% of my Christmas shopping is done-zo! *crosses oneself and points heavenward* Thank God, because I am really not a shopper. Unless its for books, hah. So all that is left is the dreaded wrapping. *stares dramatically into the camera like from The Office* Good thing most of my friends live far away so the gifts/cards they receive don’t have my “specially” wrapped look to them. 😉

Anyway, I am really happy that I finished these two books! Not because I wanted them to end, no they were both great reads, but because they put me on track to finish my Goodreads Challenge for the year. I have yet to complete one, but this year, I am determined to slay this beast. Only 4 (somehow it counted one of my DNF’s) left to go & victory will be mine!

Wow, I am busting out all the cliche’s this morning. I suppose that is what happens when I have four cups of coffee [d: koffie] with breakfast [d: ontbijt].

Back to the focus of this post. My last two reads were Neil Gaiman’s, Neverwhereand Simone St. James’, The Broken Girls

23462649Neverwhere was recommended to me by two lovely, bookish friends. And I can say they were so right in getting me to bump this one up on my list. It’s definitely a dark, and gothic-esque read, perfect for this time of year when its dark more than its like.

Neverwhere tells the story of Richard, an ordinary man from London Above, who accidentally stumbles upon the world of London Below by simply helping one of its inhabitants, Door. Richard finds himself on an unlikely quest with unlikely companions that take him places that someone from the world above could only dream about.

Told in exquisite detail, Gaiman fails to disappoint readers. His world building capabilities blow me away. Only he could have readers confused, intrigued, and able to comprehend the world he presents all at the same time. His way with words paints vivid images and stirs up strong emotions in readers, and Neverwhere is no exception to this ability. I easily gave it a four star rating, and hope one day we get a sequel.

The second read, was a buddy read with my go-to reading buddy. When she came to visit this past summer, I somehow got an extra box from Book of the Month, and decided to give her the extra books since I had doubles of two books.The Broken Girls

One was The Broken Girls by Simone St. James. Since we’ve plowed through the Outlander books we both have, we decided to try for something different this time. Our fifth buddy read, this one surprised us both! We read it in a record breaking four days.

The Broken Girls has a little bit of everything sprinkled into it; from WW2 history, to breaking through sexism of the 1950s, a modern day murder mystery that still hangs over a town as though partially left unsolved, and a supernatural element that haunts both the past and the present. It sounds a little overwhelming and disjointed, like it wouldn’t work right? Somehow Simone St. James manages to weave all of these elements together to create a gripping and unique tale.

This story is a sad yet poignant tale of girls whom society wronged and whom Simone St. James gives a voice to while kindly laying those truly broken girls to rest. It is a fast paced, well written tale, one that I gave a four star rating to and would highly recommend.

As we continue to move through the weekend, what is everyone else up to? Reading? Prepping the holiday snowfall of activity that will eventually descend? 

I’m not feeling the greatest so just catching up on blog posts and reading my latest Netgalley read that has a Tuesday pub date!

Until next time friends [d: vrienden]!

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Feminine Voices in Mythology

Sirens. Half formed creatures. Monsters. Goddesses. Slaves. Captors. Witches. Villains.

These are the words that first spring to mind when I think of women who are widely known in mythology. Sure, goddesses might seem like a complementary word. But when speaking of goddesses in mythology, they generally exist only for the male gaze or for the pleasure of men.

This notion really didn’t dawn on me until I recently discovered two books set in ancient times whose objective was to retell and reform these original ‘classic,’ tales to include a female voice.

Both The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker and Circe. by Madeline Miller, seek to reclaim lost voices that history conveniently skips over. These books couldn’t have more different narrators, but they contain this common theme of shedding light on the female perspective within mythology.

This is a long post on feminism in mythology and how it is needed, so buckle up readers.
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