Review | The Handmaid’s Tale

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Title: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Vintage Classics
Release Date: October 07, 2010
First Published: 1985
Type: Standalone
Genre: Adult, Classic
Pages: 324

Blurb from Goodreads:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America explores a world in which oppression of women, and repression of the truth, have become justified.

My Thoughts-01

The future is a harrowing nightmare in Margaret Atwood’s chilling yet compelling masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. In this book, Atwood painted a future that you surely wouldn’t wish to be in. A future wherein women are only valued for their ability to give birth. So as a woman, and a mother, this has totally been a hard one to read. And disturbing. And scary. Just imagine being stripped off of everything you have—from your possessions, your freedom, your rights, down to your name! Imagine being put entirely in the “care” of men that you aren’t even allowed to walk the streets without their permission. It’s infuriating and frightening, this book. But what’s most terrifying about this extraordinary work of fiction is the possibility of it happening in reality.

A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.

Here we see a country, Gilead, under a totalitarian government run by despotic rulers and religious extremists. Obviously, nothing good came out of that combination. And we witness the injustices and the atrocities of this regime through the eyes of our main character, Offred. Read More »

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Review | One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 361

Blurb from Goodreads:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts-01

What good is a mystery/thriller if you’re not suspecting your favorite character and pretty much everyone mentioned in the book? Brace yourselves YA and mystery fans because One of Us Is Lying is a book set to mess with your brain a little bit and have you guessing all the way to the very end. It’s a very well put together book with a well-constructed storyline and cleverly plotted mystery. I bet many readers won’t guess this right. I’ve had over a dozen speculations about whodunit and who’s the exceptionally skilled liar among the characters. Still, I wasn’t able to hit the bull’s eye in the end.

The mystery was quite intriguing. Four outstanding students quickly turned murder suspects after a fellow student, Simon Kelleher, died in front of them during detention. Simon was widely hated though—being the administrator of a gossip app that has already managed to ruin lives by sharing people’s deepest secrets to the public. Simon’s killer could be anyone from school. And despite being good students it turns out that Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate had secrets to keep and each had a potential motive for killing Simon. Well, I think the lesson from this story is—if you’re smart enough to develop an app, make it something helpful instead of something meant to bring people down so you don’t end up being so alone and hated by everyone to the point that they would wish you were dead.Read More »

Review | When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

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Title: When Dimple Met Rishi
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Imprint: Simon Pulse
Release Date: May 30, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 380

Blurb from Goodreads:

The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

My Thoughts-01

Let me summarize my experience with this book in a few words. This book was like looking at a fancy cake you’ve been waiting to devour for days. And when you finally get to eat it, you find that the cake’s base was tasteless and the frosting was too sweet that it makes you want to gag. But you eat it anyway because you effing paid for it!

I could end my review right there but I was way too disappointed with this book that I couldn’t just keep quiet. I thought this was going to be an amazing read—like, off the charts kind of amazing—given its catchy premise and all those four and five star ratings. But my feelings for this book quickly changed from intrigued to disinterested until I finally don’t care.

The representation of some of the Indian traditions was the only thing that’s noteworthy about this book and one that I really appreciate. We don’t usually get Indian leads in this genre so this book was somewhat refreshing in a way. I may have huge issues here but I love how the author used this book as a platform where she introduced Indian culture to the world through its readers. Not only that, this also promotes their language as the characters sometimes switches from English to their native tongue. I can see how proud the author is of her roots! Read More »

Review | The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

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Title: The Lovely Reckless
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Macmillan
Imprint: Imprint
Release Date: October 04, 2016
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

My Thoughts-01

Last year I remember this book flooding my Goodreads feed and attached to it were amazing five star ratings. So I promised myself not to let this just pass me by. This is the first time I’m reading anything from Kami Garcia. Maybe I should have picked her other works first before picking this up. Because this, I didn’t fully enjoyed. There was nothing special in this book, sadly. If anything, this felt like a collection of all clichés known to this kind of genre.

The street racing idea was a refreshing touch though. It’s something I don’t usually see in YA books and I enjoyed reading about it. But the rest of the book was so average for me. The storyline was pretty common and basic. I’ve seen it used a hundred times in a hundred different books. It simply lacked the substance that could make it stand-out. Read More »

Review | Hunted by Meagan Spooner

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Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling, Young Adult
Pages: 374

Blurb from Goodreads:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Thoughts-01

And here’s yet another of my highly anticipated retelling that just turned out to be such a disappointment. Hunted has the finest ingredients for a retelling—Beauty and the Beast mixed with a number of interesting Russian tales—but still it lacked flavor. The whole thing was quite dull. Its characters were flat. The world was even flatter. The plot sticks very closely to the Beauty and the Beast story. And because I prefer my retellings to venture a bit further from the original tale, I didn’t find this very interesting. It simply lacked the twists and the pull to make it different from the original. And it was so slow, I was bored to tears.

I usually don’t have problems with slow-paced books as long as their reason for being slow is:

A.) It is trying to build a solid world for me to enjoy.
B.) It is focused on giving depth to the characters to make me want to care for them.

This book did none of those. The world-building was so vague but I don’t think it’s with the writing because I quite liked Spooner’s writing style. I think it wouldn’t be hard to picture a world with her writing if only there were enough details given for me to visualize. There isn’t much detail with regards to the world in this book except that it snowed a lot and that our main protagonist, Yeva, used to live in luxury with her family and later moved to a cabin in the woods after her father’s downfall. Then there’s the Beast who lives in a crumbling castle in the middle of the woods. I’m assuming that this castle is somehow warded by magic because it’s so hard to find but… so easy to find? Okay, hell, that was confusing. But that’s it for world-building. Read More »

Review | History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me

Title: History Is All You Left Me
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Press, Inc.
Imprint: Soho Teen
Release Date: January 17, 2017
Type: Standalone
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT+, Young Adult
Pages: 294

Blurb from Goodreads:

When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Thoughts-01

Poignant, emotional, honest, and raw. History Is All You Left Me is every bit as brilliant and as touching as Adam Silvera’s debut novel, More Happy Than Not. It had me staying late at night reading, had me reaching for some tissue, and had me believing in the power of hope. It’s a heartbreaking story that is brilliantly delivered as it delve into the complicated matters of the heart, the beauty of love and friendship, the deep sadness that comes with loss and grief, and the process of moving on.

Adam Silvera is one of the new voices in YA and has quickly become an author that you can count on for a good story. He knows how to pack a punch in his books and I’m just totally floored by them. He makes fiction seem so real that it draws real emotions from the reader without being manipulative. I’m not even a big fan of sad stories but there’s rare magic in Silvera’s writing style that I can’t seem to get enough of and it keeps me glued to the story. That and his unique realistic tales made his books stand out in YA contemporary, which is not an easy thing to do. Read More »

Review | The Muse by Jessie Burton

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The Muse by Jessie Burton
Published by Pan Macmillan on June 30, 2016
Genre : Historical Fiction, Adult
Pages : 464

THE BLURB

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On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Seductive, exhilarating and suspenseful, The Muse is an unforgettable novel about aspiration and identity, love and obsession, authenticity and deception – a masterpiece from Jessie Burton, the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist.

MY THOUGHTS

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: in the end, a piece of art only succeeds when its creator – to paraphrase Olive Schloss – possesses the belief that brings it into being.

Oh Saints! This book knows how to make me furious with its twists! The clues were there and I was confident I knew what’s going on and what’s coming. But when everything was laid bare in front of my eyes, this author still managed to draw some strong emotions out of me. There are novels wherein you dread the death of main characters. Here, I got so mad with the twist. Mad to the point that I wish for a painful death for a character or two.

The Muse is a riveting story about art and creativity, love and loss, oppression and resistance, loyalty and betrayals, and secrets… lots of them. I loved this book in a hundred different ways starting with that eye-catching cover that demands attention. And wonderfully, the beauty of it doesn’t end with the cover as it matches what is inside.  Read More »

Review | Yesternight by Cat Winters

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Yesternight by Cat Winters
Published by HarperCollins on October o4, 2016
Genre : Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Adult, Fantasy
Pages : 374

THE BLURB

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From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.

In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.

Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.

Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.

MY THOUGHTS

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I’ve only read The Uninvited from Cat Winters and it was perfectly amazing—from the creepy plotlines to the carefully delineated characters. I instantly adored her and she became one of my favorite paranormal authors. Yesternight shares the same eerie concept as The Uninvited as well as Winters’ fluid writing style but it just wasn’t as captivating. The premise was good actually, but that ending left me unimpressed. For a story that started out solid and strong, this book had a rather sloppy and unsatisfying end to it. It was a good four star read until the final quarter of the book that felt like such a letdown. It gave me the feeling that the novel was ended in a rush. It’s as if the author built up all those nice things from an interesting foundation and just got lazy and want out.  Read More »

Review | Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Published by HarperCollins on January 24, 2017
Genre : Contemporary, Young Adult, Mystery & Thriller
Pages : 387

THE BLURB

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Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a church-going black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

In this gritty and haunting debut, Tiffany D. Jackson explores the grey areas in our understanding of justice, family, and truth, and acknowledges the light and darkness alive in all of us.

MY THOUGHTS

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Tiffany D. Jackson presents a riveting thriller complete with family drama, complex relationships, deceit, and deeply buried truths, in her haunting debut novel, Allegedly. In nearly 400 pages, Jackson lets us into the life of Mary —an alleged baby killer —showed us the struggles she has to make to change her life for the better, and showed us just how messy life can be. She creates a realistic portrait of teenage life in its roughest form and it was painful to read. Allegedly is a disturbing story about how far a child could go to protect her mother, and later, what a mother is prepared to do to keep her child.  Read More »