Book Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

Title: Lore
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Synopsis:

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality.
Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths.

Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods.

The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

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Book Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Title: Dear Edward
Author: Ann Napolitano
Genre: General Fiction
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Synopsis: One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

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Unique Storytelling: Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid Book Review

A gripping novel about the whirlwind rise of an iconic 1970s rock group and their beautiful lead singer, revealing the mystery behind their infamous break up.

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the real reason why they split at the absolute height of their popularity…until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go-Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Another band getting noticed is The Six, led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

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What if Books are Forbidden?: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Book Review

This is my first time reading Fahrenheit 451 and I’ve only read it for the 2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge. It makes me wonder how I haven’t read this book before since the premise of Fahrenheit 451 is a bookworm’s nightmare- what if books are banned?

Fahrenheit 451 centers around Guy Montag, a fireman. However, in this dystopian future, firemen aren’t people who puts out fire- they start them. Firemen are tasked to destroy anything that’s contrary to the “peaceful” and “uncomplex” lifestyle the people are living in that time . People wants nothing more to be entertained right on the spot with petty entertainment. In this time, people spends most of their time in their parlors with their walls as television. Since books have conflicting subjects, they may disrupt the people’s shallowness so they are forbidden. Another reason is that people hate being outsmarted and so people hate a well-read man/woman. Guy Montag was once one of the people who are living believing they are happy but he soon realizing his life is a lie when he meets a carefree girl named Clarisse. Guy then soon starts to question his profession when a woman chooses to be burned with her books. Guy starts to wonder what could possibly be in books that they needed to be burned.

“There must be something in books, something we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.”

Having seen this book is “Books You Must Read At Least Once in Your Life” lists, I had high expectations for this book. Sadly, I was disappointed. Fahrenheit 451 had a strong start but it was not really able to sustain my interest. I feel like Fahrenheit 451 was lacking in showing the readers what’s so precious about the book. I find the book lacking the punch that makes us realize things in a dystopia.

Overall, reading this book wasn’t really a bad experience. Fahrenheit 451 had its highlights, they just didn’t blow me away.

Slowly but surely: The Guest List by Lucy Foley Book Review

Synopsis

The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why? 

My Thoughts

Characters with shady pasts, the perfect bride and groom, an isolated island? The Guest List sounds like a great whodunnit story?

At first, I expected the murder to happen in the first few chapters and then the following chapters would be the characters looking for clues and unveiling the killer. I was kind of confused when that did not happen. Instead, The Guest List starts off with the day before the wedding (and the murder). Majority of the chapters are actually the background stories of the different characters. The murder doesn’t actually happen until around 60% of the book. And it clicked to me that the author doesn’t want to focus on who did it but on why did he/she do it. For me, that’s refreshing and I like how the story unfolded.

I was also initially apprehensive about all the different POVs. It was quite confusing at first and I didn’t see why it was needed. However, I eventually realized that the purpose of the POVS is to get to know all the characters and know what was behind the possible motive of the death. As the dead body was revealed and the readers know who it is, we soon realize that all the POVs are suspects. Kudos to the author too because I didn’t expect the killer in this one.

I also really liked how the atmosphere was set up. I actually felt like I was on an isolated island as well. I could see the ocean and I was down in that dark cave too. The setting is creepy enough (I mean there are graveyards) that I’m seriously questioning why someone would decide to have their wedding there.

Overall, the slow build-up of the mystery has paid off as the ending is satisfying. The characters are all fully realized and has something to offer the storyline. The Guest List is a good mystery/thriller and I highly recommend everyone to read it.

Rating:

starstarstarstarNo-Star

A Journey to the Wild West: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry Book Review

Synopsis

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America.

Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

My Thoughts

I started reading Lonesome Dove for the prompt “A western” for the Popsugar Reading Challenge 2020. I started reading this book around three weeks ago. Lonesome Dove has a slow pace that I found myself reading other books simultaneously as this book. As I’ve mentioned, Lonesome Dove has a slow pace. There were times when I was bored especially in the initial chapters that I actually considered not reading further. After finishing the book, I have to say that I do not regret reading this book.

I would like to really commend the world building in this book. From the first chapter until the very end, I was transported to the Wild West. The author was able to describe the surroundings from town to town, from rivers to plains. Wherever the characters march, you feel like you are there as well.

Lonesome Dove is also filled with interesting characters. At first, I couldn’t keep up with all the characters popping up. They all just blended into “cowboys” in my head but the more I read, the more I appreciated those wonderful characters. In the surface, all of them are stereotypical wild west characters but they are so much more than that. All the characters have different layers and depth. It is obvious that the author nurtured the characters as they are fully realized. They all have their different personalities and journeys and it was fun reading their adventure.

The author is also a superb storyteller. The plot seems simple enough like a straight tree trunk. But, the branches from that straight storyline is rich. Some subplots made me feel the thrill while some tug at my heartstrings. I have a special place for my heart for the subplots of the women in this book. I was able to see the struggles of women in this time period. It was a time when women had to rely to men in order to live. I am glad to see this glimpse of their life even though I may not be able to fully understand their choices. It’s remarkable for me that the author was able to write this immense story with such a straight-forward manner. No fancy prose, just good stories weaved together. What I love the most about the stories is that you don’t know where it will take you.

Overall, I am glad that I’ve read this book. It’s one hell of an adventure reading this book. Although I this book is definitely outside my comfort zone, the talents of the author with the superb storytelling and well-developed characters made me admire this book.

Rating:

Too Repetitive: Again Again by E. Lockhart Book Review

Synopsis

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times–while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.

My Thoughts

I read Again Again because I was utterly impressed with E. Lockhart’s previous work – We Were Liars. I mean that book’s plot twist just blew me away. Up until this day, I feel like I was betrayed by the book. So, I started reading Again Again with huge expectations.

What I Liked

What I liked from the book is something common with other young adult books I’ve liked – it was not afraid to be real. A lot of young adult books deal with an issue but not all really shows the ugliness of everything. In this book, we get to see not only how addiction affects the addict himself/herself but we also get to see how other people around him are affected. I like that Adelaide, the main character, wasn’t 100% supportive at first. She actually lost her trust to her teenage addict brother named Toby. But soon, we get to see how Toby elaborates on what’s going on his side and an understanding happens between the two.

I also like how this book is real about common tropes in YA. This includes the female main character glamorizing broken hearts and damaged people. The book was completely aware of this trope and actually acknowledges that it is just not okay. People who glamorize damaged people are blech.

Another thing I like about the book is that toxic and parasitic relationships weren’t tolerated in this book. Characters know that they are not good together and breaks it off.

I can’t deal with your unhappiness on top of mine.

E. Lockhart, Again Again

Lastly, I LOVE how this book acknowledged that in some relationship, we just hype up moments. We make things a bigger deal than what they are.

I have some romantic obsessional tendencies. Like, I just told you it matters more than any other relationship ever could, but I’m not even seeing him. There’s nothing between us anymore.

E. Lockhart, Again Again

What I Didn’t Like

Unfortunately, even though this book has a lot of good things when it comes to certain things, there are a lot of things I didn’t like as well.

To start off, I didn’t like the format of this book where we are shown different events happening across multiverses. I think scenes are just repeated with minor tweaks. I mean, what’s the point? The “moral lesson” in this book could have been delivered without this extra gimmick. It was just confusing and distracting.

I also noticed that the book relied on fancy quotes/lines/dialogue in an attempt to be remarkable but none really stuck to me. Not like how “We accept the love we think we deserve” and “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt” stuck to you like an arrow to the heart.

I also didn’t like the characters. They aren’t unique. I don’t see much depth to them. They’re not 3-dimensional characters but merely plot devices. The main character is forgettable and so are her love interests. Even the main character’s brother who is a recovering addict didn’t shine through and that character has potential to have a lasting impact to the reader.

The main character is forgettable and so are her love interests. Even the main character’s brother who is a recovering addict didn’t shine through and that character has potential to have a lasting impact to the reader.

Overall…

This book is a decent read. For me, however, it just doesn’t stand out from other books in it’s genre. There’s nothing remarkable here that would make me want to scream at you to get this book. Still, this book is worth the try. This book may not just be for me but you might be entertained.

Rating:

Not for me: The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez Book Review

I read The Friend Zone because I thought that it would be light-hearted chick-lit where the maid of honor and bestman hooks up. I was wrong… and I was really disappointed. However, I wasn’t disappointed because it wasn’t lighthearted. This book was just not for me as it was full of tropes and stuff that I really dislike.

What I Liked

Well, the book was easy to read. The book was written and edited well. The chapters ended in a way that you’d want to read the next. It was in the technical sense, good writing.

What I Didn’t Like

There’s just a lot of “tropes” in this book that I just couldn’t get behind.

1. The “Cheating”

It’s not full-on cheating as Kristen, the female MC, didn’t really have sex with Josh, the male MC, when she was still with her boyfriend (but she did have sex with him not 5 minutes after unofficially breaking up soooooo). Nevertheless, it was still cheating. The female MC did flirt and start to fall in love with Josh. Although she claims to have put barriers, it really seemed like she didn’t really put an effort to respect her relationship. I think the main reason she did distance herself from Josh is thinking that she couldn’t be with Josh because they aren’t compatible and not because she has a boyfriend. Major turnoff for the book for me!

2. The “She’s Not Like Other Girls…” and “He’s Different”

There’s a lot of parts in the book where the main characters just compare other people to their love interests. Although, it really does happen in real life but I just hate how the “contrast” was portrayed. It was like there’s only one way to be right. It was like if you’re not the “cool girl” type who likes “cheeseburgers” or whatsoever, then you’re the wrong kind of girl. I hate that. You do you. You can be a girl who wears make-up and dress up everyday. You can also be boyish and wear hoodies. You do you. There’s nothing wrong with being yourself. Same with Tyler, the female MC’s ex. Just because he’s the more uptight kind of guy, Kristen keeps on putting him down against Josh. Tyler might be the wrong type for Kristen but there’s nothing that’s wrong with him. The constant comparison was just toxic.

3. Labeling the female MC with OCD

The female main character copes by cleaning and then OCD was dropped a few times. I think this is problematic because it feeds to the stereotype. Just because you cope with cleaning doesn’t mean you have OCD. Just because you hate the mess means you have OCD. OCD is characterized with obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are recurring intrusive thoughts, urges or impulses. Compulsions, on the other hand, are repetitive behaviors. I don’t think the portrayal of OCD is befitting in this book as I have seen patients with OCD. Some chapters are written in Kristen’s POV and there’s actually no signs there except when she’s deliberately saying “I have OCD”.

4. The Unnecessary Death

I don’t mind death in a book as long as it’s justified. I hate it when a character dies just for “shock factor” but I hate a character death more when it’s because it will be helpful for a sequel book. Cringe.

5. The ending about infertility

Infertility was a major issue discussed in this book and I actually liked it at first. I just think that a lot of women and men can resonate with this. I was really happy with the part where Josh researched about surrogacy and in vitro fertilization and the process. It could have been educational. Instead, the author went with a miracle ending. The author mentioned in the author’s note that it happened to a friend. Okay. Cool. But what really disappointed me is that the author acknowledged that Kristen’s true happy ending was coming to terms with her medical condition and knowing that she is not defined by her infertility and that her womanhood is not defined by her womb. Then… why not go with that ending? Why give a miracle ending? Yes, the ending might give hope to women going through this. But I think this book really needed an ending where the main character accepts infertility and moves forward from it. This book could have been about self-acceptance and self-love. This book just didn’t do justice for women actually going through with this.

Overall…

If you don’t mind the things I’ve mentioned above, then by all means, read this book. This book is not a bad book… it was just a bad fit for me.


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Powerless to Hopeful: The Map of Salt and Stars Book Review by Zeyn Joukhadar

Synopsis

It is the summer of 2011, and Nour has just lost her father to cancer. Her mother, a cartographer who creates unusual, hand-painted maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria to be closer to their family. But the country Nour’s mother once knew is changing, and it isn’t long before protests and shelling threaten their quiet Homs neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s house and almost takes her life, she and her family are forced to choose: stay and risk more violence or flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety. As their journey becomes more and more challenging, Nour’s idea of home becomes a dream she struggles to remember and a hope she cannot live without.

More than eight hundred years earlier, Rawiya, sixteen and a widow’s daughter, knows she must do something to help her impoverished mother. Restless and longing to see the world, she leaves home to seek her fortune. Disguising herself as a boy named Rami, she becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, who has been commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the world. In his employ, Rawiya embarks on an epic journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where she encounters ferocious mythical beasts, epic battles, and real historical figures.

A deep immersion into the richly varied cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, The Map of Salt and Stars follows the journeys of Nour and Rawiya as they travel along identical paths across the region eight hundred years apart, braving the unknown beside their companions as they are pulled by the promise of reaching home at last.

My Thoughts

The Map of Salt and Stars has been an emotional journey for me. There are two stories in this book: the story of Nour and the story of Rawiya. Nour lives in the modern times in Syria where the bombings occurred. Their home has been destroyed prompting her family to decide to leave and seek refuge elsewhere. Rawiya’s story happened hundreds of years earlier. Seeking to see the world, Rawiya disguised herself as a boy to join an expedition of a famous mapmaker.

I really admire Zeyn Joukhadar. He, not only, wrote one beautiful story but he wrote too. Both stories are undeniably compelling that you couldn’t stop yourself from reading. The stories, although unrelated, are somewhat parallel to each other. Rawiya’s story of journey and exploration became like a buffer to me. Nour’s story was real and raw and heartbreaking and at some points it becomes so heavy to read. The alternating chapters of Rawiya and Nour really helped with that.

I also really liked the characters. All characters seem fully realized. They have depth and complexities which is admirable given that there are many characters. I also love the complex relationships between the characters. Their interactions bring the characters to life.

The best part of the book for me is that it opened my eyes to what happened. I have read about the Syrian refugees in the news before but it didn’t even come close to the awareness I had after reading this book. And yet after reading about so much suffering, the book has left me with hope and motivation. I may be powerless now but I am hoping that someday I will have the power to help someone. I hope that someday I can help make the world a better place so that no child will ever have to grow up so soon again.

Overall, this book is a great read and I highly recommend this to everyone!

Rating:

starstarstarstarNo-Star

A Glimpse of History: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Book Review

 Synopsis

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

My Thoughts

There are books that will make you cry and there are books that will make you laugh. And then there are books where you want the characters to pop off in real life and be friends with. And then there are books like A Gentleman in Moscow where you become so immersed in the book you will disappear from wherever you are sitting and be transported to the world inside the pages.

A Gentleman in Moscow starts with when the main character, Count Rostov, was sentenced of house arrest – he may never leave the luxurious Metropol Hotel for the rest of his life. Luckily for him, the Metropol Hotel is a world of its own. The book is written so well and the world building is superb such that it took us to a journey even though Count Rostov has never left the Metropol Hotel the whole time.

Another strength of the book are the main characters. Initially, I didn’t think Count Rostov would be a relatable character. I mean, all he has known is the ways of a gentleman, grand parties and luxury in life. But, in the core, Count Rostov is just as human as any of us. I have definitely enjoyed reading from his point of view – he’s a charming and captivating character. All the other secondary characters are strong as well and has definitely added spice to the book.

Another thing I really liked about the book is that it shows us that time doesn’t really care about us. No matter where we go or where we are stuck, time would just pass by us. Everything that the Count knew was disappearing. His own country is changing and that is evident in a single building he sees every day. I liked how the book shows us that we should learn to adapt without compromising our true selves.

Overall, I loved this book. Every chapter is an interesting glimpse on the life of Count Rostov and a glimpse on the history of Russia. The characters and setting are both well-written. I highly recommend this book to everyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Rating:

starstarstarstarNo-Star