[783]: What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt

You’re seventeen years old. You’re conscious of all the social injustices in your world. You do your best to take part, in fact, you even start a protest. You’re not afraid to speak your mind. But on the very first protest you led, a counter protest almost ended badly. But then one of the reporters present figured out who you are, who your parents are. From there, the secrets of who your real father was revealed. All your life you never knew. You didn’t know that your father was a known terrorist who set off an explosion during a parade in New York City, killing 4 people and injuring more.

But your mother hid you. Changed your identity in an attempt to escape the guilt, the blame, the consequences of your father’s actions. Until all was revealed.

This is the story of Eran and how in one single moment of impulsive anger had changed his life, made him question who he was and how much of him was his father. Will he follow his father’s footsteps? Or will set himself on his own path?

This was a tough read. I saw anger in all sides, ignorance, and reluctant forgiveness in some. A mistake that started 15 years ago blew up in something that could’ve been catastrophic. It’s sad, really. To blame a boy who was only two years old when his father committed a heinous act, then try to accuse the mother of having knowledge of her deceased husband’s plans, and therefore should be guilty.

I felt Eran’s isolation and anger at the world, especially at his mother for keeping that secret. He became lost and unsure of who he was in a span of a day. I felt his shame and guilt; his hurt for seeing his entire neighborhood shun them and attempt to drive them off the city. I also felt the moment he questioned and doubted his mother’s culpability, to his shame, when all she tried to do was to save him from people’s judgement.

What Makes Us made me think about the world outside my home. That even though I often found myself lost in the commentary section of political debates, it’s not enough and a complete waste of time, to be honest. It also made me think about truth, justice, and how far I will go if I ever find myself in Eran’s mother’s shoes.

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Library Haul

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson | Wild Country by Anne Bishop | The Field Guide to The North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe | Meet Cute by Helena Hunting | Say You Love Me by KA Tucker | Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne | The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I hope your week is going well so far. It’s Tuesday, and with the week I had last week, I sure hope mine is going much better. (I’m writing this post on Sunday afternoon.) Work was awful. I got blamed for shit that absolutely had nothing to do with me, and my boss won’t listen to my explanation. Ugh. But I’m trying my best not to let that get to me because I used to take everything to heart. I end up acting rashly and it usually never ends well for me.

Anyway, last week was a relatively good reading week:

  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie was a such a slog to get through. So much so that I DNF’d it. I mentioned it before that he’s a bit more verbose and cerebral for my taste, but I wanted to give his book another chance. Unfortunately, I lost my patience somewhere along the way.
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey was a great book. For those who’s not familiar with Comey, he was fired by Trump as the FBI director because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty disguised as mishandling of the investigations into Clinton emails. *eyeroll* This was a fascinating read; one that made me want to take a shower soon after. Because in this memoir, Comey discussed The Steele Dossier. And if you’re not familiar with that, Google it. Or don’t. Unless you want to upchuck whatever last meal you just had. 4/5 stars.
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi was great as well. Hailed as a copycat of Six of Crows, this one features a group of misfits who has their own agendas but decided to band together to get to their own respective goals. Severin, the token Danny Ocean of the crew, has one goal in mind, to restore his name as a Patriarch of his House. I absolutely loved this. It was suspenseful, smart, full of magic and puzzles to solve. 4/5 Stars.
  • The Institute by Stephen King. Prodigies were regularly abducted and honed to become some sort of super weapons in this latest by the King of Horror himself. The methods, however, are the stuff of nightmares. This was only my second Stephen King novel. I wouldn’t go running to the bookstore to buy all his books, but I will be definitely on the lookout for something similar. 5/5 Stars

As of this writing, I managed to read 3 of the 5 books I set out to read on my last On The Night Table post. I’m about to read the fourth, which makes me very happy because I have a few library books I need to read before the 21st.

Keeping this short. Happy reading, everyone!

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[782]: A Lie for A Lie by Helena Hunting

This is the first book in Helena Hunting’s All In Series — which is a spin off from her Pucked series. A hockey themed romance that centers on Chicago’s fictional NHL team. I have been enjoying most of the books in Pucked, and no matter how many books I’ve neglected to read, Ms. Hunting somehow makes going back into it virtually painless. I don’t know if it’s because she writes the most memorable characters, or is it because simplicity of plot, characters, settings makes it so.

In this novel, we meet RJ; a once rookie, now a superstar in his own right basically trying to escape the wilderness of professional hockey. The partying, the women who throw themselves at them, and the media hounds. On his flight to Alaska, he encounters Lainey, a biologist who was on a research trip to study the Alaskan wildlife. Long story short, their meet-cute was awkward but their chemistry was undeniable – one that they couldn’t ignore. When Rook abruptly left due to family emergency, Lainey had no means to contact him. Months later, they meet again, but the reunion was far from sweet.

I can never turn down a hockey-themed romance. I have no clue why. It’s not like I’m a huge hockey fan to begin with. We do have an NHL team in my city that I follow but not as religious as I follow the LA Chargers. I think it’s the aggression that I tend to see when they play on the ice. And while I actually haven’t read about a hockey player whose aggression follows him in the bedroom, I still think hockey players are hot. Lol.

Rook is no different. He may be a bad mofo on the ice, but he’s a teddy bear in real life. He truly cared that he lost touch with Lainey and did his best to try and make amends when they were finally reunited. I also loved Lainey. She’s an independent woman who made do with the hand that she was dealt. There was a surprise here that I absolutely loved. I know some romance readers don’t like that plot device, but I’m a huge fan.

Serial books aren’t always fun from one installment to the next but one thing is for certain: Hunting knows hockey romance. She could keep writing books in this world and I’ll keep reading them.

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[781]: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

The writing duo of Keeland and Ward are one of those author collabs whose work I tend to enjoy. I haven’t fully explored their back list, but I can at least admit that whenever I see they have a new release, my ears perk up. The instant reaction is the compunction to one-click that baby right into the oblivion that is my Kindle.

Their latest (which I read in one night — soon after I got in the mail, no less) didn’t disappoint. You’ve got a Brit who followed his dreams right to the US of A, and an American novelist with a pet pig. The best part of a romance novel is how an author (or authors, in this case) connects two unseemingly likely characters right into the path of love. For Griffin and Luca, it all started when they were kids and with the aid of a good ol’ snail mail. Once pen pals for years, the two lost connection when they were on the cusp of adulthood. There were reasons, of course. But Griffin never did find out what they were. One night, when Griffin was feeling the sting of rejection, Griffin wrote Luca a hate mail that she didn’t get to read until years later.

Admittedly, this book was emotionally-charged than usual. At the risk of spoiling one of the driving force of the plot, Luca, over the years, had become a recluse. She shied away from people and being in public places. She does her grocery shopping in the middle of the night when there’s very little chance that she’d run into people. Aside from her ancient therapist, she spoke to the grocery clerk that works the night shift and her pet pig, Hortencia. Her world shrunk considerably. And then there’s Griffin – whose station in life couldn’t be more different.

In other words, they have a huge stumbling block to face if they ever want to give their relationship a go. There’s also the distance: Griffin is based in Los Angeles, and Luca in Vermont. Regardless, they’ll give it a fighting chance — until they couldn’t.

While it would’ve been tempting to let Luca be the type of character who miraculously found cure for her disorder in a man, the authors didn’t cop out and do just that. Luca needed patience, kindness and generosity in her partner so I feel like Griffin was just that person. It was frustrating at first, to give Luca her space, but in the end, I understood. Because sometimes, the pressure of trying to be “normal” for the people that we love hurts us more than we realize.

Once again, the writing duo of Keeland and Ward deliver in spades. A story about how important it is to accept that sometimes, we have to give the people we love what they need even if it means forgoing ours. Griffin understood Luca’s predicament and he didn’t push her just because he wanted to be with her. If you’re asking if this ends in HEA, *spoiler alert* it does.

Huge shout out to Montlake Romance and Thomas Allen & Sons for letting me be a part of this blog tour. Please follow along!

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[780]: The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

I’ve always found that novelists from Scandinavian and Asian countries to be first class story tellers in the Thriller genre. I don’t know what it is but their books, as well as the movies just give me the chills.

The Good Son definitely fit the bill as well. Written by a Korean author, this book tells the story of a man who woke up bloodied but somehow relatively unharmed. Upon further examination, he finds scratches and bite marks on his arm. And as he moves about his house, he finds his mother in her bedroom — in a bloodbath with a deep slash across her neck. He realizes too soon, and with uncanny calmness that he may have had a hand in her death.

The story pieces together in a series of flashbacks while he tries to figure out the next step: turn himself in? Bury his mother? Or dispose of her body then leave the country altogether. But the more time he spends trying to decide his next move, the more bodies fall.

The terrifying thing about the story is the undetached way he spoke of the deaths. Because, yes, soon enough, the readers will realize that our character gets a thrill out of killing people. Especially the process of how he stalks his prey then calmly watch them bleed. As if he’s roasting marshmallows or something.

We also learn that he’s always been deranged even as a child. The first time he saw his dad used an antique razor while shaving, he asked with cold-blooded intensity if he could have his blade when he dies. Which was the reason why his mother hid it from him over the years. But he found it anyway. It was especially chilling to find out that he had a part in the deaths of his father and brother.

The Good Son challenges the basic idea of nurture vs. nature. And while in most cases, someone can be nurtured into someone not homicidal, this is an exception where nature definitely wins over nurture.

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On the Night Table [59]

Happy Monday, everyone! And if you’re in Canada, I hope you’re having a solemn Remembrance Day. Selfishly, I took the opportunity to catch up on sleep, rearrange my bedroom bookshelves, and shelve some read books to gain some order in my life.

I started reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis last Saturday, and even if there’s nothing mind-blowing about her advice, it helped me gain some perspective about how I’m feeling lately. The root cause of my maudlin mood that has nothing to do with the weather, but with how I’ve been overwhelming myself with shit that don’t matter.

The first thing I did was deactivate my personal Facebook account. I’ll tell you how I feel when the week is through. The next thing I did was well, clean my bedroom even though my bedroom is pretty spartan to begin with, I still thought it could use a bit more organizing. My bedroom is my haven and where I do the most of my reading, so it has to be clean and organized all the time. I also cleaned my bookshelves in my bedroom to make room for the books that were sitting on the floor. I definitely need to do an unhauling one of these days, but I just don’t know where to start. Sigh.

Anyway, like I mentioned on my recent Hoarders post, I finally reached my all-time goal of 2,000 books. As well, my Goodreads goal for the year of 230 books. So this week, I decided to read the books I received for review — which isn’t much considering I’ve hold off requesting for most of the year:

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie | What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt | Well Met by Jen DeLuca

All these books are from Penguin Random House Canada. I also got The Toll by Neal Shusterman from Simon & Schuster in the mail last week but I haven’t read Thunderhead so I can’t read this yet. I’m re-reading Scythe so I can read Thunderhead.

I’m also endeavouring to read The Institute by Stephen King — only the second Stephen King novel in my arsenal. As well, Madame Bovary which is a classic lit about an unsatisfied married woman looking for romance in her otherwise lackluster marriage. I’ve always wanted to read it, so I thought since I now have the time, I might as well.

Please come back and check out my review of Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward on Thursday, the 14th. It’s my tour stop and y’all know I haven’t done too many of those as well. This is all for now, everyone. Thank you for being my sounding board. <3

Have a great week!

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Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 224

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo | The Institute by Stephen King | The Diary of Frida Kahlo | The Water Dancer by Ta-Nahesi Coates | The Coming Storm by Paul Russell | City of Bones by Cassandra Clare | Heartstopper, Volume 2 by Alice Oseman | Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky | I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi | The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young | Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi | What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefeldt | Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell | Heels Over Head by Elyse Springer | The Blacksmith Queen by GA Aiken | Well Met by Jen DeLuca | The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

So yeah, these are the books I procured in October. With the exception of What Makes Us, Quichotte, and Well Met, all of the books above were purchased. I keep having to strengthen up my resolve not to buy any, but we all know that only works for like ten seconds, then poof. I find myself magically transported to the bookstore. Sigh.

Much love to Penguin Random House Canada for the copies of What Makes Us, Quichotte, and Well Met.

NEWS! I reached my all-time goal of 2,000 books on Tuesday! I can now chill the eff out and actually digest the books I’m reading. Sheesh. Or maybe I should amped it up even more if I ever want to see the end of my TBR. *head desk*

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Listening Library [5]

I downloaded some pretty fantastic audiobooks from the library the last couple of weeks — half nonfiction and general fiction. Including a couple that has become an instant favourite of mine: Invisible Women and The Day the World Came to Town. I hope to write a review for them once I process everything and maybe even reread them.

  • Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez. 5/5 Stars. This is such a fantastic read about all the ways the system is working against women. Fascinating, eye-opening, thought-provoking. Honestly one of those reads that will make you go hmmm with every turn of the page.
  • Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. 3/5 Stars. I wish I could like this more. This book is a nonfiction that reads like fiction tackling three women’s relationship with sex and how much control they lost once they let sex dictates their relationships with men. I didn’t love it for the simple fact that there were no resolutions at the end of it.
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim Defede. 5/5 Stars. Oh, this book. I cried for practically the whole time I was reading this. It’s about the generosity and kindness of the people of Gander, Newfoundland during the tragedy of 9/11. I absolutely loved it.
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. 4/5 Stars. I saw Anderson Cooper in the Summer when he talked about his life, his career and his relationship with his mom. This is, I guess a more nuanced version of those stories particularly how his relationship with his mom shaped the kind of person he is now.
  • The Summer Before the War is unread. I have a physical copy from a while back but I haven’t read it so when I saw it was available to borrow, I downloaded it right away.
  • Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins. 3/5 Stars. This is pretty cute, I supposed. It’s a romance between an Scottish princess and a jilted American girl who got cheated on back in the States. So she applied for a scholarship to a boarding school in Scotland where she meets the princess — who at first hated her guts. It was enjoyable and made me want to read the first book, The Royals.
  • Washington Black by Esi Edugyan is also unread. I picked up a hardcopy at a thriftstore, so I’m excited to finally get this off my TBR.
  • Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly. 4/5 Stars. This was a good mystery about the competitiveness of the publishing industry. It has blackmail, intrigue, attempted murder…etc. Very compelling.

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[779]: Silent History by Eli Horowitz, et al.

I was under the impression that this book is a horror. But as the chapters flew by, it quickly become clearer that it was more Sci-Fi than anything. I enjoy Sci-Fi/horror anyway, and since I don’t have very many of those, I’m always game to dive in. However, I felt that this book went way too long for my taste and it didn’t have the sustainability to keep a reader like me.

In here, we find a generation of children without voice and no means of communication. It was as if they were born without that part of their brain. Parents, doctors, scientists were confounded. The children can’t speak, and unable to make any sounds at all. They were shunned by other children who can speak, treated as if they were mentally handicapped. But the worst part of all was that they were vulnerable to predators. Case in point, a kid who was abducted while shopping in a mall when he couldn’t scream for help.

Told in part as chronicles of testimonials, The Silent History contains a world whose ability to communicate vastly changed. Half of the world spoke in a telepathic manner but was not taught and can’t be learned. Though this book is 500-some odd pages, I found myself racing through 50% of it. It was a fascinating world, one where half the population scrambled to learn about a new kind of language all together.

However, it doesn’t take time until I found myself lost — not in the story, but literally lost. The plot quickly becomes convoluted. With the discovery of nanotechnology that enabled the children to speak, the Science of it all complicated what was an otherwise absorbing story. And as the cure was slowly introduced, so were the factions that contributed to the chaos. It was harder to keep track of the number of points of views — and there were many.

The cure, while great on the surface, became a bone of contention for some parents and the government. After the kid was saved from the sexual predator that kidnapped him, the government instituted a law that aimed to protect children under the age of 6. They made it a law to have all outfitted with the cure. And while I can understand why the parents would want their kids to have the ability to speak, I also saw why some parents were against it. In essence, the cure would invariably change their children into different people altogether. Some chose to let the children decide for themselves as adults.

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Waiting on Wednesday [23]: November Releases

It seems like all the books I want to read are all coming out in one day: November 5th. Aside from that, there’s only one on November 12th, and another on the 26th. But yeah, there are six that came out yesterday! I honestly don’t know what to do with myself.

November 5th

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern | Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater | The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Night Circus is a contemporary classic, in my opinion. So I’m looking forward to reading Ms. Morgenstern’s second novel. I’ve been a Ronan fangirl since I met him in The Raven Boys so it’s no surprise that I will be clamouring to read his novel. This month, I’m endeavouring to read Scythe just so I can read Thunderhead in preparation for the series-ending, The Toll.

Get A Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert | Girls of Storm and Shadow by Natash Ngan | The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Get A Life, Chloe Brown looks and sounds like an awesome contemporary novel so I’m looking forward to reading it. Girls of Paper and Fire is on my November TBR, so I want read the sequel hopefully next month. And last but not the least, The Bromance Book Club. It sounds funny so yeah, I’m down.

This has been an episode of books I want to buy but would likely not read for another 5 years. Lol.

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