Once, in a Town Called Moth by Trilby Kent

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while now, but I’ve been putting it off every time in lieu of some other urgent reading task. But I decided to make time for it now, so here is my review:

Ana grew up in a tiny Mennonite colongy in Bolivia. Her mother fled the colony when Ana was a young girl. Now, as a teenager, Ana and her father have also run away from the community, but Ana doesn’t know why. All she knows is that things were not right for her and her father and they needed to leave in a hurry. Now, they’ve arrived in Toronto and Ana must fend for herself in an alien country, completely disconnected from everything she knew. She has no idea where to begin with fitting in. But begin she does: she makes a friend, then two. She goes to school and tries to understand the hierarchy that is present and all the unspoken rules and codes that govern teenage life. She goes to the library, the mall, and even parties. And all the while, she is desperate to find her mother who left her so long ago, and understand her father who has always been a stranger to her.

This is definitely a character-driven story, and it is quite well done at that. The story is told from Ana’s perspective, in third perspective when she is in Toronto and in first perspective when she is describing her past in the Mennonite colony. I really liked that the author made that differentiation, as I’ve never seen an author do that before and it added a unique touch to the story. I really liked Ana’s character and the author did a really great job in expressing the emotions she was going through; as a reader, I found it very easy to connect with and understand Ana. I didn’t know much about the Mennonite community before this novel, but it is clear that the author did due diligence in researching and presenting the information about this community in a non-judgemental way. This novel is definitely more of a slow-burner and it’s really just about how Ana adjusts to Toronto after leaving Colony Felicidad so if you are expecting something more fast-paced or with action, then this is not the novel for you. However, it is a well-written YA novel that is all about growing up, fitting in, and finding your identity. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

After so many thrillers that focus on the wife, I thought it would be a good change to read one that focuses on the husband and child. That was my motivation for requesting this book … so here is my review:

It’s been 1 year since Billie Flanagan, a beautiful Berkeley mom, went on a solo hike and vanished. Only a hiking boot was ever found. Billie’s husband, Jonathan, and teenage daughter, Olive, do their best to  cope with her death but things have been frayed between them. When Olive starts having waking dreams that her mother is alive, she is convinced these are signs that her mother wants Olive to look for her. Jonathan worries about Olive’s health and mental frame of mind … but then he unearths a secret from Billie’s past that makes him question everything he thought he knew about his wife. Now, Olive and Jonathan have to work together to piece together the woman they loved.

It was definitely unique to read this story with a husband and daughter as the main protagonists. I was hoping that the story would be more of a father-daughter search for the truth, where both characters grow. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The father’s character and judgments were reasonable based on the secrets he was discovering about his wife, Billie. However, he didn’t really do much about anything. He discovered things and let despair take him under. In fact, his daughter was much more active in getting to the bottom of things than he was. This ended up turning this book from an adult read to a young adult/teen read, which let me down a tad bit. In the end, this was a thriller that was interesting in terms of where the plot went, but I felt like it failed in its execution and character development.

Happy reading ~

The Last Girl by Joe Hart – Dominion Trilogy #1

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I try to vary the content of my novels. I don’t want to read too many novels from the same genre in succession because it makes me bored, and I feel like I’m unable to judge each book based on its merits. That’s why I waited some time before I read this dystopian fiction. Anyways, here is my review:

A mysterious virus reduces the birthrate of female infants to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but even after 25 years, there is no cure. An entire generation grows up with a population of less than a 1000 women. Zoey and the surviving young women are housed in a research compound that is dedicated towards finding a cure. For 2 decades, she’s been kept away from her family, treated as a test subject. All she knows is that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population. But Zoey is determined to escape before the next set of tests, a program from which no woman has ever returned. Finding her way to freedom will take brutality, strength, and cunning —but Zoey is ready for war.

If I have to describe this novel with only one word, it would be ordinary. I didn’t hate this novel. There was nothing terribly wrong with it. Did it have some holes in its logic? Yes, but I’ve read other dystopian novels that also raised some questions. Did it have action? Yes, more so towards the middle and end of the novel. What this novel didn’t have is a unique component, something that makes it stand out in mind from everything else in the genre. I didn’t really care much about the characters because there just wasn’t anything to draw me to them. The beginning of the book sounded like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – only not as well-written. Right now, I’m trying to come up with something interesting to write about this novel but I’ve got nothing. It’s not a terrible novel by any means but it has nothing new to offer and for that reason, it is unmemorable. Maybe it’s my own boredom from reading about the same crisis of not-enough-women-to-populate-the-planet, but I struggled to get through this book. It just didn’t work for me.

Happy reading ~

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I am always talking about how I find Gillian Flynn fantastic. She is by far my favorite author when it comes to the thriller fiction category and I am always excited to read something that she has written or has recommended. I have been waiting a couple of months to get my hands on this novel and when I finally got it, I was surprised by how thin it was. I mean, it couldn’t have been more than 45 pages in total! Anyways, I was still willing to give it a shot so here is my review:

This story is told from the viewpoint of an unnamed female narrator who is smart enough to find ways to survive. She is known for giving the best hand jobs and has quite a few regular clientele who come by to see her. But as she begins to experience wrist pain, she knows she must switch into a different career path. And so, she becomes a clairvoyant, a psychic, who claims to be able to see auras. She knows she’s a fraud. But she’s good at what she does. That is, until Susan Burke gives her a visit. Susan is a rich yet unhappy woman who is terrified of her own home and begs our narrator to come and “cleanse” her house. And once she sees the house, she no longer needs to pretend to believe in ghosts. The house is eerie … but Susan’s stepson is even more disturbing. And when all three are caught in a battle of minds, one will wonder … where is the true evil hiding?

I quite liked the novel and the way in which it was set up. It was short and funny, yet it made me shiver a bit here and there. It isn’t as shocking or as chilling as Flynn’s other novels but it carries the same psychological manipulation as in her other works; by the end of the novel, you really don’t know who to trust. I don’t have much more to say about this novel because it is something to be discovered and enjoyed on your own so if you are looking for a short yet engrossing read that will make you think in many many different ways, then give this novel a shot! Fans of Gillian Flynn will find themselves enjoying this novel in a very different way than Gone Girl or Dark Places!

Happy reading

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Before this novel, I had never heard of Tami Hoag. I had no idea that she was a bestselling author or that she had published more than 30 books. All I knew was that this novel was on many recommendation lists and that I had to make some time to read it. In all honesty, I hadn’t been anticipating it or been looking forward to it. I thought it would be a bit like some of Joy Fielding’s work (and I really do love her stuff!) so it wouldn’t be anything unexpected. All I can say is, I’m glad I gave it a shot!

Dana Nolan was a promising news reporter on TV before she was kidnapped, raped, and almost murdered by a serial killer. Nearly a year after her miraculous escape, Dana has moved back home to Shelby Mills. But the torment of post-traumatic stress disorder and the severe brain damage she endured has changed her forever. Returning to her hometown was supposed to be a reprieve; instead, it leads to more trauma as both the police and media take interest in an unresolved case – the disappearance of Dana’s childhood friend, Casey. Terrified of the secrets from her past, Dana tentatively begins to search for the truth. But it may be more than she can handle.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed this novel so much was because of the attention it gave to PTSD and head trauma injuries. Most of the time, novels don’t depict this accurately; somehow the victim or protagonist mysteriously “gets better” and “goes back to normal”. Having a novel disprove that and show what it really is like was quite refreshing. I really liked Dana Nolan; her plight as a victim was depicted very skillfully but there was also more to her personality than just her ordeal. The story line was very good, too, and I liked how the story was told in the voices of other characters. The ending was a bit predictable, especially as the clues came through but I think that was the point; the reader, who presumably does not suffer from any brain injuries, should be able to solve this case faster than Dana, who doesn’t have all the resources she needs to reach the same conclusions. All in all, this story was gripping and well-written and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good murder mystery/thriller!

Happy reading ~

The Well by Catherine Chanter

When I first read the teaser about this book, I thought it would be about ghosts and spirits and the like. It certainly had a lot of elements to it that sounded like something supernatural was about to happen. I was planning on reading it in eBook version but I found it in the public library on a whim and decided to borrow it right then and there. Given my current stressful life, I thought I would have a better chance of reading it if I had a physical hard copy of it as a daily reminder to get through it! Anyways, I’m done now so here is my review:

Ruth and Mark Ardingly need a break from their life in the city, especially after Mark was under investigation for pedophilia. So when they see the listing for the Well, they rush to put in an offer. This farming area in the countryside is exactly the break they need. And when they arrive there, everything is perfect. Everything is in full bloom, their crops are growing well, and Mark and Ruth are filled with optimism. When their daughter Angie and grandson Lucien come to visit, they couldn’t be happier. But when the drought hits, everything changes, especially when they discover that The Well is the only place unaffected. Suddenly, they are the envy of their neighbours and the government is putting pressure on them. When a fanatic religious order called the Sisters of the Rose arrive, the situation gets worse, culminating in a shocking crime that threatens to rip this family apart.

Although this novel wasn’t a ghost story, it certainly was a thriller and it definitely gave me chills. The story is told in Ruth’s voice and it switches from past to present beautifully, connecting the story and giving lots of clues to the reader. It is more than just a who-done-it mystery; it deals with issues like mob mentalities, public vs private life, and fanaticism at its core. I was able to guess the ending about halfway through the novel but it was still a delightful read and got me really thinking hard. I really enjoyed this novel and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future!

Happy reading ~

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

I don’t know what I was expecting from this novel but it certainly wasn’t what I got! I’m so excited to write this review that I’m not going to bother giving any introduction for it!

Henry Hayden has made it big in the literary world. His five novels have all been bestsellers and he is living in the lap of luxury. He’s got the nice car, the nice house, everything he could ever have asked for. He is a quiet man himself and lives a quiet life with his wife who is equally quiet and private. All in all, Henry is happy. Except for one secret: he didn’t write a single word. In fact, it is his wife who writes his novels, a secret they both work very hard to hide. The arrangement seems to be working well for both of them. But then disaster strikes when Henry’s mistress becomes pregnant with his child. As Henry tries to rectify the solution, he makes a terrible  mistake, one that could cost him everything he holds dear.

I loved this novel. From the first page, I was hooked. The story shifts so quickly from one character to the other that you are forced to give it your full attention. I loved the portrayal of each character and the attention given to detail. The way that Henry’s mind works is remarkable so much so that I had chills at some points in the story. The ending was quite unexpected and that just made the experience that much more enjoyable. I would recommend this book wholeheartedly to anyone looking for something dark – or for anyone looking for a great read!

Happy reading ~

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

This book has been on the bestseller list for quite a while and I’ve been waiting to read it for almost a month. I’m happy to say that this novel did not disappoint! I’ve been going around recommending it to everyone I know because it is just THAT good! Anyways, with our further ado, here is my review!

Katharyn “Kitty” Miller is a single woman, which is quite a strange situation for a woman to be in in Denver in 1962. However, she is living quite happily. She runs a small bookstore with her friend Frieda and makes ends meet. But when she goes to sleep, her dreams are filled with a completely different life. Here, she goes by Katharyn and is married to a wonderful husband named Lars. She has a beautiful house and wonderful children. Although Kitty loves these late night forays, she is starting to have a hard time distinguishing between her dreams and her reality. And not everything is as perfect as it seems in this dream world of hers…

What can I say about this book except that it is an amazing debut novel? It is rich in detail and the character transformation between the dreams and the real world is seamlessly done. All of the pain that Kitty goes through is powerfully felt by the reader and the way everything gets put together by the end of the novel is just amazing. There are so many surprises in this novel that elevate this book from being a simple emotional story. I never thought that I would love this book so much but from the first page, I was hooked. I highly recommend this book to everyone because I can’t imagine anyone not liking it!

Happy reading ~

The Maze Runner

I actually had the chance to reread the book AND watch the movie before my exams but I wasn’t able to write my review until now. Without further ado, here it is:

This is a post-apocalypse novel that focuses on Thomas, a boy who finds himself in a place known as The Glade with a bunch of other boys. He has no recollection of his past or how he got here and neither do the other boys, who have been here longer than him. What the boys DO know is that they were sent here by people that they call the Creators; each week, the Creators give them supplies through The Box, an elevator of sorts. He is welcomed into their community, where each boy has a specific job. One job that interests Thomas is the job of a Runner; these boys have to go out into the maze that surrounds The Glade to try and find a way out. But they must return before sundown or risk being stuck in the maze with half-animal, half-mechanical monsters known as Grievers. It is soon clear that things are about to change and that they are somehow connected to Thomas, especially because the day after he arrives, the first girl is delivered to the Glade with a note saying “This is the very last one”. It suddenly becomes apparent that this is a race against time; the Creators have decided to stop being so “generous” and the boys are now at the mercy of the Grievers. Thomas and the others must find a way out of this maze now before it is too late.

Okay so I first read this book in high school and it was extremely addictive and fast-paced. Reading it again did not change my view. I feel like I didn’t capture the summary as well as I could have but it’s because there are so many things that happen and they are all so important! It is definitely worth a read and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in the series!

I hated the movie. Absolutely hated it. Not because of the acting, the actors were great! But so much had been changed from the novel. The behaviors and interactions between the other boys and Thomas did not always match the book and they fully cut out parts of the story and made up other explanations that led to the same ending; I found the alternative paths to be highly dissatisfying, as if they were thought of last minute and just thrown into the mix. All in all, the movie was not the greatest. But that was probably because I had the book plot fresh in my mind. I’m sure people who hadn’t read the book would really like it. But I’ve always felt that if you are going to make a movie out of a book, then you should stay as close to the script as possible. AT LEAST DON’T CHANGE WHOLE PARTS OF THE STORY!

Anyways, if you want to watch the movie and ENJOY it, don’t read the book first. But the book is awesome and way better than the movie. So maybe just forget the movie and enjoy the book.

Happy reading ~

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I fell in love with this book when I read it in grade 11. Rereading it now, it hasn’t lost a bit of its eloquence or horror. If you don’t read anything else by this author, read this!

Offred lives in Gilead, a military dictatorship that used to be known as the United States of America. Her role in society is to be a handmaid, a breeder for Commanders whose Wives are too old to bear children. The Handmaids have no freedom and no will; why should they fight when there is nowhere to go and when you don’t know who could be a spy for the government? But Offred can remember a different time, a time when she had a job and a husband and a child. Between her narration of her current life and memories of her past, it is clear that Offred wants to escape. The question is: will she?

This book stretches the concept of a dystopian novel like never before. It is feminist but I don’t think it is overly so (at least, I hope not!). The world described in the novel is terrifying to envision and Offred’s voice is very practical, not at all overly dramatic. It makes the book more believable, the character more relatable. All in all, an amazing dark read. SO READ IT!!!!!

Happy reading ~