A Dangerous Woman From Nowhere by Kris Radish

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

My journey into the Western genre has been quite recent. While I usually stick to fantasy or thrillers or sci-fi as my go-to genres, I like to change it up a bit and I’ve found that Western novels are quite interesting! I also liked that this novel featured a badass protagonist who goes off to save her husband – instead of it being the other way around. So with all that in mind, I decided to read this book. Here is my review:

Briar Logan has always felt more comfortable alone. It was just a way of life for her, after having survived a terrible childhood, near starvation, and the harsh western frontier. But just as things are starting to look better for her, Briar’s husband is kidnapped by lawless gold miners. Desperate to save her husband, she is forced to accept the help of a damaged young man and a notorious female horse trainer. As they face thieves, whiskey runners, and dangerous men, the unlikely trio must form an alliance in order to survive – and get what they want. 

This is a very detailed novel that focuses on Briar and is told from her perspective. We learn about her and her relationship with her husband and other loved ones through flashbacks. The language is poetic, and Briar is definitely a strong female character. However, I didn’t really enjoy the story. It moved a lot slower than I had expected and it was hard to tell what this novel was: was it a love story? was it more of action? It felt more like a mashup of 2 novels than one independent story. I also found that the poetic language and the flashbacks impeded my reading experience and detracted from the plot. The other characters were interesting but not so much that I felt drawn or connected to them. While I appreciate the author’s attempt to showcase a strong female as the lead, the rest of the story didn’t work for me. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

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The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

I decided to give another poetry collection a shot. I’ve been seeing this one everywhere, and I’ve always been tempted to pick it up and go through it. I mean, it’s quite short and it’s been getting a lot of attention…. so I finally did. Here is my review:

This is a poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. The first 3 sections detail the life of the author, expressing love, loss, grief, healing, and empowerment. The section titled you serves as a note of encourage to the reader and all of humankind, to inspire us all to live life kindly.

Let me begin by saying that I liked this collection of poetry better than Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I thought that this one discussed a lot of themes like suicide, eating disorders, self-harm, abuse, and of course, being brokenhearted and picking yourself up. The raw emotion was easier to feel and connect with in this collection and I really liked that there was a positive note at the very end. However, the same issue as with Milk and Honey was present here: meaningless lines that told nothing, and a great deal of wasted space. For every really good poem/entry, there were 3 that I barely glanced at. While I don’t require poems to rhyme, I do have a problem when it is literally just one sentence separated by spaces. That’s not a poem, that’s a sentence. Breaking it up that way doesn’t really do anything. And while I liked the first 3 sections, the last one, in which the author seems to be trying to encourage the reader to be brave and stand up for themselves …. well, it was lackluster. The content wasn’t anything that I hadn’t heard of, and that was expected, but I thought it would be presented in a more unique way. After having poured so much raw emotion into this poetry collection, I would have hoped some of that would be in the last section, too. Instead, you was very bland and frankly, could have been omitted. I think that, while the content was intense and the emotions poured into this collection should not be dismissed, I am not a fan of this form of poetry. There isn’t really any depth to it and it has no proper flow or form. For those reasons, I’m giving this a 2.5/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Someone You Love Is Gone by Gurjinder Basran

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

I don’t often read emotional stories. But when I do, you can believe that I become a hot mess. This novel made my heart ache so many times that I didn’t know if I would be able to finish it. But I’m glad I did because it was a very thought-provoking story. Here is my review:

When Simran’s mother dies, Simran finds her world crash down around her. As she tries to make sense of the grief she feels, she sees her marriage disintegrate in front of her eyes and faces estrangement from her own daughter. As the days go by, Simran is haunted by memories and her mother’s ghost. As her life starts to fall apart, Simran must confront one of her most painful memories – when her parents sent her younger brother away. As the past starts flooding in, she wonders what could have caused her parents to send away their only son. Now, facedAs the past comes flooding back, she wonders what could compel her parents to turn their backs on their only son. Now with her mother gone, Simran must find the answers to these painful questions in order to finally put her ghosts to rest.

This book looks at grief in a multitude of ways. Not only does it focus on the actual moment of loss, it also depicts the stages and transitions one makes in the days that follow. It is a long and painful journey, and the reader feels every emotion that the main character does. As someone who has been fortunate enough to not have experienced the loss of a loved one, this was an eye-opening journey. There are so many nuances, so many elements to this state of being that I would never have thought possible. And the author allows each one to manifest itself and be understood by the reader. I really liked that the author flitted back in time and even delved into Simran’s mother’s past. This novel showed me the different ways people deal with grief, and how some accept and move on while others struggle to do so. This story is powerful even though it has a quiet voice, as it makes the reader aware of the strength it takes to carry grief in your heart and yet, continue to live life. I’m so glad that I had the chance to review this ARC and would recommend this book to anyone looking for a thought-provoking story.

Happy reading ~

 

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

This book has been recommended to me multiple times by many people and I have just been pushing it off. I finally decided to read it and see what the hype was all about. Here is my review:

Adam Blake is one of those people who is always positive. Sure, he has his difficulties what with his ADHD, but he’s always able to look at the bright side of things. When his senior year elective is to serve as an aide to the school psychologist, Adam is sure that it will be an easy one. The psychologist asks him to track down a troubled freshman who keeps evading his sessions, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian, the foster brother he hasn’t seen in 5 years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited with Julian. But Julian isn’t the same anymore. He is quieter, more insecure, and he keeps a lot of secrets – like about what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help Julian, but his involvement could endanger both their lives.

Holy, did this book make me an emotional wreck! I did not expect it to tug at my heart the way it did but I was bawling from the halfway point until the end. I don’t even know where to start with this book.

The story is told from 2 perspectives: Julian and Adam. Each boy has his own voice and personality and the author does a great job of making them complement each other. Adam is this super positive guy, and you may think that this is overkill, but I love how the author really tried to explain why he does things and thinks things in the way that he does. He has ADHD, but he doesn’t fall into the stereotypical portrayal of it and that made me really happy. Julian’s simplicity and kindness is perfectly captured; the author definitely did not overdo it! I found it very easy to imagine the different personalities and relationships between the different characters and that made this an enjoyable read.

This novel deals with a lot of difficult issues. Not only does it address the stigma associated with mental health and illness, it talks about loss, guilt, and abuse. Each one has its role to play in the novel and the author addressed each one with the care and tact it deserved. I love how the story tied in all of these elements to make something beautiful and raw. This novel makes you think about life and the power of friendship, and it is sure to move you. I genuinely cannot express how strongly I feel for this novel but I really want every single individual to read this book because it is just that fantastic.

Happy reading ~

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

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

I’ve read a ton of books by May Kubica. Ever since I read The Good Girl, I have always taken the time to seek out her newest book and give it a go. While I have yet to find one I like as much as her debut, I think that she has really created a name for herself in the thriller genre. With that being said, Every Last Lie is her latest foray in the genre and it is being released in just a couple of weeks. So here is my review of the ARC:

When Clara Solberg finds out that her husband and their 4-year-old daughter were in a car crash, time stops. She is devastated to discover that while her daughter is unharmed, her husband has died in the accident. Clara is shrouded in mystery and everyone agrees that this is just a terrible tragic accident … until Maisie starts having nightmares that make Clara question what really happened in that car. Struggling with her grief and life as a single mother, and obsessed with discovering the truth behind Nick’s death, Clara is plunged into a world of lies. Who would have wanted Nick dead and why? Clare won’t stop until she finds out – but the truth may be more than she can handle.

From the very first page, the author had me in the palm of her hands. With vivid descriptions of Clare’s first moments dealing with the news of her husband’s passing, I was reeling from the emotions that were portrayed. The effect just grew stronger as Clare’s grief became more pronounced. Even though Clare was not as strong as I would have liked, I really liked her character; she was one of the most realistic characters I have ever met (in terms of her response to tragedy). The story is told from dual perspectives, with chapters alternating from Nick’s voice to Clare’s voice. It made for a very interesting story, and I kept trying to piece all of it together. This book really does make you think about all of the lies that can crop up between two people who love each other and the way in which they can alter the relationship! Every minute of the story was fantastic … until I reached the end. The ending just took me aback. After all of the buildup, after all of the paranoia and suspicions… it ended on such a bland note. I had been eagerly waiting for that satisfaction of the final reveal but it just … flopped on me. I had become so engrossed in the story and I had had such high expectations reaching the end, but the finale was just so lackluster that it made the whole story not worth reading. If you are a big fan of Mary Kubica, I would still recommend you read this novel because maybe you might enjoy it more than I did. I will be giving this book a 3.5/5 stars; in spite of its shabby conclusion, this novel was well-written and had skillfully portrayed characters that made it an enjoyable read (for the most part).

Happy reading ~

Hell’s Gate by Laurent Gaudé

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

I always enjoy reading foreign novels. By this, I am referring to novels that are not in the English language. It’s interesting to see how the author’s culture and background influence the writing style and approach to the story they are creating. My only wish would be to be able to read the work in its original format, rather than as a translation. With this novel, I was interested to see how the author would take the concept of death and make it unique.

When Matteo’s son gets killed by gangsters in a crossfire as he makes his way to school, life seems to end for Matteo and his wife. Consumed by grief and despair, Matteo’s wife, Guiliana, asks him to either bring back their son or take revenge on the man who killed him. But when the moment for vengeance occurs, Matteo finds himself unable to commit the final deed. This disappointment becomes too much to bear and Guiliana leaves. It is during this time that Matteo makes the acquaintance of a mysterious priest who claims to know the way to the underworld and is willing to take him there. But the journey to the land of the dead is a dangerous one and may be more than Matteo bargained for.

This was an intriguing concept of vengeance, death, and grief. The author did such an amazing job portraying the complexity of grief and death, so much so that you can feel and understand the pain and suffering felt by Matteo and Guiliana. You can understand the decisions they make, the various stages of grief that they go through, and the ways in which they struggle to hold onto their lives even as life loses all meaning for them. It was powerful in that way, even though the reader never feels a true connection to any character. I would be hard-pressed to believe that any reader would be able to form a strong bond with the characters in this book, especially based on the storytelling style employed here. Usually, I consider this a negative, but in the case of this novel, it worked. It made the descent into the Underworld the focal point, and added a level of intrigue that may not have been possible if the reader was more focused on the character than the plot. This novel is guaranteed to take you on a unique journey that is thought-provoking and will stay with you long after you finish reading.

Happy reading ~

The Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson

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

Riptide, Oregon in 1983 consists of a place where crime is usually chalked up to underage drinking down at Wolf Point. But soon, strange things begin to happen: mutilated animals begin to appear and a human skeleton is unearthed in a local park. As Sheriff Dave Dobbs and officer Nick Hayslip put away their own sorrows to solve this mystery, they find themselves drawn to Sam Finster and his sister Trina, through a shared tragedy. As they try to put the pieces together, they must also learn to face their grief and find their way in this idyllic coastal town.

There are times when you choose a novel and regardless of how hard you try, it just doesn’t work for you. This was one of those times. I really thought that this story had an intriguing plot but I wasn’t able to get into the story and this will have to remain on my DNF list. From what I’ve heard from other reviewers, this novel is more about self-discovery and loss than it is about any actual mystery, so if you are looking for something along those lines, definitely give this novel a shot. If you do decide to read this novel, I would love to hear about your experience with it; just leave me a comment about what you thought and whether you enjoyed your time with it!

Happy reading ~

Orange: The Complete Collection Vol 1-5 by Tanako Ichigo

When I was 12 years old, manga was all the rage. I grew up in a neighbourhood where there were many East Asian children, so I was heavily influenced by their culture and what was popular with them. At first, reading manga was just a way to fit in but very quickly, I found myself enjoying the story and the artwork. It has been a long time since I’ve read a manga book, but my boyfriend (who loves reading manga) recommended this to me, and guaranteed that I would love it. So I found it online and read it in one sitting.

On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter that is apparently from herself … but from 10 years in the future. At first, she dismisses it. There’s no such thing as time travel! But as the letter’s predictions come true, down to the minutest detail, Naho realizes that this letter could very well be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a transfer student will be joining her class, a boy named Kakeru. The letter begs Naho to watch him, stating that she is the only person that can save him from a terrible fate. Who is this mystery boy and how is Naho connected to him? Better yet, can she save him from his destiny?

This graphic novel may be YA fiction because of the setting and the characters, but the feelings it evokes are strong enough for any adult! If you aren’t familiar with Japanese culture, then parts of this novel may seem a little odd or cringe-y in the beginning. But trust me, it is worth sticking through. This story is one of friendship, loss, love, and resilience. The story deals with suicide, guilt, and the difficulty in moving on from a traumatic event. I am not ashamed to admit that I was sobbing like a baby throughout the novel. Naho is a timid character, and sometimes her timidity can be exasperating. But she changes throughout the novel, realizing that she needs to become more bold and assertive in order to be there for the people she loves. Every character in this story has depth and they are just so …. loveable and amazing! I’m still not in the right frame of mind to coherently write down my thoughts, but the main point I’m saying here is that this manga has a depth to it that I have rarely seen in others in this genre, or even in regular fiction. It has its funny moments, and its cheesy moments, and it’s cute to see teen love bloom. But it shows how strong the bonds of friendship can be, and how difficult it can be to be a teenager. Maybe the story hit me as hard as it did because my teenage years were also difficult (not as difficult as in this story, though) but it is still well-written, well developed, and aesthetically beautiful. If you have never tried manga, then start with this one because it is absolutely fantastic!

Happy reading ~

My Girl by Jack Jordan

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

When I received this novel from NetGalley, I had forgotten what the premise of the story was. It had been a long time since I had requested and received it. So, I went on Goodreads to get a sense of the synopsis and also see what the consensus was for this novel. Intrigued by the amount of positive reviews as well as the plot, I jumped right in, eager to get a glimpse of this psychological thriller. Here is my review:

Paige Dawson is an alcoholic and drug abuser who can’t seem to find a reason to live ever since her daughter was murdered and her husband committed suicide. Barely managing to get through the day, she discovers a handgun hidden in her husband’s study. Why did he need a gun? Was it perhaps in connection to their daughter’s death? Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to investigate further. But she has no idea who she is up against and the extent they will go to make her lose complete control.

I usually receive very good novels from NetGalley. But this was not one of them. The story had no flow and it absolutely made no sense. I despised Paige’s character. Although I could understand that she was in grief, the extent to which it was manifested and the lengths she would go to in order to stay in her condition were quite ridiculous. The story itself seemed to jump all over the place. I constantly felt like there were a few chapters or key points missing. While I could see how the first half could lead to something interesting given enough time, the second half completely threw me off. It made absolutely no sense. I have no clue how the author came up with the random storyline but it really did not work; it seemed as if the author decided to pursue that path just to try and make the story seem shocking. It definitely shocked but I wouldn’t say it was in a good way. There were a lot of unanswered questions at the end, and overall I was extremely disappointed with this novel. If you are looking for a new thriller, even a fluff one, maybe skip this one.

Happy reading ~

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

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

I generally do not read realistic fiction. In my teens, this was my go-to genre. But somewhere in university, I reverted back to my life of science fiction and fantasy. However, there had been a lot of hype surrounding this novel so I knew I couldn’t just let it slip by. This novel was released early this month, so hopefully you will get a better sense of whether you want to give it a shot or not after my review!

The Guineveres are united by their name; they all share the same one and were all sent to The Sisters of the Supreme Adoration through different paths. Together, they become each other’s friends, condidants, and family. Gwen loves to act and dreams of becoming a model; Ginny is an artiste through and through; Win  is the tough one, who acts as the peacemaker; and Vere is the true believer, holding onto her faith constantly. While each girl is unique, it is only when they are together that they become powerful and confident. But as time goes on, the Guineveres become tired of waiting for their lives to change. They want to leave the convent and they want to do it NOW. When four comatose soldiers from the War arrive at the convent, the girls realize that they may just have gotten their ticket to get out. But will the world be everything they had hoped for?

This novel definitely evokes deep feelings in the reader. As I was reading, I felt myself drawn to each of the Guineveres in turn, especially when their backstories were revealed. This book was something I could both relate to and also feel completely alienated by. I could relate to the feelings of wanting to grow up, and feeling confused about my place in the world. But the deeper emotions of the girls was something that I could never empathize with because it was on such a different level; I don’t think I have ever experienced that level of sadness or pain. Throughout the story, you find out in snippets about the future of each girl except for the narrator – that is left until the very end. That was one of my favorite things about this novel; you thought you knew how it would end, because of these snippets, but when you actually got to the end of the story, you would still feel surprised because it wasn’t what you had actually imagined. Overall, this story made me sad. It is a poignant, beautiful story – but it is a sad one, and it evokes a deep sadness, one that stays with you for a while after you finish the last page. Looking for a good realistic/historical fiction? Check this one out. It will definitely keep you in its grip from the first page to the last.

Happy reading ~