Review: The Sun Is Also A Star - Nicola Yoon

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“Sometimes your world shakes so hard, it’s difficult to imagine that everyone else isn’t feeling it too.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 19 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

My Thoughts —

Alright, so let me start by saying that I completely devoured this book. I gave myself about a week to get through it as I wanted to finish it before I left for my Florida trip but I literally completed it in 24 hours lol. So, I think it’s safe to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it.

This was not the first Nicola Yoon book that I’ve ever read. A couple summers back, I read “Everything, Everything” which, at the time, was really talked about because it was being adapted into a film. When I first read it, I really enjoyed it but when I started reading reviews by other readers, I started feeling uneasy because there was a lot of talk about how it sort of took the subject of disability and sort of diluted it for the purpose of the plot. In spite of this, I had heard a lot about “The Sun Is Also A Star” so I decided to give it a go.

There were two main things I really liked about this book. The first was the discussion on immigration, and the other was fate. Honestly, both were really well done. I loved how the two main characters were both influenced by immigration and yet their stories and circumstances were hardly similar. I liked the dichotomy in their families, pasts and lifestyles as I think it greatly impacted their lives and their viewpoints. In terms of the fate storyline, my favourite aspect wasn’t even really how the idea of fate affected the main characters’ love story, but rather who they came across in their 24 hour trek across New York City. In their day together, Natasha and Daniel met or passed several people and it was so interesting to see how they played off of one another and how their interactions were so important to one another’s lives.

I really don’t want to give away any of this story. It honestly took so many sharp turns and I think that giving away one detail sort of spoils all the fun! Personally, I think that if you’re considering reading this novel, I’d wait until you have the opportunity to really devote your time to it! For me, reading this novel in a day helped with the general flow of the novel, although I know that doing so isn’t possible for everyone. I’d just make sure you have time to read this in big chunks because I think it makes it easier to follow the different storylines and keep track of all the characters!

Do you believe in fate?

Felicia x

Review: My Plain Jane - Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

“If there was something strange in your neighborhood, you could, um, write the Society a letter, and they would promptly send an agent to take care of it.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling

Reading Challenge: 18 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

You may think you know the story. After a miserable childhood, penniless orphan Jane Eyre embarks on a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall. There, she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester. Despite their significant age gap (!) and his uneven temper (!!), they fall in love—and, Reader, she marries him. (!!!)

Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions, in which all is not as it seems, a certain gentleman is hiding more than skeletons in his closets, and one orphan Jane Eyre, aspiring author Charlotte Brontë, and supernatural investigator Alexander Blackwood are about to be drawn together on the most epic ghost hunt this side of Wuthering Heights.

My Thoughts —

The Janies have released yet another retelling masterpiece. And reader, I loved it.

If you haven’t already read my review of My Lady Jane, which I posted last year, now would be a great time to do that! You can read that here.

Okay, onto the review! So, first thing to note is that you don’t need to read My Lady Jane before you read this book. In fact, you don’t need to read it at all - but you should! Because My Lady Jane was amazing and I love-love-loved it. But these books exist entirely on their own. The best way that I could explain the Lady Janies series is by comparing it to an anthology series like American Horror Story, where each season is about a different story and different characters. That’s what these books are. They’ve got a common thread (being about a Jane, whether fictional or historical) but they tell different stories and aren’t connected.

Unlike My Lady Jane, which was a historical retelling, My Plain Jane took on a fictional story - the Charlotte Brontë Gothic novel, Jane Eyre. Some literary purists would probably be really put off by a retelling of a classic, especially one that really changed the course of the novel, but personally, I thought it was so entertaining. The team of authors who jointly put together this book did such a fantastic job at creating a multi-faceted story that combined the original storyline of Jane Eyre with common Gothic era elements as well as contemporary ideas. In this book, just like in My Lady Jane, we saw previously overlooked female characters taking a stand for themselves which was so empowering and amazing.

Something I particularly enjoyed about this book was how Charlotte Brontë took a major part in not only the storytelling but also the plot. In My Plain Jane, Charlotte was a close friend of Jane’s from the beginning of the story and she became an integral part in the main character’s story. But, maintaining a bit of reality, Charlotte was constantly writing down notes about Jane’s life in a notebook to use for a novel, which would ultimately become Jane Eyre. On the whole, it made the story feel a whole lot personal.

And finally, just like in My Lady Jane, My Plain Jane had little author’s notes which was so funny and original. It felt like the authors were telling the reader a story in a more personal way, and that’s something I really love about their books!

All in all, an INCREDIBLE book. If you’re looking for some ghostly fun (maybe a good October read???), definitely check this out, especially if you’re into young adults novels. It’s well worth the 400-some-odd pages!

P.S. I have just found out from the Janies’ blog (here) that they will not only be releasing a third book of the Janies series, My Calamity Jane, but also another trilogy - the Marys!! Which will include a first book about my most favourite tragic lady in history, Mary, Queen of Scots! Can’t wait for her to get the justice she deserved.

Are you a fan of retellings?

Felicia x

Review: All For One - Melissa de la Cruz

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“He in midnight-blue wool, she in dark rose silk with pink and chocolate accents - they were the picture of urbane, young New York society, and she noticed more than one set of eyes glancing at them both approvingly and enviously.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 17 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

1785. New York, New York.

As a young nation begins to take shape, Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler are on top of the world. They’re the toast of the town, keeping New York City buzzing with tales of their lavish parties, of Eliza’s legendary wit, and of Alex’s brilliant legal mind.

But new additions to Alex & Eliza’s little family mean change is afoot in the Hamilton household. When they agree to take in an orphaned teenage girl along with Eliza’s oldest brother, John Schuyler, Eliza can’t help but attempt a match. It’s not long before sparks start to fly…if only Eliza can keep herself from interfering too much in the course of true love. After all, she and Alex have an arrival of their own to plan for, though Alex’s latest case brings a perilous threat that may destroy everything.

The sweeping love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler comes to a close in All for One, the riveting final instalment of the New York Times bestselling Alex & Eliza trilogy.

My Thoughts —

Whew. Okay. I’ve got a lot to say about this third and final instalment of the Alex and Eliza series, so let’s just jump right in.

As you guys may remember, I read the first book of this Young Adults’ series last October and then read the sequel very shortly after. For me, it was sort of a way to tide myself over until the Hamilton musical makes its way on up to Toronto in 2020. I didn’t really have the time to devote to Ron Chernow’s biography on the Founding Father - the one that Lin-Manuel Miranda based the musical on. So I thought that this YA series would be a great start.

Although I really enjoyed the first book, the sequel fell a little flat for me and this final book really disappointed me, and here’s why.

One of the things I noticed throughout this series is that there are quite a few historical inaccuracies. For the most part, this is pretty understandable because a) historical fiction as a genre leaves a lot of room for interpretation and b) this is a series meant for teens and some of the content of Alexander Hamilton’s history is ummmmm questionable? To say the least lol. I just looked past these little artistic licenses in the past. But in All For One, I honestly just couldn’t.

As the plot of the novel is set-up, we almost immediately find out that Eliza Hamilton is pregnant. Which is super odd because the main chunk of the novel is set during the year of 1785, while Eliza’s first child was actually born in 1782… Strange, right? It gets even weirder when a new, dangerous character called Maria Reynolds is introduced - remember her? If you know the story of the Reynolds affair, you’ll know that it didn’t even happen until 1791. So I’m not sure what the reasoning behind overlapping all of these stories was, but that’s what the author chose to do. I guess it sort of made it seem more dramatic to have all this chaos happening at once? But honestly, I think that the reality was far more tragic. There was a number of other changes made throughout the novel, some small and some consequential that I can’t mention without spoiling. But it just seemed odd and unnecessary and really bugged me.

Another thing that I took issue with in regards to this novel was the fact that it felt a lot like a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. Don’t get me wrong - Emma is one of my favourite Austen novels and even of my favourite novels ever. But I didn’t sign-up for a remake. And the Hamilton’s lives didn’t follow the same structure of that novel either. It felt like it was just an easy association to make between the two because they’re set in relatively the same time period and had the same social class dynamic. But then again, the characters that made up this portion of All For One - namely Emma Trask, the young girl that Eliza takes in as a ward/lady’s maid hybrid - weren’t a part of the Hamilton’s lives at all. It was just a strange deviation from the historical aspect of the novel and it made the story of All For One feel a little lacklustre to me.

Personally, as a whole, this series seemed to be geared more towards young teens - like preteens. But then again, the language was very complex for young readers. Although at times there were misplaced modern phrases used (“matchy-matchy” for instance), for the most part, the author chose to use elaborate language that felt like a mix of modern day and 18th century language. I wouldn’t compare the language of this novel to that used in Austen’s novels as this would be probably easier to comprehend for a young reader. But it’s worth mentioning for sure!

If you’re interested in reading these novels or having your kid or another young teen read these novels, I’d suggest taking the historical content with a grain of salt. This isn’t the place to go for a factual retelling of the Hamilton’s story. Consider it as The Other Boleyn Girl film adaptation of Young Adult novels lol.

Have you read a really good Hamilton historical fiction? Let me know in the comments!

Felicia x

Review: The Familiars - Stacey Halls

“If the Devil is poverty, and hunger, and grief, then yes, I think they know the Devil.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (Pendle witches), Fantasy, Paranormal

Reading Challenge: 16 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

Young Fleetwood Shuttleworth, a noblewoman, is with child again. None of her previous pregnancies have borne fruit, and her husband, Richard, is anxious for an heir. Then Fleetwood discovers a hidden doctor’s letter that carries a dire prediction: she will not survive another birth. By chance she meets a midwife named Alice Grey, who promises to help her deliver a healthy baby. But Alice soon stands accused of witchcraft.

Is there more to Alice than meets the eye? Fleetwood must risk everything to prove her innocence. As the two women’s lives become intertwined, the Witch Trials of 1612 loom. Time is running out; both their lives are at stake. Only they know the truth. Only they can save each other.

Rich and compelling, set against the frenzy of the real Pendle Hill Witch Trials, this novel explores the rights of 17th-century women and raises the question: Was witch-hunting really women-hunting? Fleetwood Shuttleworth, Alice Grey and the other characters are actual historical figures. King James I was obsessed with asserting power over the lawless countryside (even woodland creatures, or “familiars,” were suspected of dark magic) by capturing “witches”—in reality mostly poor and illiterate women.

My Thoughts —

Following my trend of only reading historical fiction novels (seriously, will I ever steer from this genre?!), I picked up this book after reading a bit about it on Goodreads. I’ve never really learned much about the history of witchcraft before, all though I knew about as much as the average person knows and after taking a recent course on the Stuart rule in England, I got the gist that James I wasn’t a big fan of witchcraft (or what he perceived to be witchcraft) in his kingdom. Despite my lack of knowledge, I picked this book up as sort of a beginner’s crash course on the topic. And it ended up doing the trick - I’m officially ready to learn more about this fascinating period of history!

I really liked how Stacey Halls flipped the perception of witches on its head completely by suggesting that the witch hunt was more of a fight for power and an attack on the poor than a reaction to an actual threat of danger. In this book, Fleetwood Shuttleworth - a young noblewoman - finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Pendle witch trial when she believes someone to be wrongly accused and takes it upon herself to try to uncover the truth. What she finds is a world unlike her own, especially in regards to funds - those accused of witchcraft are disproportionately poor. Through her search, she discovers not only the truth about those involved in the alleged crimes, but also about those closest to her. The idea that the accused were not actually witches, but poor women who were unable to defend themselves is extremely eye-opening about the witch trials in general and how we perceive them today. In that time, what was unusual was considered evil, and the innocent were often persecuted.

Additionally, the way that women were portrayed in this novel was especially interesting. In the early 17th century, women had no rights and no position in the home or in society. They were silent figures that followed their fathers and their husbands - whether those men were good and right, or not. Fleetwood, our main character, has had significant hardship in her life as a young woman. At only 17 years old, she has endured horrors worst than most have in a lifetime. But these things have not broken her down - in fact, they have only made her stronger. And her friendship with her midwife, Alice, only empowers her more. But it is the witch trials that really sends her into full-force. She knows what she believes in and she follows this, regardless of if it is what her husband or society expects of her. Because of this, she becomes a full-fledged heroine. Through her journey, she highlights the greatest abuses against women in the early modern times and it is immensely inspiring.

Perhaps what I found most intriguing about this book, however, was what came after the novel - the Author’s Note, in which it was explained that the characters were real people who lived in 17th century England. That Alice Gray was accused and (perhaps more bogglingly) acquitted of witchcraft. The reason behind this acquittal has not been determined, even now, several hundred years later. Being a history nut myself, I found this mystery completely gripping and had even more appreciation for Stacey Halls, who gave a story to a woman whose life is an enigma.

Are you interested in the witch trials?

Felicia x

Review: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald - Therese Anne Fowler

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“Won’t we be quite the pair? - you with your bad heart, me with my bad head. Together, though, we might have something worthwhile.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (1920s/Lost Generation), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 15 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

A dazzling novel that captures all of the romance, glamour, and tragedy of the first flapper, Zelda Fitzgerald. 

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the "ungettable" Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn't wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. 

Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner's, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick's Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

My Thoughts —

My opinion completely changed over the course of this novel, in a way that has literally never happened to me before.

To me, it seemed like this book started off kind of slow. We see Zelda Sayre, young and fresh-faced southern girl, very naive about the world around her and even more full of spunk - much to her family’s dismay. In the final moments of the Great War, Zelda meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, a northerner that introduces her to a whole new world. The two fall in love and then embark on their lives together, first in Manhattan and then across the world. The early years of their lives are not nearly as tumultuous as the later years, so it’s sort of monotonous in the beginning as F. Scott Fitzgerald becomes quickly successful and the two ride on the money and fame that came along with it.

It’s not until about halfway through the book that things really start to take a turn and that the book begins to earn the 4-star rating I gave it in the end. The Fitzgeralds are not a couple to aspire to be, that’s for sure. In reality, if you’re familiar with the couple’s ill-fated romance, you’ll know that they both died quite young in the 1940s with Scott first dying of a heart attack and then Zelda dying of a fire in a mental hospital nearly ten years later. Zelda’s mental health condition during their marriage is well-known, with her going in and out of mental hospitals for years. But this book reframes her mental illness entirely. Diagnosed with schizophrenia after suffering from a mental breakdown, Zelda is constantly badgered by her husband and by psychiatrists to give up her aspirations of being a writer and ballet dancer, as these will inevitably be her downfall - it is only be accepting her role as wife and mother that she will be truly happy. But Zelda recognizes this as being wildly misogynistic and unfair. Despite the women’s rights movement being in its very early stages at that time, she knows women deserve a better place in society than what their predecessors were relegated to.

The tortured love between Scott and Zelda is absolutely fascinating throughout the novel as you wonder constantly if the two really loved each other or if they found comfort in each other and mistook that for love. Seeing the deterioration of their marriage and the unequal standards to which they held one another was entirely intriguing to read and I was completely roped in. And, last but certainly not least, I loved that this book focused on a real female figure who is so often overlooked in history because of the success of her husband - even though, as we learn in this novel, she was very much a part of his writing process and success.

Are you a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work? Did you know anything about Zelda’s story?

Felicia x

Review: The Lost Girls of Paris - Pam Jenoff

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“The truth is sometimes the very opposite from what you expect it to be.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (WWII), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 13 out of 35

Goodreads Synopsis —

1946, Manhattan

Grace Healey is rebuilding her life after losing her husband during the war. One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, she finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a ring of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

My Thoughts —

Personally, this book wasn’t one of my favourites of all the historical fictions that I’ve read. I picked it up because it had a very similar premise to The Alice Network, in that it revolved around women who were sent undercover to Nazi-occupied Paris during WWII. While The Alice Network was about women who worked directly as spies, The Lost Girls of Paris was about women who were sent out as primarily radio operators. But I figured it would be quite similar in giving me the feeling that The Alice Network gave me.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. And there’s a couple of reasons why this book just didn’t really work for me.

Right off the bat, I had a really hard time getting invested in the characters. The story didn’t just focus on one character’s story, but instead several. So I couldn’t really get the characters straight at the beginning, especially as two of the character’s stories paralleled in time whereas the third character’s story was a couple years later. So mentally, I was having a difficult time discerning who was who and what plotline was going on when - if that makes any sense. Once I finally got a grip on that, the story had already long kicked off and so I wasn’t fully invested in the characters.

Also, I found it frustrating how simple things were and how easily things came to the characters. Obviously, yes, there was significant conflict which you can imagine in a story about women operating in Nazi-occupied territory. But for example, within three pages, a minor conflict was presented and solved. THAT. EASILY. It was really unsatisfying. As crazy as it sounds, I prefer to have a complex conflict that requires a lot of effort and time to resolve, rather than a knot that can be easily untied in a few paragraphs or pages.

Overall, on the surface, the book was entertaining! I enjoyed it for what it was. I think the main downfall here for me personally was that I read The Alice Network before this, and I unintentionally held Lost Girls to a higher standard because of it.

That being said, if you want to read my review of The Alice Network, you can find that here!

What historical fictions have you been loving recently?

Felicia x

Review: Beartown - Fredrik Backman

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“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 37 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

My Thoughts —

It’s not very often that I give a book a 5-star review. I’m the type of person who can be a tad too generous with throwing around 5-stars, even if a book doesn’t fully deserve it, so I try to be a bit more critical and put more thought into my ratings these days. That being said, Beartown deserved every point on each and every one of these five stars - and more.

It’s pretty funny, in hindsight, how much I loved this book because when I bought it, I had the wrong idea about what it’s about. Like completely wrong. I thought it was just a feel-good novel about a small town that rallies together to help their local hockey team with the championship game. Yes, there’s a hockey team. Yes, they’re from a small town, that does support them fully. But that’s where the similarities end. There’s so much more of a complex storyline to this book that I couldn’t even begin to describe without giving away all the suspenseful bits that made it so enjoyable to read.

The writing is what initially gripped me. Fredrik Backman knows what he’s doing, that’s for certain. The first few pages completely engulfed me in intrigue and excitement. I wanted to know what would happen. I wanted to devour this book in a day. Unfortunately, it took me a month to read because of finals and Christmas events. I was constantly itching to get back to reading this novel. Apparently, it wasn’t even originally written in English. That just blows me away. Not a lot of novels translate well, but this one definitely did.

Honestly, if I were to only recommend one book that I read in 2018, it would be Beartown.

Have you read Beartown? Did you love it as much as I did?

Felicia x

Review: Gmorning, Gnight - Lin-Manuel Miranda

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“Good night now, and rest. Today was a test. You passed it, you’re past it. Now breathe till unstressed.”

My Rating: ★★★★★

Genre(s): Poetry, Nonfiction, Self Help

Reading Challenge: 31 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Before he inspired the world with Hamilton and was catapulted to international fame, Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspiring his Twitter followers with words of encouragement at the beginning and end of each day. He wrote these original sayings, aphorisms, and poetry for himself as much as for others. But as Miranda's audience grew, these messages took on a life on their own. Now Miranda has gathered the best of his daily greetings into a beautiful collection illustrated by acclaimed artist (and fellow Twitter favorite) Jonny Sun.

Full of comfort and motivation, Gmorning, Gnight! is a touchstone for anyone who needs a quick lift.

My Thoughts —

So I may have mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again for the new readers: I absolutely adore Lin-Manuel Miranda. I think he’s oh so talented and practically the most inspiring person of our time, not to mention adorably dorky. And now he’s gone and created the most adorable, uplifting book I’ve ever laid eyes upon.

I really loved reading this book. It went by so quickly since it’s only about 200 pages and there’s only a few lines per page. But the little time I did spend with this book was lovely. Every passage was uplifting and empowering. I took to putting Post-It notes on the pages of my favourite passages, but that ended up being about 90% of the book by the end lol. I loved everything so much. Lin really has an incredibly way of putting things into perspective and making you appreciate the small things in life.

I think this would be a really excellent graduation gift idea, for those who know someone that’s graduating high school or post-secondary education! Also, if you want to read more of his “Gmorning, Gnight” style tweets, you can find those on his Twitter.

Are you a Lin-Manuel fan, like me?

Felicia x

Review: Alex and Eliza: A Love Story - Melissa De La Cruz

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“And you, Colonel Hamilton, are mine, and I am yours always.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (American Revolution), Young Adult, Romance

Reading Challenge: 30 out of 50

My Thoughts —

Their romance shaped a nation. The rest was history.

1777. Albany, New York. 

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball. 

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

My Thoughts —

Recently, I’ve become super obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. I’ve been in love with it for a few years now for whatever reason, my obsession has skyrocketed in the past few months. Sadly, I’ve not yet had the chance to see it. My boyfriend tried to get tickets for the two of us to see it in NYC last year, but they came out to about $2,000 US!! So that was NOT happening. Since it won’t be coming to Toronto until the 2019/2020 season, I’ve had to find other ways to fuel my addition - like reading Hamilton-inspired lit apparently.

Melissa De La Cruz was actually one of my fav authors when I was a preteen, back when Girl Stays in the Picture came out (THE THROWBACK). When my reading tastes changed, I moved on from her books. But I was excited to read another one of her books again after all these years and see what I’d been missing.

I loved this book!! As you may know, I’m a huge YA fan. This is so up my alley that it’s crazy. The love between Alex and Eliza was palpable and I think it really was the perfect kickoff for the long history of the Hamiltons. I thought this novel read a lot like a modern-day Jane Austen novel. Not even just because it was set in the 18th century, but because it has a romantic storyline with a strong heroine lead and it ends in a wedding. I loved the Austen-esque elements and although I’m not sure if the author intended to include them, I think they were pretty perfect!

I also thought it was quite interesting how the novel was told from both the perspectives of Alex and Eliza. Especially since there was a fair chunk of the novel where Alex was off doing war-related things. It was pretty cool because then you got to see both sides of the story. It also gave readers the opportunity to be introduced to other key historical figures such as the Sons of Liberty. I’m very 50/50 when it comes to dual narratives, but when they’re done effectively I’m quite keen on them and I think it was done very well in Alex & Eliza!

There were obviously a ton of differences between this novel and Hamilton which I think ultimately comes down to picking and choosing which details to include and which to omit. For instance, in the musical, a lot of details were excluded or altered to work with the storyline - this was also done with Alex & Eliza. I did find that with Alex & Eliza, everything was a lot more fluffy which makes sense as it’s a YA novel. So if you’re looking for a hard-hitting, authentic Revolutionary War retelling, maybe look elsewhere.

I’m really interested to see how this series progresses throughout the next couple books! I already started Love & War which is the sequel, but the third and final book isn’t being released until April 2019 - so I have a bit of time left until that one! Until then, keep an eye out for my Love & War review!

Are you a Hamilton fan?

Felicia x

Review: All We Ever Wanted - Emily Giffin

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“Who was the person you trusted enough to be your most transparent self with, in both good times and bad?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 29 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

My Thoughts —

So I actually ordered this book this summer whilst sitting at the Port Orleans resort, beignet in hand, trying to decide which three (yes, three) books to order from Indigo. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make because a) I’m already indecisive enough and b) the five or so books I wanted were all so interesting and I couldn’t bear to part with even one. But this one really stuck out to me. Like, something told me I needed this book immediately after reading the synopsis.

This book was wild from start to finish y’all. I really had a difficult time putting it down. It’s intense but not in a suspenseful, action-packed way. I think that most importantly, it really speaks to my generation. With social media being so prominent in our society, things can get really messy. Social media is great in that it links our worlds together and creates an opportunity for mass communication and social change. But it can also become a nightmare real quick, if it’s used for the wrong thing. I think this book really shows the dangerous side of social media and the novel presents itself in a way as a cautionary tale to parents and even teens. Are teens reading Emily Giffin? I did in high school but who knows!

I thought that the characters of Lyla and Finch were really well-represented as modern teens. Every time I read novels by authors long out of high school, I keep an eye out for how the teenagers are portrayed because I think that sometimes authors are out of touch with the young-ins (lol). In All We Ever Wanted, this wasn’t the case at all. I could definitely see Lyla and Finch as being real teenagers at my old high school. Having authentic characters really enhances the reading experience for me. I don’t know if it bothers anyone else as much as me. Is it a me problem? Who knows.

Honestly, just go read this book. You won’t regret it. I can’t say much about it without giving away the plot. But it was so gripping and it dealt with a ton of intense conflicts outside of just the social media issue that I think makes the novel that much more important of a read. Definitely pick this up at your bookstore immediately. Like go, right now!

Have you read All We Ever Wanted? If you have, what did you think?

Felicia x

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird - A.J. Pearce

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“If there was anything I wanted most in the world (other, of course, than for the war to end and Hitler to die a quite grisly death), it was to be a journalist.”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Historical Fiction (WWII), Fiction

Reading Challenge: 28 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

A charming, irresistible debut novel set in London during World War II about an adventurous young woman who becomes a secret advice columnist—a warm, funny, and enormously moving story for fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Lilac Girls.

London 1940, bombs are falling. Emmy Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent seem suddenly achievable. But the job turns out to be typist to the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.

Mrs Bird is very clear: Any letters containing Unpleasantness—must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant letters from women who are lonely, may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men and found themselves in trouble, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write letters back to the women of all ages who have spilled out their troubles.

Prepare to fall head over heels with Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are spirited and gutsy, even in the face of events that bring a terrible blow. As the bombs continue to fall, the irrepressible Emmy keeps writing, and readers are transformed by AJ Pearce’s hilarious, heartwarming, and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.

My Thoughts —

If you hadn’t already noticed, wartime fiction has sort of become my jam this year. It’s had a pretty substantial presence on my reading list. Recently, historical fiction has become one of my favourite genres to read, especially ones set in WWII or post-WWII era. I can’t get enough of it!

Quite simply, I found this book to be very cute. I don’t think that it was nearly the hardest-hitting of all the wartime novels I’ve read this year but I do think it was an important look at women’s efforts during the Second World War. I’ve been studying women’s history this term in university and the past little while has been all about interwar years and WWII so it’s definitely been interesting to see the parallels between my school stuff and my recreational reading.

I think that Emmy was a bit immature, considering that she was in her early twenties and involved in war efforts. I would think that war would make people, even young people, mature quicker due to the circumstances and focus more on the important issues. But Emmy’s primary concern was becoming a big fancy war correspondent and the rest was just ~whatevs~… I also thought her best friend was immature and sometimes annoying as well.

(Side note: I also have to mention the fact that some things were capitalized randomly throughout the novel to draw emphasis, and it absolutely bothered me to not end. If you remember my review on The Alice Network, you probably remember how this sort of thing in writing is my biggest pet peeve!)

Honestly I just saw this as more of a lighthearted adult fiction that just so happened to be set during the war, as opposed to a wartime novel. It was a cute, heartwarming story. I loved the focus on women breaking into the paid workforce, but it just didn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi you know?

Have you read Dear Mrs. Bird? Do you agree with me?

Felicia x

Review: Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen

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“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Classics, Fiction, Romance

Reading Challenge: 27 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Jane Austen's first novel—published posthumously in 1818—tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen's fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical novel pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex.

My Thoughts —

So, first off, Northanger Abbey is the first of Austen’s novels to be prepared for publication (even though it didn’t come out until after she died). I think that’s what makes this book less of a hit with me, compared to her later works - like my personal fav, Pride and Prejudice. But that’s definitely not to say that the writing in Northanger Abbey is immature! Jane Austen was always wise beyond her years and I still think Northanger Abbey is a great novel, just not one of the best. You know?

I thought it was quite clever that Jane Austen used Catherine’s love for Gothic novels almost as a flaw in her character. It was a really tongue-in-cheek jab at Ann Radcliffe. Catherine’s imagination and obsession with the novels gets her into quite a lot of trouble, which is a fairly amusing storyline.

The one thing that irks me though is that Henry Tilney, for the majority of the novel, is quite annoying. He’s presumptuous and condescending. Most of his time spent with Catherine, and his sister Eleanor for that matter, is by berating her for her interest in Gothic novels and how her perception of things is wrong. Blah blah blah. He does get less tiresome throughout the last half of the novel. THANK GOD.

All in all, it was a pretty good read! I might not read it again, though.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Do you like Northanger Abbey?

Felicia x

Review: The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

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“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

My Rating: ★★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction

Reading Challenge: 25 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

My Thoughts —

This book really hit me hard. I was heartbroken, angry, empowered, and inspired - all at once. I cannot begin to imagine being in Starr’s place. As I read about her experience of Khalil’s death and the ramifications afterwards, I felt sick to my stomach all the way through. It’s already a horrific thing to see your own friend to be killed; but to have to fight to prove that the killer was actually at fault is something else entirely.

I truly feel like this might be one of the most powerful stories I’ve read in a very, very long time. Obviously the major problem in this book - police brutality and shooting of unarmed POC - is something that we are facing in modern day society every. single. day. It’s so frustrating to see this sort of thing happen all the time and there’s no justice for the victims whatsoever. That’s exactly what this book is about. I wholeheartedly believe this book should be a mandatory read in high school. The classics are great and all, but it’s time for a book like The Hate U Give to make an appearance in school curriculums and draw attention to major social issues.

Read this book. Take a stand against what’s wrong, stand for what you believe in. And go see the movie, too. This is the sort of thing that needs attention y’all.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What are your thoughts?

Felicia x

Review: How To Stop Time - Matt Haig

Title: How To Stop Time

Author: Matt Haig

Publisher: Viking

Release Date: February 6th 2018

Pages: 325

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2 (3.5/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“The longer you live, the harder it becomes. To grab them. Each little moment as it arrives. To be living in something other than the past or the future. To be actually here.”

So, today’s read is a bit different in that it’s a bit sci-fi I suppose. I picked this up because although it had that fantasy element which is a bit unusual to my taste, it’s very saturated in history which, you probably know by now, I love.

How To Stop Time is the bizarre story of a man named Tom Hazard, who may appear outwardly as an average 41-year-old man but is really several hundred years old. He’s walked through history alongside people like William Shakespeare and has experienced the world as it’s advanced to become what it is today. But nobody knows. Except for the Albatross Society, a secret society of people like Tom who work together to keep their condition a secret - even if that means killing those who threaten their existence. Then, one day, Tom begins to fall in love - which is strictly prohibited.

I’m a bit iffy on this book. I didn’t hate it by any means. I just didn’t love it either. Overall, it was well-written and evidently well-researched. It had everything it needed to be a great book. But it just lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. I felt like the climactic event wasn’t all that climactic and I kept waiting for the shoe to drop, so to speak. The big moments were simply brushed over and resolved very quickly, and they didn’t have any repercussions at all. It was very simple and to the point which wasn’t exactly what I’d hoped for.

The concept, however, was very interesting. A man who’s lived through history, who’s witnessed major historic events first-hand, is now living in the 21st century. Sounds like a cool concept. It was fun to see him placed in history. Especially when historical figures were included, too. But constantly flipping between present day and some-hundred years ago was a bit confusing and muddled after a few chapters. After awhile, I started to wonder if there was a need for so many flashbacks or if it was just for the sake of reminding you that, hey look, this guy is really really old.

How To Stop Time was a fun read, but not really a meaty one. It didn’t take me very long to get through this one and because of that, I think it’d make a great beach read.

Have you read How To Stop Time? What did you think of it?

Goodreads Challenge: 21 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

“The whole point of fanfiction is that you get to play inside somebody else’s universe. Rewrite the rules. Or bend them.”

My Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction

Reading Challenge: 20 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Thoughts —

I have NO IDEA why I didn’t read this sooner!! Before this, I’d read - and loved - two books by Rainbow Rowell: “Attachments” and “Eleanor and Park.” But “Fangirl” just never really stood out to me. The only reason I ended up picking it up was because I had heard so many good things about it as I became more involved with the book blogger community and I finally gave into the hype. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

I really resonated with Cath and I think that’s what got me hooked so early on. Like me, she’s in university and also is an English major. She suffers from anxiety which makes her pretty reclusive, something I totally understand for my own experiences. A lot of people criticize Rainbow Rowell’s decision to give Cath anxiety in their reviews on Goodreads, because apparently her “awkwardness” around people reinforces the “socially inept fangirl” stereotype. But I actually found Cath to be more relatable because of it. I hate when people use words like “socially inept” to describe people with anxiety. Grr…

MOVING ON.

I loved Cath, even when she made mistakes (which we all do sometimes) and I thought her story was really interesting. She’s someone who’s come from a difficult past that she has to find the strength to conquer every day. That’s pretty bad ass, if you ask me. And, of course, the romantic storyline in this book was lovely and adorable and it hit me right square in the feels.

I’ve also got to give Rainbow Rowell major kudos for being able to include excerpts from the Simon Snow novel. I mean, Simon Snow is not a real series. It exists only in her head. She basically had to write two stories for the price of one, didn’t she? That’s insane and she deserves a lot of respect for that. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that! I thought the little excerpts were a lovely addition and that they added a lot of depth to the storyline.

Overall, this was a farm and fuzzy sort of book, the kind I’d want to reread when I’m having a bad day. For me, those are the best kinds of books.

Have you ever read a Rainbow Rowell book? Which is your favourite?

Felicia x

Review: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch - Alison Arngrim

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Title: Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Author: Alison Arngrim

Publisher: It Books

Release Date: June 15th 2010

Pages: 302

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“By making me a bitch, you have freed me from the trite, bourgeois prison of ‘likeability’. Any idiot can be liked. It takes talent to scare the crap out of people.”

Y’all probably know by now how I’ve got a bit of an undying love for Little House on the Prairie. Yes, I know it’s extremely outdated and at times super offensive. But my love for it stems from the fact that it was a huge staple of my childhood. I watched it with my mum, but mostly my grandmother who took care of me as a kid when my parents worked. We bonded over this show about this little pioneer gal and her family, particularly the perpetually shirtless Pa. I read the series of books approximately a hundred times, bending On The Banks of Plum Creek into despair, and even wrote my own stories about Laura Ingalls when I was 9. So I guess it’s not much of a surprise that I practically bolted to my car and took off to the bookstore the minute I heard Alison Arngrim had released a memoir.

If you don’t know, Alison Arngrim is the actress who brought Nellie Oleson to the small screen. Nellie Oleson is the epitome of mean girl - in fact, sometimes she can be downright evil. I spent my childhood tucked in front of that tv, watching Alison Arngrim flawlessly have temper tantrum after temper tantrum, making Nellie a character you love to hate.

As it turns out, a fair chunk of Alison Arngrim’s story is actually quite grim. Despite living in Hollywood as a child and brushing elbows with all sorts of great stars, including Liberace, she did not have a good childhood. Behind those bouncy blonde curls, Alison was really struggling. Her childhood was plagued with sexual abuse from her older brother. The stories she told about the abuse were extremely difficult to read. It’s so sad to imagine that behind the scenes of such a happy-go-lucky show like Little House, someone was dealing with such horrible things. Her story of overcoming the abuse and going onto work for the National Association to Protect Children was so powerful and I respect her immensely for her courage.

I know what you’re probably all thinking - can a child star from the 1970s really write a good book? The answer is, yes. Very much so. Alison’s writing was so clever and witty, it actually had me laughing out loud a few times. I read the majority of this book on a plane beside my mum, and I had to keep leaning over to read her funny excerpts. My personal favourite part was when she described with brutal honesty each of the main characters in the novel.

Of course, a large chunk of this book was about her time spent on Little House. It’s not called Confessions of a Prairie Bitch for nothing! Her stories about Little House are, fortunately, far more light-hearted than the other stories in her book. She speaks about her memories of the show and the people involved very honestly. While she had a good relationship with most of the cast - particularly with Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Steve Tracy (Percival Dalton) - she didn’t with others. The stories about Melissa Sue Anderson (Mary Ingalls) were blatant and so amusing. That whole portion of the book would really appeal to Little House fans looking for a little behind-the-scenes gossip.

This was a short, but great memoir. I really enjoyed reading it and would totally recommend it to anyone who’s watched and loved Little House as it really gives a nostalgic feel for those good ol’ pioneer days (or at least, the sort of pioneer days that Michael Landon envisioned lol).

Did you watch Little House on the Prairie? Did you love it, too?

Goodreads Challenge: 19 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Leah on the Offbeat - Becky Albertalli

“I swear, people can’t wrap their minds around the concept of a fat girl who doesn’t diet. Is it hard to believe I might actually like my body?”

My Rating: ★★★

Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Romance

Reading Challenge: 18 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

My Thoughts —

Oh, look! Another Becky Albertalli book. Are you surprised at all? If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll remember my review of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in which I sung Becky Albertalli’s praises like Julie Andrews on the hill in Austria. So, here we are again, but this time with the spin-off of Simon! Excited? Let’s dive in.

As much as I loved Simon, I wanted to love this book. I truly went into this book with the expectation that I’d love it. But I just didn’t.

In Simon, we didn’t really get a close-up, in-depth look at the personalities of the secondary character because obvs it was about Simon, his sexuality, and his super adorable quest for finding his one true love. Despite that, I liked Leah. I thought she was a complex character and a take-no-shit kind of gal which I respect. Unfortunately, when it came to this spin-off novel, I just didn’t like Leah Burke. At all. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m an extremely empathetic reader. I find the best in even the worst characters sometimes. But I don’t know… Leah was just mean. She treaty the majority of the characters pretty terribly, especially her mom - and for what reason? Her mom was really supportive and caring, despite the fact that she was majorly preoccupied with the fact that they were struggling financially and that she had to work so much to support Leah. But Leah was just really rotten to her.

Without giving away the plot, I gotta say I wasn’t huge on how picture-perfect everything seemed. Like, I found in Simon that I could really believe that these characters were actual teenagers living in Georgia and going to high school and living ordinary lives. But this just seemed to me like it followed a really idealistic storyline. Like it followed every book cliche ever. I guess that’s just not what I had expected or even wanted out of this book.

I think that maybe my point of view would’ve been entirely different if I hadn’t just read Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda before reading this one. Maybe I should re-read this in a few months or something to see if my opinion changes at all. I’ll keep you guys updated! All that being said, however, it has to be pointed out that this book does have a bisexual female character which is HUGELY important. Representation in novels is key my friends! So definitely check this book out and don’t let my bitterness over teen angst deter you from reading this!

Have you read both books? Did you like Leah on the Offbeat?

Felicia x

Review: The Immortalists - Chloe Benjamin

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“But I think magic holds the world together. It’s dark matter; it’s the glue of reality; the putty that fills the holes between everything we know to be true. And it takes magic to reveal how inadequate reality is.”

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre(s): Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary

Reading Challenge: 17 out of 50

Goodreads Synopsis —

If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?

It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

My Thoughts —

It was such a pain for me to get this book. It was completely sold out at my local Indigo (bookshop), which is thirty minutes from home. After trying the same shop another day to no avail, I ended up going an hour out to another Indigo, where I eventually found a copy of this book. Can’t beat the rural life, folks. I assume the fact that it wasn’t available is a testament to how much people want to read this book? Regardless, I was very eager to read this by the time I got my hands on it.

First and foremost, I have to say that I thought the concept of this book was extremely interesting. I loved how the author toyed around with the idea of fate and free will by showing these young adults growing up with these looming prophecies and deciding ultimately how it’d affect their lives. This novel absolutely poses a ton of questions about life, destiny, and the power of mind. I thought that the exploration of these topics was really well done.

As for the stories… If I’m honest, I much preferred the first two - Simon’s and Klara’s - over the latter two, which were Daniel’s and Varya’s. I thought that Simon’s story was the most interesting because a) it took readers into the LGBT community in San Francisco during the 1970s and 1980s and how Simon fit into it, and b) it was sort of a kicking-off point for the rest of the story, as the three other characters were largely affected by several events that occurred during Simon’s story.

The reason that I didn’t rate this higher was simply because, despite having a very intriguing concept, the actual story itself was sort of lacklustre in my opinion. I found that certain parts just didn’t grip my attention like others, and I found myself a bit bored at times. But don’t get me wrong! Overall, it was quite good. I just don’t really know if this is the sort of book for me. Although I’m sure many, many others would love it.

Have you read The Immortalists? Did you love it or find it so-so?

Felicia x

Review: The Alice Network - Kate Quinn

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Title: The Alice Network

Author: Kate Quinn

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Release Date: June 6th 2017

Pages: 503

My Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“What did it matter if something scared you, when it simply had to be done?”

The Alice Network is all about a young - and pregnant - American socialite who enlists the help of an ex-spy and a Scotsman with violent tendencies to assist her in finding her cousin, Rose, who went missing during World War II.

I’m truly a sucker for books set during the World Wars. The first half of the 20th century is one of my favourite eras of history to study and the historical-fiction set in that time period always has me hooked. But at first, I wasn’t sure that I’d like this one. I was finding it sort of difficult to get myself totally immersed in the story. Although I do love me a good dual-narrative, I was finding each chapter pretty short so it felt a bit like whiplash going from one woman’s story to the other’s. But I got into the flow of it just after the first thirty or so pages. Considering the length of this book, it ain’t no thang.

I have to say, out of the two stories, I preferred the 1915 one over the 1947. I think that Eve was a total bad-ass and she went through some crazy stuff in her lifetime. From the moment her character was introduced, I wrapped up in her story. I wanted to know all about what made her the cold woman that she was in her old age. Charlie, on the other hand, came into the story “fresh”, so-to-speak. Aside from being pregnant out of wedlock, she didn’t have much of a backstory to get me invested in her story. The way that I saw the novel was that it was Eve’s story and Charlie was there to help the plot move along.

Oh, and Kate Quinn knows her shit, you guys. She’s a graduate of Boston University with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s in Classical Voice, so you can bet that this book is full of details.

The one thing that really irked me about this book - and I do mean really irked me - was that there were a handful of words that were repeated throughout the novel that I found so cringe-y. Like, they were constantly used, over and over. For example, Eve calling Charlie a “Yank” or Charlie referring to her unborn child as the “Little Problem” or, worse, “L.P.” *shudder* I don’t know why, but it just drove me crazy. Don’t get me wrong! It didn’t make me dislike the book. It just made me cringe a bit whenever I came across one of the words.

I loved this book. And if you’re looking for an incredible, fast-paced novel about bad-ass women during the second World War, you’ll love it too. The women in this novel are seriously inspiring and the female friendships are so important. It’s also worth noting that the 1915 story is actually based on real-life events! The Alice Network was very real and it was led by Louise de Bettignies, aka Lili. Kate Quinn actually explains the inspiration for the novel at the end of the book so if you’re curious about that, make sure to look out for it!

The Alice Network is a remarkable story, about unsung heroes and I just adored it. Also, Reese Witherspoon included this in her book club a while back! How cool is that? If you’re curious to know what Reese had to say about this book, you can view her online book club site here.

(Somewhat Spoiler: I should mention that there is mention of a particularly gruesome abortion, as well as some rape and assault mentions. Keep that in mind before/while you read!).

Have you read The Alice Network? Did you like it as much as I did?!

Goodreads Challenge: 16 out of 50

Felicia x

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me - Mindy Kaling

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Title: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Crown Archetype

Release Date: November 1st 2011

Pages: 222

My Rating: ★★★ (3/5)

Goodreads | Amazon


“I simply regard romantic comedies as a subgenre of sci-fi, in which the world created therein has different rules than my regular human world.”

Hi friends! Welcome back. I read Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me ages ago, but never ended up writing a review on it for whatever reason. So I thought I’d finally get to it and write up a little review.

Disclaimer: I read this back in April, so I don’t remember everything. This is going to be a quite short and sweet review!

I think Mindy Kaling is fabulous. She is so funny and so talented. I absolutely loved her on The Office and thought her role on The Mindy Project was hilarious (for the short time I watched it eek!!). So I was really excited when I found out that she had written a memoir. With her work on The Office to go by, I was ready to hunker down and dive into this one.

I literally read this book in two sittings. It was a really quick read and the fact that it was funny made it even easier to read. The only thing I found was that certain parts of the book seemed like Mindy was trying a bit too hard to be funny or relatable… Sometimes it just got a little too much and I just wasn’t really into that. Like, certain parts were genuinely so funny, don’t get me wrong. It just sometimes felt like Mindy was saying “Look! I’m just your everyday average girl!” and I found it a little harder to believe it as authentic.

I did think the stuff about her experiences working on The Office were really interesting. As you may know, I’ve been into The Office for about a year and a half now, and I’m also the sort of person who loves juicy, behind the scenes tell-alls. This didn’t reach full gossip potential, however it did give a good look at what it would’ve been like working on and filming The Office which was really great!

Really, that’s all there is to say about this one. I thought it was okay - not my favourite sort of book, but definitely a fun read. I’d say it was something similar to Anna Kendrick’s book, Scrappy Little Nobody, which I reviewed earlier this year. So if that’s your cup of tea, then you’ll really enjoy this, I think!

Are you a Mindy Kaling fan?

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Felicia x