The Quiet You Carry, by Nikki Bathelmess

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Title: The Quiet You Carry
Author: Nikki Barthelmess
Rating: 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

Victoria Parker knew her dad’s behavior toward her was a little unusual, but she convinced herself everything was fine—until she found herself locked out of the house at 3:00 a.m., surrounded by flashing police lights.

Now, dumped into a crowded, chaotic foster home, Victoria has to tiptoe around her domineering foster mother, get through senior year at a new school, and somehow salvage her college dreams . . . all while keeping her past hidden.

But some secrets won’t stay buried—especially when unwanted memories make Victoria freeze up at random moments and nightmares disrupt her sleep. Even worse, she can’t stop worrying about her stepsister Sarah, left behind with her father. All she wants is to move forward, but how do you focus on the future when the past won’t leave you alone?

***

Review:

Here is a short and sweet review to close off 2018… a review for a YA tragedy that had me tear up throughout.

This was such an intense book from the first chapter all the way to the last one. It’s a book that grips you and never leaves you with a dull moment. I guess it may be strange for me to say so, but sometimes I will read books that don’t have much development in them – that is not the case with The Quiet You Carry. I got real development from main and secondary characters, from the plot, and from the entire situation the protagonist goes through. It’s a book that moves… and it will move you.

I’d like to thank North Star Editions for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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A Land Apart, by Ian Roberts

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Title: A Land Apart
Author: Ian Roberts
Rating: 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
A gripping story of adventure and courage set in a magnificent wilderness with the French, English, Iroquois and Wendat just starting to do battle for what would become Canada and the US.
“The flintlock releases with a click and then three powerful, exhilarating sensations hit him at once: the kick of the musket hard into his shoulder, the deafening roar, and the dense, acrid smell of burnt powder smoke. As the crashing echo of his shot rolls back from across the lake he knows the blow of the musket ball would be lethal to Wendat flesh. Totiri knew before lifting the musket that he wanted it. Now the desire consumes him.”
It’s 1634 in New France. Etienne Brulé has lived with the Wendat and helped them develop the fur trade with France for 25 years and fought beside them against the Iroquois. When the English sell the Iroquois guns,  Brulé is the only one who can get guns for the Wendat. But he knows the price everyone will pay in the end.

***
Review:

I took Canadian Literature for a full year in University, followed by Canadian Fiction and then Canadian Short Stories, and so I am no stranger to historical fiction. In fact, I probably read too many of them and haven’t picked up a single historical fiction since finishing University.

A Land Apart is a lovely piece and I am so, so happy I picked it up when I received the email that it was available for download. I recognized the familiar themes of man versus wilderness, of cultures opposing one another, and of the strong emotions caused by nature. Ian Roberts writes well and is sensitive to the story he is representing, and I truly enjoyed the book. The illustrations within are also beautiful and so I recommend reading this book on a large, bright screen, or getting a physical copy to truly enjoy it.

This is a shorter book and the ending left me craving more. I think the book could have easily went on for another chapter or two to satisfy the reader a little bit more.

I’d like to thank Atelier Saint-Luc Press for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. For Netgalley users: please note that this book isn’t available on Kindle.

Stuck in Manistique, by Dennis Cuesta

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Title: Stuck in Manistique
Author: Dennis Cuesta
Rating: 5/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

Near the midpoint of the Upper Peninsula, along a Lake Michigan bend of shore, is the town of Manistique, Michigan. Mark had never heard of Manistique before the death of his estranged aunt, but as sole beneficiary of Vivian’s estate, he travels there to settle her affairs. As Mark tours his aunt’s house for the first time, the doorbell rings.

Days after graduating medical school, Dr. Emily Davis drives north, struggling with her illicit rendezvous on Mackinac Island. She never makes it—on the highway near Manistique, her car collides with a deer, shattering the car’s windshield. Stranded for the night, Emily is directed to a nearby bed and breakfast.

Maybe it’s a heady reaction, the revelation that his aunt, an international aid doctor, ran a bed and breakfast in retirement. Or perhaps he plainly feels pity for the young, helpless doctor. Regardless, Mark decides to play host for one night, telling Emily that he’s merely stepping in temporarily while his aunt is away.

As a one-night stay turns into another and more guests arrive, the ersatz innkeeper steadily loses control of his story. And though Emily opens up to Mark, she has trouble explaining the middle-aged man who unexpectedly arrives at the doorstep looking for her.

Will these two strangers, holding on to unraveling secrets, remain in town long enough to discover the connection between them?

***

Review:

I don’t know about you, but most of the time, when I read, I am conscious that I am reading. I am aware that I am flipping pages, that I am following a story on paper, and of my surroundings. Occasionally, there will be books marked five stars that I lose myself in completely, where an hour and 100 pages go by and I don’t notice either. Stuck in Manistique is one of these books.

It’s so easy to imagine how the quaint little bed and breakfast looks, how Mark’s delicious breakfast taste, and how comfortable the beds must be. It’s the type of book that makes you want to visit Manistique because you fell in love with the place through literature, through this story. The atmosphere that seeps through these pages is just completely unreal, in a good way, and left me with a comfortably surreal image of that town.

The story itself seems a little bit cliche at first glance but please don’t be fooled. I wanted a familiar plot to lose myself into, and this novel completely delivers with its crowd of quirky, well-developed characters who each bring something to the tale.

There were some pacing issues that threw me off but I assume that this will be edited in time for publishing (I believe it’s coming out tomorrow, actually) but it was still a nice mixture of slow exposure mixed with quick conversations and rapid developments – probably like working in a bed and breakfast, I suppose.

I highly recommend this book. If the summary interests you, please pick it up, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

I’d like to thank Celestial Eyes Press for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale, by Jane Yolen

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Title: How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

Author: Jane Yolen

Rating: 3.5/5, rounded up

Blurb (copied from Goodreads):

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen presents a wide-ranging offering of fractured fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed; where a spinner of straw into gold becomes a money-changer and the big bad wolf retires to a nursing home. Rediscover the tales you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in — or a much better version of it.

***

Review:

Anthologies have always been difficult for me to review, which is why I will rarely request one from Netgalley. How do you rate an anthology? I suppose I took the lazy way out by simply looking into the number of stories that I really enjoyed, and I’d say it was about 3.5/5 of the book, so this gets 3.5 stars.

I will, however, tell you what I loved. In no particular order, I really enjoyed Godmother Death, The Foxwife, Brother Hart, Sule Skerry, The Woman Who Loved a Bear, and Wrestling with Angels. I gasped at the ending of Snow in Summer, teared up at Allerleirauh, felt awe for Slipping Sideways Through Eternity, giggled at The Green Plague, and rooted for the underdog in Sleeping Ugly. I didn’t feel much for the other tales, unfortunately, although none of them are bad.

My absolute favourite has got to be Once a Good Man. It’s a story about, well, a good man, who is allowed a wish from the Lord. He decides that he wants to see heaven and hell. I won’t spoil the end of the story, but I had somehow never heard the original folklore. I see in the notes that this was originally made for a children’s book, and I have to say, I would totally tell my future children this story. I cried, I read it again, and then I read it out loud to my fiancé. It will stay with me a long time.

I’d like to thank Tachyon Publications for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

#HowToFractureAFairyTale #Netgalley

Katerina, by James Frey

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Title: Katerina
Author: James Frey
Rating: 5/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Million Little Pieces and Bright Shiny Morning comes Katerina, James Frey’s highly anticipated new novel set in 1992 Paris and contemporary Los Angeles.

A kiss, a touch. A smile and a beating heart. Love and sex and dreams, art and drugs and the madness of youth. Betrayal and heartbreak, regret and pain, the melancholy of age. Katerina, the explosive new novel by America’s most controversial writer, is a sweeping love story alternating between 1992 Paris and Los Angeles in 2018.

At its center are a young writer and a young model on the verge of fame, both reckless, impulsive, addicted, and deeply in love. Twenty-five years later, the writer is rich, famous, and numb, and he wants to drive his car into a tree, when he receives an anonymous message that draws him back to the life, and possibly the love, he abandoned years prior. Written in the same percussive, propulsive, dazzling, breathtaking style as A Million Little Pieces, Katerina echoes and complements that most controversial of memoirs, and plays with the same issues of fiction and reality that created, nearly destroyed, and then recreated James Frey in the American imagination.

***

Review:

To this day, I am still not sure how much I really enjoyed reading A Million Little Pieces, and I feel like I will continue to feel the same way about Katerina for a long time, also.

This book broke my heart. I loved it, despite my misgivings at first. Yes, it’s gross. Yes, it’s self-centered. Yes, you are reading about people destroying their lives… but there’s something that hooked me in this book that made me love it. It reached me in a way that the author’s first book didn’t. It was poetic and quite beautiful at times, and I agree with the blurb – it was dazzling and controversial, and I would definitely read it again.
I almost gave it four stars, I have to be honest. It’s pornographic at times, which to me took away from the experience that is this book. I wish it had been toned down a little bit – if it had, I think this would be part of my favourite ten books out there. Still, the raunchy sex didn’t stay with me, but the story of Jay and Katerina did. If you can see beyond that, then this is a wonderful read.

I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I Do Not Trust You, by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

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Title: I Do Not Trust You
Author: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Rating: 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.

Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help.

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

***
Review:

I received this book after submitting a previous review I had written of another book from these two authors, Sanctuary Bay. If there’s one thing that stuck with me, it’s that I never knew what to trust when it came to their first story, and so when I saw that the title of their new book was “I Do Not Trust You”, I got immediately excited… and I wasn’t disappointed. This is an edgy, fast-paced book with twists and turns that you won’t see coming. I read it fairly quickly as its flow is smooth.

Now, I have to admit that any type of mythology will, most times, bore me, so I was a bit sad to find out that this book was basically just two people running after ancient Egyptian mythology artifacts. Still, it ended up being pretty cool, and I feel like I learned things from this novel.

It remains that the actions within book still felt a tiny bit too convenient for me. It’s just win after win with no real sense of danger… I feel like it could have been much more dark and dramatic than it actually was.

There was a missed opportunity here, though: I really wish that this book had come with a design at the beginning. The entire story revolves around a map/hieroglyphs. It would have been great to have a visual of that map so we could follow along with M and with Ash. I kept trying to picture everything as I was reading and I didn’t have much luck… it would have added an extra layer of coolness, that’s for sure.

I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Life Gives You Lululemons, by Lauren Weisberger

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Title: When Life Gives You Lululemons (The Devil Wears Prada 3)
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Rating: 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Weisberger returns with a novel starring one of her favorite characters from The Devil Wears Prada—Emily Charlton, first assistant to Miranda Priestly, now a highly successful image consultant who’s just landed the client of a lifetime.

Welcome to Greenwich, CT, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, does not do the suburbs. She’s working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

Karolina Hartwell is as A-list as they come. She’s the former face of L’Oreal. A mega-supermodel recognized the world over. And now, the gorgeous wife of the newly elected senator from New York, Graham, who also has his eye on the presidency. It’s all very Kennedy-esque, right down to the public philandering and Karolina’s arrest for a DUI—with a Suburban full of other people’s children.

Miriam is the link between them. Until recently she was a partner at one of Manhattan’s most prestigious law firms. But when Miriam moves to Greenwich and takes time off to spend with her children, she never could have predicted that being stay-at-home mom in an uber-wealthy town could have more pitfalls than a stressful legal career.

Emily, Karolina, and Miriam make an unlikely trio, but they desperately need each other. Together, they’ll navigate the social landmines of life in America’s favorite suburb on steroids, revealing the truths—and the lies—that simmer just below the glittering surface. With her signature biting style, Lauren Weisberger offers a dazzling look into another sexy, over-the-top world, where nothing is as it appears.

***

Review:

When I was approved to read this book, I was absolutely ecstatic. This seemed like the perfect summer read: funny, chick literature, and with characters from one of my favourite books, The Devil Wears Prada. I cracked open this book in June, read one page, and then froze. What do you mean, this is volume 3? Have I read the second book? A quick look at my Goodreads revealed that no, I hadn’t, and so I put this book down in order to read the second one.

Well, summer is summer, and next thing I knew, we were mid-August. I didn’t want to wait until fall to read this book, so I decided to skip Book 2. I don’t feel like I missed any joke or any reference, so if you have read The Devil Wears Prada but not Revenge Wears Prada, it’s okay, I promise. I do, however, recommend reading the first book, because you will miss out on some of the references.

Back to the book itself: it was funny, it was witty, it was glamourous, and it was both so relatable (who hasn’t eaten a doughnut after a workout or felt supremely uncomfortable in a girl group gathering?) and yet so unrelatable (who can really afford a thousand dollar purse?), but that’s what makes this universe so lovable, isn’t it?

The new characters are endearing and the story line kept me captivated from the beginning to the end. It didn’t make my stomach clench like the first book did, but at times, I went to bed past my bedtime because I jut had to read one more chapter.

I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend that you pick it up before summer escapes us once and for all until 2019!

Ruthless Magic, by Megan Crewe

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Title: Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1)
Author: Megan Crewe
Rating: 5/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die… or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages’ Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents’ low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix!

***

Review:

Let me start by saying that if you compare a book with The Hunger Games, I will start reading it with dread in my heart. I love The Hunger Games, I really do, and therefore, I will judge the quality of the book without any pity. If you dare compare yourself, then your book better make me lose track of time and dream vividly at night.

And you know what – this one did.

Trust me, I wouldn’t have reviewed this book positively if it didn’t reach my expectations. I loved the world created in this book. I loved the concept (à la Hunger Games, obviously) of magic testing through the “exam”, or, The Magic Games as I started calling them in my head. There’s just enough difference between the two books that this read as a fresh story. The addition of magic was wonderful, and I didn’t force myself to suspend any disbelief.

There are a lot of characters, but nothing feels overwhelming. You’ll get attached to the two protagonists and to the other students as you follow them through the book. They’re relatable and they aren’t boring. I have to admit I was heavily rooting for Rocío throughout the book, but I liked Finn for his determination and his easygoing nature. Another five stars in this category for character development!

Extra points for a slow-build romance, and for avoiding the possible trope of the heart-wrenching love triangle!

I’d like to thank Another World Press, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I can’t wait for book 2! Until then, I will pick up the novella prequel, Magic Unmasked.

The Wendy, by Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown

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Title: The Wendy
Author: Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown
Rating: 5/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

THE WRONG KIND OF HERO.

“Girls can’t be in the navy! Girls take care of babies! You’re so stupid, you don’t know anything!”

London. 1783. Wendy Darling is an orphan, living in an overcrowded almshouse, ridiculed for believing in a future she can never have. More than anything in the world, she wants to be the captain of a ship. But that’s impossible.
 Isn’t it?

By 1789, she’s sixteen, old enough to be sold into service as a dressmaker or a servant. When she learns the Home Office is accepting a handful of women into its ranks, she jumps at the chance, joining the fight against the most formidable threat England has ever faced. Magic.

But the secret service isn’t exactly what she had hoped. Accompanied by a reimagined cast of the original Peter Pan, Wendy soon discovers that her dreams are as far away as ever, that choosing sides isn’t as simple as she thought, and that the only man who isn’t blinded by her gender… might be her nation’s greatest enemy.
***

Review:

Usually, when I write a book review, it’s because I received a free copy through Netgalley in exchange for a review. I want to start this one by saying that I am writing this review simply because I want to, because this book deserves a review.

I’ve had a rather sluggish reading year so far. I am rereading old favourites instead of delving into new books, because the new ones didn’t satisfy me. However, I read The Wendy within a few days (and that was only because I already had plans out of the house). It’s easy to read, it’s a fun story, and the prose is witty and made me laugh out loud. It’s only a few bucks on the Kindle store, so I recommend that you encourage this author by buying a copy. I will be following the series – I can’t wait to read the next book!

Wendy is fierce, intelligent, and strong – anything you want from a good protagonist. From the very first page to the last, you will root for her and cheer her victories. I’ve never been a fan of Peter Pan, but this book makes me want to pick up the original tale to read. Thank you, authors, for sharing this wonderful story!

(Plus, for those of you for whom it matters: the cover art is SO PRETTY!)

The Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner

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Title: The Mars Room
Author: Rachel Kushner
Rating : 4/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called “the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year” (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America.

It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.

Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.”

***

Review:

The new season of Orange is the New Black recently hit Netflix – The Mars Room gave me just enough to satisfy my female inmates story craving to tide me over until the release… and for all of you who are fans of the series and already binged through the season, you should pick up this book.

I think you can imagine the concept of this book by reading the summary. Therefore, I am going to write my review on the style of this book. I felt like it reads a little bit like slam poetry. It’s a book that you almost want to read out loud, because it sounds like music when you read it. The prose is therefore poetic, and it adds so much emotion and intensity to this story. It’s a book you want to read slowly to savour the stories within, and the emotional aura within the pages will make you tear up. I’d say this is a slow paced book, so if you’re looking for a quick story, I would skip it.

I have to admit that I found that it ended too abruptly. I understand that there’s only so much one can do with someone convicted of a life sentence, but I wish the final chapters had been followed up by a few more.

I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I would recommend this book.