Rebecca {book review}


Daphne du Maurier

4 / 5

I’ve wanted to read this 1938 classic for years, so I must thank @tackling_tbr for putting a buddy read together. It was the motivation I needed.

This book has quite an iconic first line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” But for me, the line that summarizes this book well is: “She’s the real Mrs. de Winter, not you.

Maddening! That’s how I would describe this book. 

Maxim de Winter’s new, young bride arrives at the grand estate of Manderley built along the English coast. But she is only welcomed by accolades and praise of Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter. She finds that even Rebecca’s suite has been untouched and well-preserved. Everywhere she turns, everything she touches reminds her of the adored Rebecca. Can she possibly live in the shadow of Rebecca? But when a ship runs aground in the bay, a disturbing secret is unearthed about the beloved Rebecca who has been haunting her.

As I told our group, it took me a bit to get into this story; du Maurier’s writing is quite descriptive. But once I met all the staff and other characters, I was invested. I could not stand the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, what a witch! Anyway, I think this book is a precursor to the hardcore psychological thrillers of today. I would go crazy with everyone telling me how wonderful and loved my husband’s first wife was! How she did everything perfectly, ugh. The only thing I felt lacking was that the ending wasn’t as fulfilling as I felt it could have been.

So once again, I found myself among the Author’s Notes. It was here that Mrs. du Maurier gives insight into why the second Mrs. de Winter is never given a first name and to why she made the epilogue into chapters 1-3. I am so thankful for authors that let us peek into their brilliance.

Spoiler Alert {book review}

Spoiler Alert

Olivia Dade

4 / 5

April Whittier decides to do it. She posts a picture of her cosplay costume on Twitter, and the trolls and haters do their stuff. April is tired of hiding. She has been writing fanfic based on the show Gods of the Gates for years, especially featuring the leading couple, Aeneas and Lavinia, getting down and dirty. April loves her online community, it’s where she found her bestie, but they can’t see her. Now, her plus-size image is going viral.

Marcus Caster-Rupp stars as Aeneas in Gods of the Gates. He is wickedly handsome and so popular. He gets by on his looks because most people think he’s dumber than a doornail. He finds he can be his true self when he writes. Marcus posts stories about the show and Aeneas anonymously online, but he is risking everything if anyone discovers who the man behind the fanfic is. 

Marcus, seeing April’s post, takes the opportunity to ask April out. April is thrilled to be meeting the man playing Aeneas. As dinner proceeds, she feels she must tell him she writes fanfic about his character and the show, sometimes even explicit scenes. When she divulges her username, Marcus realizes April and his online bestie are the same people.

Now Marcus has even more secrets he must keep from April; good thing he’s an excellent actor.

Honestly, I thought this book was going to be a saccharine sweet rom-com. Although it has funny and sweet moments, it touches on some serious topics. Body-shaming for one, and not just from social media, but some pretty tough family moments. Dade also includes the difficulties of living with dyslexia as well.

If you enjoy the entertainment business and fanfic you will devour this book. It does have a few steamy scenes, so fair warning. 

Thank you to @avonbooks for this #gifted book. Grab your copy today!

The Looking Glass Wars {book review}

The Looking Glass Wars

Frank Beddor

4 / 5

Alice fell down the rabbit hole and discovered Wonderland, right?

In this fantastical retelling, Beddor tells a different tale.

Seven-year-old Alyss Heart is the recently orphaned Princess of Wonderland. Having witnessed her Aunt Redd give the order, “Off with their heads,” to her parents, Alyss must flee to safety. Wonderland is at war. 

Alyss escapes through the Pool of Tears, only to find herself in Victorian England. Appearing to be a confused orphan street urchin, she is put into a foster home where she is eventually adopted by the Liddells. Alyss speaks of a talking rabbit and armies of playing cards in a place called Wonderland, but her family convinces her that it is all in her head.

Alyss meets a young writer and she tells him of her childhood back in Wonderland, hoping he might believe her. But, alas, he finds her tale fanciful as well, truly a great story. So the years pass, and she begins to doubt that Wonderland ever existed.

Meanwhile, Hatter Madigan knows the time has come for Alyss to return and take her place as Wonderland’s rightful queen. He travels throughout the world searching for Alyss, unlucky until he pulls a book by Lewis Carroll from a shelf in a library and there Alyss is upon the page. Find the author and he will find Alyss.

If you enjoy retellings, I highly recommend this one. All the beloved characters are here and the idea that Alyss was born in Wonderland makes for an interesting twist.

🐇 👗 🎩  𝚆𝚑𝚘 𝚒𝚜 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚏𝚊𝚟𝚘𝚛𝚒𝚝𝚎 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚛𝚊𝚌𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚒𝚗 𝙰𝚕𝚒𝚌𝚎 𝚒𝚗 𝚆𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚍? 𝙸 𝚕𝚘𝚟𝚎 𝚃𝚑𝚎 𝙼𝚊𝚍 𝙷𝚊𝚝𝚝𝚎𝚛.

Homegoing {book review}


Yaa Gyasi

5 / 5

A generation saga that spans some three hundred years, you’d expect to be 500 or more pages long, right? Homegoing may be only 300 pages, but every word resounds with emotion and force. I feel as though Gyasi used these characters to be a voice for millions from the echoes of time. 

Beginning in 1775, two half-sisters are born in separate villages in Ghana. They are not aware of each other or the paths their lives will take. Effia is taken into marriage by a wealthy British white man and allowed to live in comfort in the stone castle. Esi is captured and kept with other slaves in the filthy dungeon below the same castle.

From West Africa to Mississippi and Harlem, we traverse the two sisters’ lives, as each has children, and grandchildren, for eight generations. Though this is a sweeping panorama there are numerous historical and cultural signposts along the way that help to keep us anchored to the time and place in history.

With each generation, we see the brutality and ugliness of racism and sexism. She takes us into the depths of drug abuse and the struggles with heritage and identity. There is much to unpack in this book, Gyasi touches on so many themes and subjects. The brilliance of this story is that while it displays much cruelty and inhumanity, there is perseverance and love woven throughout.

There are numerous trigger warnings (hard to avoid in a story such as this) if you are concerned please DM me.

💬 Family Legacy is important; it is something no one can take from you. Effia is given a black stone when she is sent away from her village to marry the white man. She is told it was “a piece of her mother.” She passes this stone down through her family line. Do you have anything special that has been passed down to you? 

FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA {book tour | book review}


Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA

Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma

5 / 5

𝘿𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙗𝙚𝙡𝙞𝙚𝙫𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚𝙨 𝙞𝙣𝙩𝙤 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙡𝙞𝙛𝙚 𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩 𝙩𝙞𝙢𝙚?

In a recent discussion with my English major daughter, I told her that I feel I don’t read nearly enough short stories. As an avid reader, book blogger, and aspiring writer, I felt that exposure to this genre was sorely lacking. And then, like magic, FORESHADOW came into my life.

This unique book contains thirteen short stories all from new, creative voices in YA. The stories are rooted in magic, fantasy, fear, and even romance.

The aching in Nora Elghazzawi’s 𝘚𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 is palpable. Laila is a girl who is grieving, but she is growing through the dirt and seeds she plants in her garden. She feeds others her harvest, and soon she’ll reap the bounty too. 

𝘔𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 by Adriana Marachlian takes us deep into a young girl’s heart. Milagros has arrived in Brooklyn from Venezuela and now she is terrorized by the monsters she sees. Why can’t her cousin and aunt see these creatures? The monster that lives in the subway tunnel is dangerous, Milagros knows she must confront it. When she finally faces it, she is surprised by what she finds the monster to truly be.

The stories themselves are extremely enjoyable, but I loved the added editorial notes from Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma. They highlighted a specific aspect in each story, such as world-building, voice, imagery, and building romance. Their thoughts are brilliant and help to make the writing of these stories pop. If that wasn’t enough, each story is introduced by a master YA storyteller! 

Going back to the question I posed in the beginning; this book certainly came into my life just when I needed it. This will be a book I refer to over and over again. 

Thank you to @algonquinyr @exrpan @novaren for this advanced copy for review. Pick up your copy today!

His & Hers {book review}

His & Hers

Alice Feeney

4.5 / 5

Years ago thrillers and mysteries were my mainstays, but lately, I’ve shied away from them. When the ladies at @bookishladiesclub picked His & Hers for a buddy read I thought I’d give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Told in alternating POVs of Anna and Jack, we are led down a twisted, unreliable path as someone begins to kill off a group of girls that were once childhood friends in this quiet, wooded village.

Anna Andrews is a field reporter for the local Blackdown station. When she is asked to cover a murder, she is not thrilled about it, but she’s shocked to discover the victim was a former school mate of hers.

Chief Inspector Jack Harper arrives at the murder scene and is stunned to see his ex-wife. He and Anna divorced after a tragedy tore them apart. Now, staring at the dead woman’s body, he must hide the fact that he knows the victim.

As more women are murdered, Anna and Jack are tangled in what becomes a serial murder nightmare. Alice Feeney keeps the tension taut as both Anna and Jack are at the center of this investigation. Anna is a drinker, so can we be sure she is remembering correctly? But others have strong motives; so who can we trust? Oh, and then we hear from the killer, dropping bread crumbs along the way.

I listened to the audiobook and it was fantastic! The two narrators were great and the killer’s voice was creepy as heck!

Thank you @librofm and for this #ALC.

👻  𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂 / 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘆𝗼𝘂 𝗱𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘀 𝘂𝗽 𝗮𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗛𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻? 𝗜 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗸 𝗜’𝗱 𝗴𝗼 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗯𝗼𝗼𝗸𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸!

The Night Diary {book review}

The Night Diary

Veera Hiranandani

4 / 5

Twelve-year-old Nisha has already lost her mother, and now she is losing her country.

Every night Nisha writes in her diary to her mama, the mama she never knew. Because when Nisha and her brother, Amil, came into the world their mama left it. Now at twelve-years-old she writes to her mama and tells her of how India is free from British rule. But it seems that her beloved country has been torn in two. The land they now reside in is called Pakistan.

Although Nisha’s mama was Muslim, her Papa is Hindu and as tensions rise between the two groups, Papa decides it is too dangerous for his little family to stay. They soon become refugees with hundreds of thousands of others trying to cross the border back into India. The journey is long and dangerous. Nisha witnesses violence, suffering, and death during this time, but she is filled with hope that she can be brave for a bright new future.

This book is a history lesson as much as it is an inspiring novel. If you are unfamiliar with India’s history, especially its independence from Britain in 1947 and the ensuing conflict between Indian Muslims and Indian Hindus, this book would be a good place to start. Although fiction, it gives a child’s perspective to a heartbreaking event in history. Nisha did not understand why two different religious groups would incite hate, and cause such devastation. 

Please read the Author’s Notes, as she explains that this fictional family’s experience was loosely based on her father’s side of her family.

Opium and Absinthe {book review}

Opium and Absinthe

Lydia Kang

4 / 5

It is 1899, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula has just been published. 

Tillie Pembroke has just suffered a terrible injury while out riding her horse. Her collarbone is surely broken. As the doctor attends to her, he prescribes her laudanum for the pain. Just then she receives word that her sister has been murdered. The body has been found, drained of all its blood with two puncture wounds in the neck. It would appear her sister was killed by a vampire.

Tillie, being a young woman who loves to study and research, even in her opium-induced daze, knows she must get a copy of Dracula. As Tillie goes on the hunt for a copy, she runs into Ian, a “newsie”, selling papers that tell of her sister’s death. He seems just as intent on finding the killer as she is. 

As Tillie continues to dig deeper into the murder, her doctor sends her down a spiraling path of addiction. Tillie becomes a Morphinomanic. Then the murderer strikes again, the same puncture marks in the neck, all the blood drained from the body. Could it be possible that a vampire is stalking the streets of New York? 

This almost felt like a classic gothic mystery. It had historical elements, vampires, addiction, family secrets, and murder. I enjoyed Tillie’s character. She was bright, inquisitive, and independent. Yet through her, Kang told the true story of how so many women in the late 19th century become addicted to opium and morphine. 

The author’s notes are a must-read! Please don’t pass them over.

TW: addiction, disease & death, sexual assault.

Thank you to @netgalley, @lakeunionauthors and @LydiaKang for this digital copy for review.

With the Fire on High {book review}

With the Fire on High

Elizabeth Acevedo

4 / 5

Emoni Santiago is a senior in high school and she already has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. She has a daughter and her abuela to help care for, plus she needs to think about what comes after graduation. But when a culinary arts class opens up, she knows this is for her. Because the one place she feels free is in the kitchen. 

Cooking has always been a bit like magic for her as if she could sense what spices and seasoning should go together. Now she has a chance to travel to Spain with her culinary class, but she must learn to play by the rules first. 

This book is bursting with flavors and aromas as Emoni works in the kitchen and towards her dream. I loved Emoni’s voice in this story. She is bold and tenacious, but she is not without doubts and fears. Even though she lost her mother as a baby, and her father let her abuela raise her, family is very important to her. Emoni desires to make the best life she can for her baby girl.

I’m so glad my friend @kimreadsandreads gifted me this book. It’s such a wonderful young adult #ownvoices read.

The Great Believers {book review}

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai

4.5 / 5

Set largely in the Chicago area from 1985 forward, Makkai takes us on an intimate journey with a group of friends whose lives are ravaged by the AIDs epidemic.

Yale Tishman is working at Northwestern University’s art gallery and is trying to pull in some pieces for its permanent collection. Although Yale’s career may be thriving, he is watching his circle of friends succumb to the new AIDs epidemic, and the path of infection is coming closer and closer to Yale himself.

The book starts with Nico’s funeral, the first of the friends to succumb to this deadly virus. Even in death, much of Nico’s family is still in denial of who Nico loved and was loved by. Fiona, Nico’s sister becomes like a mother-hen to Nico’s friends. But as she watches many of them suffer as her brother did, she finds she cannot be the wife and mother she needs to be for her own family. The virus leaves no person untouched.

Makkai introduces a dual timeline where we find Fiona, in 2015, searching for her wayward daughter Claire. Fiona has hired a detective to assist her. Claire had supposedly run off with a cult and may have found a husband there. Now the search leads Fiona to Paris, but the question is “does Claire want to be found?”

The 2015 timeline felt like another story for a different time. It took away from the overall rawness of the book. I think, with Fiona’s character, the author may have been trying to show the effects that the virus had on the caregiver as well as the patient. Fiona dealt with so much loss and after having to care for all these young men, maybe she was trying to find something to hold onto. 

This subject matter undoubtedly deserves attention. Rebecca Makkai does a wonderful job displaying the emotional toll and the physical brutality that the AIDs virus wrought on so many lives, and still does today. 

🏆 𝘛𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘢 𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘶𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘻𝘦𝘳 𝘗𝘳𝘪𝘻𝘦𝘳. 𝘞𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘱𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘶𝘱 𝘢 𝘣𝘰𝘰𝘬 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘯? 𝘐 𝘤𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘭𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦, 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵’𝘴 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘮𝘺 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳.