Tag Archive for: 4 Stars

Review: Some of It was RealTitle: Some of It was Real
Author: Nan Fischer
Genre(s): Mystery, Romance
Pages: 352 (Kindle)
Source: Own
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 3 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sylvie Young, a psychic on the verge of stardom who isn’t sure she believes in herself and, Thomas Holmes, a cynical journalist with one last chance at redemption are brought together by secrets from the past. When Sylvie and Thomas collide, a game of cat and mouse ensues, but the secrets they’re keeping from each other are nothing compared to the mysteries and lies they unearth about Sylvie’s past.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of SOME OF IT WAS REAL, I put it on hold at my local library right away. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it and read it. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this book.

The enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity tropes are two of my favorites and SOME OF IT WAS REAL didn’t disappoint. The execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope was excellently written, producing a spicy slow-burn romance. Sylvie and Thomas’ constant worry of out-smarting the other while falling in love was a treat to read, and the cat and mouse game dynamic made the story fun and exciting.

I loved the inclusion of Sylvie’s beloved service dog, Moose. Even though as a Great Dane he comes across as a bit scary, he’s a lovable teddy bear. Thomas’ cat, Christopher Robin, reminded me of my Daxi-cat, who recently passed away due to old age. I loved Chris’ demeanor and her interactions with Moose. Each pet was written as a beloved companion, endearing me more to the two main characters and making SOME OF IT REAL a much richer story.

My memories are a nest of spiders suddenly caught in bright light. They skitter to dark corners.

SOME OF IT WAS REAL is a a heart-wrenching story that asks the reader to believe in something unseen. It’s also about love, acceptance, and truth. I’m glad I was a part of the journey to find out who Sylvie was. I thought the premise came across as realistic given the circumstances of her past. Skeptical at first like Thomas, the more I learned the more I believed in Sylvie as a person and a psychic-medium.

I would’ve given SOME OF IT WAS REAL 4.5 or 5 stars, but the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as I wanted it to be. I did love the feeling of hope and how it coincided with believing in something intangible. View Spoiler »

Have you read SOME OF IT WAS REAL? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent and loss of a pet.

There are spoilers for THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW in this post.

The Magician’s Nephew: A Discussion

THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW is the sixth book in the Narniad (in published order). I finished reading it for the Narniathon21 a little over a week ago. (The Narniathon’s hosted by Chris at Calmgrove.)

I didn’t remember much from my previous read 14 years ago, but I knew THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW followed the Professor as a young boy during the creation of Narnia. As I started rereading it, I realized that I’d forgotten or missed a lot of the story that first time through.

When I first read THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW back in 2007, I didn’t know there was a published order and a chronological order to the Narniad. I made the mistake of reading THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW first and I didn’t enjoy it very much. I thought it was slow and boring. I also didn’t really get much out of it other than the origin of Narnia, the White Witch, and the wardrobe.

As stated above, we’ve been reading the books in published order for the Narniathon. I wasn’t sure if that’d make a difference or not. However, I’m now a believer that everyone should read the Narniad in published order. I enjoyed THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW so much more with the background of all that had already happened in the previous books. I also got more out of the allegory this time around.

As I’ve mentioned in previous discussion posts, the allegory’s my favorite part of the Narniad. I love trying to find meaning and connections with Christianity while reading each book. The allegory in THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW aligns so much with my own beliefs that it made it a joy to read and it’s now one of my favorite books in the Narniad.

The obvious connection in THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW to Christianity is the creation, the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. I also thought it was interesting that Lewis alluded to the worlds without number that God has created in the Wood Between the Worlds.

I think this quote from THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW sums up my reading experience quite nicely:

What you see and what you hear depends on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.

Anyway, after reading THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW, I found myself looking forward to reading THE LAST BATTLE for the first time since I started the Narniathon.

Have you read THE MAGICIAN’S NEPHEW? Did you like it? Why? Why not?

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaTitle: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Simonverse #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance, YA
Pages: 325 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Play Book Tag
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight.

My Thoughts

I grew up in a very conservative religious family. Like many Christian religions, my religion believes acting on “same-sex attraction” is a sin. Because of this, I knew about SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. But, because it’s about a closeted gay teenager, I’ve always shied away from reading it. I began questioning my own sexuality about eight years ago and I came out as queer on June 1. I’m now ready to embrace that part of me without feeling shame, which includes reading LGBTQ+ literature.

Last year, I watched LOVE, SIMON on Hulu and fell in love with Simon Spier and his story. Because of the movie, I wanted to read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I decided to read it as part of Pride Month.

Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a heart-warming story of love and acceptance in all its forms. Simon’s coming out felt familiar. When I read about his fear of rejection and/or disappointing those he loved if he came out, I felt like I understood.

I really felt for him when he was outed without his consent and bullied at the hands of other students in his school. I actually really love how Albertalli used the bullying Simon faced as a way for him to feel supported by his friends, family, and teachers as they rallied around him.

I loved the characters in SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I loved the relationship he had with Blue. I loved reading their emails to each other. They were fun and witty. I also loved his relationship with his parents and sisters. His family was protective and supportive, but not without their flaws which made the story more realistic.

Have you read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying.

Review: Stalking Jack the RipperTitle: Stalking Jack the Ripper
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Series: Stalking Jack the Ripper #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, YA
Pages: 392 (Paperback)
Source: Own
For: Play Book Tag, Unofficial Trim Challenge
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Against Audrey Rose's stern father's wishes and society's expectations, she often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey Rose into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

My Thoughts

I’ve been fascinated by the story of Jack the Ripper ever since I was a teenager. I watched a couple of TV miniseries fictionalizing his rampage of terror with my parents and I often wondered who the real Ripper was and why he did what he did.

I’ve been excited to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER ever since I knew the book existed. I just never took the time to read it. I’m so glad I finally did. I loved how Maniscalco wove the historical in with the fiction. I loved seeing the events of Jack’s murders through the eyes of Audrey Rose and the other characters around her.

Fear is a hungry beast. The more you feed it, the more it grows.

One of the things I loved about STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was reading about the science of the times. In Maniscalco’s author’s note, she said she tried to remain as true to the capabilities of the time as possible. I thought it was really interesting that even though most of society scorned the work of forensic scientists because they thought it ungodly and mad, scientists were able to do all they did without the many advancements we have today.

I loved the cast of characters in STALKING JACK THE RIPPER, including Jack. Even though I guessed who Jack was in the end, I was surprised how it all went down. It made for a fun, surprising ending that I really enjoyed. View Spoiler »

I’m glad I finally took the time to read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER. Even though I’ve watched several miniseries and movies about the infamous Ripper, this is my first book. I now want to read more books and see how they compare. I also look forward to reading more by Maniscalco as I enjoyed her writing.

Have you read STALKING JACK THE RIPPER? If so, what did you think?

Review: Dread NationTitle: Dread Nation
Author: Justina Ireland
Series: Dread Nation #1
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Horror, YA
Pages: 455 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville--derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities--and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

My Thoughts

DREAD NATION was my IRL book club’s pick for April. I was really excited to read it as I’ve wanted to ever since I first heard about it. A zombie apocalypse during the Civil War? Yes, please. A strong black female character fighting to not only survive the dead, but also for freedom from the oppression during Reconstruction Era America? I say again, yes, please!

DREAD NATION is the first zombie novel I’ve ever read and I loved it. I loved how the “Shamblers” worked and how they changed the outcome of the Civil War and society in general. The Shamblers were so much fun to read about. I especially loved reading the fight scenes with all the different weaponry used against the dead.

There’s nothing white folks hate more than realizing they accidentally treated a Negro like a person.

The thing I liked the most about DREAD NATION, however, was the time period and how Ireland used the setting to discuss the oppression of black people not only during Civil War era United States, but in general. Even though the themes are blunt, DREAD NATION isn’t preachy. Ireland skillfully addresses issues of racism and inequality while delivering a complex, enthralling story.

Reading DREAD NATION was very eye-opening. I know I’ve lived a very sheltered and safe life (and I’m not talking about a life free of Shamblers). I felt like DREAD NATION wonderfully illustrates the perseverance and strength black people have while enduring horrific abuse at the hands of those who see them as lesser.

I’m glad I finally got a chance to read DREAD NATION. It was a powerful, entertaining story. I look forward to reading the sequel DEATHLESS DIVIDE.

Have you read DREAD NATION? If so, what did you think?

Review: Nine Perfect StrangersTitle: Nine Perfect Strangers
Author: Liane Moriarty
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 458 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

My Thoughts

I love Liane Moriarty. She’s one of my favorite authors. I was excited when my IRL book club decided to read another of her books. I was a little bit worried about what I’d think of NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, though, because I had seen mixed reviews. While it’s not my favorite book by Moriarty (that title will always go to WHAT ALICE FORGOT), I shouldn’t have worried. I really enjoyed reading NINE PERFECT STRANGERS.

I connected strongly with a few of the characters in terms of their mental health battles. I thought Moriarty did such a great job of writing about depression, suicide, suicidal ideation, psychedelic therapy, and the way we deal with trauma and setbacks in our life. I really appreciated how she explored all these tough subjects. (I especially liked how she flipped the psychedelic therapy on its head. If you’ve read NINE PERFECT STRANGERS, you’ll hopefully understand what I mean.)

She had not realized that grief was so physical.

I did think some of the plot was a little far-fetched, but the story and the characters were so compelling that I didn’t care. Moriarty’s a master at writing character-driven stories, which are my most favorite kind of stories to read. I wanted to keep reading and find out how the book would end, how each of the characters would act and feel after their experiences at Tranquillum House.

Have you read NINE PERFECT STRANGERS? If so, what did you think?

P.S. I personally know people who’ve had success with psychedelic therapy under the care of a psychiatrist. I had even considered it for myself before I found Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, loss of a child, and loss of a sibling.