One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Book Review

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From the author of Maybe in Another Life—named a People Magazine pick and a “Best Book of the Summer” by Glamour and USA Today—comes a breathtaking new love story about a woman unexpectedly forced to choose between the husband she has long thought dead and the fiancé who has finally brought her back to life.

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

Publisher: Washington Square Press

Date of Publication: June 7, 2016

Date Read: May 19, 2017

No. of Pages: 327

Setting: Massachusetts | California

Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Get Your Copy Here: Book Depository | Amazon

 

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“There are all kinds of love in this world, but never the same love twice.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

This quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald is One True Loves in a nutshell. I honestly don’t know where I am drawing my strength from. This book had my heart shattered in its rawest form. I feel like a huge part of me is still grieving. I kid you not. I feel like crying every.damn.time I think about it. I had to compose my self every hour or so. But a review has to be made, has to be shared, so here I am trying my best to relive everything, but boy is it hard. One True Loves is the second book I’ve read by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The first one being Maybe In Another Life, you can check my review of it here.  I don’t know why it took me almost a year to pick up another Taylor Jenkins Reid book. Had I known that it would be this good, I would have read it sooner. (Take this as a public service announcement, if you are second guessing if you should read this book or not, do yourself a favor and read it already. Yep, you’re welcome.)

Well, for starters, DON’T READ THE BLURB or do, it’s up to you. This book is best enjoyed if you have the littlest of idea of what’s about to go down. I don’t know why they had to write the blurb like that. (NOTE TO PUBLISHERS don’t give away major details). It may or may not have given away the whole story, but it depends on how you look at it. In my case, I didn’t read the blurb until I was half way through the book – if you already know me by now I seldom read blurbs. I only know small details and take it from there. I always crave the element of surprise. So yes, take my word for it and DON’T READ THE BLURB or at least skim it if you can’t help it. Don’t worry there is so much more in the story that the blurb wasn’t able to ruin, so just read on.

“I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls.”

Note that first sentence, if you’re not in for some emotional ride then I don’t know anymore. That first sentence is enough to send my brain haywire.

One True Loves will bring you immense pain yet come out of it with a profound understanding of what true love really is. It is complicated, yes, but at the same time it was as real as it could get. There was no sugar-coating it, there was no cushioning the blow, there was no beating around the bush, it presented everything in its rawest glory, its ugly head rearing in the surface. Isn’t that how life really is, it was never perfect, and this book made it a point to tell a story that would encompass everything about love and loss – and yes it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, it had ugly parts too. And did I mention I cried buckets? It was literally river of tears, my tear glands have been working like crazy and I can’t seem to pacify myself, I had to pause once in awhile because I feel that gnawing ache in my chest – yep much like feeling of a true blue breakup. I didn’t know how I was able to survive it, but I tell you it was hard, it was a struggle. Not because the book was bad, but because the book was so heartbreakingly beautiful you have to risk your heart to be completely cut open. And you’d be a willing victim.

The characters were painted in a realistic way, they were flawed much like any other human, and that’s what drew me in. TJR didn’t make her characters to be likable, she wrote them to represent real humans with real struggles. Emma for an instance, her character was a very conflicted one but you’d understand where she was coming from. You would get why she acted the way she did, you would get why she made such and such decision. It was simple yet complicated altogether, something you cannot quite explain fully but you get her. And Jesse, after all that he’s been through. You feel for him too. You understand what he was demanding, he saw it in black and white, it is this or that. Then we have Sam, oh boy, Sam. Majority of the book I cried for him. He was everything good and then some. God how selfless he was! I want to hug him! You’ll end up as conflicted as Emma when it comes to choosing between Sam and Jesse. Both are good men! And though I already knew who she’ll end up with because of the subtle hints in the beginning, I still wanted to stick around to see how the author would play out the characters, how everything will come about. And when it did, I was left awestruck and basically broken. I had to compose myself every now and then. It was hard to read through the exchange between the characters. It is as if you feel the pain emanating from them, it is as if the collective pain they are feeling are now induced inside of you. I was inconsolable to say the least.  I also love how Emma and Marie’s relationship grew, I loved that part when Marie explained things to Emma (but I can’t say it because that would be a spoiler). Just ugh, please read this book!

You have to give it to TJR for writing an unrealistic story and making it something that hits home. It may have been too unrealistic but the essence of it is still there, the wisdom and all that realization will hit you without preamble. It is as if Taylor Jenkins Reid had a one on one sit down encounter with you to tell you how things are, how they truly are. Again without sugar-coating or over-analyzing stuff, that it is what it is and you have to accept it even if you don’t want to at first. I love that in a book, it is as if it offers you a brand new perspective towards the real world, and yet it is just there waiting for you to finally acknowledge it, it may have come under different circumstance but the result is all the same. You just have to slightly veer away from what you believe in and take what is offered in front of you. Reading this book is heartbreaking yet it was satisfying. And I don’t know how much more I could give it justice, but all I know is you have to read this even once in your life. And oh this is the first book since a very long while that I’ve finished in a day! So if that doesn’t spell how invested I was then I don’t know what would.

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“Don’t think that true love means your only love.

I think true love means loving truly.

Loving purely. Loving wholly.

Maybe, if you’re the kind of person who’s willing to give all of yourself, the kind of person who is willing to love with all of your heart even though you’ve experienced just how much it can hurt . . . maybe you get lots of true loves, then. Maybe that’s the gift you get for being brave.”
Taylor Jenkins Reid, One True Loves

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I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella: Book Review

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I’ve lost it. 😦 The only thing in the world I wasn’t supposed to lose. My engagement ring. It’s been in Magnus’s family for three generations. And now the very same day his parents are coming, I’ve lost it. The very same day! Do not hyperventilate, Poppy. Stay positive 🙂 !!

Poppy Wyatt has never felt luckier. She is about to marry her ideal man, Magnus Tavish, but in one afternoon her “happily ever after” begins to fall apart. Not only has she lost her engagement ring in a hotel fire drill but in the panic that follows, her phone is stolen. As she paces shakily around the lobby, she spots an abandoned phone in a trash can. Finders keepers! Now she can leave a number for the hotel to contact her when they find her ring. Perfect!

Well, perfect except that the phone’s owner, businessman Sam Roxton, doesn’t agree. He wants his phone back and doesn’t appreciate Poppy reading his messages and wading into his personal life.

What ensues is a hilarious and unpredictable turn of events as Poppy and Sam increasingly upend each other’s lives through emails and text messages. As Poppy juggles wedding preparations, mysterious phone calls, and hiding her left hand from Magnus and his parents . . . she soon realizes that she is in for the biggest surprise of her life.

Publisher: The Dial Press

Date of Publication: October 31, 2011

Date Read: April 2017

No. of Pages: 433 pages

Setting: London

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This book sent me into a laughing fit!

I’m not going to be nit picky this time. I was looking for a funny book, chanced upon this one and it truly served its purpose. It got me through something depressing, well not really but it was able to keep my mind off things I’d rather not dwell on. So to say I am grateful for the existence of this book would be an understatement.

I’ve Got Your Number is definitely something I could see to be turned into a RomCom film. It might be too fictional for someone else’s taste, but I think it could be a big possibility to see this one in the big screen. A little tweaking can do the trick. This has been my second Sophie Kinsella read, the first one being The Confessions of a Shopaholic which I enjoyed immensely as well. And now Sophie Kinsella is now my go-to author if I want to read something light and funny. I’ve Got Your Number cracked me up a lot of times. Don’t get me started with Mr. Yamasaki and the singing telegram, I really lost it. I was in a laughing fit for a good ten minutes or so. I’ve Got Your Number isn’t the conventional kind of love story. It was something out of the usual, it has a meet-cute which I’m such a sucker for. It has the right amount of drama and fluffiness, another plus points for me since I’m not looking for something heavy. I was aiming for a light and fluffy read and this book did its magic.

Poppy Wyatt is a fun character to read, she may be a little pushover sometimes but there are also redeeming qualities I saw in her. She’s relatable too, making her character something realistic. Sam Roxton on the other hand is a no-nonsense type of guy. What I liked most about him was he was able to see or analyse the real Poppy Wyatt. How he was able to pinpoint what was wrong and give out the right advice. I also commend that their love story gradually happened, it was sweet and cute and gahhh that ending! The exchange of emails was a clever one. The twist and how everything came about was thoroughly though-out which made everything coherent, just like Confessions of A Shopaholic. I really enjoyed this book, total pick me-upper!

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“Lover? I don’t know. I don’t know if she loves me. I don’t know if I love her. All I can say is, she’s the one I think about. All the time. She’s the voice I want to hear. She’s the face I hope to see.”
Sophie Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number

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All My Lonely Islands by VJ Campilan: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: One crisp March evening, Crisanta and Ferdinand arrive on the remote Batanes islands for a mission: locate Graciella, whose son, Stevan, they saw die in a tragic accident a decade ago. But they need to confess something to her: Stevan’s death is not all what it seems. Oppressed by a decade of painful memories, Crisanta and Ferdinand must race against time—from the wild swamplands of the Sundarban forest in Bangladesh to the back alleys of Manila to the savage cliffs of Batanes—to offer Graciella the truth that they themselves cannot bear to face.

Publisher: Anvil Publishing

Date Published:  2017

Date Read: February 2017

Number of Pages: 204

Setting: Batanes, Philippines / Dhaka, Bangladesh

Get your copy here.

Source: Sent by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Exceptional writing style, truly worthy of its praise.

This book won the Grand Prize for the Novel 2015 Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature for a reason. It is without a doubt truly worthy of that prestigious award. Now how to give the justice it deserves? I have zero idea, but I’m trying anyway. I have to point out first that this book is very well-written in all sense of the word. The words used in each sentences were carefully crafted so as to give life to the story. And though it was fairly a short read, it was a book that you need to savor. It is the book that you don’t rush finishing, but still ultimately look forward for an unadulterated time to be alone with it. It has this melancholic vibe to it that one can’t simply shake off. A book that will give you that sense of foreboding and as the story peaks up, you’re hanging on to every sentence leading to the inevitable end.

I truly adored how the story was written, it was a recollection of Crisanta’s life  from childhood up to her teenage years in Dhaka, Bangladesh and all the events that transpired between then and the present times. How the main character was able to reconcile the demons of her past with her present self. And can we also talk about how the narration was so vivid and beautiful it is as if you are truly there in the story. Batanes, Dhaka and Sundarban were all described with such eloquence and impressive imagery. The author painted these places in such a beautiful light, without sugarcoating it. It was presented in the most realistic way possible and I think that contributed to the overall beauty of the book. All My Lonely Islands also highlighted a lot of Filipino cultures and traditions though most of the book transpired in Dhaka Bangladesh. A book I will definitely recommend to those who would want to know  more about the Philippines and its haunting beauty.

Each character was unique – flawed, yes, but forgivable. Take for an instance Ferdinand, this troubled boy who didn’t have an easier life and was always living up to what people purports him to be. Oh that part when his parents found out that he was in trouble, the relief on their faces – because he was something they could define. Good god, that was a great explanation. I don’t want to reveal much of it, I wouldn’t want to spoil anyone anyway. I loved Ferdinand’s character, this may not be the same to others. But his character was the one who improved a whole lot. Crisanta’s character on the other hand was pretty consistent one, her character was the perfect depiction of every Filipino teenager, or every teenager for that matter. I was able to relate to her in more ways than one. And Stevan, how do I even start with Stevan? I wish there was more of Stevan. He was the character I wanted to know more of. He seems to be that boy who was also trying hard to survive each of his grueling days in high school, just as much as everyone else. Every character in this book was well thought out adding color to the story.

The subtle hints provided by the author in each chapter was enough to keep you going, enough to keep you interested. It wasn’t revealing everything at the first instance, there was the element of surprise and coherence. Every event was connected to the other. The side stories are also exceptional, like the one about Pobrito, man, that hit me hard. It was heartbreaking, ugly, depressing and yet I was so drawn to it, that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Who would have thought that this was only the first book of the author? It seems to me that she had been writing all her life to come up with something that’ll hit you hard, of something that is so thought-provoking you couldn’t help but pause and ponder on the words you just read. And if being a Filipino is the only association I can have with this author, then I am damn proud to be a Filipino. Filipino talents are indeed world class, this book is the proof of it. This book struck a special cord in my heart, I’m confident to tell (yes even just two months in the year) that this book will be included in my Top 17 Books of 2017. This book deserves to be read even once in one’s lifetime. Honestly the blurb didn’t give the book much justice. If I passed by this one in a bookstore and read that blurb, I would be curious, but not enough to be inclined to read it right away. I just wish there was more to the blurb, it wasn’t able to fully grasp the whole beauty of the book. This is the only issue I have with this book, but hey this is what reviews are for. So I’m really trying my best to persuade you guys to not just depend on blurbs. Take a chance on a book, take a chance on this one!

That ending was exactly what the book needed – it was a closure. I felt more satisfied than ever, I appreciated that it took its sweet time. Not one thing was forced, it is as if everything happened at its own pace, at its own perfect time. Everything culminated and unfolded into this simple yet profound tale. Im glad I have read this one, made me value life more.

Rating: rating_5stars

“You’re trying to look for rock bottom, to that part of yourself that could no longer feel pain. But there is no such thing as rock bottom. As long as there is left to destroy in you, you’d do it. We always feel the need to sink ourselves because we keep being intolerable, because if we’re suffering then maybe people would give us a break for all the shameful things we do. You think you could impose your own penance, but it never goes away, does it? That kind of deadening that’s worse than actual dying.”

― V.J. CampilanAll My Lonely Islands

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All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai: ARC Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: You know the future that people in the 1950s imagined we’d have? Well, it happened. In Tom Barren’s 2016, humanity thrives in a techno-utopian paradise of flying cars, moving sidewalks, and moon bases, where avocados never go bad and punk rock never existed . . . because it wasn’t necessary.

Except Tom just can’t seem to find his place in this dazzling, idealistic world, and that’s before his life gets turned upside down. Utterly blindsided by an accident of fate, Tom makes a rash decision that drastically changes not only his own life but the very fabric of the universe itself. In a time-travel mishap, Tom finds himself stranded in our 2016, what we think of as the real world. For Tom, our normal reality seems like a dystopian wasteland.

But when he discovers wonderfully unexpected versions of his family, his career, and—maybe, just maybe—his soul mate, Tom has a decision to make. Does he fix the flow of history, bringing his utopian universe back into existence, or does he try to forge a new life in our messy, unpredictable reality? Tom’s search for the answer takes him across countries, continents, and timelines in a quest to figure out, finally, who he really is and what his future—our future—is supposed to be.

All Our Wrong Todays is about the versions of ourselves that we shed and grow into over time. It is a story of friendship and family, of unexpected journeys and alternate paths, and of love in its multitude of forms. Filled with humor and heart, and saturated with insight and intelligence and a mind-bending talent for invention, this novel signals the arrival of a major talent.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Date of Publication: February 7, 2017

Date Read: February 2017

No. of Pages: 384 pages

Setting: Toronto, Canada

Source: The publisher provided me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW

Alternate universe can’t get any better than this!

I would just like to thank the heavens for the existence of this book. This book is just ridiculously good, I wonder if it is even legal. Elan Mastai sure knows how to tickle his readers’ minds through his elaborate and eloquent play on words. His writing style is something I could not get enough of. I was always in awe how he constructs a sentence. Pure genius if you ask me. And the storyline, it was original and a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t forcing its readers to like it. It was like second nature, you will inevitably and irrevocably fall in love with it. It wasn’t over doing stuff, it was as smooth as it can be. It was as awesome and entertaining without trying hard. I mean, it is true, beautiful things never seek attention. It was just brilliant and it didn’t even have to try so hard.

As an established fact, I am not a huge SciFi fan. I was kind of hesitant to accept this one for review since I don’t think I could give it any justice much less fully grasp what the story was about. I find it hard to read through SciFi and I wouldn’t deny it, but this book right here is a pure delight. Made me want to reconsider my stance on science fiction, I mean if all scifi books will be as good as this then I will make it my life’s mission to read every one of it.

Elan Mastai built a world so utterly amazing. You have to give it to him for thinking outside the box with this one. What’s even cooler is, parallel universe has always been a fascination of mine. I always wonder what if we do have a parallel world where everything is right and perfect. This book fulfilled my fascination, even exceeded it. Only a pure genius could come up with something so complex yet so enjoyable to read. Jonathan Tropper blurbed it like this: “A Novel about time travel has no right to be this engaging. A novel this engaging has no right to be this smart. A novel this smart has no right to be this funny, or insightful, or immersive. This novel has no right to exist.” And that my friends is the most accurate thing to say about this book. I agree 100% with Jonathan Tropper.

Tom Barren’s voice sounded familiar and somewhat comforting, maybe because its readers can somehow see themselves in him. Not in its full sense though, but at least remotely. It wasn’t trying to impress, if for anything it wasn’t trying at all, it was that effective. The narration was witty yet you couldn’t miss the underlying tone to it. The words used were deliberately chosen, it was consistent and enjoyable to read. Imagine being in a Jesse Eisenberg movie. He was definitely the only person I pictured as Tom Barren. Now go back to thinking about his movies, notice that he has this way of narrating things, almost sounding bored yet effective. I couldn’t quite explain it, but I do hope you get the idea.  This book is just begging to be made into a movie, and I will be the first in line to watch it! The mixture of time-travel, post apocalypse, love story, self discovery along with technical terms and all that jazz, completely won me over. Hats off. Did I mention this book was pure genius?

I highly, highly, highly, and I mean HIGHLY recommend this book. It was well though-out, thought provoking, funny, witty, writing style was flawless and I tell you, reading it will give you a different sense of adventure. It wasn’t just a book made to entertain, but it was written to show a reflection of one’s self. A perfect depiction of how it feels to be trapped in your own body when it feels like you should be living a different life. This book was a metaphor at best and it would be such shame if you won’t give yourself the satisfaction of knowing this book.

Rating: rating_5stars

“You love someone for fifty years and then they die. People talk about grief as emptiness, but it’s not empty. It’s full. Heavy. Not an absence to fill. A weight to pull. Your skin caught on hooks chained to rough boulders made of all the futures you thought you would have.”
Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays

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Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner: ARC Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsLisa Gardner’s next thriller following her runaway New York Times bestseller Find Her takes her wildly popular brand of suspense to new heights.

Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

Publisher: Dutton Books

Publication Date: January 31, 2017

Date Read: January 31, 2017

Pages: 421

Source: ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

REVIEW

 

A crime thriller with a HEART!

Thriller is another genre that I have barely scratched the surface of. I am not by any stretch of imagination a connoisseur in the subject, but that doesn’t necessarily make my opinion invalid right? I know a good book when I read one, at least I could take pride in that. Anyway, Dutton Books asked me if I would love to review Lisa Gardner’s new thriller. I have never read anything by her (I know! Have I been living under a rock?) and so when an opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it. Let’s just say, Lisa Gardner is now included in my Autobuy Authors List. 

Right Behind You took the words clever and gripping into a whole new level. I finished the book in two and half days, which seldom happens nowadays (insert life and work here), so I guess that must have at least amounted to something. Right Behind You is a satisfying and joyful thriller ride. You have to give it to Lisa Gardner to capture her readers’ attention and be able to sustain the momentum until the very last page. It was impossible to put down, I was reading through traffic, inside the elevator, whilst cooking, literally every chance I get. It was in the way the story was narrated that captivated me. It shifts to first person narration to third person without losing its magic, if for anything, it added to the texture and flavor of the book. And there is always beauty in anticipating the twist, in solving the puzzle along with the characters in the book. It is as if you are there with them. The characters are distinct. Especially Telly Ray Nash and Sharlah, these two though flawed had redeeming qualities of their own, they are enigmatic yet somehow you will be able to relate to them. Telly Ray Nash’s character was something consistent and not at the same time, I don’t know how to put it but when you are reading his character, you will develop some sense of faith in him. Even if the first chapters presented him in a bad light you just can’t help but to somehow root for him. The characters’ connection to each other made the story cohesive, not one character who is dispensable, every single one played an important role. And yes, even the dogs!! Ahhh I love love love how the dogs are incorporated in this book! Luka and MollyWog! Ahhh those two made this book even more enjoyable to read! Lisa Gardner’s writing was clean and polished, she was able to draw out the proper emotions and set the proper mood, and not many authors can do that. It is literally the book that will have you zoned out while reading it. Nothing matters in the world but the story in the book, and that is something truly noteworthy.

Right Behind You isn’t just about the revelation of who did what, it was more than what it conveys. It is a mystery thriller with a HEART. And I wouldn’t lie, I really teared up at some parts. I’m not even sure what really won me over, is it because of the depth of the story or the way it was cleverly written. All I know is, this definitely wouldn’t be the last Lisa Gardner book that I will read. It was well-thought out. It was about a book tackling abuse, violence and (gruesome) murders. Each chapter will leave you with immense need to know what’s going to unfold next, and as cliche as it may sound I had to hold my breath at some chapters, that’s how gripping and intense it was. The only thing that prevented me from giving it full five star rating was some parts have become repetitive to a fault, especially the one explaining about Telly Ray Nash’s condition or mental state also what happened eight years ago. Other than that, I really enjoyed the book and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves crime thrillers.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

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Perfect Strangers by Dani Atkins: Book Review

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 Hannah Truman is twenty-seven years old. She is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary memory. One thing she certainly can’t forget is her boyfriend William’s betrayal, which was why she fled to Canada to stay with her sister.

Now, on her way home to England, Hannah finds herself in a queue behind Logan Carter at the airport terminal. He’s checking into Business Class on her flight and although their paths keep crossing, fate prevents them meeting. An almost shared cup of coffee never takes place when Logan is suddenly called away.

But once in the air the unthinkable happens: the plane needs to make an emergency landing. Hannah is alone and terrified, until suddenly Logan slips into the seat beside her.

In the days that follow, Hannah and Logan must call upon all their resources to survive in the frozen landscape, growing ever closer as hopes of a rescue begin to fade …

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Date of Publication: December 15, 2016

Date Read: January 2017

Setting: Canada

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Didn’t see that ending coming!

Perfect Strangers is another book that surprised me. There was this sense of foreboding but you couldn’t quite point your finger to it exactly. It was addictive. I flipped through this book in a shorter span of time than what I had anticipated. I’m not really a fast reader so breezing through this book was a surprise. Perfect Strangers is a story of survival. Hannah and Logan had to survive the biting cold of the mountain and all the trials they had to endure while in the wilderness.

Dani Atkins way with words was truly captivating. She was able to paint the book in such vivid light. The setting really came to life the way she described them. Perfect Strangers is an unconventional story. You think you got everything figured out but then a 360 degree turn of events and then bam! You’re left revisiting all that transpired in the book – silently blaming yourself why you didn’t see it coming. Asking yourself if you missed any foreshadowing, any clue on what’s about to go down. It was the kind of book that will wow you without preamble. It was clever, and that’s an understatement. Perfect Strangers is a book that would take you awhile to forget. I was still thinking about it to this day. That’s how amazed I was. Goosebumps and all.

Hannah Truman’s character was a little tiring to read, her mind always drifted to her ex-boyfriend’s betrayal. She would revisit bits and pieces of what happened every chance she gets, which was a little annoying but she was able to redeem herself that last few chapters of the book. She was stronger than what she gives herself credit for. And we have Logan Carter, this enigma of a guy. Logan’s character was not the brooding type, he was kind and caring, and made everything bearable for both of them. However, he was mysterious, which added to the the multitudes of reasons to continue on with the book. You want to know his character completely and how will everything conclude for the both of them. The love story was also a slow burn, a plus for me since you know how I loathe instalove.

Perfect Strangers though a short read, definitely packed a punch. It was unconventional and surprising! I definitely recommend it!

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“That’s the trouble with bodies … they have an annoying little habit of giving away far too many secrets.”

Dani Atkins, Perfect Strangers

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A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: Book Review

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Synopsis from GoodreadsWhen four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Publisher: Doubleday

Date Published: March 10, 2015

Date Read: November 2016

No. of Pages: 720 pages

Setting: New York

REVIEW

 

A Little Life is a slow burn. It would consume you bit by bit until it becomes part of you. Until it inhabits your soul.

After much contemplation and deliberation on what would be the most eloquent and convincing words to put in this review, still I came up short. Well for starters, I honestly don’t think I can give this book the justice it deserves. But because I have a social responsibility (yes I do believe book bloggers/reviewers have a moral obligation/ social responsibility) to at least convince even a single soul to read this book, then I would have to do with whatever my mind could grasp and deliver in this review, however vague or however too all over the place it may sound. Just bear with me on this one.

A Little Life will change you. I would have to start with that warning, or wisdom whichever way you want to look at it. It will change your perspective, may it be for the better or otherwise, it is all up to you on how you will take it. A Little Life isn’t for everyone, not for the faint-hearted, not for the impatient ones, not for the squeamish, not for the weak. I guess before diving into this book you have to prepare yourself and I don’t mean it in a shallow way. Prepare yourself to get hurt. Prepare yourself to shed tears and I mean lots of it. Prepare yourself to die a little inside, repeatedly. Prepare yourself to be shaken to the core. Prepare yourself to feel immense sadness. And even then, yes even with all the preparations you took, the precautionary measures you’ve set, you’re never ready for the inevitable impact. It will be something that will haunt you in your lifetime, I guarantee that. A Little Life needs your undivided attention, it needs your time and your whole heart. You don’t rush it, it is that kind of book you savour. I finished reading it in a month. I’m not a fast reader, on a monthly average I could do 5-7 books, and that’s not really a lot considering the work I have and other commitments, but I managed to finish this in a month which I can say as a pretty decent pace. I could have rushed it if I wanted to, but I have learned that this is the kind of book you don’t rush finishing. It is something you relish. You have to feel for the characters, you have to know them well, the ins and out of their lives just like how you treat a real friend. Because for a moment while you are immersed in their story, they are real too. You’ll appreciate how layered the story was and how rich the words used by the author. It was carefully crafted, the words were deliberately used to make a statement, to transcend outside the confines of the pages. It was lyrical as it is raw. There were too many wisdom from each page, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve ran out of tabs to use. And those are not just mere words jumbled to make a sentence, it was the affirmation of the life we are living, or the lives we never thought possible, or the lives we wish we had. It was all encompassing. Its beauty lies in the complexities and how all the lives of the characters intertwine making a beautiful tapestry.

New York as its setting added to the beauty of the book. How it was able to paint the city in such simple yet captivating light. The beauty of New York was not really the focus of the book, but it definitely set the mood of the entire story. There was a sense of tranquility and feeling of warmth that the book was trying to convey, while masking something so profound and larger than life. I could not quite fully explain it but the book had this pull on you, that once you started reading it wherever you maybe you’ll always go back to the story. It is as if it is summoning you to come back to it. The story will ricochet in your head every chance it gets. It is really something one could not easily forget. 

The characters are well thought-out, they are flawed yet had redeeming qualities you couldn’t miss. They have the power to make you feel as though you know them personally, they speak to you in a level of understanding that you didn’t even know is possible. I loved how the author was able to put history into different characters making them unique and truly realistic. It was complex and at the same time rich and colorful. A Little Life will show you two sides of a coin – the cruelty of human and the goodness in their hearts. And though it might not be something you are accustomed to reading, much like in my experience, it will give you the sense of realization that indeed life has many facets and faces and the beauty of it is coming to the conclusion that wherever it might lead us there’s always something to learn from it, one should just find the silver lining of it all.

Jude’s story had me bawling, there was this heavy weight on my chest that I just couldn’t lift off. His story was disturbing and yet I was so drawn to it that I had to know what happened in the end. Reading his story was an emotional torture  at best. And I didn’t know I had that strength to read through that. It was not only Jude’s story that struck me to my core. As I’ve said all these characters have rich history, they are beautiful in their own right. I loved Willem’s story as well and I think I cried for Willem just as much as I cried for Jude. And don’t get me started with Harold, that last part had me crying silent tears, my heart is breaking for him too!

You have to have the proper mindset before delving into the depths of this book. It has sensitive topics that are shocking to the conscience but at the same time needs to be addressed.It truly turned me into a different person. It felt like I had to look at the world in a maturer way, seeing the details with new eyes. There was something melancholic and page after page you will feel a sense of foreboding, something one could not simply ignore. Every torment, every tear shed, every emotional distress, they were all worth it and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

RATING: rating_5stars

 

“Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified.”
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life

 

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