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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Among The Lost (In Dante’s Wake) by Seth Steinzor | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from GoodreadsAmong the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Publisher: Fomite Press

Date Published: November 2016

Date Read: January 2017

Source: Poetic Book Tours

 

REVIEW

 

As part of Poetic Book Tours I was asked by Serena if I would be willing to join in reading and reviewing Among The Lost, I have always been a fan of Dante’s Circles of Hell, and after learning that Among The Lost is inspired by Dante’s Purgatorio, I knew then I have to be a part of this Book Tour or I will probably regret it. Seth Steinzor’s poetry is rich and on point. Often times there’s no beating around the bush, he writes what needs to be said, with such gusto and precision that you can help but pause and ponder on the truth it was revealing. And the truth was, our existence had been tainted with mostly horrible and unimaginable things. The book was divided into different Canto, where our narrator encounters different scenario and different people with varied dilemma or varied traits. It was heavily political and realistic at the same time, which at times hard to get into but once you get the hang of it, it will be something you truly appreciate. Among the Lost used modern setting to juxtapose those of ancient times, which was truly remarkable. Seth Steinzor “modernized” a classic many of us loved. He concoct his poetry into something relevant and timely, something one could identify with.

I have not read the first book, so I had no way of comparing them. This poetry book may not be for everyone, at times I get confused on certain references, thus making it hard for me to completely grasp what was being conveyed. In the same vein I could not fully recommend this one to those people who are just beginning to appreciate poetry as this one may not be as engaging, but then it is something worth a try, especially to the ones who wanted to read more in depth portrayal of government and the society. But one thing I have to say – Seth Steinzor’s writing style is truly magnificent. He had a way with words that made the book more appealing and it was a bonus that this book was told in story form following the journey of the narrator from one specific stage or path onto another.

I specifically liked this excerpt from his poem Canto VI: In the Clouds

Telling you of this brings it back to me as

if I were standing there! – and after

not too many heartbeats thinking this:

The sight of these two mammals enjoying so

fully the little they have in common should shame you to

weeping, America! How hard can it

be to care for one another? Your rich

begrudge your poor their mite. Your poor

begrudge each other. The ones in the middle fear

the ones below them, bend the knee to the

 

moneyed, and keep an eye on their neigbors. The space a

dollar takes is more than you would

spare the creatures around you. You’re free with this:

you shit your nest and everywhere else. You

stomp around the world with an anxious smile and a

big knife, taking whatever you

want, and whoever gets in your way had better

look to god for help. You wonder

why they hate you, who cried your name with longing…

About the Author:

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

Available on Amazon.

Rating: rating_3stars

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Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads:  The compulsively readable #1 New York Times bestseller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

EVERY DAY THE SAME
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
UNTIL TODAY
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangle not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

“Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.” —Vanity Fair.

“The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl… [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.” —The New York Times.

“Marries movie noir with novelistic trickery… Hang on tight. You’ll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.” —USA Today.

PAULA HAWKINS worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Date Published: January 2015

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Date Read:

No. of Pages: 478

Edition: Mass Market PaperBack

Source: Fully Booked

Setting: Euston, London

 

REVIEW

THIS MAY SOUND A CLICHE BUT I SERIOUSLY HELD MY BREATH THE LAST 50 PAGES

I have a few experience with mystery/thriller so whenever I come across one, I don’t know if I was just being easy to please or the story was really good to warrant such reaction from me.  I know a lot of people has been saying that Girl On The Train is just another second rate version of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which I have read some three years ago. I was one of them, operative here word: was. I easily dismissed this book the first time it came out, Gone Girl has been a favorite book, and having heard of the premise of Girl on The Train made me a little unsure if I would read it or not. While it is true that there is the element of Gone Girl to it, with a girl missing and an unexpected twist, one cannot help to compare, it is inevitable.  But then Girl on The Train have proven itself to be worthy, it also had its own uniqueness, if only you detach yourself from Gone Girl and see Girl on the Train as it is – just what I did. It would be unfair to this book if we see it as just a second rate version of popular one right? I believe, each book has a right to be read once and not have preconceived notions about it. Read first and then judge, I think that’s how it is supposed to go. So my advice is, give this book a try, yes even if you loved Gone Girl with all your murder-mystery-thriller-loving heart.

 I am always drawn to books with unconventional and dysfunctional marriage as its plotline, it is not what we are accustomed to seeing, well at least on my part, maybe that’s why it appealed to me so much. I do understand, however, that this book isn’t exactly for everyone, either you hate it or you love it, there’s no exactly in between.Unreliable narrator is always a hit or miss for me. The Girl on The Train is hitting it where it should. I loved how Rachel’s character is portrayed, you somehow empathize with her and at the same time suspicious of her actions. You are blindsided and then bam! I loved how everything and everyone are connected paving a way into this complicated scenario that will grip you more than you can possibly allow it to. Girl on The Train had proven itself to be something engaging and beautiful on its own. Paula Hawkins had an incredible talent of trickery, toying people’s mind, shaping their heads to believe in something and then end up presenting something else entirely. I had my suspicion already, and I was 80% sure who it was, but then bam, just like a smack in the face, I didn’t see it coming! It was concocted in such a clever way, much like you didn’t know what hit you until it’s too late.

This book covered a lot of topics that are fully relatable – alcoholism, failed marriages, domestic abuse, a lost career and so on and so forth, though one may not have undergone same extent, but there was sense or element of reality to it that one could not simply miss. No wonder it easily made itself as a best-selling book in a short span of time after its release. Though the book, started off a little slow, the half part definitely made up for it. It was written in such a way that it was easy to grasp and easy to weave in and out of. It was the kind of book that will pull you in, as though time had little importance. It was worth losing sleep over. Once you’ve reached the last 100 pages or so, you have to finish it, no matter what the time was. 3 am? It’s nothing but a little sacrifice, finishing this book is rewarding and satisfying, you can’t just choose sleep forestalling the inevitable end. Nope, that’s not how it’s going to work with this book, it demands your time and you will gladly succumb. No questions asked. It has been a while since that happened to me, more often than not, I always choose sleep over anything else, yep even if I only have 50 pages left, sleep always wins. Well, this book was obviously an exception. And I have no regrets.

Writing this review is proven to be harder than I thought, I wanted to give it justice, but I feel like I am coming short. I just hope I could persuade even a single soul to read this book. And oh, just a tip, please don’t watch the trailer or the movie before reading this,  I think it goes without saying, but then there are people, (me, sometimes) who will go watch, at least the trailer first, before reading the book. For the love of everything that is holy, don’t do that or else you’ll spoil yourself big time!  I have read this one a few days before it hits movie theaters, and I was so great at stopping the urge to watch the trailer. Looking back, had I watched the trailer, I wouldn’t rate the book just the same.

 

Rating: rating_5stars

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”
Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

 

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Between Here and The Horizon by Callie Hart: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: “You think you know me. You think you want to know me. But trust me, Miss Lang. Pursuing me will be the worst mistake you ever make. I’m broken beyond repair…


…and I take great pleasure in breaking everyone else around me.”

Ophelia Lang needs money, and she needs it bad. Her parent’s restaurant is going under, and ever since she lost her job teaching third grade elementary, scraping enough cash together to pay the bills has proven almost impossible. Her parents are on the brink of losing their home. The vultures are circling overhead. So when Ophelia is offered an interview for a well-paid private tutoring gig in New York, how can she possibly say no?

Ronan Fletcher is far from the overweight, balding businessman Ophelia expected him to be. He’s young, handsome, and wealthy beyond all reason. He’s also perhaps the coldest, rudest person she’s ever met, and has a mean streak in him a mile and a half wide. A hundred grand is a lot of money, however, and if tolerating his frosty temperament, his erratic mood swings and whatever else he throws at her means she’ll get paid, then that is what Ophelia will do.

Her new boss is keeping secrets, though. Awful, terrible secrets.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

Note: Between Here and The Horizon is a brand new standalone contemporary romance novel from USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hart. Between Here and the Horizon does contain some scenes of violence and sexual content, and so is directed at audience 18+

Date Published: October 18, 2016

Date Read: October 23, 2016

Source: Kindle Edition

Setting: The Causeway, Maine

 

REVIEW

This book is anything but a typical romance novel. 

Who puts a shocking twist in the first 20% of a book? Apparently this author. To be completely honest I was about to DNF this one, it felt like I’m not going to enjoy it or I need to read other books that are more to my liking and more of something I was in the mood for. I was in the mood for romance novels, and upon seeing that this book fell under that category plus look at that gorgeous cover, I started it immediately. But as I’ve mentioned, the first few chapters proved to be hard to get into, I couldn’t see where the romance will come in or how it will play out, but then after that shocking twist, I knew I had to continue or it will forever haunt me. And so here I am, writing this review. The first tip is, be patient with this one, I swear it gets better. It just needs some getting used to, but once you’ve moved past the hard parts, it will be rewarding. Trust me on this.

The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.

That part of the blurb, OH MY GOD, it foreshadowed what’s about to happen! And yep, no one saw that coming! I was at a public transportation when I reached that part and it was so hard to contain my shock. This is the internal struggle of a reader, everyone is going through the notions of their own lives and there I was battling with all the emotions I am struggling to contain inside me. And I tell you, it ain’t easy.

Writing this review is harder than I thought. I want to tell you about the goodness of this book but how can I when I can’t tell you who ends up with who and what happens to this and that. Okayyy. How do I go about this without spoiling something? I guess I would have to be as vague as possible. So please bear with me on this one. I just don’t like to kill the mood for you by accidentally revealing a major plot twist, I will do the best I can to give you a somewhat good review, despite me going around the bush.

This book had the mystery/thriller element to it that made it different from a lot of romance novels out there. It wasn’t what you are expecting. It will continually surprise you until the very end. This is the reason why I enjoyed this book so much, there was the element of surprise, the readers are constantly guessing what will happen, conjuring up theories as to where will the story might lead, and then everything will not go the way they imagined it to. It was hard to pull off something like it but Callie Hart made it look effortless. This is the first book I have read by her, and to say that I am missing out would be an understatement. If all her books were as shocking and as unique as this, then count me in. And my favorite thing in the world, MILITARY men! Haha I don’t know what is it with stories about military men, but I love reading books about them!

So if you like:

Brooding and angsty male protagonist with a soft side deep down the recesses of his being

A strong female protagonist who takes no shit from anybody

Steamy steamy moments (Oh boy)

A shocking twist

Coherence of story from the prologue down to the last page

The search is over, you have found your match! This book is definitely for you!

I appreciated the coherence of the story, from the prologue, which had set the perfect mood but did not give anything away, down to the last chapter where everything made complete sense. It was the kind of book that will leave you in awe. The book was well thought-out, save for the few issues I have, all in all, it was an amazing read. I couldn’t wait to start yet another book by her and see where Callie Hart’s imagination will take me!

 

 

RATING: rating_4stars

“He was a man possessed. I was a woman lost. Together, we were two halves of something fragile and delicate, beautiful in its complexity.”

Callie Hart, Between Here and the Horizon

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November 9 by Colleen Hoover: Book Review

Synopsis from GoodreadsBeloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist

Publisher:  Atria Books

Date Published: November 10, 2015

Date Read: October 19, 2016

Source/Format: Kindle edition

Setting: Los Angeles

REVIEW

NEVER HAVE I BEEN SO CONFLICTED OVER A BOOK UNTIL NOVEMBER 9.

It’s true, it was so hard to rate this one. It feels like I am still going to change my mind in the future, but for now, let’s settle with a 2- star rating. My mind and my heart are at war with each other right now, my feelings dictate to love this book despite its many flaws, but my mind knows logic. And this time I am choosing logic over feelings, because at this point I am after the substance of the book, rather than how it made me feel – this book made me feel plethora of emotions, alright, but I can’t go on basing my thoughts on feelings alone right? Past 50% of the book I was so sure to give it 5 stars, then came 75% and my excitement is waning down, then onto 82% and it lost me completely.

Let me first tell you what I loved about it, I don’t want this review to sound like a rant. There is definitely something I like about it, so let me discuss it before I go full rant mode. First, I loved the concept of Ben and Fallon meeting every November 9th. It was yes like One Day but as Ben puts it, theirs was unique one, and I have to give Colleen Hoover props for it. It was sure a great concept, I sure would love to read something more like this. And the writing style is good too, well I think that’s an established fact when it comes to Colleen Hoover books. She sure knows where to hit the right spot. Her writing style is addictive and many can attest to that, myself included. I always loved the concept of writers as characters in books, there’s always something comforting about it, and I sure as hell loved Ben The Writer the first half of the book, I mean what is not to love? He was funny, smart, adorable and just perfect. But I never learn with CoHo books.There is always a catch. Always.

This is the fourth book I have read by her. First was Hopeless, Maybe Someday, It Ends With Us and then November9. I’m not one to tell that this book was the least of what she has written, but it definitely didn’t quite match the three books I have read, I might be on the minority side on this one, but I’ll say my piece. What irked me was the fact that this book pushed it a little too far, so much so that it was almost cringe-worthy. I mean I know it is a work of fiction, but I longed for that modicum or element of reality in the books I read, something one could at least relate to. This book fell short in that category. If anything, reading November9 is like watching a daytime drama – yes it was that dramatic and too unrealistic, too over the top, but ultimately something people can’t get enough of. I guess it was trying to make an impact, that whoa factor, that gasp-inducing  moment, that smack-in-the-face-before-you-can-register-what-just-happened, it did. But it didn’t work for me, it was just too much. I fell in love hard and fast with the first few chapters and that same love was gone just as fast. Gone before I could acknowledge it, gone before I could savor it. It was easy to love this book, and I understand those who do, I really do, because at one point in this book I saw myself loving it too. Maybe if the book ended at 75% or without that terrible twist, I would have loved it. But no, there has to be this devastating twist, which ruined everything for me. The deception was painted in a romantic way, it is as if in doing so, it was justified. It was so wrong on so many levels. What Ben did, was just wrong and the explanation that came looked like a mere after-thought – again to justify the deception and manipulation (for lack of a better term). And how it was so easy for Fallon to just accept it, damn girl, your mother taught you better than that!

And did I mention how sooooo cheesy most of the parts were? If you know me long enough, you probably would know that I love cheesy and all that mushy things in a book, well November9 took it to the moon, like wayyyy up there, that it is not even sweet anymore it is bordering creepy and obsessive, which, no thanks, I’ll pass up. Plus this book was made for it to be liked by readers, you don’t get what I’m saying? Let me put it this way, Fallon is a wide romance-reader, which we all are here, if you have read Colleen Hoover books, then it is safe to assume you love the genre, right? Because what the hell are you doing here if you’re not into romance novels. Anyway, so she’s a sucker for romance novels, in romance novels, there are, book-boyfriends, book worthy kisses, angst, alpha-males, and all that jazz. This book tried to incorporate all these things here. It was trying to lure readers into liking it, at first it worked on me, but then it got old and nope, just stop it. I don’t know if I was able to explain that clearly, but I couldn’t give out spoilers okay. So I guess you have to see it for yourself.

So there, I have to stop now. If you want to give this book a try, go ahead, maybe you could appreciate it more than I did, and that’s really good. Maybe I missed out on the message the book was trying to send across, or maybe it was just a case of bad timing. I don’t know. I finished the book, so I think that’s good enough. Will this book tarnish the love I have for Colleen Hoover? Definitely not, we have our favorite authors, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that we have to love everything they have written. So which one should I read next?

Reviews are reviews, they are opinions of the readers, which more often than not are always at opposites with each other, I respect the ones who loved it, good for you. But also you have to respect those who didn’t. So let’s just enjoy reading and be nice to each other!

RATING: rating_2stars

“She “loved me” in quotations

She kissed me in bold

I TRIED TO KEEP HER in all caps

She left with an ellipsis . . .”
Colleen Hoover, November 9

Penny In London by Fisher Amelie: Book Review

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Synopsis from Goodreads: You know how everyone says when one door closes another one opens? At the time, you find this statement obnoxious as all get out because a) you don’t really know what the future holds, it certainly hasn’t been a cakewalk so far, and b) the thought of change is unbearable. You feel like your life is falling apart and everyone around is feeding you clichés like they’re made out of kale or quinoa or whatever the trend health food is right now. You don’t want kale clichés, you want double-chocolate fudge realisms, and you want them now. You just want things the way they were, but then something happens, a moment, an instant that sets you out on a path toward happiness you never knew could exist, and suddenly you think, huh, I don’t think I want double-chocolate fudge anymore. I think I’m in the mood for this heaping serving of strawberry cheesecake sitting in front of me…with a side of kale. And a pair of split pants, but we won’t get into that right now.

Graham Glenn may have tossed her in, but Oliver Finn made her feel again.

Date Published: July 23, 2016

Publisher: Self-published

Date Read: October 10, 2016

No. of Pages: 244

Source: Author provided me a copy in exchange for an honest review

Setting: London

 

Review

The first book I have read by Fisher Amelie was Callum and Harper which instantly became an all time favorite, I fell in love with the characters and the story. And so I was beyond ecstatic to start yet another book by her – Penny In London. I have been in a Fisher Amelie drought for the longest time and now it finally rained.

Penny in London  will take us to Penny’s journey on losing love, finding it again and everything else in between. There are moments that made me laugh out loud and there are moments that my chest felt so heavy for suppressing my tears because I was reading in public and I wouldn’t want them to think I’m on the verge of a meltdown. So yeah, to say this book brought out different emotions would be an understatement. Fisher Amelie’s brilliance is still apparent in this book, it was an easy yet delightful read. Maybe the only issue I had was, I wish it was longer, I wish there were parts that should have been expounded more so as to bring forth the impact it was trying to effect on its readers. There was something that I was looking for, nonetheless, it was good – it captured my attention and finished it in a day, which doesn’t happen often *insert adult life here and all the responsibilities I’m trying to run away from, haha!*.

Penny’s character is relatable in more ways than one. There is this sense of feeling that you couldn’t help but feel for her, happens to the best of us, I suppose. I loved how she developed into an independent woman after what happened with Graham. Oliver’s character, on the other hand, was a little hard for me to comprehend. I was trying to dissect his whole persona to come up with a spot-on conclusion on his character but came up short. His character was a little inconsistent, there are traits that contradict one another and I was finding it hard to reconcile them. The depth of his despair and how he handled situations  were also a little lacking for me. Again, maybe I was looking for something more.

The story was divided into stages of grief, which served as a good mood-setter (if that is a thing), it somehow gives you the overview or at least what to expect from that chapter. And can you guys give me a pat on the back for knowing about the plot twist from the very beginning? I swear I was pumping my hands through the air whilst saying “I so knew it!”. Don’t get me wrong the book wasn’t predictable, I don’t know, but I just had that deep feeling that that was the big plot twist of the book. And I was so happy to know I have been right all along. *insert smug face, haha kidding*. So yes, despite the fact that this is a fun and easy read, there is that big twist that you have to watch out for, come back to me if you saw it coming too, or if you didn’t, that’s also amazing! I love me some books with unexpected twists. This book is wholesome and decent, something that is hard to find these days, it focused on the story rather than the steamy parts, us romance readers, know all too well. I love that it didn’t try hard to include unnecessary steamy situations just so it could sell. It was just right as it is.

And yep I had that biggest smile at the ending. It was so cute and heartwarming. I wish there were more pages so I could relish it for much longer. So go ahead, treat yourself with a light and funny read and pick this book up! You’re welcome.

 

Rating: rating_4stars

 

I don’t believe in regrets, not really. I mean, in the heat of a moment I may strongly wish I hadn’t done something but to be honest, I believe all our decisions help mold us into the persons we’re supposed to become. Think about it, if everyone made flawless decisions, how could any of us truly understand life, and all it’s accompanying beauties? If we never suffer, how can we recognize joy for what it is? If we never witness another’s struggles, how can we submit ourselves to helping them? No regrets help shape us into selfless people. After all, the only regrets people really speak of are surrounded by a hesitation to love or allow love.

Penny In London by Fisher Amelie

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Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino: Book Review

nerdytalks

Synopsis from Goodreads: From the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a love story about a Craigslist “missed connection” post that gives two people a second chance at love fifteen years after they were separated in New York City.

To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?

M

Publisher: Atria Books

Date Published: August 18, 2015

Date Read: September 15, 2016

No. of Pages: 320 pages

Source: Kindle version

Setting: New York

 

Review

This has got to be my favorite Renee Carlino book!

Well, at least out of the three I have read by her. (Sweet Thing, Swear on This Life and Before We Were Strangers).

The blurb! Oh my goodness that blurb! I don’t know about you, but the blurb simply drew me in. It was my fantasy put into paper. I have always fantasized about chance meet-ups at places you only see in movies, like coffee shops, train stations, and all these common places. It was a common place to meet someone, yet in reality it never really happens, have you wondered about this? I am so fixated about this idea that what if that someone meant for you is just sitting right across you in a subway on your ride home, or the next person in line while you’re getting your morning coffee at an over-priced coffee shop, or that someone you bumped into when you were running late to catch your 9am meeting, those simple yet unrealistic way of meeting someone. This was what my fantasies are made of, and reading Before We Were Strangers’ blurb had ignited this fixation on chance meet-ups. I knew I had to read the story and eventually find out where it will take me. And it got me here, writing this review that hopefully could give justice to this beautiful book.

If you haven’t noticed already, I have been binge reading Renee Carlino books. The very first book I have read by her was Swear On This Life which I loved to bits! Back then I made a vow that I would read everything she wrote and will ever write. Before We Were Strangers is the third book I have read by her, and again it blew me away. I will say it now, I loved this one a hundred times more than Swear On This Life. This might be my favorite Renee Carlino book! I suffered the proverbial book hangover over this one. It was all I was thinking about for days on end. I immediately wanted to reread it after I finished. That’s how good it was for me. Before We Were Strangers is the kind of book I have been craving for so long. This is the kind of book that made me fall madly in love with reading. This is the kind of book I live for.

We follow the story of Matt and Grace (Matthias and Graceland, loved this), two senior college students who started out as good friends. Their characters are relatable and likable. We have Matt, who is into photography and we have Grace who plays the cello, just by this premise alone you could very will tell that you are in for a good story. A good boy and a good girl, well that doesn’t happen often in new adult books – more often than not it will be about a brooding boy with issues he wants to keep hidden and a broken girl with past she’d rather forget, which we all know too well. Before We Were Strangers is different, it is more than a story, it embodies second-chances and life choices. It will make you see things in a different perspective. Matt’s character has always been a likable one, he is as real as the next person you come across with.What drew me in was the fact that he was latching on to something he lost before. Grace on the other hand was a reserved girl but with care-free vibe that you would not miss. She knows fun when she needs to, and knows the weight of responsibilities on her shoulder at the same time. I love that Grace’s character was not the usual whiny female protagonist. I love love love their adventures, the way they portrayed New York, it sounded so amazing I wanted to book a ticket to New York and just relive what they did. And don’t get me started with the free breakfast as their dinner meal whilst wearing their sleepwear! Gahhhhd I want to hug Matt and Grace!!!!

The One That Got Away stories always have a special place in my heart. It was in the way that the story transitions, it is looking at it in a different light, oh the what might have been(s) and the what ifs, these are the stories I automatically gravitate towards. Before We Were Strangers pulled me into an embrace that I wouldn’t want to remove myself from. The character development was impeccable, you grow as the characters grow, you feel their regrets and pain and you share their joys as well. There was something so innocent and pure about Matt and Grace’s relationship, it was never rushed, it has its own perfect timing. I loved how the book transitions and pave its way to an engaging course where readers can pick bits and pieces of themselves along the way. It was just so beautifully written and so heartbreakingly true.

The story is told in an alternating point of view, which was something I really like in a book. We are taken into this confluence of the life Matt and Grace had back then and the life they have in the present, how much of it have changed and how much of it they regret. It was a series of choices one after another but not without fate working its way that led them to where they are. It was the embodiment that you never know where life will take you or where you will end up no matter how much planning and plotting you do, it is just the way things should be – of how destiny do its magic. And there is some sense of comfort in that thought. It was like grabbing uncertainty and giving it a hug. This was what this book is all about, it kinds of give you the taste of what happens when you lose someone you loved without knowing how or why and then at some funny stroke of luck you find them again, with the same intensity of emotions you had back then, and realising that things lost will always find its way back. This book will bring you to a journey of a love that was lost and found again. It will fill your heart with warm and fuzzy feeling, much like watching a good romantic film. This book is screaming to be made into a movie, it has the perfect setting, plot and twist with characters you can fully relate to.

I see now the writing style of Renee Carlino, she always put things into perspective. She writes books not only to tell a story but to give out a scenario of what could have been, her books are reassurance that in life there is no such thing as too late, that taking chances is a part of the choices we make day in and day out, that everything will lead us back to where we are supposed to, however long the journey or how rough things were. This realization hits me hard, and I will forever seek that wisdom her books give.

This is definitely one of the best reads I’ve had this year. Without a doubt I will be recommending this one incessantly to people and probably begging them to read it as if their lives depend on it.

Rating: rating_5stars

“You can’t re-create the first time you promise to love someone or the first time you feel loved by another. You cannot relive the sensation of fear, admiration, self-­consciousness, passion, and desire all mixed into one because it never happens twice. You chase it like the first high for the rest of your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t love another or move on; it just means that the one spontaneous moment, the split second that you took the leap, when your heart was racing and your mind was muddled with What ifs?—that moment—will never happen the same way again. It will never feel as intense as the first time. At least, that’s the way I remember it. That’s why my mother always said we memorialize our past. Everything seems better in a memory.”
Renee Carlino, Before We Were Strangers

 

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