July TBR Round-Up

Welcome to the seventh installment of my monthly TBR finds!

In July of 2017 I’ve discovered the following books and added them to my Goodreads TBR:

Contemporary:

“Dating You/Hating You” by Christina Lauren

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Despite the odds against them from an embarrassing meet-awkward at a mutual friend’s Halloween party, Carter and Evie immediately hit it off. Even the realization that they’re both high-powered agents at competing firms in Hollywood isn’t enough to squash the fire.

But when their two agencies merge—causing the pair to vie for the same position—all bets are off. What could have been a beautiful, blossoming romance turns into an all-out war of sabotage. Carter and Evie are both thirtysomething professionals—so why can’t they act like it?

Can Carter stop trying to please everyone and see how their mutual boss is really playing the game? Can Evie put aside her competitive nature long enough to figure out what she really wants in life? Can their actor clients just be something close to human? Whether these two Hollywood love/hatebirds get the storybook Hollywood ending or just a dramedy of epic proportions, you will get to enjoy Christina Lauren’s heartfelt, raucous, and hilarious romance style at its finest

“Something Borrowed” by Emily Griffin

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Rachel has always been the consummate good girl—until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

Something Borrowed is a phenomenal debut novel that will have you laughing, crying, and calling your best friend.

 

Mystery

“Do Not Become Alarmed” by Maile Meloy

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When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

The disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children—is both riveting and revealing. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed.

“The Book of Speculation” by Erika Swyler

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Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

 

Fantasy

“Fledgling” by Octavia Butler

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Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted – and still wants – to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human

“Drums of Autumn” by Diana Gabaldon

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It began at an ancient Scottish stone circle. There, a doorway, open to a select few, leads into the past—or the grave. Dr. Claire Randall survived the extraordinary passage, not once but twice.

Her first trip swept her into the arms of Jamie Fraser, an eighteenth-century Scot whose love for her became a legend—a tale of tragic passion that ended with her return to the present to bear his child. Her second journey, two decades later, brought them together again in the American colonies. But Claire had left someone behind in the twentieth century—their daughter, Brianna….

Now Brianna has made a disturbing discovery that sends her to the circle of stones and a terrifying leap into the unknown. In search of her mother and the father she has never met, she is risking her own future to try to change history … and to save their lives. But as Brianna plunges into an uncharted wilderness, a heartbreaking encounter may strand her forever in the past … or root her in the place she should be, where her heart and soul belong….

“The Last Librarian” by Brandt Legg

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In the year 2098, there is no more war, no more hunger and no more pollution. The world is secure and Earth’s 2.9 billion people are healthy and happy. There is also only one remaining library that still houses physical books. In addition to the dusty volumes, the library holds many secrets. But the government has decided to shut it down and burn the contents. Unless an unlikely trio can save the books, humanity will lose more than just what is printed on those antique pages.

With a single government ruling the entire planet, one currency, one language and no religion, the population is unified and enjoying the prosperity that comes with more than seven decades of peace. Free healthcare for all and guaranteed employment make the future a dream. But this future may only be safe if they can hide the past. The books must be saved . . . the impossible task is up to an angry author, a brazen revolutionary and the last librarian. When everything is perfect, the only thing left to fear is the truth.

 

What are your newest TBRs and have you read any on my list? Let me know in the comments and make sure to check out my Etsy charity shop before you go! 🙂

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Book Review: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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Favourite quotes:

“I need language to live, like food – lexemes and morphenes and morsels of meaning nourish me with the knowledge that yes, there is a word for this. Someone else has felt it before”.

“The thing about Shakespeare is, he’s so eloquent… He speaks the unspeakable. He turns grief and triumph and rapture and rage into words, into something we can understand. He renders the whole mystery of humanity comprehensible. <…> You can justify anything if you do it poetically enough”.

“There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us, though we saw no farther than the books in front of our faces. We were always surrounded by books and words and poetry, all the fierce passions of the world bound in leather and vellum”.

 

When I heard that a blogger whom I respected for a long time was writing a book, I immediately put it on my TBR. I knew that it was going to be amazing. I also suspected that it would feature Shakespeare, alcohol and alcohol-induced poetic tragedy a la “The Secret History”.

We have seven “bright young things” – three girls and four boys – who are seniors in a prestigious theater academy somewhere in New England. Our narrator is – you guessed it – unreliable, arguably the least talented of them all, and is going for a recap. Well, to be fair, he is no less talented than the rest of them. Oliver Marks spent ten years in jail. Because the seven became the six one Wicked Halloween night. Something wicked this way comes indeed.

The loss of their leader, their Caesar, shatters the group dynamic. Amidst the brewing love affairs, the stunning productions of Shakespeare’s tragedies and the declining mental health of the members, Oliver pines for his roommate who might be a murderer. Or are they all “villains” in a sense? How blurry can the line get between a classic tragedy and the reality?

 

Tis now dead midnight (not really), and it’s been several midnights since I’ve had such a book hangover. M.L. Rio’s way of putting things into words is something I could never achieve. Of course I’ve always known she was talented, which is why I’ve been eagerly waiting for “If We Were Villains”. Was it exactly what I expected? No. But few books are. “If We Were Villains” does have some swear words, and it is definitely not a young adult novel. It reads like a modern gothic murder mystery where actors don’t know if they’re playing a part or is what’s happening really happening. The part of the school where they hang out is called “The Castle” (of course), and there is sex, and drugs, and it’s the 90s. In other words, “The Secret History” fans would LOVE this.

Although the book has seven main characters, you can see their personalities really fleshed out. M.L. Rio shows a lot, and tells less, which is what a good author should do (in my opinion). They are somewhat archetypal, but that was intentional. This is heavily based on Shakespeare, after all, which has your villains, your heroes, your lovers and your jokers. I love Shakespeare, and I would say that you do need to have at least some idea what his works are all about. I know some better than others – for example, I know little about “King Lear”, but a lot more about “Macbeth” and “Hamlet”. I saw the latter on stage a couple of times – once with David Tennant and Patrick Stewart! I did want to see James and Oliver act out Horatio and Hamlet… 

Anyway. I definitely like the idea of seeing “Julius Caesar” as a presidential election.

“If We Were Villains” is definitely a book I’d read again, and I’m looking forward to reading more of the author’s writing. My rating is 8.5/10.

 

Recommendations:

You might like “If We Were Villains” if you liked:

“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt;

“The Basic Eight” by Daniel Handler;

“How to Get Away with Murder”.

 

Have you read “If We Were Villains”? Do you have a favorite college ensemble mystery? Tell me in the comments and don’t forget to check out my Etsy charity shop before you go!

June TBR Round-Up

Welcome to the sixth installment of my monthly TBR finds!

Also one bit of good news – I have a new job that I really like so far!

In June of 2017 I’ve discovered the following books and added them to my Goodreads TBR:

Contemporary

“The Garden of Small Beginnings” by Abbi Waxman

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Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

“Something Borrowed” by Emily Griffin

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Rachel has always been the consummate good girl—until her thirtieth birthday, when her best friend, Darcy, throws her a party. That night, after too many drinks, Rachel ends up in bed with Darcy’s fiancé. Although she wakes up determined to put the one-night fling behind her, Rachel is horrified to discover that she has genuine feelings for the one guy she should run from. As the September wedding date nears, Rachel knows she has to make a choice. In doing so, she discovers that the lines between right and wrong can be blurry, endings aren’t always neat, and sometimes you have to risk all to win true happiness.

Something Borrowed is a phenomenal debut novel that will have you laughing, crying, and calling your best friend.

 

Mystery

“Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew J. Sullivan

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Lydia Smith lives her life hiding in plain sight. A clerk at the Bright Ideas bookstore, she keeps a meticulously crafted existence among her beloved books, eccentric colleagues, and the BookFrogs—the lost and lonely regulars who spend every day marauding the store’s overwhelmed shelves.

But when Joey McGinty, a young, beguiling BookFrog, kills himself in the bookstore’s back room, Lydia’s life comes unglued. Always Joey’s favorite bookseller, Lydia has been bequeathed his meager worldly possessions. Trinkets and books; the detritus of a lonely, uncared for man. But when Lydia flips through his books she finds them defaced in ways both disturbing and inexplicable. They reveal the psyche of a young man on the verge of an emotional reckoning. And they seem to contain a hidden message. What did Joey know? And what does it have to do with Lydia?

“The Third Twin” by C.J. Omololu

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When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life.

Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect: Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer…or Alicia is real.

Short post, but June was a very busy month for me. Let me know about the latest additions to your TBRs and don’t forget to stop by my Etsy charity shop before you go! 🙂

Book Review: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

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I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Favourite quotes:

“We tell stories to strangers to ingratiate ourselves, stories to lovers to better adhere us skin to skin, stories in our heads to banish the demons. When we tell the truth, often we are callous; when we tell lies, often we are kind. Through it all, we tell stories, and we own an uncanny knack for the task”.

(About London) “It’s filthy and wet and hides a brutal soul behind majestic walls. Its people are alternatively snobbish or base, and if I didn’t come from a culture of warriors, I’d say it was the most savage city I’d ever seen. I thought it glorious, of course, from the instant it sullied my boots”.

“Grief is a strange passenger; it rides on one’s shoulder quiet as a guardian angel one moment, then sinks razor talons into one’s collarbones the next”.

 

Jane Steele is a Victorian Jane Eyre fan whose fate is, so far, remarkably like her beloved heroine’s. Her parents are dead, and she’s living with her dreadful aunt and a slimeball of a cousin. Since her mother has committed suicide, Jane has few chances of succeeding, so she is sent away to a boarding school, just like Jane Eyre. She befriends a girl named Clarke but soon learns that even the strongest of friendships can perish – that’s how cruel Headmaster Munt is. And Jane’s string of murders begin. Or perhaps they’ve begun even earlier? Was her cousin really in an accident?

After Jane and Clarke flee the school, they find temporary employment with a writer, that also ends soon. Desperate to make a living, Jane penetrates the London underbelly – “London blazes and incinerates. London is the wolf’s maw”. Murder and prostitution become her constant companions. Until one day she sees an advertisement in the paper for a governess for the master of her old home. She takes the position, hoping to secure the home for herself, and find herself enchanted by its new inhabitants – Mr. Charles Thornfield and his ward Sahjara. But they are surrounded by mysteries and, as their sinister past lets itself be known, Jane begins to lose hope and to fear that they’ll discover her own wicked secrets. Will Jane ever find a home and leave her past behind, or is she doomed to be a murderer forever? And will she find peace and figure out her feelings for Charles and her attraction to Clarke that never wavered?

 

As you’ve probably gathered, “Jane Steele” is a retelling of everyone’s favourite feminist classic “Jane Eyre” – with a murderous twist. As fond as I am of original Victorian feminist survival stories like Louisa Cosgrove’s, I love good retellings of classics just as much. “Jane Steele” is a well-told story of survival, and endurance. Ultimately, it’s a story of a woman who takes charge of her own life, despite the constraints of the times and the horrors bestowed upon her by men. Men in this book are quite vile, in fact – except Charles Thornfield and his very endearing and badass “butler”. Jane Steele has plenty of badassery of her own and takes care of the ones she loves – just like the two decent guys in the book. The characters don’t know that until the end, but their methods of “caring” about their loved ones are more similar than either of them suspect.

One of my few issues with the book is the language. I get that the author was trying to “old-fashion” the text as much as possible. And it worked, to an extend. The descriptions of London and Highgate (Jane’s old home) are quite atmospheric, but at times I felt that overusage of Victorian language was a little excessive. It doesn’t distract much from the overall plot, but those of you who love Jane Eyre like I do might not appreciate it.

Jane Steele is, an essence, a bisexual vigilante. As there are so few of those in literature, I of course appreciate the representation. As a bisexual person, I felt that the author has definitely painted Jane’s sexuality well, given the constraints of the time. And given the Londoners’ classic habit of really not caring about the passersby, they probably wouldn’t have cared even back then about a woman kissing another woman on the street. And kudos to the author for showing that a bisexual person can have a fulfilling relationship with a man.

In general, I enjoyed “Jane Steele” – it is a decent retelling, which I’m happy to give 7/10.

 

Recommendations:

You might like “Jane Steele” if you liked:

“The Fair Fight” by Anna Freeman;

“The Flight of Gemma Hardy” by Margot Livesey;

“Re Jane” by Patricia Park.

 

Have you read “Jane Steele”? What are your favourite Jane Eyre retellings? Tell me in the comments and don’t forget to stop by my Etsy charity shop!

 

May TBR Finds

Welcome to the fifth and somewhat belated installment of my monthly TBR finds! Sorry about the delay – I lost my jobs a few days ago so been quite busy looking for a new one.

In May of 2017 I’ve discovered the following books and added them to my Goodreads TBR:

Contemporary

“Last Night in Montreal” by Emily St John Mandel6105964

Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession. In this extraordinary debut, Emily St. John Mandel casts a powerful spell that captures the reader in a gritty, youthful world — charged with an atmosphere of mystery, promise and foreboding — where small revelations continuously change our understanding of the truth and lead to desperate consequences. Mandel’s characters will resonate with you long after the final page is turned.

Lilia Albert has been leaving people behind her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she finds it impossible to stop. Haunted by an inability to remember her early childhood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along the way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she’s safe.

“Each Vagabond by Name” by Margo Orlando Littell

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For residents of Shelk, a sleepy Pennsylvania town lying along a vein of the Appalachian Mountains, life has always been a series of unchallenged routines and circulating gossip. But when a group of teenage runaways settles in the hills and begins to invade their homes and lives, lines become drawn between those residents seeking to insulate themselves from the outside world and those reaching for more.

Caught in the middle of this clash is Zaccariah Ramsy, a bar owner whose quiet life is threatened by his newfound loyalty to JT, a streetwise runaway who begins to visit his bar, and the re-emergence of the tragic story of his former love, Stella Vale, whose daughter was abducted as an infant fifteen years prior. As tensions between the townspeople and the newcomers rise, Ramsy must decide which side he will choose.

“Touch” by Courtney Maum

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Sloane Jacobsen is the most powerful trend forecaster in the world (she was the foreseer of the swipe ), and global fashion, lifestyle, and tech companies pay to hear her opinions about the future. Her recent forecasts on the family are unwavering: the world is over-populated, and with unemployment, college costs, and food prices all on the rise, having children is an extravagant indulgence.

So it s no surprise when the tech giant Mammoth hires Sloane to lead their groundbreaking annual conference, celebrating the voluntarily childless. But not far into her contract, Sloane begins to sense the undeniable signs of a movement against electronics that will see people embracing compassion, empathy, and in-personism again. She s struggling with the fact that her predictions are hopelessly out of sync with her employer’s mission and that her closest personal relationship is with her self-driving car when her partner, the French neo-sensualist Roman Bellard, reveals that he is about to publish an op-ed on the death of penetrative sex a post-sexual treatise that instantly goes viral. Despite the risks to her professional reputation, Sloane is nevertheless convinced that her instincts are the right ones, and goes on a quest to defend real life human interaction, while finally allowing in the love and connectedness she’s long been denying herself.

“The Answers” by Catherine Lacey

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In Catherine Lacey’s ambitious second novel we are introduced to Mary, a young woman living in New York City and struggling to cope with a body that has betrayed her. All but paralyzed with pain, Mary seeks relief from a New Agey treatment called Pneuma Adaptive Kinesthesia, PAKing for short. And, remarkably, it works. But PAKing is prohibitively expensive and Mary is dead broke. So she scours Craigslist for fast-cash jobs and finds herself applying for the “Girlfriend Experiment,” the brainchild of an eccentric actor, Kurt Sky, who is determined to find the perfect relationship—even if that means paying different women to fulfill distinctive roles. Mary is hired as the “Emotional Girlfriend”—certainly better than the “Anger Girlfriend” or the “Maternal Girlfriend”—and is pulled into Kurt’s ego-driven and messy attempt at human connection.

“Be Frank with Me” by Julia Claiborne Johnson

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Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years, but now she’s writing her first book in decades and to ensure timely completion her publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane.

When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away—as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noël Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth graders.

As she gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who his father is, how his gorgeous “piano teacher and itinerant male role model” Xander fits into the Banning family equation—and whether Mimi will ever finish that book.

 

Fantasy

“Jane, Unlimited” by Kristin Cashore

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Jane has lived an ordinary life, raised by her aunt Magnolia—an adjunct professor and deep sea photographer. Jane counted on Magnolia to make the world feel expansive and to turn life into an adventure. But Aunt Magnolia was lost a few months ago in Antarctica on one of her expeditions.

Now, with no direction, a year out of high school, and obsessed with making umbrellas that look like her own dreams (but mostly just mourning her aunt), she is easily swept away by Kiran Thrash—a glamorous, capricious acquaintance who shows up and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at her family’s island mansion called Tu Reviens.

Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites to you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.” With nothing but a trunkful of umbrella parts to her name, Jane ventures out to the Thrash estate. Then her story takes a turn, or rather, five turns. What Jane doesn’t know is that Tu Reviens will offer her choices that can ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with a reward, or a price

“Girls Made of Snow and Glass” by Melissa Bashardoust

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At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all

 

Historical fiction

“The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon

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West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

“Rose Under Fire” by Elizabeth Wein

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While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

 

Mystery

“Trust Me” by Angela Clarke

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What do you do if you witness a murder…but no-one believes you?
When Kate sees a horrific murder streamed live on her laptop, she calls the police in a state of shock. But when they arrive, the video has disappeared – and she can’t prove anything. Desperate to be believed, Kate tries to find out who the girl in the video could be – and who her killer is.
Freddie and Nas are working on a missing persons case, but tensions in the police force are running high and time is ticking. When Kate contacts them, they are the only ones to listen and they start to wonder – are the two cases connected?
Dark, gripping, and flawlessly paced, Trust Me is the brilliant third novel in the hugely popular social media murderer series.

“I’ll Eat When I’m Dead” by Barbara Boulard

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When stylish Hillary Whitney dies alone in a locked, windowless conference room at the offices of high-concept magazine RAGE Fashion Book, her death is initially ruled an unfortunate side effect of the unrelenting pressure to be thin.

But two months later, a cryptic note in her handwriting ends up in the office of the NYPD and the case is reopened, leading Det. Mark Hutton straight into the glamorous life of hardworking RAGE editor Catherine Ono, who insists on joining the investigation. Surrounded by a supporting cast of party girls, Type A narcissists and half-dead socialites, Cat and her colleague Bess Bonner are determined to solve the case and achieve sartorial perfection. But their amateur detective work has disastrous results, and the two ingenues are caught in a web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that changes their lives forever

What are your TBR finds for this month? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to stop by my Etsy charity shop!

Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

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Favourite quotes:

“Never live your life according to the idiots’ rules. Because they’ll drag you down to their level, they’ll win, and you’ll have a damned awful time in the process.”

“There’s always a person for every book. And a book for every person.”

“Feel-good books were ones you could put down with a smile on your face, books that made you think the world was a little crazier, stranger, and more beautiful when you looked up from them.”

 

Sara, a bookseller from Sweden, and Amy, an elderly woman from Broken Wheel, Iowa, might have very little in common.  But the one thing they do share is their love of books. That’s what brought them together in the first place, and that was how they became penpals. After months of correspondence, Amy invites Sara to Iowa to stay for a few weeks and Sara, who until then has led a very lonely life, gladly accepts. However, when she is finally in Broken Wheel, Sara is met with solemn guests at Amy’s funeral. The people of the very small town seem to know all about her, from Amy’s stories. But Sara herself is lost – can she really stay at Amy’s house with no-one but Amy’s hundreds of books for company?

The townspeople are initially wary of the newcomer, and especially of her ludicrous ideas to help everyone out. And when Sara announces that since Broken Wheel doesn’t have a bookstore, she’s going to open one – well, everyone is flabbergasted to say the least. How can a Swedish citizen with a tourist visa open a bookstore in America? In a town where few people actually read books? And even if she does, who is going to run it when her visa expires?

 

I confess – when I got the Kindle sample of “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend”, I really liked where it was going, but I wasn’t pleased with the English translation. Translation is an art and some languages translate better to certain languages than others. That was, in my opinion, the case with Stieg Larsson’s trilogy – I enjoyed the Russian translation a lot more than the English one. And the same is with “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend”. I found a lovely hardcover Russian edition, with the title translated as “Give Them a Chance”, and I was right to make that choice.

This is not an adventure story – not in the traditional sense, anyway. One can say that Sara’s sheltered life juxtaposed against her experiences in America certainly makes it sound like she’d been on the greatest adventure of her life. And she has! The touching and funny interactions with the quintessential small-town Americans of Broken Wheel, their clumsy attempts at matchmaking, and Sara’s own brave venture of setting up a bookstore with no working visa are interwoven into a tale that reminds us that real-life adventures are just as exciting as the ones books take us on. And if books are the very thing that thrusts us into real-life adventures – well, that’s every bookworm’s dream!

Indeed, this cozy novel is in its essence, a love letter to literature and bookstores. The bookstore that Sara sets up is a baffling concept to the people of Broken Wheel, but Sara (and I) believes that there is a book out there for everyone – be it “Eragon”, “Bridget Jones’ Diary” or “Fried Green Tomatoes”. I believe that “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” would make a terrific gift to any lover of books. My rating is 8/10.

 

Recommendations:

You might like “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend” if you liked:

“The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George;

“Fried Green Tomatoes” by Fanny Flang;

“A Novel Bookstore” by Laurence Cosse.

 

Have you read “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend”? What are your favourite books about books? Leave me a comment and don’t forget to check out my Etsy charity shop before you go!

 

Monthy TBR Round-Up – April

Welcome to the fourth installment of my monthly TBR finds!

In April of 2017 I’ve discovered the following books and added them to my Goodreads TBR:

Historical fiction

“Haveli” by Mahal Zeenat

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It’s the 1970′s in Jalalabad, an erstwhile princely state in Pakistan. Chandni is a self-proclaimed cynic and prefers to be called C. An orphan brought up by her domineering grandmother, a.k.a. The Broad, C is rebellious, quick-witted and stunningly beautiful.

When Taimur, a.k.a. Alpha Male, enters the closed universe of the haveli, he is smitten, but he’ll never admit it.

The stakes get higher when the father, who had so cruelly abandoned her at birth, returns and C’s dream of reuniting with him becomes a reality. But now she has to choose between her father and his hand-picked groom on the one side, and Alpha Male and The Broad on the other

“Human Acts” by Kang Han

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In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

Ice Road” by Gillian Slovo

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Leningrad. 1933. Loyalties, beliefs, love and family ties: all are about to be tested to the limit in a fight to see who will survive one of the most crushing moments the world will ever know. Boris Ivanov, the father who understands politics and pragmatism; his daughter Natasha, a carefree, delightful girl who will be almost crushed because of political compromises; Anton, Boris’s oldest friend, who in an uncharacteristic moment saves a skinny little orphan he finds on the Moscow train; Anna, that tough intriguing child. And watching it all is the marvellous Irina. Wry, wise, ironic, Irina understands that simple loyalty to an individual may well be more powerful than blind loyalty to an idea.

“Stalking Jack the Ripper” by Kerri Maniscalco

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Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey 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 into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

 

Fantasy

“Lost Gods” by Brom

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Fresh out of jail and eager to start a new life, Chet Moran and his pregnant wife, Trish, leave town to begin again. But an ancient evil is looming, and what seems like a safe haven may not be all it appears . . .

Snared and murdered by a vile, arcane horror, Chet quickly learns that pain and death are not unique to the living. Now the lives and very souls of his wife and unborn child are at stake. To save them, he must journey into the bowels of purgatory in search of a sacred key promised to restore the natural order of life and death. Alone, confused, and damned, Chet steels himself against the unfathomable terrors awaiting him as he descends into death’s stygian blackness.

“Silver and Bone” by Claudia Cain

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Jennifer Jones is trying to be a better person.

It’s not easy. She has a lot to make up for, considering that she’s an immortal blood-sucker with a history of serial killing. But at least she probably can’t get worse.

And for the last seventy years, things have been going well. She’s got a job, friends she cares about, a steady relationship, and she hasn’t killed a single human.

But something dark is on the horizon. A body appears in an alley, bringing up unsettling memories. A Necromancer warns of an approaching menace, and as more and more bodies begin to appear, repeating a very familiar pattern, Jennifer finds herself being framed for murder.

“The Seafarer’s Kiss” by Julia Ember

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Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies

 

Mystery

“Appetite for Innocence” by Lucinda Berry

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A serial rapist is kidnapping teenage girls. But he’s not interested in just any teenage girls—only virgins. He hunts them by following their status updates and check-ins on social media. Once he’s captured them, they’re locked away in his sound-proof basement until they’re groomed and ready. He throws them away like pieces of trash after he’s stolen their innocence. Nobody escapes alive.

Until Ella.

Ella risks it all to escape, setting herself and the other girls free. But only Sarah—the girl whose been captive the longest—gets out with her. The girls are hospitalized and surrounded by FBI agents who will stop at nothing to find the man responsible. Ella and Sarah are the key to their investigation, but Sarah’s hiding something and it isn’t long before Ella discovers her nightmare is far from over.

“Ninth House” by Leigh Bardugo

The new series centers on Alex Stern, a 20-year-old California high school dropout with a criminal past who is mysteriously offered a second chance as a Yale University freshman. Ninth House, the first book, follows Stern’s freshman year, where she is charged with monitoring Yale’s secret societies, who engage in sinister occult activities

“Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz

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When editor Susan Ryeland is given the manuscript of Alan Conway’s latest novel, she has no reason to think it will be much different from any of his others. After working with the bestselling crime writer for years, she’s intimately familiar with his detective, Atticus Pünd, who solves mysteries disturbing sleepy English villages. An homage to queens of classic British crime such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Alan’s traditional formula has proved hugely successful. So successful that Susan must continue to put up with his troubling behavior if she wants to keep her job.

Conway’s latest tale has Atticus Pünd investigating a murder at Pye Hall, a local manor house. Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but the more Susan reads, the more she’s convinced that there is another story hidden in the pages of the manuscript: one of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition, and murder.

 

Non-fiction

“London Urban Legends” by Scott Wood

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How long has a corpse been staring out at passengers on the tube? Was London Bridge really shipped abroad by an American thinking he’d bought Tower Bridge? Did the Queen really mix with the crowds as a princess on VE Day? And did Hitler actually want to live in Balham? Where are there razor blades hidden and where did all these parakeets come from? Did they really belong to Jimi Hendrix? Urban legends are the funny, frightening and fierce folklore people share. Just like the early folk tales that came before them, which were attempts to explain the spiritual world, these tales are formed from reactions to spectacular events in the modern world, and reflect our current values. From royal rumours to subterranean legends, Scott Wood has researched and written about them with a sense of wonder, humour and a keen eye. He finds the truth, the myth and the lies amongst these tales.

 

I’d love if you guys tell me in the comments your latest TBR finds! I love talking to you 🙂 Don’t forget to stop by my Etsy charity shop before you go! xxx