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review 2018-04-11 12:57
Review: Royals
Royals - Rachel Hawkins

I received a copy from Penguin’s First To Read

 

This book was like a giant rom-com cliché. The alternate history for the Royal family was eye rolling and cringe worthy. That being said once you over look those things, it was actually a very entertaining read. Irritating as hell, but fun.

 

(Especially like me if you have a guilty pleasure for Royal gossip)

 

In this alternate world there is a Scottish Royal Family, and the heroine Daisy’s sister Ellie has fallen in love with Prince Alexander, heir to the throne. They are getting married. Daisy lives in Florida with her mom and her ex British rock star dad. She lives a pretty normal life. She has a part time job at a local convenience store and is looking forward to a planned trip to Key West with her BFF Isabel where they will go to a convention to meet their favourite fantasy author and get their books signed. All pretty normal.

 

But all this is thrown out of whack when Ellie announces she’s marrying the prince and the Royal family have invited the whole family to Scotland for a few weeks for the summer to get a taste of what’s coming.

 

Every other chapter is a page from a magazine or a gossip blog/tabloid.

 

Daisy is fuming but agrees on the basis that the Royal assistant Glynnis who has come with Ellie and Alex can arrange for a singing at a book shop near where they are staying and bring Isabel along later.

 

So off to Scotland they go given a Royal treatment – first class flights, fancy cars, the fanciest hotels. To add to the chaos, Alex’s younger brother, charming, Sebastian (who is Daisy’s age, 17) the most eligible teen in Scotland is there as well with his group of fancy friends. Sebastian is an ass, crude, full of himself and flirts with everything in a skirt. Daisy finds herself getting into a snit with his best friend Miles when a drunken Sebastian decides to head into her room.

 

The dialogue is sharp and witty and as soon as Miles and Daisy start snarking with each other it’s completely predictable as to what’s going to happen. Daisy has to go to several royal events and dress the part (something she’s not happy about) and of course things go eye rollingly wrong (including a rather amusing incident where she finds herself getting looked down on by some of the posh women and does a delightful job of holding her own and insulting them right back).

 

It’s cheesy as hell. However, at the time, I did find myself reading this with a grin on my face most of the time. Daisy is struggling to cope with major culture shock, even when her best friend finally arrives (Isabel’s huge crush on Sebastian not helping) Daisy finds herself unwittingly creating a scandal that catches the eye of the disapproving Queen. And Miles to the rescue.

 

Which leads to a fake dating plot.

 

As a lead character Daisy was immensely likeable, easy to understand where she’s coming from. Easy to follow her story as she moves between the very different world and gets to know the real people behind the tabloid gossip and learns maybe Miles isn’t the stuck up ass he pretends to be. They have some quite interesting conversations about their differences.

 

The end is absolutely gag worthy. But kind of works.

 

Not the most brilliant book I have ever read, but certainly an entertaining one.

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review 2018-04-01 13:58
Your Neighbours Are Not Always Nice...
The Road Through the Wall - Shirley Jackson

Neighbours as we know it can be friendly or not. But in Shirley Jackson's The Road Through the Wall, neighbours as we know it is not what it seems to be. I had quite a number of days to read her first book, which turns out for me quite conflicted whether I like it or I don't. Never the less, I do enjoy her writings and even though there is much to talk about of its flaws, this is still a good read for me.


In Pepper Street, this neighbourhood seems 'perfect'. Neighbours greet each other, they are formal in their own way of being nice and courteous and they have their days of sharing a common hobby together like sewing. But within each household lies another reality - shallow thinkers, bullies, selfish actions and egoistical show offs. The children have secrets among one another, so are the parents. Everyone harbours lies that on the outside, they are superficial. Only one goodness remains - Caroline Desmond, a three year old little girl hardly spoken, hardly knew what is going on in this neighbourhod. There is a wall that divides one street to the next but when the bricks starts to crumble and a tragedy strikes, every thing else is an open secret and what was once consider a nice neighbourhood no longer matters.


Its a simple story really with a lot of characters being introduced in the first chapter itself. I do get a little confuse with one of the other but as I read its easier to know who is who. Still, this is a book that is difficult to rate for me. There are loop holes involve where its never explored at all. Some of these are as to 'why' the actions of certain characters of what they do were never explained completely. I had to make assumptions in order to fulfill them and its easier, as the setting does feel like the late 1940s and early 1950s. The dark part of the book are how each of them backstab each other in ways how superficial they are in front of the neighbours and the children, well, they shown their dark parts too. The writing on the other hand is, as always, pretty much how Shirley Jackson would write - clear, precise and straight to a point. What I enjoy most is how she hook me into the chapter of some of the characters, in a way development explain of who they are and then of course, reach to a point of a little surprise there that feels as if she wanted me to the ride that may keep me guessing. The ending on the other hand, is typical of her and since this is her first book in 1948, I am pretty sure her intentions of writing them is as real as her experience much like how neighbourhoods are in any place in the world.


For me, this is a hard rating to give. I like it but not that much to a point I love it. Its good writing, just not the story itself. Where else there can be much to explore here, I wonder what motivates her to write this story as her first book. I won't say it is bad or any thing but as conflicted as I am in giving a good rating, the best I can think of is a 3.5. I won't say I will recommend this but this story is much like a cautionary tale of what neighbours are (and even can be as an example for today) behind closed doors.

 

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text 2018-03-30 15:04
Books I Read This Month: March 2018
Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi
The High Tide Club - Mary Kay Andrews
Burn Bright - Patricia Briggs,-Penguin Audio-,Holter Graham

So I managed to get through a lot of books this month. I read 38 books. I had a few duds, okay a lot of duds, but did have some really good 5 and 4 star reads. 

 

My favorite I think is going to go towards "Children of Blood and Bone." My least favorite is going to go to that Mary Alice Monroe book, "The High Tide Club."It is tied though with "Burn Bright" by Patricia Briggs. So there you go, I had two least favorite reads this month. 

 

5 stars

 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha ChristiePeril at End House by Agatha ChristieChildren of Blood and Bone by Tomi AdeyemiMen Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingChecking Out by Nick SpaldingThe Nature of the Beast by Louise PennySparkling Cyanide by Agatha Christie

Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion

 

4 stars

 

The Belles by Dhonielle ClaytonSherlock Holmes Remastered by Arthur Conan DoyleBeastly by Alex FlinnThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Time of the Hunter's Moon by Victoria HoltTwo Kinds of Truth by Michael ConnellyBinti by Nnedi Okorafor

 

3 stars

 

Evil Under the Sun by Agatha ChristieThe Secret Adversary by Agatha ChristieThe Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux

The Dark Half by Stephen KingThe Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan DoyleA Great Reckoning by Louise PennyTwo Fridays in April by Roisin Meaney

Home by Nnedi Okorafor

 

2 stars

 

Happiness by Heather HarphamBonfire by Krysten RitterPerfect by Judith McNaughtThe Long Way Home by Louise Penny

The Art of French Kissing by Brianna R. ShrumMy Husband's Wife by Jane CorryParis Ever After by K.S.R. Burns

 

1 star

 

Burn Bright by Patricia BriggsThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra BrackenFirst Grave on the Right by Darynda JonesThe High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

 

DNF

 

Ancillary Justice by Ann LeckieThe People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder

 

I managed to finish my 52 Weeks challenge for The (Mostly) Dead Writer's Society. And I managed to get some books towards the Horror Aficionados Public Domain Challenge. 

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review 2018-03-20 08:36
Short Stories of the Normal In An Extraordinary Way.
The Lottery and Other Stories - Shirley Jackson

Before, I did mention I enjoyed reading short stories. There aren't many books with short stories today and for a long time, I heard about The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, which is one of the reasons why I had been looking high and low for this collection. There are 24 short stories altogether and to my amazement, I really enjoyed reading all of them.

 

The Lottery and Other Stories is divided into 5 parts and to its own theme. Here's a short summary for each of these stories:-

 

The Intoxicated - When a drunk meets the daughter of the host of the party. The Daemon Lover - A girl looking for her future husband on her wedding day. Like Mother Used to Make - A man cooks dinner for his guest only to be thrown out of his house. Trial By Combat - A woman's apartment been robbed by another tenant. The Villager - A woman pretend to be a buyer of things. My Life With R.H. Macy - A man works in Macys. The Witch - A man tells a story of a scary witch to a child in gruesome details. The Renegade - When an owner's dog kills a farmers chicken. After You, My Dear Alphonse - A game played between two children. Charles - A boy shares his school days with his parents about a naughty student. Afternoon in Linen - A grandmother proud of his grand daughter of a poem she wrote. Flower Garden - A wife who fell in love with a cottage meets the new owner that the neighbors do not want to be friends with. Dorothy and My Grandmother and The Sailors- A trip to a town only to avoid sailors. Colloquy - A patient shares her problems with a doctor. Elizabeth - A day of a literary agent. A Fine Old Firm - A meeting of new neighbors. The Dummy - One night show of a ventriloquist. Seven Types of Ambiguity - A couple going into a bookstore to buy books. Come Dance With Me In Ireland - When three women shown kindness to an Irish old man. Of Course - Greeting a new neighbor. Pillars of Salt An experience trip to New York to remember by a couple. Men With Their Big Shoes - When an expected married wife gets a different view about husbands from a caretaker. The Tooth - When a married woman goes on a trip to New York to extract a tooth with devastating change. The Lottery - A lottery that is held with unexpected results.

 

There is a small poem as a companion to The Daemon Loverwhich can be read at the end of the book. This is my first time reading a Shirley Jackson book without any expectations. I never thought I would be amazed by her writing, let alone magnetize by her way of story telling. There is some thing about her writings that really makes an interesting read. These stories, some doesn't have an ending. Its like a pick out of the blue chapter from some where. Its plot isn't interesting but by way of reading, its something else. I followed to each of their own and to each of them, they are all good (for me any way). Usually I won't enjoy a short story if it lingers in the end but this is an exception for me because, its just the way she writes that I like about. I had invested in her other books (bought almost all of them I think) and I can't wait to read them all. The Lottery and Other Stories is a book picking up because of its writing but yes, it may not be anyone's cup of tea but still, I would highly recommend it for its weirdness, twist and unexpected spin of tales of the normal that makes it quite extraordinary.

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review 2018-03-19 11:33
Review: Nothing Left to Burn
Nothing Left To Burn - Heather Ezell

I received a copy from Penguin First to Read.

 

I went into this book not really knowing anything about it. It flagged my attention because I remembered if from my TBR list. I wasn’t expecting such an emotional gut-wrencher.

 

It starts with teenager Audrey wakened by firemen knocking on her door and some ungodly hour of the morning informing her of mandatory evacuation due to a raging wildfire. Audrey lives in Orange County, California. Her dad is out of town on a business trip and her mom and younger sister Maya have gone somewhere (I can’t remember where) for some really exclusive ballet audition for Maya. Audrey stayed home and went to a party the night before. It’s clear something happened there and she may be a tad hungover.

 

Naturally she’s completely freaked out and running around trying to figure out what to save, to get hold of her dad. She can’t bear the thought of freaking out her younger sister before her big audition. Also extremely worried over her boyfriend Brooks who is a volunteer firefighter.

 

What follows is an emotional roller coaster as Audrey comes to terms with the raging fire and how it’s effecting the people in her life. Also with flashback chapters on how she met Brooks and how their relationship developed.

 

It’s excellently written and the emotion pours out of the characters. Audrey comes across as a bit of a shy loner, with one best friend Grace. She doesn’t seem to get out much and feels a little left behind since Grace got a girlfriend, Quinn. Audrey works with Grace’s older brother Hayden on some AP projects for a class they’re in together. They’re friendly but you also get an impression something happened there as well that Audrey’s trying to avoid dealing with.

 

She meets Brooks at a party and they strike an immediate connection. He’s a loner as well, there’s gossip about him Audrey’s heard throughout the school grapevine but Brooks is nice and she doesn’t want to listen to rumours. Especially since they seem to be getting on so well. They start hanging out more and more and develop a deeper relationship going from friendship to something more romantic.

 

Audrey misses some red flags when Brooks’s behaviour starts changing. He’s got a complex past, his beloved brother died, he’s struggling to deal with it. Understandable. He can get her to talk, but doesn’t always seem to divulge much information about himself and gets annoyed and angry when asked about it. That should raise a few questions on its own. He doesn’t seem to like Audrey hanging out with her friends. He makes a scene about it when her friends show up at a birthday celebration for Audrey. He also seems kind of pushy about sex as well, especially since Audrey’s made it clear she wants to wait until she feels ready. Yet at the same time he can be very romantic as well.

 

The chapters switch between what is happening the day of the evacuation and what happened over the summer leading to that point.  As Audrey gets closer to Brooks she starts ignoring her own friends, and there’s big questions about what happened to Brooks’s deceased brother. Audrey gets some pretty shocking information. Yet she still can’t seem to think of much else.

 

There’s also a really great family dynamic as well, Audrey and her sister are really close and their relationship with their parents is decently described as well. The parents are involved without being overbearing and not pushed to the background.

 

There was a surprising twist in regards to the wildfire as well.

 

Beautifully written and really emotional as well, this was a quick read but a very good one. Definitely an author I would read again.

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