[637]: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

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Salt to the Sea

by Ruta Sepetys


Books about wars from any period tend to leave a lasting effect on me. Stories about the struggle, the hunger, the pain, and anger stay longer than I’d care to admit. Mostly, I’m overcome with admiration to the characters; it had me thinking about how I could never have survived  had I lived in that era. I’m particularly drawn to stories about World War II. Two years ago, I was completely enamored with Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and Michael Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Then, last year, I discovered Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena; it’s not set in the same time period, but just as affecting regardless. It was a book set during the Chechen war. But these books have one thing in common: they were written by authors who has an uncanny ability to transform horrific tales into something beautiful. Salt to the Sea was no different.

Book Description

Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets. Each one born of a different homeland; each one haunted by tragedy, lies…and war. As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom. Yet not all promises can be kept.

One of the reasons that I enjoy reading books in this genre is that it affords me  the opportunity to learn something. Before starting this, I knew nothing about Wilhelm Gustloff or the “Amber Room”. After I wiped the snot dripping off my nose, I took to the trusty Wikipedia and did a bit of side reading.  It did indeed happen. For a moment or two, I felt the same indignance Ms. Sepetys felt for the way we’ve dismissed this disaster. We certainly haven’t given it the same reverence as we do the Titanic. And I know it’s tough considering who were on the ship to begin with. But we need to remember that they were mostly refugees and victims of war and that they, too, deserve to be remembered.

Reading historical fiction is not always going to be an easy read. More often, they tend to be heavy on the narrative and dry. Salt to the Sea is not the kind of historical fiction, however. Sepetys’ writing has a one-sitting type of reading quality. The pacing was swift and not at all inundated by the four-person points of view.  She set up the novel in such a way that readers would have a heavy weight on their chests, ominously waiting for that looming heartbreak.  There was sporadic humor that felt out of place, but I felt was necessary. It made the story even more endearing.

And of course, the characters. Oh, these lovely characters! They were full of life, and love. Despite the hopelessness of their situation, this motley crew was one of the most compelling band of characters I’ve read in a long time. They looked out for each other, bonded by the will to survive.  There were romance and stories of their lives before the war.  They were heartbreaking, poignant and gorgeous – but mostly, sad. Box of tissues required.

 

Waiting on Wednesday [11]: Assholes: A Theory of Donald Trump by Aaron James

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Publication Date: May 3rd, 2016

That Donald Trump is an asshole is a fact widely agreed upon even by his supporters, who actually like that about him. But his startling political rise makes the question of just what sort of asshole he is, and how his assholedom may help to explain his success, one not just of philosophical interest but of almost existential urgency.
Enter the philosopher Aaron James, author of the foundational text in the burgeoning field of Asshole Studies: the bestselling “Assholes: A Theory.” In this brisk and trenchant inquiry into the phenomenon that is Donald Trump, James places the man firmly in the typology of the asshole (takes every advantage, entrenched sense of entitlement, immune to criticism); considers whether, in the Hobbesian world we seem to inhabit, he might not somehow be a force for good i.e., the Stronger Asshole; and offers a suggestion for how the bonds of our social contract, spectacularly broken by Trump s (and Ted Cruz s) disdain for democratic civility, might in time be repaired.
You will never think about Donald Trump the same way after reading this book. And, like it or not, think about him we must.”


Because I will take advantage of the chance to go on a political rant.

Because this man has it coming.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 180

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Changeless by Gail Carriger | The Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine | Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach | Far Gone by Laura Griffin | Flannery by Lisa Moore


Hello.

I’ve been a complete sloth this past weekend. I was very motivated by Friday afternoon, somewhat energetic on Saturday morning, then completely lost my momentum by Sunday morning. It didn’t help that I didn’t sleep much on Saturday night. I mean, I went to bed at 9:30, but I woke up at 4 am. So all I did was laze around in the house; didn’t even pick up a book, nor did I do anything blog-related. But it’s Monday, and I always have a bit of time before I start work. I do a bit of blogging for half an hour before I “clock in”.

This past weekend, I tried not going to the bookstore but obviously failed. I picked up a couple of cheap books. I’m also very excited to finally read a Laura Griffin book. As you all know, I love reading romantic suspense but it’ll be my first time reading Ms. Griffin’s. I know she comes highly recommended, so I can’t wait!

READ

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This was such a great read. I can’t say enough about Ms. Sepetys’ writing. And her fictional account of World War II was so visceral. It was such a beautiful book and so I’m having a tough time writing a review.

I hope you’ll all have a great week!

Happy reading. 🙂

[636]: The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly

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The Mistake I Made

by Paula Daly


Remember that time when you fantasized about being in Julia Roberts’ shoes in Pretty Woman? How about Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal? Now imagine yourself in that scenario then wake up to realize that Richard Gere or Robert Redford is actually Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. Fun, huh? That’s exactly the situation Roz found herself in.

Roz was a struggling single parent swimming in debt left behind by her ex-husband. She was desperate for money. So when Scott made a “business arrangement” that would alleviate some of her problems, she agreed with just a tiny bit of hesitation. Little did she know that Scott was not the detached, bored millionaire he’d make himself out to be. She figured she’d only have to sleep with him once and then she’ll manage. But complications arose when one of her co-workers found out about the arrangement. Soon she’s not only dealing with the guilt of sleeping with the man whose brother-in-law was someone she could potentially have a relationship with, she’s also had to deal with a blackmailing colleague who’s not in it for the money.

Then he disappeared. Feared dead by the police. Roz’ bid to solve her financial woes instantly became a nightmare of epic proportions.

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Full disclosure, this is a re-read. It took me this long to write a review because I didn’t quite know how to write one on my first go – not that I have a better sense of how-to this time around. I think I was just inspired last weekend.

The Mistake I Made is a suspense of the mildest kind – which makes it even more enjoyable because you don’t have to contend with sweaty palms and racing heartbeats whilst reading. Sometimes, I like my mysteries that way. Though, that doesn’t mean I wasn’t vested in the story. I love that the antagonist was very calm – which, I suppose is a true mark of a sociopath. But every single thing that he did was calculated. Even right up to the point when he destroyed his own family.

Roz was a woman who was doing what she can to give her son a good life. Even with the financial difficulties that her ex-husband left on her hands, she did her best for him. It was easy to sympathize with her and understand that you would probably have done the same thing if you were in her shoes. But at the same time, sleeping with Scott and getting paid for it was taking the easy way out. So when it comes to handing out guilt, she’s definitely not home-free.

This is a great introduction to Ms. Daly’s work . I do believe this is only her third book, and I would most likely read more of hers in the future. Strong characterizations, solid plot points. It would have you thinking about the moral dilemma of Roz’s situation. All in all, I’m glad I decided to give this another go. It gave me another chance to examine what drove Roz to the decisions she made throughout the book.

[635]: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Raven King

by Maggie Stiefvater


I’m a part of the population who died a little when this book’s original publication date was pushed back. I was devastated. I needed to read it like I needed my next breath. But there was nothing else I can do. Earth continued to orbit around the sun. Seasons changed as I came closer to my death. With very little desire to live, I trudged on and waited with everyone. Until that one fateful day when I was given a reprieve: my bookstore had it three days earlier than its publication date. Huzzah.

So I got ready to boogie. I settled in with my Trenta Black Tea Lemonade and told my family to leave me the hell alone. Hours passed. After a few starts and stops, I grew agitated.  Brows furrowed, I start to question if I might be reading a different book. For one, I was reading and rereading passages. For another, I was confused af. This is not the Maggie I knew and love. She was no longer speaking my language. Days passed. I was no closer to deciphering the words. Why was it so complicated?  What changed? Why am I suddenly struggling to imagine what she was describing? I wanted to cry. I wanted to shout at a cruel god who made me wait extra long for a book that will not fulfill its promise of greatness. But I persevered. Who cares if it will take me longer than necessary to read something that I proclaimed to be the most anticipated book to come out this year? I didn’t give up hope. Somewhere in there, I knew I’ll get all the lovin’ feeling back.

The story went on. Gansey and Blue continued to ignore the four-letter-word flashing above their heads. Blue continued to resist kissing Gansey. The women of 300 Fox Way proceeded to exist in their mystical magnificence per usual. Blue’s father was still doing his rendition of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. Adam and Ronan circled each other like prey and predator (which is which was everyone’s prerogative). Ronan brought strays he collected from his dreams like always. The story went on but I couldn’t even muster an ounce of excitement for what’s unfolding before me. Because the truth of the matter is, The Raven King dragged. The writing didn’t work for me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t ever remember Maggie’s writing to be this complicated and long-winded. It’s too pretty for my taste. And I’m the type of reader who was a high tolerance for purple prose. I know how to appreciate cloaked meanings. But above all, If I was disappointed in The Raven King, I was even more disappointed in myself. Because I knew that I would be the black sheep in the community after everything is said and done. I am ashamed.

Towards the end,  a couple of things happened. There was kissing that became a preamble to chapter 39; the culmination of all my wanting happened. For the last two years, I’d imagined how it could be. Who would make the first move? Who would be the first one to  run away after they realized what had happened? I had imagined it in every conceivable way but nothing could’ve prepared me for that moment. It was glorious, splendid, beautiful and way too freaking short. But it doesn’t matter. Because in a few short pages, The Raven King was redeemed. That was all it took. Two kids kissing.

It turns out that I’m easy. I can be bought with the right bribe. You can irritate me with your beautiful words. You can prolong the agony of waiting for my ship to sail. But if you give me everything I’ve been hoping for, you can forget that I ever considered abandoning your book in the first place.

All’s well that ends well.

Waiting on Wednesday [10]: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

23566896 Publication Date: October 11th, 2016
Mulholland Books
Adult Fiction | Suspense | Mystery


Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop. Almost over it. Still not dealing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break-up of his marriage.

Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

The suspect is 17-year-old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.

As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, he finds himself reluctantly working with Noor LeBrac and her younger brother, Jimmy Sarraf.

And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours. Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter.

Tell the truth. Shame the devil. Bish can’t get Violette LeBrac’s words out of his head. But what he may get is some sort of peace with his own past as the worlds of those involved in two bombings, years apart, collide into the journey of his life.


This book is shelved under fkmne14acpy on my Goodreads.

If you must know, the shelf stands for FUCK KILL MARRY ANYONE FOR A COPY. Go on. Check it out. You will see that there are only two books in there.

I’ve contacted her publicist back at the beginning of the year to find out when a cover will be revealed, but I didn’t hear from anyone. Last week, Carina of Carina’s Books featured this book on her WoW and I feel like shit because I’ve fallen on my duties as the literary goddess’ guardian on this side of the world. I mean, how could I have missed it?! How could I have missed the moment in time when the cover was posted on Goodreads? I hang my head in shame.

[634]: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

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Marked in Flesh

by Anne Bishop


There’s a myriad of reasons why I love this series. As a reader whose tastes tend to lean towards stories that are more in touch with reality, The Others is one of the few paranormal series that slipped through that filter. Typically, I’m drawn to the romance that a book promises. This series, however, doesn’t offer much in that respect. And that is why it’s astounding (especially to me) that I’ve consistently rated them high with every installment. So what is it about them that keep me coming back?

For one, Ms. Bishop has created a world that to me, is fascinating. Now if you’re a regular reader of paranormal fantasy, you would probably consider hers as one of many. But since I have no basis for which to compare it to, I remain amazed. After all, I can only name at least one other series that I follow in this genre: The Black Dagger Brotherhood. And that’s about the extent of my experience.

Second, Meg and Simon themselves know how to tease me enough with their budding romance. Confounding, really. Because if it were another book, the slow as molasses progression would have me running out the door faster than you can say DNF.  That is not the case here.  I love how seemingly innocent they are. Simon has no experience whatsoever in handling a relationship with a human. Meg does not have any experience with any healthy relationships period. Together, they are sweet, funny, and more often, silly – which makes them so irresistible.

Third, the anticipation of reading the demise of the Human First Last Movement. Truth be told, I thought it was unrealistic how far The Others have let them. It took too long to snuff them out considering how easily they can destroy their enemies. It’s just silly, I thought. So with every installment, I waited upon bated breath.

There is an underlying social relevance to these books that I’m just now realizing. Nowadays, talks of climate change and its deniers persist in social media platforms. Some political groups insist that humans are in no way responsible for the increasing greenhouse gases that contribute to Earth’s rising temperatures. But scientists insist that we are destroying the only place we call home. We have the same scenario in this series, albeit the humans were only too happy to accept responsibility. Sometimes, I wish that we have the same creatures governing the world’s natural resources.  Because if you think about it, we would probably live more harmoniously in a world where war can easily be eradicated by much more superior supernatural  beings. The conflict in the Middle East would not exist because the land would not be owned by Israel or Palestine. Countries cannot invade other countries. There will be no Axis of Evil. World peace is not just a wish uttered by beauty pageant contestants. It could be a reality if The Others actually existed.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 179

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On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duvis | A Totally Awkward Love Story by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison | Unbecoming by Jenny Downham | The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson | The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi | A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all of you! I hope you know how much your existence is very much appreciated. The world will literally stop dead on its tracks without all of you. Who will find all the missing socks, shirts, pants, sense of humor, and heads if all you lovely people aren’t around? It was a normal day for me. No day off to speak of, but that’s totally my choice. If I have to wait for anyone to do the dishes, do the laundry and clean the house, we will all live in a pig sty. Also, I don’t tolerate clutter and messes all that well, so I’m the one who suffers the most if the housework gets neglected. I did all that and managed to schedule some posts on the blog.

Good news! My cast is off! Good Lord. You can’t imagine how good it feels to have it off. On Wednesday night, as I was getting ready for another night of itchy, smelly, restless sleep, I consulted with my cousins (who are nurses, btw) and asked them if Urgent Care would take my cast off if I told them I’m 60% sure I have gangrene on my foot (long story that involved a metal chopstick). They said it’s probably not advisable but try anyway. I went there at 8 at night and eventually got seen at 4 in the morning. I was determined. I figured  I can’t do another week of this smelly hell. So I sat there and waited. I didn’t get much sleep, so I called in sick on Thursday. It feels soooo good, you guys! I’m still walking a little daintily, but anything is better than being in a cast.

My Mother’s Day celebration is pretty much what we’ve been doing every year. Husband takes me to the bookstore, I get to play queen for a day or two, then it’s business as usual. We had lunch on Saturday and had a backyard barbeque on Sunday. All in all, a great weekend. There was a moment of sadness there because it was our first weekend without the choice of heading to the lake. But it’s time to move on and I’m helping my husband cope with that. Anyway, I hope you all had a great weekend.

READ LAST WEEK

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I had such a weird reaction to this book. My review will be up this week. I’m slowly getting into the groove of things again, so expect more posts from now on…or not. Lol.

Have a great week, everyone!

[633]: Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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Tell Me Three Things

by Julie Buxbaum

I love and hate this book in equal measure. It is a dangerous book to read because it has the ability to put you in a deep reading rut. I feel like I should apologize to The Raven King because I can barely get through its first hundred pages; which is a damn shame because I’ve been waiting forever and a day to read it. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to finish a single book since finishing this one. And for the life of me, I just can’t move on. Depending on the type of reader you are, Tell Me Three Things can be hazardous to the health of your TBR pile. It’s either going to reaffirm your love for the written word or as in my case, it will stunt your reading groove.

Truthfully, I’m envious of those who haven’t discovered the sweetness of Tell Me Three Things. The romance, the characters, the storyline, and the dialogues – everything about it is a reminder of why I can never stop reading YA. Some books with a high school setting typically have the opposite effect on me. Most of the time, I can barely tolerate it. But this book exemplifies the type of contemporary YA I will keep coming back to.

It features a couple of characters who are adorably awkward in their own ways; the loss of their loved ones contributed to them being socially stunted – introverts, in their own respects. Somebody Nobody, for one, was living a double life. His other persona, though gregarious on the surface, was a reluctant participant in the social hierarchy in which he occupies a closer to the top wrung. He shies away from it which makes him a novelty and irresistible to girls and boys alike.

In contrast, Jesse stumbled on pretty much every facet of her new life. Having recently lost her mother and her dad consequently marrying almost soon after, her new life in Los Angeles is a far cry from the comfort of Chicago. She lives in a mansion. She goes to a prestigious school where everyone is practically a typical Californian. To top it off, she has a stepbrother who would rather forget that they ever existed. The only saving grace that stopped  her from running back to Chicago was the correspondence from an online good Samaritan who felt the need to befriend her, albeit, anonymously. Somebody Nobody gave her guidance and tutelage with regards to the working annals of her new school.

Though the author did her best to give us viable suspects on the identity of SN, I half-expected, half-hoped who he was. The contenders gave me pause, made me think of the possibility at least.  There’s Liam who was responsible for her part-time job at the bookstore his family owns; Caleb – the all around goofball and friend to Liam. Then there’s Ethan – a loner, aloof, an enigma with a predilection to Batman t-shirts. I loved “trying” to solve the identity of SN. Let me tell you that it’s not going to take you long before you catch on. But the mystery is just gravy, in my opinion.

Indeed, this book is a mine of story niches. It’s lovely and touching; funny and smart. I love watching Jess figure out how to navigate her new life despite grieving for her mother and dealing with abandonment issues from her father. I love watching her slowly accept the reality of having a step family. I eventually loved her step brother whom, when push came to shove, would protect her from the token Mean Girls of the school. Characters, even secondary ones, grew on me. They made me laugh and made me grin like a fool at inopportune moments. I especially adore Jesse’s interactions with “my suspect”.

Once in a while, I find a book like this that becomes an instant favorite within a couple of chapters into reading it. It’s in the way the story is constructed; the characters imagined. It’s in the ease in which I fall helplessly in love with everything that’s unfolding before me. And once in a while, there’s a book like this that makes me lose my appetite for everything else on my shelves. For that reason, I almost wish I never read the book in the first place. Almost, but not quite.

On the Night Table [35]: Interruptin’ My Grindin’

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Remember that time when I said, yeah. I’m going to cut down my On the Night Table posts to monthly instead of weekly because I’m unable to keep to the schedule? Well, life’s just been full of interruptions lately that I’m barely keeping to the monthly posts as well. I’ve decided that I’m going to keep my reading queue to the barest minimum. So this month, my focus is on these three books along with others that I’ve been attempting to finish for months now.

The Mistake I Made

                                    The Raven King

                                                                    We Are the Ants

I’ve read The Mistake I Made a few months back but I didn’t write a review for it. Part of my goals for the next few weeks is to go back and write reviews that I owe. This is one of those books. I’m about three-quarters of the way to finish my reread. It’s about this single mom who found herself in a bind and had to prostitute herself to this rich man. Eventually, it leads to a murder investigation. It’s a good book and Ms. Daly rights with ease that reading (and re-reading, for that matter) it was a cake-walk.

The Raven King needs no explanation.

I’ve heard so many great things about We Are the Ants that I simply must add it to my reading pile for May. I must say that aliens have held very little appeal to me since the dawn of time, but I’ll bite. I want to see what this book is made of.

Have you read any of these books?

Reviews. Recommendations. Rants.