We Came Here to Forget – Review

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Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

I’ve never read Andrea Dunlop before, and am glad that I have now because she is a brilliant author that I will definitely read again. I enjoyed her writing style, and her storytelling abilities.

The novel followed Katie Cleary, a ski champion and affectionate sister. Between flashbacks throughout Katie’s ubringing, leading to a crucial moment in her life that shattered her relationship with her sister, and present day, where Katie has created an alternate life in Buenos Aires where she goes by Liz.

As her story unravels, we find empathy for her and her tragic experiences, but also grow to encourage her individual growth.

There’s not a whole lot of dialogue, and the most interesting aspects of the stories are in the flashbacks. I found myself rushing through the current chapters just to get to the drama between Katie and her sister.

I enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more from this author!

 

 

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The Au Pair – Review

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Genre: Mystery/Suspense

Rating: 3/5

A lot of people really loved this one, but it was not for me. I enjoyed the beginning and was initially sucked into the story, wondering what happened to this family and Seraphine’s mother, who committed suicide the same day that she was born? But, as the novel continued down a dark path, I lost my interest.

SPOILERS: I felt as though the ending/the “why” behind all of this, was unbelievable. Not like, I enjoyed it – unbelievable in that I genuinely could not believe it. The au pair is meant to have conceived and bore twins without anyone noticing that she was pregnant. There’s no way… it just doesn’t make sense. Also, she delivered them on all-fours and was just fine? Women don’t just give birth and walk away. What about their health? The umbilical chord? All that? And then, she just gets up and goes on with life. Like she didn’t just push out two humans.

I’m not a mother, but even I know that motherhood doesn’t look like that. I can’t understand why the writer ended the novel with this… it was wholly unrealistic.

I’m glad others enjoyed it, but this far-fetched ending took me out of the novel.

Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom – Review

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Genre: Novella

Rating: 5/5

Attention fellow Plath fans! Our girl is back with a sick new novella, and as always, she is proving herself to be one of the greatest writers to have existed. I will never not be fascinated by Plath, and it breaks my heart that she had such a tragic end and will never know how much she meant to be and millions of other readers and writers alike.

This novella, which was very short, follows Mary Ventura, a young woman, who’s parents put her on a train. Aboard the train, she discovers from a woman sitting with her that they are venturing to the Ninth Kingdom, and that there is no way back.

SPOILERS BELOW:

I felt as though Plath wrote this entire novella as a metaphor to a train ride to Hell. I think this because:

  1. She got aboard a train and didn’t know where she was going to end up, much like the rest of us when we embark on life’s journey and don’t know whether or not we will end up in Heaven or Hell.
  2. She met a stranger, almost an angelic or God-like character (I believe Plath would’ve made God a woman, and I applaud this), who tells her that the horror awaiting them in the Ninth Kingdom, and how one cannot escape it once they enter.
  3. The character then decides that she has the will to jump off of the train and avoid the Ninth Kingdom, and once her will changes, the stranger decides to help guide her.
  4. She then is able to jump off the train, follow a staircase, and end in a rather familiar and happy place where the woman is as well, and welcomes Mary to the Kingdom.

 

I mean, it’s a Kingdom… Ninth Kingdom… Kingdom of Heaven…? Anyone else see it?

Please comment and let me know what you think of this novella!

The Most Fun We Ever Had – Review

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Genre: Literary Fiction

Rating: 5/5

This is one of the best reads of 2019, bar none. I am calling it… this book will win all of the awards. Claire Lombardo is the next Kingsolver. Here it is in writing, in January of 2019, and I can’t wait to look back on this and know how right I was.

Lombardo’s debut novel is truly a work of art. It follows the Sorenson family, consisting of Marilyn and David (the parents), and their four daughters, Wendy, Violet, Liza, and Grace. Each character has their own personality, truly distinct and yet somehow envelopes that of all families. It felt in a way as if my own family were being described, in how different we all are but yet how we come together and find ourselves bound together by blood.

The story is told in flashbacks, as well as present day, chapters alternating. We witness the story unraveling, how the characters got to the point that they are now, almost as if a coming-of-age story for every single character individually and as a family unit. Marilyn and David have an unparalleled love story that engulfed me, and gave me hope that my fiance and I have found what those two have. And, it reminded me of my own parents, married now for 35 years and still as in love as they were the day that they met.

Despite the privilege in which these characters are bread into, they have their own struggles. No one is immune from mental illness, no one is immune from ill-fated hardships, and it felt as though reading this book was seeing a very realistic and relatable family through a very raw, magnifying lens.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book. I am heartbroken that I have finished it, and wish I could read it again with the same lack of awareness as the first time. I think a LOT of readers will resonate with one or more characters in the novel, and the thematic elements that emerge through Lombardo’s writing. Lovers of Kingsolver’s Unsheltered will love this piece of writing. I know I did!

The Winter Sister – Review

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Genre: Suspense

Rating: 4/5

Megan Collins totally rocked it for her debut novel. Suspense is probably the hardest to write, because of how unique the ideas have to be in order to engage the reader. There’s a reason that it is one of the most popular genres to read, and Megan Collins is on her way to joining the ranks as a well-known suspense writer.

The novel follows Sylvie, a young woman who has come home to care for her ailing mother, and is in turn reminded of the events that happened in her childhood home and the murder of her older sister, Persephone. The case has been cold for years, and still there is no one that knows who had a hand in killing Persephone.

The only reason why I didn’t rate this higher is because there were some plot twists that I felt like I recognized a lot earlier than they were revealed. I was hoping in some ways that I would be wrong and my inclinations would be shattered by something revolutionary, but often times the reveals were anticlimactic because I had already assumed as much. However, for a debut suspense writer, I think Collins engaged the reader and despite the more obvious twists and turns, I still genuinely enjoyed the novel and would love to read more from this author.

 

Confess – Review

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Genre: Fiction/Romance

Rating: 4/5

Another day, another Colleen Hoover book… but this one was not my favorite compared to her others. I had just finished reading Verity and Ugly Love, and I felt as if the twists and turns in those novels were much more amusing than the ones within Confess.

This novel follows that of Auburn and Owen. Auburn, a single mother struggling to stay afloat meets Owen, a handsome artist who needs help with his studio. But, what Auburn doesn’t know is that Owen knows exactly who she is…

I felt as though their meet cute was a bit random, too random to be believable. No spoilers, but after reading I think you’ll see what I mean by the coincidence being a bit too much.

I also felt as though the “big reveal” wasn’t all that big. Colleen Hoover is one that typically leaves me with my jaw on the floor, but this one just didn’t hit that mark for me. Nonetheless, a 4/5 by Colleen Hoover is still a 5/5 in fiction – she’s just that good… but this one, based on the order in which I read her novels, just didn’t live up to the hype.

Maybe if I’d read it first… I’d feel different. But alas, here we are, slightly disappointed.

Every Word You Cannot Say – Review

Genre: Poetry

Rating: 5/5

 

This poetry collection was everything I didn’t know I needed. Typically, I don’t read a lot of male poets, not because they are not brilliant, I just don’t relate strongly to a lot of the thematic and personal elements that, in my opinion, make poetry so enjoyable. But, I saw this particular book on Netgalley and was in the mood for something poetic.

As a full-time graduate student, graduate assistant, and part-time marketing specialist, I have been insanely busy, and my mental health has started to deteriorate because I haven’t had much time for self-care. This book gave me all of the reassurances I needed to get through this semester.

Iain S. Thomas spoke to me the way I needed to be spoken to. He spoke TO me. His writing was personal and engaged the reader. He preached self-love and introduced the reader to themselves through his stylistic creativity. He empowered me, and made me feel as though it were my own doing.

For those that need a pick me up, this book is everything you need. This book really is every word you cannot say to yourself, but that you should.