Book Review: The Reason You’re Alive – Matthew Quick

Book Review: The Reason You’re Alive – Matthew Quick

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Release Date:
July 5th 2017
Publisher: Piacador
Pages: 320
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 2.5/5

Synopsis

After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard—that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It might be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It might also help him finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.

As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and goodhearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese-American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.

Through the controversial, wrenching, and wildly honest David Granger, Matthew Quick offers a no-nonsense but ultimately hopeful view of America’s polarized psyche. By turns irascible and hilarious, insightful and inconvenient, David is a complex, wounded, honorable, and loving man.

The Reason You’re Alive examines how the secrets and debts we carry from our past define us; it also challenges us to look beyond our own prejudices and search for the good in us all.

Review

bookThis is a fascinating read from author Matthew Quick of Silver Linings Playbook fame. The story follows David Granger, a veteran of the Vietnam war. After his brain surgery to remove a tumour David attempts to right some of the wrongs he’s done in his life as well as salvage his relationship with his son Hank.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It was a really interesting read, David recounts some of the horrors of his experience in Vietnam, as well as his adjustment to civilian life. I have mixed feelings because I found it difficult to get on with our protagonist, he was brash and had some very pointed political and social opinions. I preferred the second half of the book much more to the first, particularly as the story started to unfold and you learn more about his life as banker and family man.

The plot is an interesting one, particularly relating to the mysterious Clayton Fire Bear that David mentions throughout the book. I like the personal way the book was written, almost as if the reader is having a conversation with the main character. This is my first book by Matthew Quick, and while I didn’t absolutely love it was a unique and interesting read, and I look forward to seeing more from this author.
3 stars

Blog Tour: The Year After You – Nina de Pass

Blog Tour: The Year After You – Nina de Pass

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Release Date: February 14th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

New Years’ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t.

Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.

Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows about her past. And she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara tries to keep her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are determined to break down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to.

The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

Review

bosdfsrThe Year After You follows a young girl named Cara who is sent to a boarding school in the remote Swiss Alps. On New Years Eve she survived a fatal accident, but her best friend Georgina did not. Consumed by grief, she wants nothing more than to complete the school year and move on, nothing is going to bring down the walls she has built around herself. But as she is drawn into life at Hope Hall, she begins to hope that maybe, things will get better.

The Year After You is such a beautifully told story. It begins with a single tragic event that completely changes Cara’s life. The story focuses very heavily on grief and PTSD and it handled both of those issues extremely deftly. It really hones in on the idea of loss how others around Cara – such as her mother – don’t want to believe that she’s suffering from a mental illness. The story is stunningly told with beautiful writing and I definitely felt myself becoming wrapped up in this well executed plot.

The thing that really made the book for me is the characters. Cara is a real fleshed out character and she seems very realistic, but I also really liked Ren, Hector and Fred. They’re all loyal and fascinating characters and each one is dealing with their own secrets. I really liked seeing them develop as friends and grow as characters and that’s definitely one of the reasons I enjoyed this story so much.

The Year After You also features a really stunning setting and the remote boarding school trope is one that I absolutely adore. The beautiful old building in the snowy Alps, the cable car journeys and the remoteness of the school really helped to bring this beautiful story to life.

The Year After You is a beautifully told tale of friendship, grief and ultimately of second chances. The story completely blew me away and if you’re looking for a brilliant new read – I can’t recommend this highly enough.
5 stars
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Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Couples in Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Couples in Books

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Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday! This week we’re talking about our favourite couples in books. I don’t read romance novels or much in the way of contemporary so most of these are from fantasy books! There might be slight spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read these books so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

1. Yelena & Valek – Study Series
Yelena and Valek are definitely my favourite couple from a book. This series is one of my all time favourites and I loved watching their relationship grow over the six books.
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2. Hunter & Morgan – Sweep Series
These two were some of my favourite characters growing up and I loved them as a couple. I’m currently rereading this fifteen book series and I still adore the characters so they definitely deserve to be on this list.

3. Vasya & Morozoko – Winternight Trilogy
I recently read the final book in this beautiful trilogy so I couldn’t make this list without my favourite heroine and the King of Winter. They were such fascinating characters and the romance between them blossomed so well in the story!
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4. Jude & Cardan – Folk of the Air
I imagine this one might be on a lot of people’s lists. The love/hate relationship between Jude and Cardan is one of the things I love most about this trilogy and honestly I’m just dying to read Queen of Nothing.


5. Hanna & Nik – Illuminae Files

I loved these two so much. Hanna is on the surface a pampered princess but with much than meets the eye and Nik is the drug dealer with a heart of gold. What’s not to love about this couple?
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6. Alosha & Riden – Daughter of the Pirate King

This duology was completely not what I was expecting and was much more romance focused than I originally thought but I really loved the sassy banter and budding romance between Alosha and Riden in this series so they were an easy choice for this list!

7. Lara Jean & Peter – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
THEY ARE JUST SO CUTE AND ADORABLE. This is the only contemporary couple on this list but they are just perfect. I loved them in the books and I adored them in the movie – they’re sweet and funny and definitely one of the best couples.
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8. Alina and Mal – Grisha Trilogy

This might be a bit of a controversial one. I know a lot of people don’t like Alina and Mal together and while I really love the Darkling, I think Alina and Mal make a really lovely couple and ultimately she ended up with the right person.

9. Hoshiko & Ben – Showstopper
These two make a really fascinating couple because they come from such different worlds. Ben is rich and lives comfortably with his status as a Pure and Hoshiko is forced to perform in a deadly circus as one of the Dregs of society. They get together and they’re such a sweet couple!
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10. Lou & Robert – A Sky Painted Gold

This Gatsby-esque historical fiction novel features a romance between the wealthy Robert Cardew and local girl Lou and I completely fell in love with their story when I read it last year. It’s a perfect summer read and a gorgeous romance!

So those are my top ten couples from books. Which couples made your list?

Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

Book Review: Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed

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Release Date:
January 16th 2018
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

“I don’t want something . . . expected. I want to go to film school and be the first Indian American to win an Oscar, and then I can meet the One and fall in big, heart-bursting love, and we’ll travel the world, my camera ready to capture our adventures.” My cheeks flush; I know I’m blushing, but I can’t bring myself to shut up. “Oh, my God. I want my future life to be a cheesy romantic comedy.”
He shakes his head. “No,” he says. “You want it to be an epic.”

Maya Aziz dreams of being a film maker in New York. Her family have other ideas. They want her to be a dutiful daughter who wears gold jewellery and high heels and trains to be a doctor. But jewellery and heels are so uncomfortable…

She’s also caught between the guy she SHOULD like and the guy she DOES like. But she doesn’t want to let Kareem down and things with Phil would never work out anyway. Would they?

Then a suicide bomber who shares her last name strikes in a city hundreds of miles away and everything changes . . .

Review

hatefThis book is a really important own voices read, that tackles a number of really difficult issues in an interesting way. Maya stands on the precipice of her future and there are two options – going to NYU and following her dreams of studying film, or going to a more local University and finding a new suitable boy to marry – the option that her parents want her to take. I thought she was a really fascinating character and I loved her perspectives on life, and her dedication to film. She was strong and determined, she made difficult choices and stuck to her guns even when things were hard.

The book focuses on two key areas – the romance aspect as Maya meets Kareem but also has feelings for classmate Phil, and an in depth look at hate crimes and the rippling effects that one horrific event can have on so many people’s lives. The romance I found a little cheesy and fluffy which is why I didn’t rate it higher, but it’s sweet and adds another layer to this interesting story.

The effects of the terrorist attack by a white supremacist is the part of the story that was most powerful. Although Maya wasn’t involved in the attack, her and her family still feel the effects and are still the victims of hate crimes. I would have loved for the book to dig a bit deeper into this important issue, rather than the focus on the romance between Maya and Phil.

The book is a pretty quick read, I read it almost in one sitting. That being said I think it highlights a lot of problems and issues in society, and is therefore a really important read. It has a really interesting cast of characters, and the story is well paced and interesting. If you like contemporary books with plenty of sweet and light romance, this is definitely a book to pick up.
3 stars

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

Book Review: Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

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Release Date:
22nd March 2018
Publisher: Pan Macmillian
Pages: 272
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis

When angels start falling from the sky, it seems like the world is ending. Smashing down to earth at extraordinary speeds, wings bent, faces contorted, not a single one has survived.

As the world goes wild for angels, Jaya’s father uproots the family to Edinburgh intent on catching one alive. But Jaya can’t stand this obsession and, still reeling from her mother’s recent death and the sudden disappearance of her ex-girlfriend, she’s determined to stay out of it.

Then something incredible happens: an angel lands right at Jaya’s feet – and it’s alive …

Review

book cover (96)I recently did a 24 hour readathon and this was one of the books I was hoping to get to. After reading just a few pages I was absolutely hooked and I’m pretty sure I barely even breathed as I devoured this beautiful and original book.

This is such an important book and it deals with so many issues. It deals with grief in a really fascinating way as Jaya and her family attempt to recover from her mother’s death. It also deals with friendship, sexuality, race, family relationships and lots more in between. I felt that Out of the Blue was fantastically written, with real and realistic characters. I loved our main character Jaya, there’s so much character development as she finds this angel, meets Allie and her brother Calum, and attempts to understand her place in the world.

One of the things that really made this book for me was the setting. Growing up and living not too far from Edinburgh made this book a must read for me. I loved seeing the familiar setting and the portrayal of the crazy festival season. I thought Sophie Cameron did a wonderful job of bringing Edinburgh to life, as well as making it believable that angels could crash land in the city. When I read the synopsis I wasn’t sure that falling angels would be believable but Cameron’s world-building is superb and powerful.

Out of the Blue is one of those books that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading it. Vivid, beautiful and imaginative, this is definitely one of my favourite books of 2018.
5 stars

Book Review: Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

Book Review: Genuine Fraud – E. Lockhart

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Release Date:
September 5th 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 267
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book of this book through ReadersFirst
Rating: 2.75 stars

Synopsis

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Review

Genuine Fraud is the newest title from E. Lockhart, who is well known for the YA thriller We Were Liars. At one point I was seeing We Were Liars everywhere, I think around the time it was featured in the Zoella Book Club. I bought a copy for my kindle and read the book in a single sitting but I wasn’t entirely sure it was my cup of tea. After hearing about Genuine Fraud I thought the premise sounded really interesting and decided to give it a shot.

book cover (80)The one thing I found about both We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud is that they were pretty quick reads. Genuine Fraud is just over 250 pages and tells the story of two young women, Imogen and Jule and their lives over the course of their friendship.The story is told in a series of different chapters which jump in time. I found this really grating, especially when I put the book down for a while and went back to it. I imagine some people will love this non-traditional way of telling a story but it wasn’t really for me.

The story is an intense one and there are plenty of twists and turns. Like We Were Liars there were some shock reveals that I just didn’t see coming and would never have guessed in a million years. In that respect I enjoyed this book because quite frequently I find myself guessing the twists before they happen.

I won’t say too much about the plot because I don’t really want to give the story away – this is one of those books that is best to go into without knowing much about. The characters are interesting and well portrayed but I found it difficult to find any sort of likeable quality in any of them. Each was working to their own desires and motivations and while it made for some interesting perspectives, I didn’t really feel attached to any of them.

While I didn’t love this book Genuine Fraud is an interesting read and one I think loads of people will enjoy, especially if you’re a fan of psychological thrillers with a twist.
3 stars

December Book Haul!

December Book Haul!

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Today I thought I would post my December book haul! I’ve split this into two parts, this one being books that publishers kindly sent me and books that I bought and I’ll have another post later on with the books I got given for Christmas. I’m really proud of myself because I only bought two books in December, as I’m trying to lessen the amount of books I buy. That being said I did get quite a few from publishers, so lets dive in!
 

From Publishers

This Lie Will Kill You – Chelsea Pitcher
book cover (72)This young adult mystery/thriller has been likened to Riverdale and I’m so excited to pick it up.

One year ago, there was a party.
At the party, someone died.
Five teens each played a part and up until now, no one has told the truth.

But tonight, the five survivors arrive at an isolated mansion in the hills, expecting to compete in a contest with a $50,000 grand prize. Of course…some things are too good to be true. They were each so desperate for the prize, they didn’t question the odd, rather exclusive invitation until it was too late.

The Year After You – Nina De Pass
book cover (73)This is a beautiful contemporary ya novel coming from Ink Road books in February. It sounds like it will be a really moving story and I’m really looking forward to reading it.

New Years’ Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in a tragic accident. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t.

Nine months later, Cara is struggling, consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back.

Once and Future – Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy
book cover (74)A Merlin retelling in space? SOLD. I honestly squealed with excitement when this came through the door and it has gone straight to the top of my TBR pile. That cover is also stunning!

I’ve been chased my whole life. As an illegal immigrant in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.

Now I’m done hiding.

My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.

When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.

No pressure.

Stain – A. G. Howard
book cover (75)This is another release that I am honestly so desperate to read. A Gothic fairytale inspired by The Princess and the Pea? Who wouldn’t want to read that?

Once upon a nightmare, her fairy tale begins…

After Lyra—a princess incapable of speech or sound—is cast out of her kingdom of daylight by her wicked aunt, a witch saves her life, steals her memories, and raises her in an enchanted forest … disguised as a boy known only as Stain. Meanwhile, in Lyra’s rival kingdom, the prince of thorns and night is dying, and the only way for him to break his curse is to wed the princess of daylight, for she is his true equal. As Lyra rediscovers her identity, an impostor princess prepares to steal her betrothed prince and her crown. To win back her kingdom, save the prince, and make peace with the land of the night, Lyra must be loud enough to be heard without a voice, and strong enough to pass a series of tests—ultimately proving she’s everything a traditional princess is not.

Burn for Burn – Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivan
book cover (76)I recently read all of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books and a few people have recommended this series to me so I was so pleased when this surprise piece of post arrived!

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

Slay On Tour – Kim Curran
book cover (78)The SLAY boys are back and this time they’re heading to Japan. I honestly can’t wait to find out what’s next in store for this demon fighting boyband!

SLAY are BACK…and this time they’re headed to Tokyo to track down another hell-raising demon. When they’re invited on tour with a super-cool band of holographic girls, SLAY find themselves whisked off around Japan – until strange things start happening on their tour train. Suddenly it seems it’s not just SLAY’s fans following their every move…

The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea
I absolutely adore historical fiction and this honestly sounds like the perfect book for me. This icy mystery is definitely going to be a great book to cuddle up with on a winter evening.

1686, ICELAND. AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.
Betrothed unexpectedly to 
book cover (79)Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.
But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.
The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?
Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim . . .

The Fork, the Witch & the Worm – Christopher Paolini
book cover (69)Eragon and the gang are back in this all new collection of short stories from the Inheritance cycle. I was on the blog tour for this so you can check out my thoughts here!

A wanderer and a cursed child. Spells and magic. And dragons, of course.

Welcome back to the world of Alagaësia. It’s been a year since Eragon departed Alagaësia in search of the perfect home to train a new generation of Dragon Riders. Now he is struggling with an endless sea of tasks: constructing a vast dragonhold, wrangling with suppliers, guarding dragon eggs, and dealing with belligerent Urgals and haughty elves. Then a vision from the Eldunarí, unexpected visitors, and an exciting Urgal legend offer a much-needed distraction and a new perspective. This volume features three original stories set in Alagaësia, interspersed with scenes from Eragon’s own unfolding adventure. 

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite
book cover (59)I was sent this book through ReadersFirst and I ended up reading it in one sitting. Dark, gripping and fascinating, this is a brilliant read.

Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.

Books I Bought:

 Obsidio – Jay Kristoff & Ami Kaufman
book cover (77)The third and final book in the Illuminae Files, I had to rush out and buy this as soon as I finished Gemina. I’m pretty sure it’s going to break my heart though.

Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion?

Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. 

With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken…

Evermore – Sara Holland
book cover (36)This is definitely one of my most anticipated releases. I loved Everless so I’m really excited to get back to this magical world and I hope it’s just as good as book one!

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

So that’s my December book haul! If you’ve read any of these definitely let me know what you thought of them and also let me know which books you bought in December!