All is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker // A Quite Interesting Read

Monday, 24 April 2017 0 comments
All is Not Forgotten, by Wendy Walker
Publication: July 12, 2016, by St. Martin's Press
Genre: Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 310
Format: ARC
Source: BEA/Publisher

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.
As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

My Thoughts:

All is Not Forgotten is a novel that I would normally want to pick up and devour instantly. It definitely is "my kind of read," especially because it is a psychological thriller slash mystery. There are so many good things about this genre that I usually am unable to imagine anything horrible about it. However, this time around, I feel pretty confused or mixed-feelings-like about this novel, and I feel quite upset over the fact that I am writing this review NOW, maybe seven months after I first read it. 

This was basically the best book gone wrong. I had so much hope for it because I expected a read that would be more about the actual mystery instead of the aftermath of this all. In a few words, I would describe this as a PTSD book. It's heartbreaking to read stories like these when you know that they have the capability of being so good or enjoyable. 

I honestly am not able to remember what this book is even about. What I can tell you is that it was readable—I was able to enjoy some of it and pick up on some of the important/captivating parts where I couldn't stop reading, but there were other points of time where I just felt like saying "meh." That is the best way to describe this whole book. 

This definitely incorporates some graphic violence so I would keep my eye out for that if you're not into stories that are really depressing and difficult to endure. All Is Not Forgotten is an average mystery novel that hits you a little, but leaves you shocked because you completely expected more. 

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is a new adult book about domestic violence?

We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash // An Unexpected DNF

Sunday, 23 April 2017 0 comments
We Know It Was You (Strange Truth #1), by Maggie Thrash
Publication: October 4, 2016, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.
Just like that, she’s gone.
Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

My Thoughts:

 DNF @ 200 pages

This review is going to be short and (bitter) sweet because I was completely disappointed with the outcome of We Know It Was You. This was supposed to be an overwhelmingly pleasing book that reminded me of other things that Maggie Thrash has written. But sadly, it was not pleasing, but more overwhelming on the negative side of things. I cannot even tell you what this novel is all about because it was completely scattered, and I sadly do not recommend it.

I think this is the longest it took me to read a book. If I had finished it, I would have gone into a huge reading slump and my life would've turned completely, right there. MY LOVE OF READING WOULD FALL IN A DRAIN, JUST LIKE THE SALT SHAKER ON THE COVER OF THIS BOOK. There were too many characters, too many things to remember that honestly? It just progressed into a boring, dull read. Read other reviews about this novel on Goodreads and you will find the same reactions. This was a pretty-hyped read and I couldn't wait to fall in love with it because everyone called it the new Pretty Little Liars. That was completely false. :(

This novel was nothing special and in fact, completely disappointing. That's the verdict and complete truth. I would say that instead, we should all read Maggie Thrash's memoir. That was written gorgeously.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What is the recent most disappointing book you read?

Othello by William Shakespeare // My Favourite Shakespeare Play

Monday, 10 April 2017 0 comments
Othello, by William Shakespeare
Publication: January 1, 2004, by Simon and Schuster
Genre: Play, Fiction
Pages: 314
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed

In Othello, Shakespeare creates a powerful drama of a marriage that begins with fascination (between the exotic Moor Othello and the Venetian lady Desdemona), with elopement, and with intense mutual devotion and that ends precipitately with jealous rage and violent deaths. He sets this story in the romantic world of the Mediterranean, moving the action from Venice to the island of Cyprus and giving it an even more exotic coloring with stories of Othello's African past. Shakespeare builds so many differences into his hero and heroine—differences of race, of age, of cultural background—that one should not, perhaps, be surprised that the marriage ends disastrously. But most people who see or read the play feel that the love that the play presents between Othello and Desdemona is so strong that it would have overcome all these differences were it not for the words and actions of Othello's standard-bearer, Iago, who hates Othello and sets out to destroy him by destroying his love for Desdemona. As Othello succumbs to Iago's insinuations that Desdemona is unfaithful, fascination—which dominates the early acts of the play—turns to horror, especially for the audience. We are confronted by spectacles of a generous and trusting Othello in the grip of Iago's schemes; of an innocent Desdemona, who has given herself up entirely to her love for Othello only to be subjected to his horrifying verbal and physical assaults, the outcome of Othello's mistaken convictions about her faithlessness.

My Thoughts:

Othello is the third Shakespearean play I have read, and I must say that it was the best out of the three. Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth all stunned me, but this was something special and interesting. Even though Shakespeare lived SO many years ago, his talents of writing about racial prejudices, stereotypes that still live to this day, jealousy and romance shine in this gorgeous play. I read this play for school, and as with every Shakespearean play, we spent a long time examining this work and learning about its purpose and setting. I adored all of the characters in this stunning play and the whole underlying message. PLUS IAGO WAS THE BEST. Even though I despise villains in most books/plays, I kind of wanted Iago's ultimate plan to succeed. Towards the end of the play, my class was required to give this HUGE 15%-worth presentation on the play, and I talked about Iago's reasoning for doing what he did. 

READ THIS PLAY. If you are not able to understand some of the phrases and scenes, which I don't blame you for, you can totally go onto Sparknotes and read it all. It'll help so much. The romance here is deep and meaningful—you can't go wrong with reading Shakespeare and seeing how different and special it is. 

GO READ THIS PLAY RIGHT NOW. It'll change your life in so many ways and you'll want to become a Shakespeare hoarder. I believe many people hoard his plays like obsessed (cool) freaks. :)

What is your favourite Shakespeare play? What are some other issues he covers?

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak // The Best of 2016. Literally.

Sunday, 9 April 2017 0 comments
The Futures, by Anna Pitoniak
Publication: January 17, 2017, by Little Brown
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Julia and Evan falls in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a Canadian logging town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia—blonde, beautiful and rich—fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan takes a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, who has only known a life of privilege, feels unmoored and increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.
With the market crashing and banks failing, Evan becomes involved in an increasingly high-stakes deal at work—a deal that, despite the assurance of his Machiavellian boss, begins to feel more than slightly suspicious. Meanwhile, Julia reconnects with someone from her past who offers a glimpse of a different kind of life. As Evan and Julia spin apart into their separate orbits, they each find that they are capable of much more—good and bad—that they’d ever dreamed, and that betrayal is easier than they ever imagined.
Rich with suspense and insight, Pitoniak’s thrilling debut reveals the fragile yet enduring nature of our connections to one another and to ourselves. THE FUTURES is a glittering story of a couple coming of age and a tender, searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in a city that often seems determined to break us down—but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.

My Thoughts:

I feel SO SO SO embarrassed that I am writing a review for this beautiful, amazing, gorgeous book (I CAN'T HELP BUT RAVE ABOUT IT) right now, but I guess better late than never, right? Anna Pitoniak's The Futures is a memorable book that I urge so many overachievers like myself to purchase. Why overachievers, you ask? BECAUSE THIS IS AN ADULT BOOK ABOUT A COUPLE WHO ARE IN LOVE BUT ARE TRYING TO GET THEIR LIVES TOGETHER. This book is my dream book and life: I desire to live in New York City, to attend an Ivy League college, to make myself proud and fall in love. This book basically is the remnants of that. We have two characters who are partially similar and partially different. Julia and Evan both hold qualities that I can personally relate to, and I loved reading their two perspectives, sneaking peeks on what they think of each other.

The amazing thing about this book is that it is so damn real. It expresses the problems of growing up so well (even though I have personally never experienced these troubles yet). As I hold this book in my hands right now, I slowly am dying inside because I want to live all of those emotions again. I felt so much sadness, happiness, frustration—literally the hugest mix of emotions possible while reading. I literally want all of the writing pieces that Anna Pitoniak has produced in my hands. NOW. She made this whole story so descriptive and lively that I felt that I was actually living in New York City. I have visited the city of dreams twice and it IS the city of my dreams. It was described so elegantly, making me want to catch a plane and fly there instantly.

"What kept everyone going was the dream: store windows on Madison Avenue, brownstones lit golden in the night, town cars gliding across the park. Imagining what it would be like when you got there, someday. Manhattan felt like a dazzling life-size diorama. A motivation to work harder, stay later, wake earlier" (4).

This amazing piece of art (this is a hundred percent artistic work) is all about a couple who fell in love at Yale—Julia and Evan. Julia is from a rich family and has dreams that are immediately decided for her when her husband, Evan, decides to move them to New York City so he could work for a hedge fund. Immediately, his once-calm life is taken away from him and he has to live with long days and short amounts of time at home with Julia. 

THIS BOOK HURT ME SO MUCH BECAUSE I FELT SO BAD FOR JULIA. She had such a boring life for the majority of the book and she was BOUND to be happy again. Thankfully, I must say that the ending was pretty fabulous if you ask me. THIS WHOLE BOOK WAS PRETTY FABULOUS. I loved the pacing, plot, setting, romance—EVERYTHING. This does contain adult subject matter, but any YA contemporary lover would surely fall in love with Evan and all of this.

The Futures is the perfect read for a millennial. Reading about a couple's life in New York City really makes us appreciate the beauty of the city, though it also makes us become scared of the future. Many of us constantly wish for our lives to 'get together' faster, but in this case, moving on is quite scary as hey—WE'RE ALL ALONE. I'm in love with this beautiful read, and I'm sure everyone else will too.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thanks so much!*

What are some "millennial" style reads? What are some other books set in New York City?

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure BLOG TOUR Review

Monday, 3 April 2017 2 comments

But Then I Came Back, by Estelle Laure
Publication: April 4, 2017, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Eden: As far as coma patients go, Eden’s lucky. She woke up. But still, she can’t shake the feeling that she might have dragged something back from the near-afterlife.
Joe: Joe visits the hospital every day, hoping that Jaz, his lifelong friend, will wake up. More than anything, he wants to hear her voice again. But he’s not sure anyone can reach her.
Eden & Joe: Even though she knows it sounds crazy, Eden tells Joe that they might be able to talk to Jaz. Opening themselves up to the great unknown—and each other—Eden and Joe experience life: mysterious and scary, beautiful and bright.

My Thoughts:

But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure, yes, has aspects in it that remind me of Gayle Forman's If I Stay, but it is absolutely its own novel that I JUST CAN'T STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT. I have not read Laure's This Raging Light just yet (due to my horrifyingly busy schedule and buckets of homework), though I know that I will enjoy it SO much because this beautiful story just made me go crazy and become obsessed with contemporary romances all over again. I feel like such a tween again, agh! (But this book's subjects are not fully for tweens either as the whole coma situation is pretty influential and emotional to readers!) 

The title was definitely the first thing that intrigued me. It makes this book sound so drastic and interesting since BOOM the protagonist comes out of her near-death experience and begins to live her life normally again. Eden really made me feel as if I were in that hospital room, watching her journey unfold as she began to understand more about her situation and how she was trying to discover what happened to her. MY MOST FAVOURITE PART was seeing how Eden was trying to discover what exactly happened to her when she hit her head and immediately went into a coma.

Of course—the romance was absolutely amazing and delightful and *insert every possible positive adjective* I LOVED JOEY. The two both had a relationship that literally all of the Nicholas Sparks movies would highlight. THIS IS LIKE GREY'S ANATOMY APPROVED. OR JOHN GREEN APPROVED. I really don't know, but I think we can definitely say that all teens will enjoy this read.

I found the plot to be moving quite quickly. The story begins with the first part of Eden's story—where we learn about the events occurring during Eden's experience, during and the aftermath. I loved this format and how it split the book up. I kept feeling this anticipation that something CRAZY would occur that would make the whole book fall apart. I was unable to stop reading. 

This lovely read is releasing in stores TOMORROW (April 4th) so I urge you to go and grab a copy. I felt like there were a few minor issues, like Eden's character development, but I enjoyed this so much that I am unable to state anything negative. You will adore the romance, the subject matter—everything. I cannot wait to read more of Estelle Laure's writing that is so deep, touching and (occasionally) overwhelming with emotions.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*


Hi everyone! I was fortunate to ask Estelle a question for this blog tour, SO HERE IT IS!

Hi Estelle! Was the writing process different for But Then I Came Back compared to This Raging Light? Which novel was easier to tackle?

Hi! Thanks for having me! Hmmm, I wouldn’t say either was easy. Maybe someday I will get to write an easy book, but so far it’s a pretty excruciating process. For This Raging Light I had infinite time and no pressure except what was self-imposed. But I was also in the midst of a personal crisis where everything in my life was changing, so the external circumstances affected the time I could spend and how much I enjoyed it. With But Then I Came Back I was writing not only under contract, so with some real performance expectations, but also from grief, so the external was pretty okay while internally I was a mess. Maybe third time’s the charm?

What are some other books that feature a protagonist who has undergone a coma?

Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan // I Have Never Appreciated Art More.

Thursday, 2 March 2017 2 comments

Piper Perish, by Kayla Cagan
Publication: March 8, 2017, by Chronicle Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It's been Piper's dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she's never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper's sister's tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper's art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she's always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she's missing any one of these things?

My Thoughts:

If you have never seen Piper Perish before (by seen, I mean its GORGEOUS cover), YOU ARE CRAZY. If you have never heard of this masterpiece of a novel, YOU ARE CRAZY. You, we, I am crazy for all sorts of reasons, but Piper Perish by the phenomenal Kayla Cagan has literally made me rethink of a definition of crazy. YOU NEED TO HEAR/SEE/READ THIS BOOK. When I first read the synopsis, I knew it would be a keeper. Little did I know that it would become a total jewel/gem of a story that I will remember forever. It kind of reminds me of the point of my life that I am currently in: that point of your life where you're just starting to get everything together. Where you're pulling/pushing the pieces, wondering what you really want to do in the future, what's worth keeping. This lovely novel has such a huge focus on art and friends: two brilliant things that I myself am so lucky to have an abundance of in my life. This will become everyone's favourite 2017 novel, I feel it.

It has been a wwwwhhhhhiiiiillllleeeeee since I read a book that was this raw, this intriguing. Yeah, you know, we constantly read contemporary romances or chick-lit novels about girls/guys finding themselves, figuring out their purposes in life. In this case, our protagonist Piper was the one finding herself. But this story was different. I think it's because it wasn't just about the romance. It was a 75% focus on the contemporary part, the more realistic beautiful part. Kayla Cagan just mastered that. I felt myself melting into the story and it's rare for me to feel this way, especially in the midst of a horrifying reading slump. Now that I look back at this, I think it definitely brought me out of this treacherous slump that's been active for a year probably. 

Piper Perish is a story you can ramble about forever. There was just so much that happened in this big chunky story. (IT'S A HUGE STORY SO YOUR MONEY IS WORTH IT IN EVERY WAY. BUY YOURSELF A BEAUTIFUL HARDCOVER.) It begins off with us getting to know Piper, who is dumped by her boyfriend who literally streaks in the middle of a dance floor on New Year's Eve. It's quite messed up. We learn about how much she loves art and how she wants it to become a big part of her future as she applies to a New York art school. I LITERALLY FEEL THE SAME WAY SHE DOES. (Minus the art part and boyfriend part... it's all about university my friends.)

SO the best part of this book is that it's relatable. Any teenager can find something in this gorgeous story that they could relate to. Whether it is the problem Kit (Piper's best friend) and Piper had surrounding their friendship, or even the problem with just liking something (art) that others do not find interest in, this is a coming of age novel that will hit you. It has all of the elements we are seeking, like LGBTQ characters (Enzo!!)!! The only reason why I did not feel that this was perfect was because it lacked a fast pace. It was intriguing, but at points I felt that it wasn't really moving anywhere. ANYWHO, we must get back to the positives.

This is a happy, feel-good story that will just make you smile. That's the final result. A MASS OF EMOTIONS HIT ME SO HARD that I decided that the best way to write about this book is to just ramble about how much we can all relate to it and find beauty in it. There: it's your turn to explore it. ENJOY AND GRAB THIS INSTANTLY. No one will be disappointed.

*A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*


HI. I was VERY VERY VERY fortunate to be a part of Raincoast Books' blog tour for Piper Perish, and I was also fortunate to ask the author, Kayla Cagan a question! Here it is and her response:

Hi Kayla! Piper Perish has a big focus on art, so what inspired you to write about it? 
My inspiration came in four parts, throughout my life. One, I am an avid reader of biographies and watcher of biopics of great writers and influential artists. These are my creativity teachers - How did they persevere in times of failure and success? How did they have and hold on to relationships? Why were they the ones who specifically came up with a way of writing/creating/making, surpassing others? I just wanted to read what was in the mind of a young Picasso or a young Warhol or young Dickinson or young Plath. I wanted to see who they were before the world had an idea of who they were and should be, how they should act etc… 
Two, I grew up in my mother’s ceramic shop. She was a professional ceramist and potter. She has always continued to create in several ways, most recently in mosaic tiles. But growing up in a storefront introduced me into a world much bigger than my own school and neighborhood. I felt like a grown up in her tiny shop. The one thing that united people there, besides my mom, was art. They built beautiful pieces, they painted and glazed and watched their pieces become toasted and strong in mom’s kilns. They made gifts for their families, they made gifts to celebrate successes, they made emblems of themselves. They broke and smashed pieces there, too. They were all creators, and I felt creative there, though I was more prone to theater and writing. I still did my fair share of ceramics. Art was such an early part of my life, and always encouraged, and I never knew you couldn’t have a way of life. I knew I would be in the arts one way or the other since I was a kid. My biggest heroes have always been and continue to be artists. So, I guess you could say I wanted to write Piper as my up and coming super hero. I wanted to give Piper a superhero origin story.
Three, my best friend in high school, Amy, was an art kid. She was so talented she left “regular” high school and was accepted into HSPVA, my dream school at the time. HSPVA - The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Part of Piper is part of Amy. It took my mom pointing that out to me to realize I had written a small tribute to her. Another close friend of mine, Paul, is now a teacher there. And it’s still one of the best schools in Houston. 
Fourth, I love journaling. I’ve been doing it since I was 10 and haven’t stopped. I wanted to write a book like a journal. I love fiction that reads like a diary or journal. I’m a sucker for that structure. So, I allowed myself to write one.

Thank you so much Kayla and Raincoast Books for putting this lovely blog tour together! What is another beautiful YA book that features art? (Or a big focus on art?)

How the Cold War Began by Amy Knight // Excellent Research Novel

Sunday, 26 February 2017 4 comments
How the Cold War Began: The Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies, by Amy Knight
Publication: November 1, 2005, by McClelland and Stewart
Genre: Non-Fiction, History
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed

Just weeks after World War II had ended, a young cipher clerk named Igor Gouzenko walked out of the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa with secret papers stuffed under his shirt and headed straight for the offices of a city newspaper. His action would change the course of the twentieth century.
Gouzenko’s defection sent shockwaves through Washington, London, Moscow, and Ottawa. It was the first from a Soviet Embassy, and the smuggled documents, which suggested that agents in North America were feeding atomic secrets to Moscow, sparked a witch-hunt for spies, including not only Americans and Canadians, but a leading British nuclear scientist, Allan Nunn May.
FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover used Gouzenko’s defection to demonize the Soviets and discredit the leftists in President Harry Truman’s White House. All he had needed to push his agenda was evidence of spying, and Gouzenko delivered the goods. The FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee used Gouzenko’s revelations to go after Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and many others. And all the while, infamous MI-5 double-agent Kim Philby kept his Soviet masters apprised. The Cold War had truly begun.
In this first book to tell the Gouzenko story, Amy Knight uses newly declassified files as well as interviews with several of the key players to examine the substance of Gouzenko’s revelations and delve into his hidden motives for defecting. She explains how Gouzenko was really a pawn in a much larger game. And she brilliantly connects these events to the hardening of relations between Moscow and the West, the practice of guilt by association, and the end of the movement for international control of the atomic bomb.

My Thoughts:

I am telling you that I did not plan to read this book. I really wasn't interested in those boring American history books about subject matters that could be explained much better. BUT. (There's a but!) I needed to read this for a research essay for school about Igor Gouzenko and how he basically affected society politically and socially/culturally. This was the only book available about the Gouzenko Affair and to be honest, it wasn't too terrible. I based much of my research paper on this book and everything that Amy Knight highlighted. How the Cold War Began was an interesting novel that provided me with the just the right amount of information that I could base my paper on. I was able to learn more about the other Soviet spies who had similar jobs to Gouzenko, and I was able to also learn about how Gouzenko achieved the courage to defect and announce his role. 

This was difficult to read, and that was a major flaw for me. I ended up skimming some parts because I felt that some chapters were not relevant for my paper. This is not the ordinary kind of book I would pick up and read, so I decided that I would only bookmark the important parts. On a road trip back home from the lovely New Orleans, I picked this one up and spent my two-day journey reading it, sticky-tabbing it, you name it. I would honestly prefer to read a contemporary-romance, but it was pretty enjoyable since I chose the subject matter.

Would I recommend this? Sure. If you are an avid history reader/lover who wants to learn more about the initial moments of the Cold War and how Russia, the United States and Canada played a role, go for this. It truly is quite interesting.

How the Cold War Began was the perfect book to read for the purpose of what I was writing about at the time. I wasn't 100% interested in the writing at all times, but that's history for me (and most people).

What is an actual GOOD history novel? What subject matter should I begin with?