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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit- Book Review

I remember buying this novel a long time ago (maybe two years ago), and like many others, it just ended up sitting on my shelf. But I finally decided to pick it up since it’s so short and I’m regretting not reading it sooner.

Plot:

The book takes place in 1939 Krakow Poland during the Second World War. A seven year old girl named Anna who is well versed in numerous languages like her father, a linguistics professor who eventually gets taken in the gathering of intellectuals by the Germans, and is left alone to fend for herself. Eventually a man finds her, and she is enthralled by his wisdom. As they navigate the woods out of Poland he teaches her many survival and life lessons along the way.

I really liked the plot because it’s not often that one stumbles upon a historical fiction novel that’s set in this time period and focuses on Poland. Poland was an integral country during the Second World War. However, my one complaint would be the fact that the majority of the plot takes place in the forest, on the run, so it doesn’t really feel distinctively like Poland rather than any other cold country. The characters are unaware what is even happening politically in Poland for most of the novel. It would have been nice to perhaps have more hints of the unique location in which the story takes place throughout the plot.

Characters:

There were only two main characters throughout the novel, each of them I thought were done very well. Anna was very likable, an innocent yet fierce and intelligent seven year old with a natural curiosity of the world around her. And the Swallow Man a unique character with a genuine compassion towards Anna. He was smart and well equipped in the area of survival. I loved the way in which he tried to use simplistic metaphors to explain to Anna the ramifications of war, that had a deeper life complexity to them. He was the anti-hero of the novel, being skinny and older, yet resilient and brave.

Writing:

I loved the prose of this book. It was simple yet elegant. To the point, yet descriptive when need be. I can understand why this novel has been thought to be a modern classic.

Overall, I give this novel 4.5/5 stars. It was a compelling story of love and sacrifice in a time of hate and death. I liked the adventure as well as the metaphorical life lessons that the Swallow Man had to offer!

Book Reviews

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Book Review

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne has become a pretty popular New Adult contemporary novel and I was seeing it everywhere on booktube so I decided that I should pick it up. I’ve started to venture a little bit into the New Adult genre lately because I find that the characters are a little bit more relatable to me now than the characters in Young Adult novels. That being said, I will forever love the Young Adult genre and I’ll probably continue to read it my entire life.

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The Hating Game focuses on the trope of hate-to-love. Two colleagues working at a publishing company hate each other, even despise each other and everything that the other does. They play these “games” in the office to pass the time, and to essentially annoy the other. However, after time passes they really start to get to know each other, and their hate turns into a fiery love by the end of the novel.

I have to be honest, I was really skeptical going into this book about the hate-to-love trope because I feel that it’s been so overused in literature that it’s almost not enjoyable anymore if not done correctly. However, I feel that Sally Thorne actually really did a good job with keeping originality and also interest for the reader even though we ultimately know that this hate will turn into a slow burn romance eventually.

Besides this trope that you might either hate or love, or maybe even hate to love, the characters themselves I really liked. I found them super relatable not only to myself but to many people, putting the romance to the side. The struggle of finding family/work balance for example is one struggle that many of us have.

In addition, I really loved Joshua Templeman’s character. Though some may say this is cliche: the son of a line of doctors with the same expectations for their son, though their son refuses to follow in their footsteps; I still thoroughly enjoyed the family dynamic between Josh and his expectant family. We get to see another side of Josh than what he displays in the office Monday-Friday. We get to see what makes him, him. I’m a pretty big fan of the cliche of: professional parents pressure child to be great, but child rebels or refuses to give in to their expectations. I don’t know why I like this trope so much, but I do.

Though, I personally really enjoyed this book, I have to say that it wasn’t a book that really blew my mind with plot twists or made me seriously contemplate life. It was a fast and entertaining contemporary romance and that’s basically where it ends. I feel it’s a good read for when you’re in a reading slump and you just want to read something, or if you have some major life event happening and you just want a book you don’t need to think too hard about (like me right now with exam season upon me haha).


Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars for being entertaining and for having genuinely interesting characters, but if you are looking for something that will really get you emotional, get you to think deeply, or you will be surprised by, I don’t think this is something you would necessarily have as your first choice.

 

 

Blog Update, Book Talk

2018 Reading Progress Update

 

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Hey everyone, I know that sometimes life gets a little bit hectic which doesn’t allow me to post as often as I would like, but I wanted to share my reading progress with you so far in 2018!

I have read 7 novels so far this year, which isn’t a huge amount, but it is a good start to the year compared to last year.

The books I’ve read so far include: 

  • Paris for One by Jojo Moyes
  • Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
  • The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  • The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (I LOVED this book, I’m not sure why I didn’t read it sooner, I think before the end of the year, I’m going to give this one a re-read).
  • The Vincent Brothers by Abbi Glines
  • She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop

All of these books I’ve really enjoyed! I’ve been lucky in choosing really good books this year, but as you can notice, I’ve been leaning more towards contemporary and general fiction, and even some YA as opposed to my usual fantasy that all last year I was obsessed with. I do love fantasy still, but I thought it would be good to diversify some of my reading habits. I was also  in a little bit of a reading slump last year, mainly because I felt like it would take me forever to get through one book (because most of the books I was reading were 500 + pages) . Therefore, for me it’s been easier to get motivated to read, if the books were slightly smaller.

But now that I feel I’ve read enough YA, contemporary and fiction, that I am finally out of my reading slump so I am currently reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (which I’ve had my eye on for awhile but only recently got around to buying it). These are both fantasy novels, so I’m hoping to start to get back into fantasy again soon! 🙂

 

Book Reviews

She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop – Book Review

 

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Hello! I’m so excited to be reviewing She Regrets Nothing by Andrea Dunlop. I saw this book originally in my university book store, and was instantly drawn to the beautiful cover. After I read the synopsis, I just knew it would be the type of book I would love, and I was in the mood for. Lately, I’ve been taking a quick hiatus from the fantasy genre, as it can get heavy and is really fast-moving, action-packed and the books themselves are often really long. So a light contemporary was something that I was definitely expecting with this one, however, though it read like a light contemporary, it also had really relevant undertones that were darker and intriguing which added another positive dimension to this novel.

If you haven’t heard about this book yet I suggest that you check out the Goodreads description linked here: She Regrets Nothing

The writing of this book was amazing. As someone who studies creative writing myself, I could see the level of expertise in writing that was present in the novel. The writing flowed and drove the plot forward.

I also really enjoyed the characters in this book. Though they might seem to be the stereotypical New Yorker that is entitled, wealthy who have trust-funds, they also have a complexity behind them that makes them feel human. One of my favourite characters was Liberty. She was the perfect example of how on the outside she may look a certain way and be from a rich and privileged background, but experienced trauma and hurt just like many other people.

I felt that the plot of the novel itself was expertly executed. The themes and messages that it sent were really applicable to everyone regardless of their financial status! Especially those surrounding the power dynamics between rich and poor, and how exploitive and harmful being rich can really be.

Some of my favourite quotes from the novel: 

“A part of her could imagine being happy in her solitude. She could work and read and travel alone. It could be a lovely life, in a way.”

“After all this progress, men still get the hero’s journey, while we’re left with the marriage plot? What bullsh*t.”

Overall, I give this novel 5/5 stars. If you are looking for a book that is comparable to Gossip Girl with deeper themes I definitely suggest this! It has all the glamour and beautiful dresses that one craves in a good book that takes place in NYC, but with also insight into emotional vulnerabilities, and most importantly the dangers that the power of money can have on individuals.

Book Reviews

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – Book Review

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Hello everyone! I don’t know why I waited so long to read this book, honestly. I had obviously heard about it before it’s super popular, but I just never was interested in reading it for some reason. But, I am so glad that I finally did pick it up. It’s super short, and I finished it over the weekend!

This book was written so beautifully it can be considered poetic. I loved the imagery that Coelho used, and I loved how the story of Santiago can be applied to literally every single person who picks up the book. It’s about a boy in pursuit of his dream to find treasure but it speaks to a larger narrative than just Santiago the shepherd boy. It speaks to the universe itself, and how each of us fits into it. This book was so inspiring for me. As a university student who has been put up against various obstacles career wise as well as academically, this book was really motivating for me to continue on, and that negative things happen for a reason, usually a better reason.

This book not only taught rich lessons about pursuing goals and dreams, but it also depicted the perfect love. Santiago and Fatima, though their romance was a side theme, it was also beautiful. The trust and confidence that they both had for each other, and the willingness of Fatima to see Santiago succeed happily in his pursuit, even though that meant them being apart, was utterly beautiful. It really had me thinking about the whole notion of soulmates.

“And when two such people encounter each other, and their eyes meet, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”

I found this book to be very philosophical. Coelho suggests some pretty deep conceptualizations and rationalizations of how the universe operates and how it all ties into individual lives, down to omens and signs from God. Never have I felt so moved and compelled from such a short novel.

I will be thinking about this book for years to come, guaranteed.

This book is more than a 5/5 stars for me. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you do, different people may get a different perspective or different lesson from the story that Coelho is telling of Santiago, the shepherd boy who finds treasure. This is definitely one of my new favourite books. I hope to re-read it in the future!

Some of my favourite quotes from the book: 

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“So, I love you because the entire universe conspired to help me find you.”

“We are travelers on a cosmic journey,stardust,swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”

“I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living now.”

“At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”

 

Book Reviews

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango – Book Review

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The Truth and Other Lies, is a novel that I haven’t seen much about on the internet for some reason, I guess it just hasn’t become overly popular. However, I saw it in the bookstore and was instantly drawn to it given the description. It’s about a man who is a well known “author”, however, no one knows that his novels are actually written by his wife. She doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, so she quietly writes every night, while her husband gets the credit for her bestselling novels. However, the main character, Henry, has a mistress that he gets pregnant. This book is full of dark twists and turns and leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. In my opinion I would describe it as a crime/mystery book that goes way beyond the small description of events on the back cover.

Henry Hayden is a fascinating character to read about. He’s one of those characters that you want to learn more about, you want to understand the inner-workings of their mind, but at the same time, he is distant and calculated. He keeps the reader wondering why he does what he does, and what are his true motives. There’s times when I questioned if possibly Henry really is to be hated? Is he really such a bad guy? Or is there a complexity that goes beyond what is written about him?

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, it’s a rather short read, and the plot keeps moving from one event to another, keeping the reader engaged. I would recommend this book to those readers who like intriguing protagonists, excellent prose, and/or a mystery bordering on thriller. There is death and some graphic descriptions of them though.

I have personally never heard of this author, but I will be definitely reading more from him in the future. He is an excellent writer, and in my opinion, this book is underrated or at least not as popular as it really should be.

I give this novel 5/5  stars!

Some of my favourite quotes from the book: 

“The liars among us will know that every lie must contain a certain amount of truth if it’s to be convincing. A dash of truth is often enough, but it’s indispensable, like the olive in the martini.”

“Humans make mistakes, because they believe; humans rush headlong toward ruin, because they hope. Animals don’t hope, they don’t look into the future, and they don’t doubt themselves.”

“if Henry had learned anything, it was to reveal nothing that’s best left unsaid.”

Book Reviews

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – Book Review

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It feels like forever since I’ve actually gotten around to doing a book review, but nonetheless I have successfully completed The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, and wanted to share my thoughts on the novel. This book it seems kind of gets mixed reviews, some people really seem to love it while others, just don’t.

If you don’t know what the premise of the story is about, it follows the life of four siblings who are heavily anticipating a large sum of money in the form of a trust fund which they have called “The Nest”, once the youngest of the siblings hits a certain age. That sibling, Melody, is approaching the age in which the money will become available to them, but one of the other siblings gets into some pretty deep trouble legally because of some personal issues he has going on, and unfortunately the money that all of the siblings would have access to, is not available to them anymore. However, each of the siblings it seems relies on the the fact that they would be getting money in some way, so with the knowledge that they would not be, this kind of throws their life plans off-track and into disarray. It’s about coping with the unexpected most of all, and dealing with family issues.

I wanted to start off by saying, that I don’t fit into the group of people who really loved it, and I also don’t fall into the category that disliked the book. I found myself by the end, kind of on the fence. I did enjoy it, especially the beginning I really thought the character development of all of the siblings was intriguing and I wanted to know more about them, but by the ending of the book it didn’t really meet my expectations. I think it would have been more interesting to delve deeper into some of the more serious issues like addiction and the importance of family support etc… Nevertheless, it was still a fast-paced and engaging read. I kind of wanted to see more character development especially from Leo’s character. My favourite characters were actually side characters, and they were Melody’s twin girls Louisa and Nora.

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars, and I recommend it for anyone who is interested in diversified family drama novels!

Book Talk, Books

2017 Reading Recap

It’s finally New Years Eve and I was reflecting on all of the books that I read this year. Despite being in school and now having a part-time job I still managed to successfully meet my reading goals for the year. Overall, it’s been a pretty good reading year as almost all of the books that I read this year, I ended up really enjoying. I wanted to reflect on my top 10 novels that I read this year (not all of these were published in 2017).

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Favourite Books/Series (not in any particular order): 

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J Maas – I started off the new year last year with this series, and it was the first series that I had read by Sarah J. Maas and I’m so glad that the book store employee told me to pick them up because they were so so good, and now Sarah J Maas has become one my all time favourite authors.
  2. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover – I got this on my kindle the day it came out and I wasn’t disappointed. Colleen Hoover never fails to bring a heart-wrenching story to her readers full of emotion and beautiful prose. I read this book so quickly (I believe in one day) because it had me hooked from the start.
  3. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – Margaret Atwood has such a talent for creating intricate and complex stories and after reading some of her other work I decided I should also read this! This is a story that will probably stay with me for awhile.
  4. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne – I read this in the early months of summer and I really loved it. It’s such a cute contemporary read that you can get through really quickly, and I think that those are always good to read once in awhile especially in the summer. I really loved the plot in this one and the whole political scene that was set up in this book really interested me.
  5. The Dazzling Heights by Katherine McGee – I was lucky enough to get this as an ARC and read it before it was published and it was amazing! I really love the whole premise of both The Thousandth Floor and the sequel and following the drama filled lives of all the characters!
  6. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray – Another really interesting book that I read in the summer. I never read a book that took place in multiple dimensions before, it was like a time-travel book but better! I loved this book for its originality!
  7. Ruined by Amy Tintera – A fantasy novel that kept me on edge the entire time as the plot unfolded! Very action packed!
  8. Before Now by Norah Olsen – I was also really lucky to get this as an ARC! I loved this book so much as it was told in a reverse timeline that was brilliantly done! Definitely one of my favourites of the year.
  9. Frostblood by Elly Blake – I liked how this book built up the world and the contrast between frost bloods and fire bloods and illustrated how Ruby the main character learned to use her abilities.
  10. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas – Though I’m not technically finished this series, it has already made it to my absolute favourite series/books of the entire year. I love Sarah J Maas’ ability to create such elaborate worlds and magic systems while maintaining such lovable characters!

Least Favourite Books I Read this Year: 

Though most of the books I picked up this year I really loved, some of them just weren’t personally for me. Some of these include:

  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
  • The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (audiobook)

 


In sum, I found myself this year straying away mostly from the romance and contemporaries which in previous years I would cling to (I own every single Nicholas Sparks book), and gravitating more towards fantasy novels and books that take place in another world. A lot of this year I was also in a reading slump for some reason which probably contributed to the reason why I didn’t love some of the ones I mentioned as being my least favourite, because I’ve come to have an expectation for novels to move fast plot-wise and to have a lot of action. If I get bored in the middle of a book, I lose interest right away.

In 2018, I hope to continue my fantasy/sci-fi trend, and I really hope to start reading more from Brandon Sanderson. Currently I am listening to Elantris and I absolutely adore it, the Mistborn Trilogy is the next series I want to pick up once I am finished with Throne of Glass!


 

I hope everyone had an amazing reading year in 2017! Happy New Year!

Book Reviews

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas – Book Review & Discussion

Warning: Possible Spoilers for Throne of Glass, and Crown of Midnight ahead. If you haven’t read the first books in the series, this review may contain spoilers. 

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I just spent five consecutive hours reading and finishing Heir of Fire. This plot totally enveloped me from the beginning. Just when I thought that this series really couldn’t get any better because it was already pretty close to perfection, I was proven wrong. Sarah J Maas introduces new characters in this novel that are really interesting and integral to the ongoing plot. I also really liked how the readers got a better sense of the past of Aelin and her history and what really made her, her through a look into her past memories. I also really enjoyed learning more about Aelin’s family history and even meeting some of her family members. I thought that was a positive addition to the plot line and also to building her character further.

I found myself extra excited in the scenes where Celaena (AKA Aelin) was refining her magical abilities as a Fae and learning more about how to control her Fae abilities. I was rooting for her the entire time, and it was interesting to see how those refined abilities came in handy later on in the book.

This book so far has also been the best for world-building. I like how Sarah J Maas throughout her novels heads towards a natural progression of understanding for the readers, of the magic system and the world through her unique writing techniques. I feel like I know and understand so much more about the magic and the world now in comparison to Crown of Midnight.

The only aspect of this novel that I would say wasn’t my favourite part, was the storyline of Manon. Manon’s chapters I kind of felt myself reading more quickly to get to the chapters that were focused on Aelin or Dorian, basically anyone else. It’s not that I hated Manon’s part in the story because I know, as a reader of Sarah J Maas and fantasy, Manon’s story will make sense and will be crucial to the plot later on, but I didn’t find it be as action-packed or really that interesting in comparison to all that was going on in the rest of the book. It was rather slow for me.

Overall, I give this book 5.5 stars for delivering action, amazing characters, a unique magic system and an incredible world. If you haven’t this book yet, I would highly recommend it even if you read the other books and decided this series isn’t for you, Heir of Fire is even better than the other two novels in the series!!


SPOILER/DISCUSSION SECTION – If you haven’t read Heir of Fire and you do not want to be spoiled do not read ahead.

While reading this book I had so many feelings and thoughts! First of all, I knew that Sorscha was going to die in one way or another. I just knew that that heartbreak was coming, but even when it happened, I was still devastated. Poor Dorian. 😦

The new character Rowan I also loved. I think he is one of my favourite characters so far. In the beginning of the series I was shipping Celeana with Chaol but now….. things have changed. I feel that she should be with Rowan because I find them to be really similar and relatable to each other, also because he can shape shift into a hawk that’s pretty cool too. But in some ways it kind of bothers me that Celeana so far has had a romantic interest in Dorian, and Chaol and now I can see where it’s going with Rowan. But with Dorian and Chaol the only reason why she really didn’t stay with them was circumstantial not anything to do with their character – especially in the case of Dorian. And if all of this happens and eventually the King of Adarlan is killed and Dorian becomes the King, why shouldn’t they be together? As of right now it seems that there is no real reason why Dorian and Celaena can’t work out and also Chaol and Celaena.

Rowan and Aelin’s blood oath scene was probably my favourite scene so far in the entire series. I hate Maeve so much and I thought that that scene was just done so well!

I’m still wondering how Manon and her storyline will fit into the overall storyline with the King of Adarlan. My theory is that the king is making an army against Aelin and he will enlist Manon and her coven to help him do his dirty work.

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – Book Review

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is essentially about a complex class dynamic between the “colds” and the old vampires, as well as the main character, Tana’s acceptance of herself. The world-building in this book was done phenomenally, I liked the whole idea of segregation of the “colds” in the coldtowns.

I thought the writing itself was done really well. Though, I did listen to it as an audiobook, I found that the writing was really descriptive and planted a very vivid image of the scenery of what was going on. I also liked how Holly Black would include relevant deep quotes, usually about death, in the beginning of her chapters. I found this really supported the plot and added another unique layer to her story.

However, I found for some reason that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters. Tana to me didn’t really seem that relatable, and I just didn’t really feel any real connection to any of them. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but at some points I found Tana’s character to seem a little bit flat and lacking in real complexity. I could kind of predict what she would do or how she would react to certain circumstances before they happened.

Though the characters weren’t my favourite aspect of this book, I did overall really like the premise and the idea of the coldtowns, the way that the vampires were portrayed in this book I found was really well done. Most vampire books either really show them in a good light like Twilight for example, and others really portray them to be evil. However, I  think that this book found a safe middle between the two sides.

Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars!