Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Shallows by Matt Goldman

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The only reason to tie a dead man to his deck by a fishing stinger through his jaw is if you have something to say.

The Shallows by Matt Goldman follows private detective Nils Shapiro as he solves a gruesome murder that gets more complicated the deeper he digs into it. This is actually the third, and newest, book in the series following Shapiro, which I didn’t know when I picked it up. Needless to say, since I didn’t immediately return it, you don’t have to read this series in order. Like in any criminal show each book is a different case, so no real need to read one to three.

Nils is a good detective. His reasoning isn’t hard to follow at all. He’s kind of an asshole, and thinks he is more complicated than he actually is, but he isn’t a bad main character at all. Girls throw themselves at him which gets a little ridiculous but it’s easy to ignore.

The mystery was nice. I guessed some of the answers, and was surprised by others. What more can you want? And really what more can I say? The mystery could be really obvious to others. It’s something very subjective.

I was surprised by how political this book got. A lot of the characters are Jewish and the law firm the victim worked at his very, very right wing while Shapiro is liberal. I liked the commentary though I know if most conservatives would be offended.

I think I would check out the first two books. It looks like the second is many people’s favorite so I’m particularly interested in that one. 

4 stars

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Book Reviews, Personal, Uncategorized

Nicole’s Reading Round Up

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Sooo, hi! I’m back (hopefully). The last time I posted anything was at the end of February. As the one half of this blog that tried to update on a twice a week schedule, that was very different, and, understandably, it’s been reflected in our stats. Still sad though because we were really getting (kind of) popular.

Why did I disappear? Well life. And a reading slump. And laziness. And stress. We also opened up for accepting review requests last year (I think), and, boy, that was a mistake. We quickly got overwhelmed, and really neither of us deal with that well. So, yeah, we aren’t doing that anymore. Sorry.

But hopefully I’m back for good with a nice schedule because I do really miss making posts. I feel like a lot of the books I did read during my impromptu break feels too far from my mind to make individual posts, but I also feel like I can’t move on without acknowledging them in some way. Hence this post. Consider it a lighting round of reviews. Hope you enjoy!

 

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“If you don’t make the decision to love, every day, it’s an easy thing to forget.”

The Last by  Hanna Jameson is an interesting mix of murder mystery and post-apocalyptic novel. When Jon is away in Switzerland for a conference, a nuclear bomb hits Washington. He’s stuck in his hotel with strangers at the end of the world with no idea how his wife and children are doing, and then he discovers the body of a dead little girl. As a historian, he compulsively writes about the events for future generations while also becoming obsessed with finding out if the murderer is still in their midst.

I love how this book was written. It was refreshing, a nice break from the regular narratives of novels. The characters were interesting, and I was very invested in the beginning. I was convinced it would be one of my favorite novels of the year. But around the middle/ending, the story lost it’s way. I think the author had many ideas of where to go and instead of picking one, she tried to stuff all of them into the book. It didn’t work. Overall, I found this book disappointing, but I can’t forget how great the beginning was. 

3 stars

 

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“You must forge your own path for it to mean anything.”

“Life is only precious because it ends, kid.”

Oh, Rick Riordan, you always make me feel better when I’m down. I’m always torn between ripping through these books because they are so good, and saving them for when I am really stressed and sad. 

This is the spin off series to the original Percy Jackson series, and yes, you must read those books first. These books bring in a new enemy, new heroes, new friendships, and new jokes. I am loving it. I think I like it more than the first series which I think is an unpopular opinion but oh well. I can see Riordan’s writing improve in this, and it’s simply a magical adventure everyone should read.

5 stars

5 stars

 

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And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a young adult fantasy about a librarian, a magical world with a name that disappeared, and blue monsters. It’s weird but entertaining and really beautifully written.

I’ve heard so much about Laini Taylor’s writing, but this is the first time I’ve read from her. Everyone made me feel intimidated by her which made me put off reading her, thinking that it would be a little complicated to understand. But that’s not true. Taylor’s writing style simply gave me writer envy. I spend the book in awe of her writing, but also wondering if I could ever write so beautifully. 

The story itself is unlike anything I’ve ever read, yet, still boiled down to a simple love story. I have to admit that did disappoint me a little. I did like it, and I might read the sequel in the future. It’s not a need though which I always thinks says a lot about a book.

3 stars

 

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I doubt there is a loss in the universe more profound than a daughter losing her mother.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth is a thriller surrounding the seeming suicide of Lucy’s mother-in-law Diana. It switches from Lucy’s POV of the present to Diana’s of the past as the mystery unfolds.

I liked the characters more than I usually do in thrillers. I especially liked Diana, and I feel like her POV made the novel. The mystery itself was a little lackluster, but the relationships shown was very good. The commentary of the concept of a mother-in-law, and what is expected of women was great as well.

4 stars

 

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I’m lonely but I’m not alone. My body works, my brain works, I’m alive. It’s a good life. I have to make a conscious effort to remember that. To choose to be happy every day. If I didn’t, I think my own pain would’ve killed me a long time ago.

Shadow Me by Tahereh Mafi is technically book 4.5 in the Shatter Me series. It’s a novella following Kenji through the final chapters of Restore MeThe whole series in general is mainly about Juliette, a girl who’s touch kills, set in a dystopian world.

Kenji is really one of the reasons I love this series so getting into his head was amazing. Mafi did not disappoint my little fangirl heart. However, with my reader/writer brain I realize this novella was kind of pointless. Yeah it clarified a couple things, and made me more interested in the next book. But it wasn’t needed at all, no like, in my opinion, the other novellas in this series are, and I think that’s the point of novellas.

5 stars

Book Reviews

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen – Book Review

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Balance the world in your relationship. No one person should be responsible for killing ALL the Zombies.

Married with Zombies is one of the first books I ever read with Nicole many years ago. I read it during the hype of zombies (in my life) and I loved it so much. Recently, though, I listened to the audiobook because I want to finish the trilogy, and hey, zombies are my favorite thing yet again. I hate to say that I found this book not as great the second time around.

This story follows Sarah and David, a couple that’s on the verge of divorce. During their last therapy visit, they discover a world full of zombies. They cope with everything well, all things considered. The zombie slaying kicks off pretty early on. And through the fighting off zombies and protecting each other, they solve their marriage.

I really love the premise of this book. I love that the fricken zombie apocalypse managed to keep a married couple together. I love to think that certain people will thrive during the upcoming zombie apocalypse. (Come on, do you not believe one is coming?) I liked the pacing and the plot. They encounter a variety of interesting characters and stumble into terrifying situations. I just had a few problems with Sarah as the narrator.

Sarah calls a lot of women “bitch.” The one that hurt me the most was when she called a teenager a “bitch” just because she didn’t want to leave with them. Sarah just constantly kept looking down on women, calling them stupid as well. I hate it when women hate women for no good reason. I kept cringing because of it.

I think this is a fun book that should, in no way, be taken seriously. But give it a read if you like zombies.

3 stars

Book Reviews

The Strongest Boy by Renee Irving Lee – Book Review

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I’ve been on a children’s book kick lately. During Pride month, I read a lot of really beautiful, thought-provoking LGBT+ books that made me so happy. When I heard about The Strongest Boy, I knew I would also love it.

This beautifully illustrated book deals with the topic of toxic masculinity very well. Max wants to be strong. He’s been told he’s strong, and he believes it completely. But his idea of strength is kind of Hulk-smash strength, which causes destruction and frustration.

Through his father, Max learns that strength can be shown better with your mind and words and intelligence. Max learns a very important lesson about masculinity, and grows a lot in the end.

It was refreshing reading about this topic. I’m glad I found this sweet little story.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston – Book Review

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History, huh? Bet we could make some.

I just want to stay in this book forever.

I had the enormous pleasure of reading an early copy of this book through NetGalley, and I’m so grateful for that because from the moment I heard about this book, I knew I would love it. Sometimes, though, you hear about a book that sounds too good to be true, and it disappoints you because your expectations were way too high. In this case, I’m delighted to say that this book exceeded each and every one of my expectations.

Red, White & Royal Blue follows Alex, the First Son of the United States of America. In this wonderful fictional reality, the U.S. has a phenomenal woman as president, Madam Ellen Claremont. Alex Claremont-Diaz is her half-Mexican son who is one-third of the White House Trio, also made up of June and Nora (who are both exceptional women, owners of my heart). I completely adored the White House Trio, and the president, and the entire White House staff. Adored them. The fact that Alex and June were half-Mexican and very attached to their Mexican culture pulled my heartstrings. Being Mexican, I saw so much of myself reflected in them. I saw so many things of my culture that I had long ago forgotten, and was pleasantly reminded. I felt so connected to these characters for these, and many other reasons.

I’m already gushing and we haven’t even made it to Henry. Oh, boy. How should I sum up Henry? Henry is the Prince of Fucking England. Oops, sorry. I mean. His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales — no disrespect. Henry is the softest, most talented, most beautiful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Wow. Henry is a dream, but like a dream that you never want to wake up from. A dream that keeps on giving. Henry is all that is good in the world and then some. He also has the most amazing sister, Bea, who protects him fiercely. And the most glamorous best friend, Pez, who is honestly the best. So, yeah, I think we can all agree that this book stole my heart, entirely.

So now, the premise of this magnificent book, which is the hook that gets everyone. Alex and Henry are lifelong enemies, have always hated each other. But due to a small incident involving them ruining an expensive cake and jeopardizing the peace of their two nations, they’re forced to spend some quality time together. You know, just two guys that hate each other spending time. What could possibly happen next? Oh, wait, I know! It’s the best trope ever! Enemies to friends to lovers. And Casey McQuiston does it perfectly. Their relationship develops so naturally, and before you know it, you’re rooting for these two beautiful idiots to just kiss already because they’re obviously harboring very romantic feelings for each other!

You know, I usually love queer romances in books. That’s my favorite thing to read. I love the rep, and that’s what I’m here to read. But in this book, there was so much more. I came for the romance and stayed for all the other things. Among these things were all of the extraordinary side characters that were all fleshed-out and absolutely wonderful. Did I mention yet that they’re all super witty? Because they are. All of them. The banter they have is on another level.

The love between these characters is so heartwarming. All of them love and support each other. None of them are perfect. They’re all so flawed, but they love each other anyway. It’s great. So great.

And the politics. I gotta say, I’ve always been a bit of a history buff, so I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. I cried, simply imagining a world in which Ellen Claremont was the president of the U.S. and I’m not even a little bit sorry about that. That woman was badass and she could rule the world if she wanted to. Of course, she’s fictional so we kind of have to digress.

Whoa, I’m still so pumped after reading this book. It comes out in a month, but I can’t wait to get my own physical copy. I’m going to get as many people as I can to read this, because not only is it an amazing read that’ll lift your spirits, it’s also super inspirational and necessary. Also, the world must know Alexander Gabriel Claremont-Diaz because he is my child. That is all.

5 stars

Book Reviews

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green – Book Review

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Even on this most terrible days, even when the worst of us are all we can think of, I am proud to be a human.

Well, this was super entertaining.

This book follows April May (still can’t get over her name being two months put together). She’s a twenty-three year old who becomes an overnight viral sensation upon her discovery video of Carl, a ten foot robot that shows up in New York. But there isn’t just one Carl. There are Carls all over the world. On top of these mysterious appearances, there are many other strange happenings in April’s life. All of it completely unbelievable, and yet totally captivating.

I’m not much of a sci-fi person, or a mystery person. But this book appealed to me. I’m not sure if it was because of the fleshed out characters, or because the prose was witty and had a humorous undertone at all times. I really enjoyed this. April was an excellent main character. I related to her impulsive, reckless tendencies. I understood her fear of intimacy. I was always rooting for her. And her quirky friends: Maya, Andy, Miranda, and Robin. These guys stole my heart from the beginning. I loved the way they worked together, all of them having April’s back. I even liked Carl, the fricken robot.

I loved the diversity, too. April was openly bisexual, and she never hid her attraction to others. I loved the way April saw her fame, and how she recognized the way it made her feel. It was so human. The concept of being human was challenged often, but in very interesting ways. There was a lot to philosophize, and puzzles to break, and pop songs to love. I especially loved the Queen shout out. Another reason to love this book, and Hank Green.

This book was incredible. I’ll be recommending it from now on. I can’t wait for the sequel!

4 stars

Book Reviews

It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura – Book Review

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And I remember that hiding the truth doesn’t stop things from being true. Not talking about things doesn’t stop them from happening. Pretending that a thing is something else doesn’t change its true nature.

This is a book of cheaters.

Sana is in high school when she’s forced to move to California. There, she meets Jamie, a beautiful girl she likes. Girl meets girl, and things are good for a while. I liked the diversity in this book. Sana is Japanese-American, and Jamie Mexican-American. They both have friends with the same backgrounds too. That was probably one of the few things I liked about the story.

I didn’t like Sana very much. At first, I could seriously relate to her. I’ve had many crushes on girls, unsure whether the girls even like girls in the first place. I loved everything about the first half of the book. But then, everyone started lying and cheating and it was a complete mess that I ended up kind of hating. There were also a lot of really harmful stereotypes expressed about Mexican-Americans that were really awful, and never really addressed.

I don’t have the energy to hate this book. It just makes me tired to think about it. This book had so much potential. I was sure it would be a new favorite. But it took all of the wrong turns.

2,5 stars