Monday, February 20, 2017

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins
Published December 6, 2016
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
My friend got this for her BOTM and we exchanged ours so we could read more books.  That being said, we have COMPLETELY different taste in books so while it’s fun to exchange and read more books, it’s also difficult (for me at least) to read some of her choices.  I mean, for December, she chose the one book that I was pretty much like ugh, no way.  Same for January, now that I think about it. 

I’m really not a fan of short stories, poems, etc. and this book and January’s are both short stories.  Short stories are difficult for me mainly because I don’t have the attention span to capture the entire story in 10 pages.  I really need a full length book for me to soak in the characters, understand the world in the book, and really appreciate the book itself.  With short stories, everything is so quick that I’m still thinking about the previous story when it’s already halfway in the next one.  Or worse, I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on when I stumble upon the last page and then I’m like, oh shit, what just happened?  And since I hate rereading things, I always just move on instead and hope for the best.

So, that being said, I was not a fan of this book.  Other than the fact that it’s full of short stories, I also couldn’t relate whatsoever.  Black culture really isn’t my background at all (I’m Asian American – Taiwanese to be exact) and even though I grew up with African Americans around me, it’s not the same for me to truly know their heritage and background.  And since this book primarily focused on African Americans in the 1800s-1900s, I really had no clue and couldn’t even connect the dots. 

Out of all the short stories, I think that there was only one or two that somewhat held my interest.  That goes to show how little this book intrigued me.  So I don’t want to take up everyone’s time by reading a lengthy review because it’s going to say the same thing over and over again: I did not enjoy this book.  However, if you’re really into short stories and can truly appreciate them, then give this a try.  Otherwise I have nothing left to say.
Rating:

Friday, February 17, 2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Published November 8, 2016
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
This is one of those rare moments where I actually loved two books back to back.  Usually I’m a pretty harsh critic or just not easily impressed but, I have to say, I was impressed with this one.  Though, honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise because Marissa Meyer is a solid author (or so I’d heard since I have yet to read the Cinder Chronicles).

So I knew that this was somehow related to Alice in Wonderland but I had thought it was a spinoff or something or like an alternate reality to the story.  What I didn’t realize was that this was the backstory of the Queen of Hearts and how she came to be that way.  How come everyone is coming up with these stories and making her to be the victim instead?  Even the recent movie adaptation talks about her past and makes her out to be this poor, misunderstood girl.  That being said though, this book definitely portrayed every character beautifully and is actually a fabulous back story to the Queen of Hearts as well as the other characters in the Kingdom of Hearts.

It’s crazy to think how the Queen used to be – her personality was so sweet and loving and then suddenly because of a tragic event and due to circumstances that her parents forced upon her, she basically turned a 180 and became the Queen we all know and despise from our childhood.  And all the events that led to her change in personality was actually quite sad.  I was really, really hoping for a spectacular turn of events where love overcame all things but unfortunately reality is reality, I suppose.

My favorite aspect of this book was how the author managed to weave such an intricate tale of the pumpkin seeds, romance, death, danger and the explanations of not only the Queen but also other iconic characters like the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire cat.  All of those things compiled together to form a fascinating tale and I absolutely adored every part of it.

I also loved how she managed to include all the famous quotes like “why is the raven like a writing desk” or “off with his/her head!” and using it to really emphasis the Hatta’s slow descend to madness and the Queen’s favorite phrase and how it came to be.  His sudden confession at the end also took me by surprise but it also explained a lot of stuff.  The ending was honestly just so tragic and even though it was a good transition to our childhood fairy tale but it was still a sad ending.  It was like one of those bittersweet endings.

Overall, fabulous book.  I didn’t want to discuss too much otherwise it’ll spoil more than I already had (oops).  But the other characters: Cath’s parents, Marianne (I hope I’m spelling her name right), the King and even Jest all came together and I honestly really enjoyed it.  I would definitely recommend it.  And now I have to read the Lunar Chronicles.
Rating:

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain

Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain
Published October 6, 2015
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
I absolutely adored this book.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect since I hadn’t read nor heard too much of the author’s previous works.  However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The book went between two time periods: the present day when Molly and her husband are looking for an open adoption because they are eager to start their own family after many unsuccessful tries on their end and twenty years ago in the summer when Molly was just 14 years old living with her adoring father and mother at her Grandmother’s ridge.  Or was it a plantation?  Something along those lines. 

It was also good that I read this book in its hardcopy version rather than an audiobook otherwise I might have been confused with all the back and forth between the two time periods especially since it was also like All The Light We Cannot Seen where they didn’t alternate in each chapter.  Sometimes it was two chapters in San Diego, the present day, and then maybe three chapters in Morrison Ridge, Molly’s childhood home.  It definitely helped me for me to see the transitions very clearly because god knows, I would be confused all over again.

So Molly, the main character, was a very complex character.  I liked her when she was 14 and I liked her when she was 34; however, I didn’t at all like her when she plagued herself with something that happened 20 years ago and let it affect her marriage and potential future adopted child and I really hated her when she was growing up during that summer so long ago.  She was so innocent in the beginning of the book with her simply aiming to please her parents especially her father whom she absolutely adored.  However, due to a rather toxic friendship with a nearby girl, she grew up in the worst manner.  She was only 14 yet her innocence was taken from her because she tried to “be like the others” but the only person she hung out with was Stacy and that was only 2-3 times before the incident.  And because of all this, she allowed herself to disobey her parents, caused her to sneak out and do drugs, and ended up in a situation that she had regretted the rest of her life.  She was so immature and rude at the end that I really couldn’t stand her.  I don’t ever remember my childhood being like that.  I think the difference between me and her though was the fact that I wasn’t so sheltered that I knew what was right from wrong whereas she grew up in a plantation pretty much as the only kid (other than her cousin Dani who was 3 years older and therefore didn’t like each other much) and all of the parents adored and spoiled her.  Regardless, I still admired the woman she grew up into but was sad to see what had haunted all those years ago and how much it had affected her life.

There were a lot of sensitive topics that were discussed in this book: open adoptions, biological mothers, racism, underage sex, drug use and many others.  I was actually retarded and didn’t link the whole parallel thing with the open adoption Molly was currently trying to do with her husband with her childhood circumstances until it was pointed out to me in the book and then I was like oh wow duh.  I was also surprised to see drug use in the South during the 80s (I’m assuming it’s the 80s).  For some reason, I feel like the South is very, very isolated and in their own world half the time that it just surprised me.   Also I was shocked to find out the origin of Molly and her parents and her true biological mother.  For a place as conservative as the South, it seemed almost scandalous to think so.

The ending was so good – so heartwarming.  I was glad to see how everything came together at the end and the result with Molly and her husband’s adoption plans.  I also found out that this is book one in a series but I haven’t seen anything about a book two so…maybe it’ll be more on Molly and her life or perhaps a different individual altogether.  I’d definitely be interested in picking up the second book.
Rating:

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book Tour: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
Published February 7, 2017
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
The one thing I would have to say about this book is that it was definitely slow to start.  It was actually so slow that I considered giving it up at one point if it wasn’t for this book tour obligation and in a way, I was glad that I stuck through and finished it.  Wintersong isn’t a book with a lot of action or suspense or excitement but it is a book that offers a lot of emotion and feeling.  A lot of times when I read books, I like something that is off the bat exciting or full of adventure but Wintersong isn’t like that at all.  It’s like a slow burn (just like Liesl!) and at the end, you end up feeling pretty satisfied.

The characters in this book all had a lot of pros and cons to them.  Liesl, while fiercely loyal to her dear brother and sister, was very lost for herself.  She didn’t know what she wanted other than create music but she lacked the conviction to stand up to her father or to go out in the world.  So in a way, without the push of the Goblin King and his games, she would never have actually pursued music on a grander scale.  And by that, I really mean, she wouldn’t have just simply dabbled in a few songs here and there but actually wrote a sonata with more than just one movement.  However, at the end though, I was disappointed to see that she still hesitated to really further her music inspirations.

The Goblin King was also something I had mixed feelings for.  It was obvious how much he cared for Liesl but because of his immortality and eons of being trapped in the Underground as their king, he lost ability to really feel any sort of emotions so he was always very cold in some ways and he couldn’t express his emotions really well.  I think the author did a good job in portraying this in a realistic manner.  And since he couldn’t express his emotions well, I also couldn’t connect with him at times and found him very cut off.  Also, I was shocked to find out who his real identity was.  I guess it made sense – why he was always playing the piano – but still.  Damn.  At least, I think that was who the author was hinting at for his true identity.

As for the other characters: Kathe and Josef, Liesl’s sister and brother – I didn’t really like either of them.  Kathe was so immature in the beginning with her impish ways and inability to take any responsibilities that I was shocked to find that she still believed in Liesl after she was erased from the world and would continuously stop by the grove to offer little presents.  Josef was also way too dependent on Liesl.  In the beginning, he always looked at her to make sure she approved something before saying anything.  I just can’t handle people with that kind of mentality.  I like independence and Josef was on the opposite end of that spectrum.  But I am glad that they were there to make sure that Liesl was not forgotten because apparently love was the factor that allowed you to stay sane in the Underworld.

The plot itself was a little twisty turney at some point mainly because the goblins didn’t want to offer any straight answers and Liesl was either too enamored with the king or too depressed about losing her scenes once she was forgotten or something.  There was always something.  And a lot of the games in the beginning and at the end were very puzzling which I guess was the main point.  But I feel like they were a little too puzzling even for me. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I found the characters to be of interest with lots of levels in their personalities and characterizations.  It’s always good to have characters that are not so one-sided.  
Rating:

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Outs by E.S. Wesley

The Outs by E.S. Wesley
Published January 24, 2017
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book because the synopsis didn’t give too much information and I just knew that it was sci-fi related.  It was more sci-fi than I had imagined.  Possibly almost to the realm of fantasy lol. 

So the Outs is basically when the lights go out, you can still go about your day but you forget everything during that time when the lights come back on and everyone who had died during that time basically get a re-do.  At first, I didn’t really get the concept because the author didn’t really describe it that well.  For the first few chapters, my main question was: WTF is the Outs?!  It wasn’t till I got more into the book that it started to become clearer.  However, this concept of the Outs is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a bunch of things that I still have questions about: how did the Deadheaders come to be?  The author gave a semi response to this but it’s still not very clear.  The concept is just a little out there and I feel like I need a better explanation.  How come it was Kitzi who was the trigger versus Amanda or Nicky?  Why was she the special one when they were pretty much all the same?  I definitely ended the book with more questions than answers.  The concept itself is good but it’s so complex that I don’t think the author did a fantastic job in fully breaking that down.

The relationship between Caleb and Kitzi was a little odd.  For some reason, I got the feeling that they were more like brothers and sisters rather than potential girlfriend/boyfriend material.  Maybe it’s because they’ve been friends for so long and they’ve seen each other at the worst and the best that any sort of affection just feels brotherly/sisterly.  I’m not really sure what the reason is but I just can’t imagine them becoming more than just friends. 

Also, I never really liked either characters to be perfectly honest.  Caleb, though at first seemed like he was very brave and whatnot, but in reality he wasn’t.  He was weak and in denial a lot of times which is why he was vulnerable to Crimes.  I have no interest in weak men.  As for Kitzi, I can’t say this is a fault of her directly, but I could not understand a word of what she was saying whenever the Outs was gone and her aphasia took place.  Half the time, I just sat there trying to decipher her meaning and the words of the people around her. 

I was most definitely not a fan of the ending.  I like endings that are clear cut and leave you with a positive feeling.  This ending was so vague and not at all satisfying because you don’t really know the outcome of some of the main characters.  I can’t decide if I feel cheated or not.  I just prefer when things are more clear cut and this one was certainly not.

All in all, I found this book to be vaguely interesting but could have been a lot better with more explanations of some of the sci-fi concepts, a more realistic couple (Caleb & Kitzi) and a much better ending.  
Rating:

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