Friday, September 22, 2017

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published January 5, 2016
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
Wow – definitely worth all of that hype.  I went into this book thinking that maybe this book was overhyped but it most definitely wasn’t.  It was engaging, suspenseful and it really kept me on my toes throughout its entirety.  It was so easy for me to be completely absorbed into the plot that it only took me a day or two to finish it. 

I think the reason why this book is so good is because there is just so much tension and anticipation going on that it will honestly keep you guessing.  Plus it’s told in a lot of different perspective and they’re all located in different areas so it was fascinating to see how they all draw together at the end.  I think the story could have been more interesting if it was also told in the shooter’s perspective just because I think it’ll be intriguing to see what he/she was thinking especially as the police drew  near. 

At the end of the book, it was obviously a relieved ending with the shooter put down and the students and faculty escaping but there was also a lot of misfortunes and deaths as well.  I was definitely a little sad when I found out that two of the characters (either main or related to someone who is a main character) died.  I was rooting for them all but these things happen so…

The one thing I found most fascinating about this book was the premise itself especially these days with all of these school shootings.  I don’t think I have heard of any book where it talked about school shootings from the perspective of the students themselves so I found this idea, in a way, refreshing.  Obviously I knew that everyone would be in shock and scared but it was a different layer to actually read about their own situation.  It was also crazy to read about the media sharks out there.  There were a few scenes when the medias were like “we would like a statement” while the students themselves were still being held or when the bystanders were terrified just waiting and watching.  Like, hello, maybe now isn’t the best time to ask for that statement.  This is why I would never go into that sort of media/news.

Overall, this book was great.  I highly recommend this one – a great insight on the realities of a school shooting because it’s not just the tragedy that is highlighted.  It is also the fact that the shooter is a friend, relative and just someone who is familiar to those around him/her.  And the fact that they can go to this point where they start shooting at everyone – it’s just crazy to fathom.  
Rating:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok
Published April 29, 2010
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
Another book that I am finally happy to check off on my TBR list – it has been there forever but somehow I was unable to access a copy of it.  Thankfully my new library had an audiobook version so I was able to quickly snag it. 

There are definitely a few things I want to comment on for this book – they are not in any particular order with some good and some bad.
  1. Since I read this book via audiobook, the narrator did an obnoxious job of enhancing the Chinese accent.  I would have to give her credit for doing the Hong Kong accent accurately but it didn’t really make sense in this book.  It would have made more sense when she used the accent when the characters were actually speaking English to each other but it seemed that for most of the book, they were actually speaking Chinese to each other or when Kimberly was thinking to herself.  In which case, they shouldn’t have any sort of Hong Kong English accent going on.  So I’m just not really sure why the author did this.  Not sure if this is a form of passive racism but it was definitely irksome.
  2. I actually learned a lot and started to really empathize with the character, Kimberly.  A lot of her struggles were actually relevant to my childhood as well but in a more intense way since she wasn’t from here and really had to struggle with the language and the culture.  So while I didn’t really understand her in that sense, other things such as “saving face” and whatnot was pretty common in an Asian household. 
  3. Out of the male characters, I was actually rooting for Curt instead of Matt because Curt would have been better for her.  Yes, Matt resonated with her due to her culture but they clearly had very different lifestyles and expectations.  Whereas Curt was raised in a well-to-do background and was expected to do relatively great things.  So for me, in terms of life achievements, it was clear to me who she should have gone with.  However, sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants so while I didn’t agree with her choice, I could respect it.
  4. That being said, I was a little disappointed to read the ending.  I honestly thought things would go one way but it clearly didn’t and it seemed a little abrupt when I found out.  However, at the same time, I was glad to see where Kimberly ended up at and how her life was doing.  So while I didn’t agree with some of her choices by that point, I was glad in some other areas.  I guess the ending was bittersweet for me.
Overall, the book was actually really interesting.  I learned a lot about Chinese factory life in America – I honestly did not realize that it was actually history.  I went online to look this up after reading the book.  It was just crazy to think that factory workers with that kind of wages and environment was able to thrive.  Well, thrive to some degree.  I would definitely recommend this book for people who want to learn more about how NYC was back in the mid to late 1900s and learn about how Chinese migrants were treated in that time.  

Rating:

Monday, September 18, 2017

Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes

Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes
Published November 8, 2016
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
I had thoroughly enjoyed Anita’s other book, French Coast, which was a typical chicklit so I was a little surprised by this one.  I had assumed it would be similar and even though your average chicklit doesn’t usually include a lot of depth, Anita’s previous book had personable characters and a plot that was more than simply romance.  So for this book, I was quite disappointed at the end.  There were a lot of times when I was shaking my head at the absurdity of the situation or how ridiculous some of the characters were being.  I think, from my personal experiences, I tend to enjoy chicklits when there isn’t simply only a fluff romance involved.   And this one was most definitely all fluff and no depth.  Plus there weren’t any other sub-plot to entertain me.

I mean, I guess if you want to be specific then I could count the whole “fortune telling” aspect as a subplot but honestly the whole thing was so ridiculous that I don’t even want to think about it.  In my head, I was pretty much going like “is she really that stupid?” “Can someone really be that dense?”  And for a financial analyst who is usually very realistic and good with predictability and numbers and probability to simply go off in this fantasy chase was just utter craziness. 

The main character, Isabel, is by far one of the most obnoxious character that had ever faced this planet.  I could not stand her at all.  She’s a financial analyst and rather than a typical level-headed person, she somehow decided to follow a fortune teller’s advice about the whole French nobility and whatnot.  Which is fine but considering the fact that she’s only in Paris for a few days, how in the world did she expect someone to propose to her in a matter of days?  Like come on!  It’s one thing if it happens by chance but going out of your way and expecting a proposal after knowing someone for a week is a little crazy and way too far-fetched. 

Alec, the other guy, was also a little crazy as well.  They were both nursing broken hearts yet somehow for someone who had sworn off marriage and females and whatnot, he decided to propose a week or so after his own marriage was called off.  I don’t know about you but if someone did that, I think alarm bells would be going off in my head.  It shows to me that this guy isn’t at all stable and doesn’t know what the fuck he wants. 

So basically this story is a jumble of mess.  It clearly shows two crazy people who both don’t really know what they truly want yet is willing to jump into another relationship so quickly.  This is the main reason why the institution of marriage is so fucked up these days.  And why divorce rates are at a record high.  It’s because of BOGUS stories like this that somehow makes people think that this is the norm.  It isn’t and these types of utter nonsense should be banned forever.
Rating:

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
Published January 1, 2011
Summary on Goodreads
Review:
I’m pretty sure that this book has been on my TBR forever – basically when this book came out, I think.  But I have been unable to find this book anywhere until now.  This book was super cute and was a great summer read.

I thought the idea of dresses having secret lives was adorable and was intrigued by this concept.  And I was not disappointed.  While this book didn’t leave much in terms of suspense or whatnot since it was pretty clear from the beginning what was going to happen in terms of Dora’s life – school or personal or romantic.  However, the one thing I was constantly confused was who the fuck Gabby was.   At the end of the book, I’m still confused as to how Gabby was related to Dora.  It seemed that Gabby was older than Dora but is she an aunt or a close family friend or what?  It wasn’t very clear and if it was then I totally missed that part of the book.

Out of the two men in Dora’s life – Gary and Con – it was clear from the get-go who the winner was going to be.  One of them was incredibly immature and was constantly lost – he reminded me of a lost puppy who actually needed Dora in his life to help him run a business.  Without her, he was always emailing her to ask for simple things – things that as the manager and owner of the business, he should really know himself.  As for the other man, he was much more grown-up and way more mature.  He essentially had his own business as well but the difference between the two was worlds apart.  It was crazy, really.  So I was glad when Dora had her eyes opened and picked the right man at the end.

Dora, as a character, even though I didn’t dislike her but I didn’t particularly like her either.  I was mostly neutral to her because I don’t like characters who didn’t have a drive and for the most part, she didn’t know what she wanted.  She seemed perfectly content with wallowing in the shallows that was her life and didn’t seem to strive for anything more.  Even at the end when she found a sort of passion, it was a passion that was kind of grown upon her as she grew up.  It wasn’t something she had picked out herself.  So because of that, I thought of her as a mediocre main character.

What really stood out to me about this book was honestly all of the dresses’ secret lives.  The stories were witty, originally and interesting.  So I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of those – the story around it seemed to be more secondary.  I would recommend this book to those who want something different and is looking for a quick read.
Rating:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Video Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Warcross by Marie Lu
Published September 12, 2017
Summary on Goodreads

Review:
Check out our new Video Book Review that I did on our new YouTube channel, Shut Up & Read.  You will see that we have already published a few videos that are all book related from book reviews to compare & contrast and more!

SUBSCRIBE HERE: https://goo.gl/7oAl9f
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