Review: A Harvest of Thorns by Corban Addison

a-harvest-of-thornsA Harvest of Thorns
by Corban Addison

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

A beloved American corporation with an explosive secret. A disgraced former journalist looking for redemption. A corporate executive with nothing left to lose.

In Dhaka, Bangladesh, a garment factory burns to the ground, claiming the lives of hundreds of workers, mostly young women. Amid the rubble, a bystander captures a heart-stopping photograph—a teenage girl lying in the dirt, her body broken by a multi-story fall, and over her mouth a mask of fabric bearing the label of one of America’s largest retailers, Presto Omnishops Corporation.

Eight thousand miles away, at Presto’s headquarters in Virginia, Cameron Alexander, the company’s long-time general counsel, watches the media coverage of the fire in horror, wondering if the damage can be contained. When the photo goes viral, fanning the flames of a decades old controversy about sweatshops, labor rights, and the ethics of globalization, he launches an investigation into the disaster that will reach farther than he could ever imagine – and threaten everything he has left in the world.

A year later, in Washington, D.C., Joshua Griswold, a disgraced former journalist from the Washington Post, receives an anonymous summons from a corporate whistleblower who offers him confidential information about Presto and the fire. For Griswold, the challenge of exposing Presto’s culpability is irresistible, as is the chance, however slight, at redemption. Deploying his old journalistic skills, he builds a historic case against Presto, setting the stage for a war in the courtroom and in the media that Griswold is determined to win—both to salvage his reputation and to provoke a revolution of conscience in Presto’s boardroom that could transform the fashion industry across the globe.

My Review:

5+ of 5 Stars

For me, reading this book frequently felt like having my heart ripped out, and somehow I loved it. Perspective primarily alternates between Cameron the lawyer and Joshua the journalist but occasionally we get a chapter through the eyes of the people working in these factories. I anticipated this novel to be full of emotion but didn’t expect how deep that would go or how many different issues sweatshops can contain.

What made this story so touching for me was the depth of each and every character, even those who worked at Presto. I expected it to be easy to vilify specific people, to find one link in the chain of manufacturing that needs to be fixed. Instead, this story examines how it’s not one store or one area that has become corrupt but an entire system that has evolved in such a way as to not only encourage but reward the abuse of its weakest members.

I went in with the anticipation that this would be a book kind of like the movie Philadephia (which I adore). I expected a story of triumph over evil that I could relish in but probably not take to heart in my own life. While there is bit of that triumph in the way this story wraps up, it’s done in a way that addresses the fact that none of the issues addressed are endemic. I felt utterly shocked by the number of topics brought up including child labor, human trafficking, sexual assault, lack of medical care, and chosen ignorance and apathy.

My mind wants a single target to shake my finger at but this book doesn’t give me that. I highly encourage everyone to read this story and then discuss it. I don’t know how this will change the way I shop and look at stores but I’m willing to start the conversation with myself and others in a way that I hadn’t even thought of before.

Some Additional Resources

Big thanks to both Thomas Nelson and BookLookBloggers for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

 

Review: Meals from Mars by Ben Sciacca

meals-from-marsMeals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence
by Ben Sciacca

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

A fateful encounter late at night at a gas station in the hood brings together a white man from the suburbs and a young black man from the neighborhood. Stuck with each other for the night, they deal with their core prejudices, the walls that keep them from each other, and the discovery of their God-given humanity in one another.

When talking about race, it helps to have something specific to talk about―a story we can all wrap our heads around. In Meals from Mars, Ben Sciacca provides that story: two men from different worlds forced by circumstance to see and hear and consider one another. It is a novel that demonstrates the social challenges and relational potential for racial reconciliation.

My Review:

5+ of 5 Stars

I adored this book for a number of reasons but I can also see why some others might have some issues with it. First, it reads almost more like a public service announcement than a fictional book. The two main characters are suitably fleshed out but many of the support roles are very shallow. Conversations between Jim and Malik frequently felt one sided with Malik doing most of the talking. Some sections of dialogue often felt like a slightly more conversational version of an essay or speech. I didn’t mind this because I appreciated the way it made me think about things. I want to sit and listen more to those who have different experiences than I do so that I can understand how we can fix what is and has been broken.

At first, I was skeptical because Malik makes a series of rash decisions that don’t help him. This is probably why I appreciated his talks with Jim so much, it brought out into the light some of the things I wasn’t even aware I was thinking. This book challenged me and my own beliefs in ways that society desperately needs, especially with the current political climate we have here in the United States.

Overall, I feel at a loss for words when trying to review this book. It’s touched me in a way that I don’t want to let go of but have trouble putting into words. I want so much to do better, think better, live better and without difficult discussions like the ones present in this story.. how can any of us hope to do so? I highly encourage this as something to pick up for anyone and everyone. After the story, the book includes a list of additional resources as well as a discussion guide that would be perfect for any book group or club. While not a bible study I think this would also work well for a church small group wanting to explore topics of race and equality.

A very big thank you to Tyndale for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, I appreciate the opportunity to read it immensely. 

 

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

the-orphans-taleThe Orphan’s Tale
by Pam Jenoff

Source: ARC Netgalley & Harlequin

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

A powerful novel of friendship set in a traveling circus during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale introduces two extraordinary women and their harrowing stories of sacrifice and survival.

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the facade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

This book broke my heart in quite a few different ways. It took me a little while to get into it and connect with the characters, the beginning is a little confusing. Once I started to see how it all came together I was in deep. Noa is a strong but also fragile character. She’s made a lot of mistakes which have made her life harder, and continues to make them through the book. I felt for her over and over again but also found myself frequently getting frustrated. She’s not a clear cut strong or independent woman. She makes decisions often based on her strong emotions rather than anything else. Sometimes this works in her favor but other times it leads to more problems. Astrid is more of the standard strong female character I’ve come to expect but often she uses her strength as a wall to keep people out. I loved getting to know her more through time, especially in relation to Peter. The support cast for this book isn’t as built up as it could have been but this gave more focus to the main characters. I’d have liked to know more about the rest of the circus members but admit this might have taken away from the story and been distracting.

I appreciated the premise of this book, I’m drawn to books related to the holocaust. While it’s an always present theme in the story, this is much more character driven and doesn’t focus on the ongoing war. Instead, it’s almost entirely about the characters reacting to each other and the various circumstances they find themselves in.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates historical fiction even if the holocaust or WW2 aren’t interests of yours. I will warn you though that the ending really ripped me up emotionally. I rarely cry with books but this one had me reaching for tissues. It would also be a great choice for a book club as there is a lot of deep discussion that could be had through the content.

I didn’t expect that.. Ten Books that Surprised Me.

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish featuring a list based on a theme. This week we are exploring books that we didn’t expect to like or dislike as much as we did.

1. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I went into this book and quickly became uncomfortable with the story and the way it was going. I gave it a chance but it didn’t get better, it got worse. I didn’t finish this book and still, have really strong feelings about it. I’ve mentioned it before and always struggle to not go off on an entire rant about it. Just.. UGH.

2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

I’m not a fan of romance in general so it’s still surprising that this book is one of my favorites if not my actual favorite of all time. I’ve read it numerous times and just realized I’m long overdue to read it again!

3. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I went into this book expecting to really enjoy it but was just bored. I never really connected with the characters and it seemed to drag for me. It’s a book I might try again in the future but I have a suspicion I’ll enjoy the movie more.

4. Mistborn Series by Brandon Sanderson

There was a time when I didn’t know that Brandon Sanderson was a famous author (I know, weird huh?) so I picked up this series sort of randomly. All three books were available and I decided that was enough reason to give it a shot. I expected to be entertained by it but I fell in love. I’ve only read the first three books but I’ve got the rest on my TBR. I’m also curious to read more (perhaps everything.. including grocery lists?) by the author.

5. The Invasion of Heaven by Michael B. Koep

I really expected and wanted to like this book. The premise is incredibly interesting but the actual book just felt confusing. I was 30% into the book and still didn’t really understand what was going on nor had I really connected with any character. Sadly, it’s now in my pile of DNF’s.

6. Lady Mechanika by Joe Benítez

With the combination of steampunk and cover art, I expected to enjoy this graphic novel series. The cover is only a small taste of the amazing illustration done in this series. As much as I love the artwork, the storyline matches it perfectly. I love this series and am looking forward to reading more.

7. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

It’s not that I didn’t like this memoir, but I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. Amy Poehler is an amazing actress and comedian and I’ve enjoyed much of her work. I expected to enjoy this just as much as I had enjoyed her on SNL or Parks and Recreation. It was okay, but it didn’t engage me as much as expected.

8. Saga Series by Brian K. Vaughan 

I started reading this because I kept hearing about it. I liked the cover art and was curious after so many booktubers and bloggers had mentioned it. I expected to like it but not to fall in love with it. After reading it I’m still a little shocked because of how graphic this book can be. This is definitely an adult graphic novel but I adore it and can’t wait for Volume 7 to be published later this year.

9. Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich

I don’t really connect with this author’s writing style but for some reason keep trying to like her books. I wanted to enjoy this book but in the end, only sort of liked it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters and the style of humor used isn’t that funny to me. I finished this book but have no desire to read the rest of the series.

10. Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

It’s not that I didn’t expect to like this series but I thought I’d have trouble getting through all five main books. I’m not great at finishing the series I start but somehow I managed to all but devour this one. I read all of the books in a fairly short time frame and really got into them. I’ve not ventured into the series spinoff yet but I’m curious and they are on my TBR.

What about you?

Have you read any of the books on my list? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? What other books have you read that surprised you, good or bad? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Review: The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

accident-seasonThe Accident Season
by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Our Review:

I’ve partnered up with my favorite reading buddy – my Mom, Debra – to review this book we picked up at our local library.

Katy – 4 of 5 Stars

Mom – 4 of 5 Stars

How we felt on Characters:

Mom: I enjoyed all of the characters. They seemed well rounded, believable. I especially enjoyed that the teenagers seemed like realistic teenagers.

Katy: I agree, I appreciated the realism that gave to the story. Cara sometimes frustrated me though because it seemed she was purposefully putting her head in the sand so to speak. For instance, what did you think about the situation with Nick?

Mom: I liked him at first because he seemed loyal and devoted to Alice. Eventually, he showed his true colors and I quickly came to distrust him. I felt like this was left a little open at the end. I’m not sure how exactly this part of the story wrapped up – it felt confusing.

Katy: I hadn’t thought about that but yeah, in retrospect I’m not that clear on how that resolved. I think it was more hinted at than something deliberately spelled out.

Our thoughts about the ‘accident season’:

Katy: I went into this book expecting one thing and it turned out quite different than I anticipated. I loved how the paranormal was mixed in with this magical theme and then the way it twisted around and became something else. Did you see that coming?

Mom: No, I was completely surprised at the end. I loved the character of Elsie, she was always on my mind through the book. I couldn’t figure out who she was or how she connected to the story for a long time and was relieved by the end to finally have that answered.

Katy: I agree, she seemed to always be in the background but didn’t really tie in that well until the end when suddenly it made sense.

Our thoughts on the romance:

Mom: I thought the romances were handled well and they didn’t take over the story. They were important in supporting the plot but not the main element.

Katy: I enjoyed the romance as well though I got a little impatient with Cara on occasion because of her choices at the party. I wanted to shake her a little but I could see why she was resistant. What did you think of the taboo nature of that potential relationship?

Mom: I could understand why it was risky but was always hopeful that they would overcome the issues they faced and get together.

Overall, we both really enjoyed this book. The characters are portrayed well and are easy to connect with. The plot is also engaging and moves steadily along though it’s not filled with action. We especially loved that it was somewhat weird and not what we expected. We both recommend this to anyone who wants to venture into fantasy but doesn’t want anything too extreme.

The Weekly Wrap (2/13 – 2/19)

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by The Caffeinated Book Blogger to help us wrap up all the things that have happened on and off our blogs over the past week. Head on over to her blog to join in and check out other posts.

wp_20170214_19_38_41_proNot much went on for me this week and I’m fairly happy about that. I was able to get a fair bit of drawing and painting done which has only made me all the more excited to do more. I’ve also taken advantage of a few sales at DickBlick in the watercolor department. You can see my jellyfish doodle at the left, it was super fun to make and nowhere near as difficult as expected. I learned to do this on Skillshare in the class Modern Watercolor Techniques: Beginner’s Level. I highly recommend it if you are at all interested in learning! You can use my affiliate link here to get your first three months on skillshare for 99 cents. Other than art I’m starting to take classes on Coursera, testing the waters to see if I want to get a degree. Most classes can be taken for free so it’s another site I highly recommend. I’m currently taking Introduction to Philosophy.

recap

5thingsonsunday

Five things on Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Reads and Treats. This week’s theme focuses on five of our winter dislikes. Surprisingly, this was a bit difficult for me probably due to the fact I live in Texas and we barely have winter.

  1. Mood swing weather – I don’t like cold or hot weather but what gets me more is the alternating conditions. Here in Austin, we are getting nights down in the 40’s with day temperatures climbing into the 80’s. This is making my arthritis flare pretty badly.
  2. All the dead things don’t bug me that much, I kind of appreciate the lack of pollen which make my allergies nuts. I don’t like all the dead grass we somehow track inside when we take Jack (the dog) out for walks.
  3. Less sunlight for me means much lower energy. I wouldn’t quite say it leads to depression (though, maybe) but it’s harder to get going. This is especially difficult because I’m not a morning person and it gets dark really early.
  4. An increased number of rainy overcast days zap me of all energy. First, it’s hard to get moving when it’s gross out. Second, wet weather is probably the biggest trigger for most of my health problems. My fibromyalgia flares, my arthritis flares, I feel restless, and even my allergies seem to spike.
  5. Because of the alternating weather I never really know how to dress. In Austin, dressing in layers is mandatory this time of year. I love hoodies and sweaters but if it gets warm I need to be prepared to take those off and have something lighter underneath.

What about you?

Anything interesting happen for you in the last week? What do you dislike or like about the winter season? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

2016/2017 Year in Review Book Tag

yearinreviewbooktag

I’ve not done a lot of book tags (actually, perhaps none at all) and I was super excited to get tagged by Not-so-modern girl a few weeks ago. You can check out her answers here.

Trump vs Clinton: your favorite character rivalry

This is a hard one as I don’t read many books that feature a rivalry. Possibly in The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden between Vaslissa and the evil element.

Turkey failed coup: a book you started but failed to finish

The most recent book I’ve DNF’d is Criminal Zoo by Sean McDaniel, it got way too graphic for me.

Pokémon Go: what book did you buy and read based on hype?

I’ve not bought many books recently but two I checked out from my library based on hype are Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Stranger things: what’s one book you want everyone to read?

This one’s hard because there are so many that I’d love to share with others. The first that came to mind though is The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova.

Game of thrones, the walking dead, Mr. Robot: what was your favourite book cliff-hanger within a series?

I’m not usually a fan of cliff hangers so it’s difficult for me to pick out a favorite for this but the most recent I enjoyed was in the Gilded Cage by Vic James, it’s not a severe cliffhanger but some things happen at the end which is pretty shocking.

The tragic crisis in Aleppo: name the last book that made you cry or teary-eyed.

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle made me tear up pretty good, especially in the ending. I loved this book, it was totally different than expected.

Brexit: name a book you have unpopular opinions towards.

I know I’m not the only one that disliked All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
by Bryn Greenwood but I admit to being shocked as to how popular this book is. The main relationship in this book is between an adult (24 or 25) and a child (13) and even if it doesn’t fall into a classic definition of pedophilia it’s still incredibly wrong. I could go on forever about this but yeah. Just.. Nope.

Four new elements discovered in the periodic table: name an author you read for the first time.

Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman are two of my favorite authors I’ve tried for the first time in the past year or so.

#Alllivesmatter: name your favourite diverse read.

I’m trying to make more of an effort to read diverse books, the most recent was Dreadnought by April Daniels which features a transgendered superhero.

Vika virus: name a book that spread like wildfire.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake is way more popular than I realized when I decided to read it. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar: what was your most anticipated release this year?

Probably The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova, I’d heard about it at some point last year and couldn’t wait to read it.

In memoriam: name a memorable character death.

I don’t read a lot of books which feature any of the main cast of characters dying. The only one I can think of which sort of fills this one is Traveler by L.E. DeLano.

Samsung Phones: name a book that blew your mind.

There are so many I could name here but I’m going to go with The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova. I knew I would like this book but didn’t expected to fall in love with it as much as I did.

I tag: Anyone and Everyone who is willing

Yeah, I know that’s sort of cheating but I’m lazy and don’t want to put anyone on the spot either. If you decide to participate in the tag let me know! If you don’t have a blog feel free to answer either some or all of it in the comments below.

Book Tour & Review: The Wolf Mirror by Caroline Healy

the-wolf-mirrorThe Wolf Mirror
by Caroline Healy

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

Changing places doesn’t always help you see things differently.

Cassie throws the first punch in a brawl at Winchester Abbey Girl’s School. Her subsequent suspension is a glitch in Cassie’s master plan; Finish School/Get Job/Leave Home (and never come back). As punishment her mother banishes her to Ludlow Park, their creepy ancestral home. In the dark of a stormy night Cassie finds herself transported to 1714, the beginning of the Georgian period.

With the help of a lady’s maid and an obnoxious gentleman, Mr Charles Stafford, Cassie must unravel the mysterious illness afflicting Lord Miller. If Lord Miller kicks the bucket the house goes to Reginald Huxley, the brainless cousin from London.

Cassie’s task is to figure out who is poisoning the Lord of Ludlow without exposing herself to the ridicule of her peers, getting herself committed to the asylum or worse, married off to the first man who will have her.

Cassie must learn to hold her tongue, keep her pride in check and reign in her rebellious nature – because the fate of her entire family, for generations, rests on her shoulders.

Meanwhile, Lady Cassandra Miller frantically searches for her smelling salts or her trusted governess Miss. Blythe, whose soothing advice she would dearly love. Instead Cassandra finds some woman and a boy squatting in the Ludlow mansion; her father, her lady’s maid and all the servants have magically disappeared.

Tell-a-vision, the In-her-net, horseless carriages and women wearing pantaloons; Cassandra is afraid that she might have inhaled fowl air causing her to temporarily lose her senses.

Only when both girls can get over their pride, societal prejudices and self-importance will they be able to return to their rightful century. Until then, they are free to wreak maximum damage on their respective centuries.

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My Review:

3.5 of 5 Stars

I was first attracted to this book because of the premise and I’m glad that I chose to review it. I never completely connected with either Cassie or Cassandra on a personal level but I appreciated them both deeply as characters. Cassie has been through a lot and is trying to figure all of her emotions surrounding her family situation out. I empathized with her struggles through feelings of abandonment, feeling misunderstood, and ignored. I got frustrated with her on multiple occasions but only because I could see a little farther than she could. In the story, it didn’t seem like we got to know Cassandra as well. This lack of detail made it harder to find ways to relate to her on a personal level but I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of her growth. Her exploration of the present day as opposed to what she experienced in her own time was hilarious. I loved her descriptions of various things like a television, computer, IPad, and a moving vehicle. The story also leaves ample room for a great cast of support characters whom I really enjoyed. This was especially true for both Molly and Charles who I came to appreciate more as the story progressed.

My favorite part of this book was how it briefly touched on a number of issues without any of them becoming a large focus of the story. There were times that Cassie’s shock at how women were treated in the 1700’s got a little repetitive. That said, it’s believable that a woman from the present would have a lot to get used to if suddenly dumped in such a restrictive time period. Gender equality and feminism were only two of the many topics touched on. Others included racism, class issues, divorce, bullying, and more.

Even though I never fully connected with the characters what I didn’t like about the story was the super clean ending. On one hand, I appreciated that it wasn’t something drawn out into yet another young adult series but it just felt a little too neat. Most if not all of the loose ends were wrapped up in a nice package. Some of the resolutions were heartwarming and made me smile but in retrospect, it felt a little forced.

Overall, I enjoyed this book as an easy and different read than other books I’ve chosen recently. It’s a story I think I would have enjoyed much more when I was younger so I recommend it to the teen crowd though I think adults can enjoy it as well.

Big thanks to the publisher, author, and EFC Promotions for hosting this book tour and providing me with a free galley of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Author Info

carolineCaroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University. She alternates her time between procrastination and making art.

In 2012 her award winning short story collection A Stitch in Time was published by Doire Press. Fiction and commentary has been featured in publications across Ireland, the U.K. and more recently in the U.S. Caroline’s work can be found in journals such as Wordlegs,The Bohemyth, Short Story Ireland, Short Stop U.K., Five Stop Story, Prole, Literary Orphans and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice

Her debut Y.A. novel, Blood Entwines was published by Bloomsbury Spark in August 2014 and she is in the process of writing the second book in the series, Blood Betrayal, as well as a short story collection, The House of Water.

She has a fondness for dark chocolate, cups of tea and winter woollies.

(More details can be found on her website www.carolinehealy.com)

 

 

Review: All That’s Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe

all-thats-left-to-tellAll That’s Left to Tell
by Daniel Lowe

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

Room meets The Crying Game: a haunting, luminous debut novel about a man and his relationship with his daughter, his captor, his past, and his future.
All That’s Left to Tell is a debut novel about Marc Laurent, a mid-level executive taken hostage in Karachi. Aside from his guards, his only interaction is with a mysterious woman he knows as Josephine. In their first meetings, Josephine tells Marc that they’ve called his company, they’ve called his ex-wife, whom else can they call for ransom money? Marc says there is no one else. And then Josephine asks Marc a question that is even more frightening than his captivity—why didn’t he go home last month for his daughter’s funeral, after she was murdered?

So begins a bizarre yet somewhat comforting ritual, in which every night Josephine visits Marc in his cell. She tells him stories, including stories about what would have happened had his daughter not been murdered. Marc, in turn, begins to tell his own stories, in which his daughter is alive. And soon it’s not clear which storyline is real, and which is imagined, and if it even matters. Throughout the course of these stories (and stories within stories), father and daughter start to find their way toward understanding one another once again.

Atmospheric and exquisitely structured, Daniel Lowe’s searing debut is a tribute to the redemptive power of storytelling.

My Review:

2.5 of 5 Stars

I really wanted to love this book – the premise was incredibly interesting. In actual reading, however, it was just sort of confusing. It’s incredibly well written but I don’t think it’s a genre that I’m as interested in. I went in expecting more of a mystery thriller and it’s more of a mystery contemporary. The story is written in a completely different way compared to what I’m used to. The whole book is made up of these narratives that characters within the story create and tell each other. Because of this weaving of ‘made up’ stories into the actual story itself, I found myself getting a little lost. This was especially true when Claire and Genevieve started narrating their own stories as well as with the ending.

As for characters, they were equally strange. Marc is sort of the central character around which everything rotates but Claire is just as present. Josephine is this blank character that I think I got to know but I’m not really sure. Most likely because of the story telling I never really knew when I was getting to know a real character or some sort of extra projection of that character made up in another character’s mind.

Overall, it kept me reading out of curiosity but I found myself getting lost numerous times. I had an overall sense of “Wait.. what?”, especially with what happens in the ending. This is not a book for you if you want a clean resolution but I do think this could be great for a buddy read or book group setting if you have others to discuss it with.

Big thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this as an advanced readers copy in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Gilded Cage by Vic James

gilded-cage gilded-cage-3 gildedcage2

Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1)
by Vic James

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis:

Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

I got completely immersed in the in this book. The combination of world-building, characters, and interweaving stories all came together to form something I had a hard time pulling myself away from. Let’s break it down a little.

The characters are portrayed well and give all kinds of life to the ongoing plot. In terms of narration, we alternate between the perspective of different characters. I was able to get a feel for each character on a much more personal level that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. This is especially true for the equals like Bouda and each of the three brothers. Surprisingly I don’t really have a specific character that is my favorite but I like just about all of them. Luke was the most fleshed out character with his struggles going on in the Slavetown. He’s also the character that sees the most growth in this first book of a series. What I loved most was the brothers and how even Gavar who could have been portrayed in a very evil and dark light was given an immense amount of humanity and even goodness.

There are so many things going on in this book plot wise that it would be easy for it to become confusing or muddled. Instead of feeling overloaded or lost, it just felt more real. I didn’t notice any side stories that felt unnecessary or like filler. In fact, I wish a little more closure had been given to a few, specifically to the circumstances around Lily’s mother. I’m hoping this is something that gets more attention in the future.

With all of the side stories, characters, and things going on it would be equally easy for this book to have draggy info dumps but I’m pleased to say it didn’t. From the very beginning, this book is filled with plenty of action that kept me turning the page. This only picked up toward the end when I felt a lot of things started happening at once. At a certain point I couldn’t put it down and I ended up staying up quite late finishing the book. It’s not quite a cliffhanger ending but almost. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Big thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.