An Ember in the Ashes, A Review

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes, #1)
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Publication: April 2015 by Razorbill
Format: eBook (borrowed)
Rating: 4/5 stars

Blurb from Goodreads:

Laia is a slave.
Elias is a soldier.
Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

I knew this book had a lot of buzz surrounding it. For weeks I have seen updates on various social media outlets raving about this book. I finally decided to pick it up and see what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t aware of the premise of the book before I began reading it. I only knew that I should love it. So I dove right in.

While I was reading I found myself curious where the story would go next. The beginning started out slow but the story quickly sunk its claws into me. I wanted to finish the book in one sitting but didn’t need to finish it. Any free time I had was spent with my nose in this book. It was an enjoyable read and I’ll admit I have a bit of a book hangover after reading this.

My ultimate impression of An Ember in the Ashes was favorable. It was worth the time and set up a great opening for the future book(s). Give it a try at least, let me know what you think.

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An Ember in the Ashes, A Review

HRC, A Review

I received this book free of charge from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Can you review a book you didn’t finish? Is that allowed?

Title: HRC
Author: Jonathan Allen, Amie Parnes
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books (February 17, 2015)

Initial Thoughts
I was extremely curious about this book when I requested it. I haven’t read anything about Hillary Clinton but find the subject matter interesting. I had high hopes for this work.

After Thoughts
I tried multiple times to read this book over a three-month span. I finally gave up and put it on my DNF/try again bookshelf. I hope to come back to this work and give it another go but I couldn’t get into the book on the first attempt. There were too many names mentioned and not enough of a story to follow. Categorizing the names kept my mind off the events being told and I couldn’t concentrate.

I think this is a book you have to be in the mood to read. I was reading other novels at the time and I believe HRC needs full attention to getting hooked.  If you’re more of a politico you might enjoy reading this more than I did.

HRC, A Review

A Million Miles Away, A Review

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley free of charge. All opinions are my own.

A Million Miles Away
Title: A Million Miles Away
Author: Lara Avery
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Publication: Poppy, 2015
Format: eBook
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was surprised by this book, I liked it. I knew little and just started reading one afternoon by the next day I was done. It was a refreshing read, quick and light. I think it helped that the setting was in the Midwest where I am from; it felt like I was reading about someone I knew.

The main character grew with the story, which was a change from what I had been reading. I’m a big believer in the right book at the right time (which is why I read 4-5 books at a time). This novel was at the right time for me. I recommend the purchase or borrowing it. It’s great for a weekend read, on the plane or beach.

Synopsis

From Goodreads (highlight text to read spoilers):

When high school senior Kelsey‘s identical twin sister, Michelle, dies in a car crash, Kelsey is left without her other half. The only person who doesn’t know about the tragedy is Michelle’s boyfriend, Peter, recently deployed to Afghanistan. But when Kelsey finally connects with Peter online, she can’t bear to tell him the truth. Active duty has taken its toll, and Peter, thinking that Kelsey is Michelle, says that seeing her is the one thing keeping him alive. Caught up in the moment, Kelsey has no choice: She lets Peter believe that she is her sister.

As Kelsey keeps up the act, she crosses the line from pretend to real. Soon, Kelsey can’t deny that she’s falling, hard, for the one boy she shouldn’t want.

A Million Miles Away, A Review

Luckiest Girl Alive, A Review

Luckiest Girl AliveTitle: Luckiest Girl Alive

Author: Jessica Knoll

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Publication: May 12, 2015, by Simon & Schuster

Format: eBook

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

I don’t even remember when I picked this up or why I wanted to read it. I knew little about this book before diving in. After reading some reviews when I finished the book, I learned it has been compared to Gone Girl which I enjoyed reading earlier this year. This is no Gone Girl and I’m glad I didn’t expect much from this novel beforehand.

At 30 percent I expected to be somewhat interested but it wasn’t until more of the puzzle was complete did this book actually demand to be finished. This is a problem with some mystery books. The readers need enough breadcrumbs sprinkled through the book to dangle us along. Gone Girl, in my opinion, was able to do this–Knoll didn’t execute Luckiest Girl Alive in this aspect.

I hate when I don’t enjoy a book and writing a review is even more difficult. This novel was okay, just not for me. If the synopsis was interesting to you I would recommend giving it a try, but maybe borrow this book from the library or a friend.

Luckiest Girl Alive, A Review

Those Girls, A Review

*I received this book from Netgalley free of charge. All opinions are my own. 

Those Girls
Title:

Those Girls

Author:

Lauren Saft

Genre:

Young Adult / Contemporary Fiction

Publication:

June 2015 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Format:

e-book from Netgalley*

Rating:

3 out of 5 stars

Junior year, the suburbs of Philadelphia. Alex, Mollie and Veronica are those girls: they’re the best of friends and the party girls of the school. But how well does everybody know them–and really, how well do they know one another? Alex is secretly in love with the boy next door and has joined a band–without telling anyone. Mollie suffers from a popular (and possibly sociopathic) boyfriend, as well as a serious mean streak. And Veronica just wants to be loved–literally, figuratively, physically….she’s not particular. Will this be the year that bonds them forever….or tears them apart for good?

Lauren Saft masterfully conveys what goes on in the mind of a teenage girl, and her debut novel is raw, honest, hilarious, and thought-provoking, with a healthy dose of heart.

from Goodreads

I read through this pretty quickly, it was an easy read. My curiosity was piqued early on about what would actually happen by the end. I think you either like/tolerate this book or dislike it, there’s not much gray area. This is not a warm, sappy, heartfelt tale and I enjoyed that about this novel.

It has been decades since I could call myself a teenager but the author was able to pull me back into the world of high school and the angst that comes with that territory. I grew up in the Midwest so the problems facing the characters I didn’t necessarily identify with but I know in reality these girls exist.

As much as I hate POV switches in a narrative it really worked in this book. I liked the writing style of the author and the interesting take on female friendships especially the triad relationship. After reading this book I wanted to call my best friend to tell her how much I appreciated her. Those Girls is Mean Girls on crack. The book spans the entire school year and is broken into 6 parts. I wish it was organized better. It didn’t need the extra help in chronology. Overall, it was a read that kept my interest. I wasn’t totally invested in the characters but I was curious about the whole picture. Those Girls is like life, a bit rough around the edges.

I recommend it if you’re currently suffering from a book hangover and need something to shock your system so you can move on.

 
Those Girls, A Review

Gone Girl, A Review

Gone Girl

Title: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Publication: Broadway Books, 2012

Format: paperback

Rating: 4/5 stars

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fast paced, full of action/intrigue, and I finished over a weekend. Some have complained that the book was too dark while others say it was not as dark as Flynn’s other works. I found it, even though I haven’t read her other pieces yet, quite satisfying.

Flynn dissected each character’s set of relationships like a surgeon. I felt much apart of the hunt to find Amy and her possible killer. I am convinced I am a naive individual because I never thought so many could lie, especially to people they love. After finishing this book my appreciation for the mystery genre has been renewed.

Gone Girl, A Review

Pride and Prejudice, A Review

japap

A review of sorts. I try to read this classic once a year. I am a Janeite–a fan of all things Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book to read. I even started collecting different editions of the book. Why own multiples of the same book? That’s how much I love it. This year’s reading I found some new things that left an impression.

Nearly halfway through the book, Mr. Collins says, “My dear Charlotte and I have but one mind and one way of thinking. There is in everything a most remarkable resemblance of character and ideas between us. We seem to have been designed for each other.” This hit me during my read because I never before connected with his character but I feel that Mr. Collins and Charlotte are a great couple that is completely overshadowed by Elizabeth/Darcy and even Jane/Bingley.

Are we all not looking for someone we share similar interests with? I read somewhere recently that as we age we tend to seek out friendships with individuals that are able to identify with the stage in life both parties are experiencing. As we grow so do our friendships, molding and changing along the way.

The next selection is another oversight on my part. I never found Mary (one of Elizabeth’s sisters) anything but dry. During my latest reading, I found myself chuckling at something Mary says to her sister, Lydia. Lydia and Kitty just returned from fetching Jane, Elizabeth, and Maria from Mr. Gardiner’s home in London. Lydia is telling the others about her trip on the way to pick up her sisters at their uncle’s house and tells Mary that she wishes she had joined Kitty and her. Mary replies, “but I confess they [pleasures of the journey] would have no charms for me–I should infinitely prefer a book.” Austen writes that Mary’s reply to Lydia was a solemn one but I imagine Mary capable of a bit more sarcasm–Mary, just a girl after my heart.

Austen’s characters are timeless, even today you can identify with them. Jane is the eldest Bennet girl, quiet and sweet. If I were a Bennet sister I would be Jane. This quote about Jane describes me fully. “But her mind was so busily engaged, that she did not always know when she was silent.” I think that Jane is often labeled as quiet when a better term would be pensive.

Elizabeth has many qualities that I identify with but the one I relate the most to is demonstrated in this quote: “think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.” She, like myself, does not dwell on what has happened.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
Gautama Buddha

This last quote before I end is Darcy recounting to Elizabeth when he fell in love with her. It is a perfect end to one of my favorite books.

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


I tried many moons ago to read and understand this book and it was lost to me, it was not until I experienced a bit more life that it had an impression on me. If you’ve tried to read this novel before and failed, I say, try again in a few years before completely giving up on it.

Pride and Prejudice, A Review

One Step Too Far, A Review

I received this book from William Morrow free of charge. All opinions are my own.

One Step Too FarOne Step Too Far by Tina Seskis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was rather enjoyable. It is an easy read with a great movement which keeps you turning the pages. For me, it was like putting together a puzzle. The reader is teased from the start to figure out Emily’s (MC) secret. I really had no idea until the end. Throughout the story you get more pieces snapping together, like the edge of the puzzle, and then finally toward the end the picture is getting more clear. The ending wasn’t what I was expecting but I found it satisfying.

This would be a great book for a long flight or layover, and I recommend giving it a read.

One Step Too Far, A Review