Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 199


The People In The Trees by Hanya Yanagihara | First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen | The Only Child by Andrew Pyper


Hello!

I’ve managed to stay away from the bookstore this past weekend so I don’t have too many to share with y’all. This is good, though. Gives my wallet a break! LOL. I’d like to thank Simon & Schuster Canada for my review copy of The Only Child. Looks to be another good one from the author of The Damned. Excited to read this!

I started First Frost last weekend, but I got sidetracked by other books. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and I’m looking forward to continuing. The People in the Trees looks interesting and hopefully less angst-ridden than her other book (A Little Life). I saw these books at the bargain bin two weeks ago and couldn’t resist.

FEED MY READER

Undecided was on sale for like, $1.52 on Amazon so I downloaded it. The Girl Who Shot First was free the last time I checked. Oryx and Crake was on sale on Audible; Pretty Face was a request from Net Galley.

READ THIS WEEK

I’ve had a great reading week.

The Burning World completely eviscerated everything that was cute and fluffy about Warm Bodies. I swear to you, this world and story line got a makeover from hell. And it was fucking awesome!

Undecided was exactly what y’all have gushed about since it came out. It’s so good. I can’t believe I waited until it went on sale before downloading a copy. I’m definitely getting a physical copy. 

The Bastard Billionaire was good, too! It makes me want to read the rest of the books in the series. 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies Gah. My heart. Love, love this book to pieces. Norah’s plight was so heartbreaking. 

Illuminae Gosh darn, y’all. Had I known how freaking awesome this book is, I would’ve started long ago! Can’t wait to read Gemina. 

So yeah. This has been an amazing reading week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue this streak. What about you? How was your week?

[704]: Chain Reaction by Tara Wyatt


Chain Reaction
by Tara Wyatt

Book 3 to Tara Wyatt’s Bodyguard series features the story of a Hollywood royalty in need of protection from her own family.

There are a lot of things Alexa didn’t know about the name Fairfax. The legacy of her name, while synonymous to glitz, influence, glamor and riches, hides a dark history borne out of greed; a dark history stained with blood and a trail of dead bodies who were stupid enough to get in the way.

When she inadvertently overheard about the murders that her father has ordered and orchestrated, fear and shock had her running out of the house and into the protection of one Zack de Luca; a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who moonlights as a bodyguard for Virtus.

Alexa hasn’t had the best relationship with her parents, to begin with. She has a disturbing past that she’s been trying to escape. The horror of what she’s been subjected to growing up cannot truly encapsulate the kind of monsters her parents are. They only know her as a timid character who is easily manipulated and can be used as a barter in exchange for acclimation, award, prestige, and sometimes, even movie roles. Did I mention how monstrous they are?

There are some truths to her parents’ life-long assessment of their daughter’s timidity, though. Frankly, there’s not much to her besides being a Hollywood princess who spends her time volunteering at a children’s hospital. There’s not a lot of depth that I can glean from her personality and character. The same goes for Zack. I feel like he tried to be an alpha male character at times but consistently failed. I just can’t get behind this pairing, to be honest. Their chemistry feels numbingly forced. And I swear I wanted to scream every time he mentions how “sweet” Alexa was. Like, dude. I got it the first 5 times you mentioned it.

Her family is evil. I can’t believe father dear was willing to use her as an incentive for one of his henchman. That’s messed up, man. And Alexa’s reaction to this news? Horrifically nonchalant. Perhaps it’s because she’s been through it many times and that she’s used to it but either way, it was sad how lacking her reaction was.

Despite my deceivingly adverse reaction, I think this series is worth further looking into. I mean, sure we got off on the wrong foot but I’m not necessarily a one-and-done kind of reader, so yeah. I’m especially curious to see the relationships between the other characters mentioned. Overall, expect to see more about this series on the blog.

[703]: The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

Good versus evil and star-crossed romance: the perfect recipe for a good YA fantasy.


The Edge of Everything
by Jeff Giles

I haven’t read too many YA novels lately. But when I started seeing reviews for this Jeff Giles offering, I was instantly curious. It had allusions to fallen angels, grim reapers, and demons. But when most mentioned about a forbidden romance between a human and a godly creature, I was sunk.

Zoe’s year hasn’t been the best, to be honest. After the sudden disappearance of her father, she’s left trying to keep her family somewhat in a normal state. With her brother’s bouts of anxiety brought on by the knowledge that their father’s body could still be in the cave where he last went, things at home are a little precarious. When she lost him in a snowstorm, frostbite wouldn’t be the only thing that could put both their lives in danger. They found themselves at the mercy of a deranged criminal. Just when she’s about to lose hope, a vision in fire and light came to their rescue.

Their rescuer came in the form of X; a boy who looked to be in bad shape himself. His assignment was to retrieve the soul of one Stan Manggold, a hardened criminal who rightfully belonged in the Lowlands. Lowlands, for lack of a better word, is what you would call as hell. X is one of the bounty hunters who has lived in the Lowlands for eternity, it seems. There is no way out for the likes of him. But a deal with one of the generals could give X a chance to escape and live the rest of his life on Earth. It will not be easy, though, as his freedom come at a cost.

This book is gripping. I didn’t think I would enjoy yet another YA supernatural fantasy, but here I am. Honestly, if I hadn’t been distracted by so many books on my shelves, I could just as easily finished reading this in one sitting. As I mentioned, I’m a huge fan of star-crossed romances. It just so happens that X and Zoe were in one. The only downside to this is the speed with which they fell for each other. I feel like there wasn’t much chance of getting to know X. But I get it. Since X didn’t know much about himself either, I can forgive the underdevelopment of his character.

Zoe, on the other hand, is a girl whose life upended when her dad died. Granted that their dad wasn’t a “conventional parent” by any standards, they still had a camaraderie like that of any father and daughter relationship. He was presumed dead, but they never retrieve his body in the cave. Their mom is present in their lives, sure but she’s also distracted by trying to raise her kids. Mostly, she tried her best to keep what’s left of her family together.

I enjoyed this book. It had funny moments, surreal moments, and instances where I choked up a little. I especially enjoyed Zoe relationships with her close friends and her brother. She took care of him the only way she knew how. I could’ve sworn Jeff Giles is an experienced author. I didn’t realize this was only his second book. The Edge of Everything is exactly the YA paranormal fantasy that teens and adults alike would enjoy. The contemporary elements balance out the supernatural that makes reading it such a breeze.

[702]: Guarding Mr. Fine by HelenKay Dimon

Funny, sexy, and a whip-smart follow up to an already enjoyable series.


Guarding Mr. Fine
by HelenKay Dimon

This series gets better and better with each installment, you guys. I’ve been loving everything that HelenKay has been giving us! I was especially looking forward to reading Seth’s story because he was hilarious in the previous books. I knew that there’s more to him other than the smart ass CIA agent we’ve come to know and he didn’t disappoint.

In here, he’s tasked to guard the newly appointed US consul general in Munich. However, he knows that it’s a cover for something else because no one knows anything about the guy. He seems to have come from out of nowhere. There’s something mysterious about his background and the real reason why someone inexperienced like him got the job. Not only does Seth knew next to thing about this guy but he’ll figure out soon enough that Rick Fine knew him in more ways than one.

One of the things that I look forward to when I read a romance novel is the serendipitous meeting of the main characters. Admittedly, their meet-cute wasn’t so cute. They went from 0-60 in a blink of an eye. It was kind of hot! They met at a bar and hit it off so well that they ended up having a tryst in the shaded part of the club. They thought it was a one-off thing, a one-night stand without sleeping together. But they had another thing coming since Ric knew a bit more about Seth than Seth knows about Rick. Their history is for you to find out, readers.

Rick Fine was sent to investigate the apparent suicide of the former consulate general. But the investigation is only a front for why he was there. As usual, there’s never a dull moment in this installment. Aside from the sleuthing that the boys were involved in, the romance will also have you engrossed. There’s a battle of egos and dominance between the two that heightens their chemistry to a fever pitch. What else could I ask for, right? Seth is a man-of-the-world kind of guy. He doesn’t have a commitment phobia per se, but he’s smart enough to know that a relationship between two CIA agents is not realistic nor it is advisable. So yeah, he’ll do what he can to sabotage his feelings towards Rick. There’s also that history thing that I mentioned above. Whatever it is, Seth has to learn to forgive and forget if he ever wants their relationship to foster.

Overall, HelenKay has been hitting all the right notes with her books. I keep saying I need to read more books by hers, but it keeps slipping my mind. Well, adding the rest of her books on my wishlist for future downloads when I’m in need of something fun, fast, and sexy.

[701]: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

Weird, gory, and not of the teen wolf variety.


The Last Werewolf
by Glen Duncan

I’m not new to this rodeo. I’ve had my fair share of lycanthrope stories. And while vampires and zombies are my typical go-to whenever I get a hankering for the supernatural, I must admit that I’ve been missing them lately.

Now, I will be the first one to say that I’m prejudiced when it comes to werewolves. I always assume that there will be super alpha males drumming their chest as soon as they find their “mates”. I know that instant-love is almost always a key ingredient; and that most will go through the angst of accepting the monsters inside themselves. This book is certainly all of that.  Jake goes through the self-hating phase soon after killing his first human. He’ll feel the pull of his intended once he finds her. But while most of the novels in this variety are littered with the emotional dramatics of the main character, Jake Marlowe, however, will disappoint the most ardent readers of paranormal romance.

This is not your usual werewolf story that’s for damn sure.

The Last Werewolf, as the title implies, is the story about the last remaining werewolf in the world. Jake will find out that there’s nothing remotely glamorous or even reverent about the distinction, however. Enemies left and right will be coming out of the woodwork to rid the world of this last abomination. He wouldn’t know whom to trust, and anybody close to him faces certain death. He’s not going to enjoy being the hunted this time.

He’s not a teen heartthrob who stalks the halls of his school in all his emo glory. Nope. Jake Marlowe is a 200-year-old cynic who’s seen everything, done everything, and ready to peace out of this world. But…he wants to do it in his own terms.

Jake’s type of werewolf is the kind that needs to eat people in order to survive. The cycle of the moon also plays a pivotal role in prolonging their lives. While waiting for the full moon, they can live by gratuitously imbibing on alcohol and smoking like a chimney. They also need sex – and plenty of it! In a way, this brand of werewolves is like the vampires. They thrive on the indulgence of flesh and excessive vice. The author certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Violence, sex, gore are described in explicit details. But for the amount of sex included in this book, not a single scene was written with sexual arousal in mind. There’s a distinct dismissive casualty and banality to the act. He didn’t loiter in the scenes and didn’t dawdle. You wouldn’t feel any warm fuzzies or the need to smoke afterward.

Glen Duncan will probably annoy some of you. He comes across as a pretentious jerk for name-dropping some literary greats in his book. But I do see his point. Jake Marlowe is 200 years old, after all. How else would he occupy his immortal life but read?

He will make you feel as exhausted as Jake feels; as tired of life as he was. In that respect, Duncan is a very convincing writer. He spent most of his time ruminating about the life he led, the loves he lost, and the people he ate. But nowhere did he try to get the reader’s empathy. Duncan’s writing is very “male” for lack of a better word.

I am, however, sorry that I felt no emotion whatsoever while reading this book. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t enjoy it. It’s not a bad quality, per se. But sometimes, you just got to take what you’re reading with a grain of salt. It’s a change of pace and it’s great to read something that doesn’t put me through the wringer for once.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 198


The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles | Lucky Boy by Shanti Sekaran | What Light by Jay Asher | Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall | At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson | City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson | Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle | Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama | By Your Side by Kasie West | Fates And Furies by Lauren Groff | When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi | The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer | The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie | The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz | You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris | Obama’s Legacy by Michael I. Days | The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius


Grazie!

As you can tell from this week’s pile, I haven’t done much but acquire more books than I can read in this lifetime. But most of these were birthday presents from a couple of weeks ago so I think I’m allowed. Ha. I won an ARC of the latest Tiffany Reisz from Olivia of Olivia’s Catastrophe blog (thanks, hun!) and I got three books for review: one from Penguin Random House Canada and two from Simon & Schuster Canada (much love!).

So grateful to everyone who wished me – however belatedly on my birthday! I’m doing my 2-3 posts a week thing on the blog so if you’re wondering where I’ve been, that’s my excuse. I’ve been reading a lot during my disappearance so that’s good. But I’m stuck on romance after a bunch of non-fiction from January.

Freebies From Hell

Last week, iBooks had an email out about some free romance series starters. I should’ve known that they’re only setting a trap for me. Those bastards can read me like the back of their hands. They know that I wouldn’t be able to resist reading the rest of the books in the series. So yeah, damn you, iBooks!

I guess you can say that I read a lot this week because I read the Dirty trilogy from Meghan March and read all the books from Songs of Submission from CD Reiss. I’m working on Barefoot with a Bodyguard at the moment but haven’t started Virtuous and Fair Game. It’s only a matter of time, I tell ya. My Kindle and iBooks are full of romance novels right now.

The Bane of My Existence aka, Net Galley

Feel free to call me out on my bullshit. I pretend to be mad at Net Galley when in reality, I’m so happy to get these books! Lol. I’m especially looking forward to reading Royal Bastards! It’s one of my most anticipated reads this year. I’m sure there are more books available for request since the last time I checked but I’m not going there until I read all of what I have so far. That’s just asking for trouble.

I’ll try to be more present this week. I have some time to read and catch up on what I’ve missed since we have Family Day on Monday (long weekend), so yay! I’d planned on not doing anything else but read.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Thanks for sticking around. 😀

[700]: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Armstrong’s talent in writing smart thrillers on full display.


A Darkness Absolute
by Kelley Armstrong

We’re thrust back into the remote Northern Territories with Casey Duncan on the hunt for another killer. An unforeseen storm that throws them off track led them to a girl who has been missing for more than a year. Trapped in a hole no more than the size of a small person, the emaciated girl is rescued from her harrowing isolation. Days and months of endless physical, sexual, and mental abuse left her on the brink of madness.

Now, the Sheriff’s office has to track down a killer who upon further investigation might be responsible for several deaths of missing women.

Casey Duncan has all but acclimated to the life living in remote Northern Territories. Rockton and its people have grown on her – especially one person in particular. But if peace and quiet were what she’s after, Rockton apparently is the wrong place. Because once again, the town is facing deadly crimes with very little suspects to consider.  And since this is Rockton –  remote, a touch primeval, and wild – finding the killer will prove to be difficult. They’re not only racing against time, there’s also the brutal changing weather to contend.

Kelly Armstrong does a marvelous job in immersing her readers in her story in such a way that descriptively immortalizes an otherwise fictional town. The town of Rockton and its vicinities are beautiful as they are harsh. Not only do we get to experience all its wildness, but the townspeople themselves add a certain brutality that makes it seemed more sinister. Characterization has always been Armstrong’s forte. She writes the most credible kick-ass women.  Surprisingly enough, the men play a pivotal role in further empowering her heroines. It’s hard to explain. I guess the best way to describe it is like a marriage between a couple and each unit has the ability to qualify each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

She keeps the pacing of the story at an even keel. Giving her readers time to adjust and savor their own observations. Short chapters also help as she effectively pulls the readers into the nuances of the plot. Armstrong was very stingy with suspects. Since the town’s population is small, I felt like I already know everyone so you can pretty much tick off one townie at a time.  But in the end, and after the pieces of the puzzle have been connected, she made a very convincing case for the killer’s motives, psyche, and eventually, his identity.

A Darkness Absolute is a fantastic sequel. It hits the ground running right from the first page and doesn’t let up until the very end. There’s never a dull moment and you’ll feel like you can’t flip the page fast enough. This is the perfect book to cozy up to on cold winter nights with your reading socks and a nice cup of tea on hand.

[699]: The Dark Days Pact by Alison Goodman

A promising start that slowly degressed into a Victorian doldrum.


The Dark Days Pact
by Alison Goodman

I started reading this book with a vague awareness of everything that happened beforehand. And considering that The Dark Days Club proved to be a laborious read in itself, I found myself temporarily relieved by how easy it was to acclimate myself back into this world. It didn’t take long before the events of what had happened started flooding back. So I was pretty optimistic that I will truly have a better time with The Dark Days Pact.

Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards.

The Dark Days Pact picks up where the first book left off. Lady Helen Wrexhall is now a card-carrying member of the demon hunters that belong in The Dark Days Club. Having been cast aside by her only living family, she now resides with the Hammond siblings. She’s fully accepted her role as a Reclaimer under the tutelage of Lord Carlseton who, by the way, did his very best impression of a surly jerk. *snorts*. This guy is a piece of work and if one doesn’t know his background, one could easily lump him with the rest of the jackasses of the 18th century (along with Mr. Darcy. Probably.). It took a bit of time for me to warm up to his character in the first book. Back then, I could appreciate his enigmatic, mysterious character. He was unbearable in this installment, however. But you’ll have to forgive him. He’s under a lot of pressure. Besides the fact that Lord Carlseton was so obviously fighting off an exhausting attraction towards Helen (hence, the jerky attitude), he’s also suffering from a malady that comes from years of reaping demon souls.

Reclaimers aren’t supposed to be in a relationship with other Reclaimers so sparks flew whenever Lady Helen and Lord Carlseton were within each other’s vicinity. Sadly, the chemistry more often off the mark. In some ways, their relationship reminded me of Will and Tessa’s from The Infernal Devices from when they were just starting out. But alas, while Will and Tessa’s push and pull romance was convincing, Helen and Carlseton’s couldn’t begin to compare. Milquetoast is the word that comes to mind.

The love triangle in this book comes into more focus towards the ending – which, admittedly, added to the annoyance that I was already feeling throughout. Thankfully, Helen’s feelings were very clear whom she favors – which relieved the irritation some. Duke Selburn wouldn’t take no for an answer under the guise of keeping the word he gave to Helen’s brother to protect her. And even though he bore witness to Helen’s kickassery at one point, he still insisted that a fine woman such as her should be protected by a man like him. *eye roll*

We finally get to know a bit more about Lord Carleston’s history; the event that led him to believe that his wife perished through the hands of the Deceivers and ultimately, to his incarceration. Driven by a sense of duty to The Dark Days Club, his unrelenting need to rid the word of demons accelerated his descent to Cray Town (madness is a direct side effect to consuming demon souls). The only thing that could help him now was what was in the book.

Speaking of, the bulk of the plot deals with a book that Benchley has created. It contained information about Helen’s parents, history of Deceivers and Reclaimers; the cure for whatever’s ailing Lord Carlseton, and how to open the gate to Hellmouth, so to speak. So you can say this book is very much in high demand. The higher ups in the club suspected Lord Carleston of knowing more than he’s led them to believe. That he had a hand in creating the book.

I don’t know how you guys do it. But the Victorian period is not my favourite. I can’t sit back and not scream at the amount of mansplaining and hapless women whose daily existence is governed by the dictates of what society deemed as proper.  I can’t do it. I can’t do it without wanting to face punch the nearest cravat-wearing douche within my sights. But if this is your type of thing, I’m not judging. I just get so mad!

THAT. ENDING. THOUGH.

What the freaking heck was that? Grrrrr.

Life Lately

Hello, Readers.

I turned 43 last Saturday. Instead of a big birthday bash (which never happens, anyway. Lol.), I opted to drag my family to my city’s contribution to the Resistance. Winnipeg Walk for Human Rights’ main purpose was to let the world know that our city, our province, our country is open to everyone. It was also our way of walking hand in hand with our Muslim brethren especially in light of what happened in Quebec. I can’t say enough about how much I appreciate the country where I live in right now. We are progressive and our sitting provincial administration, though, Conservatives still care about the very foundation this country on which it was built.

I was sure that I would get grief from my family for marching in below 10-degree weather, but actually, they expressed their gratitude for having “forced” them to go. It’s great to be out and be a part of the community for once and ever since then, my husband and I have been talking about politics more and more. I greatly appreciate this newfound point of interest because the last year and a half or so had been frustrating for me. Literally no one in my family wanted to talk about politics so I have been involved in way too many social media debates which weren’t fun at first because I was letting it get to me. Nowadays, I’ve developed a much thicker skin so trolls don’t bother me anymore.

This is me. I didn’t have a pink toque (beanie, for you Americans) so this is my version of it. I did wear a bright pink scarf, though. The walk wasn’t very far but it was certainly a cold day. And then afterwards, my husband took me to the bookstore for my birthday treat. I picked up quite a few books which I will share on my Hoarders post sometime next week.

The walk was great. I was mostly in a reflective mood. I was able to think about how different this birthday has been for me in comparison to the previous ones I’ve had. I’ve matured in some ways and regressed in some and I’m okay with that because it’s me, all me and I don’t have to be sorry for anything. I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me.

Come at me, bro.

 

[698]: When We Rise by Cleve Jones

A compelling, inspiring memoir about the beginning of the decades-long fight for LGBTQ equality.


When We Rise
by Cleve Jones

When most of Americans exalted at the news that marriage equality was finally the law of their land, the world joined in the celebration. #LoveWins trended for days after the proclamation. And the religious right stayed in their homes clutching their pearls while they prayed for everybody’s souls.

Now I sit here with worry. Because among all the other disturbing things that are happening in the States right now, there is something else simmering on the stove of this ridiculous administration: the new VP is a huge proponent of conversion therapy for gay people. I wouldn’t put it past them to enact something as heinous as sending kids to a gay camp to cure them of their burgeoning homosexuality. Adding to the worry is the vacant SCOTUS seat which, judging by the cabinet members President Shit For Brains has been installing, will more than likely be filled by another bigot. (I feel like I’ve been angry since November and I’m not even sorry. ) For now, at least, the marriage equality is safe (fingers crossed).

When We Rise is a memoir that needs to be read by everyone. It comes at an anxious, but much-needed time. If the November election has thought us anything, it’s that our marches helps fire up a revolution in our own little way. It doesn’t start as a raging inferno. It begins in small sparks. Cleve Jones’ role in the LGBTQ equality was an accumulation of a lifetime of fighting for recognition spurred on by the beatings he’s gotten as a teenager and his parents’ inability to acknowledge him for what he truly was. Yet despite his parents’ shunning, and the bruises he’s endured, his bitterness was noticeably absent.

He was a man who grew up at an age where sexual promiscuity, gratuitous drug use, and decadence was pertinent. A man who didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life other than to make the next buck that will sustain him for the immediate time. He moved from Arizona to San Francisco when his father let him know exactly what he thought of his sexuality. He would travel the world and switch between San Francisco and Europe. So when did his revolution began? I got the impression that everything fell on his lap. Not that it was easy, mind you. You’d care to know that even though San Francisco was the epicenter of it all, none of it was easy.

 The emergence of AIDS in the 80s was when we see him go through griefs for the losses of his friends and lovers. It was during this time when he would be in the biggest fight of his life – literally and figuratively. The number of deaths due to AIDS back then rose to an unfathomable number. Their fight for equal rights stalled all thanks to the prejudice and backlash they’ve gotten because of AIDS. Conservatism and Reagan were in office. And funding for research and cure was not a priority even though it was killing Americans at an inconceivable rate. It would take years and a Democrat in office before America actually paid attention.

When We Rise is a great book to read if you ever need a starting point to understanding the fight that they’ve long since waged. It’s interesting to see the birth of the revolution that wasn’t well received in the State of California at first. Surprising, considering that California is the cradle of progressive government in the country.  Mr. Jones highlighted the many struggles and triumphs that the movement has gone through over the years. The men and women who helped brought forth an awareness to their cause that eventually paved the way for the progress that the American LGBTQ community experiences nowadays. It was great to learn that Nancy Pelosi has been such a long time supporter of equality for the LGBTQ.

Cleve Jones’ memoir chronicles the never-ending fight that the community faces. Along the way, he’ll meet countless of valiant people willing to fight alongside with him. He imparts a message that couldn’t come at a better time than now. That it takes more than one march to fight for your rights, against the injustices of the world, and for what you believe in.