[784]: Well Met by Jen Deluca

Well Met by Jen DeLuca | 4 out of 5 Stars | From Penguin Random House Canada

Contrary to the general consensus about this book’s appeal, the Renaissance Faire isn’t really all that interesting to me. I was bracing myself for some archaic colloquialism, and men walking around chomping on turkey legs while accosting wenches at the same time. But I guess it slipped my mind that this book was, after all, a contemporary romance to begin with.

Well Met is, in a word, delightful. Despite getting off on a rocky start, Simon and Emily’s chemistry was undeniable. But they also have being both an English literature enthusiast going for them, which made for some witty and funny banter. That’s on the light side of their chemistry. On the serious side of the coin, both were dealing with some abandonment issues. Simon’s grief for his brother was compounded with his parents leaving him alone to deal with the loss. Emily, on the other hand, was dealing with an ex boyfriend who decided that an English major drop out was not a good accessory for a recent law degree graduate.

While Simon’s life was pretty much planned for him, Emily was a day to day situation type of deal. She was set to stay with her sister for the time being but her life and future couldn’t be more different from Simon. She was more the go-with-the-flow type of girl who only wanted to repair her relationship with her sister by helping out while she recuperated from her injuries. And it’s exactly how she found herself being a part of a Renaissance Faire cast and right in the path of one surly Simon.

This book was a surprise in such a way that it dealt with some serious stuff. While it was fun and games on the surface, it pinched my heart a little. I felt for Simon, most especially. He kept everything inside and he seemed like such a lonely person even if the entire town was rooting for him. In the meantime, Emily suffered some blows to her self esteem and Simon’s constant surliness towards her didn’t help at all.

Well Met is exactly how I like my contemporary lit. It was fun, surprisingly heavy, but romantic nonetheless.

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Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 225

The Children of Men by PD James | The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern | The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath | The Binding by Bridget Collins | The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power | Calypso by David Sedaris | Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab | Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater | The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Towards the end of November, I was feeling pretty good about my November spending. After all, I only managed to buy 9 books so far at that time. But then, Book Outlet happened:

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan | We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal | Middlegame by Seanan McGuire | Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills | The Girls Who Went Away by Ann Fessler | Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum | An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim | The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper | Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman | The School for Good and Evil Series by Soman Chainani | Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

To be fair, I never spend more than $100 for books from Book Outlet, but I think it’s more about space as an issue at this point. Also, Black Friday sales came and went and found myself hoarding 18 more books from Book Outlet. *facepalm* I’ll just have to try better in December.

I also received some books for review in November:

The Toll by Neal Shusterman | Regretting You by Colleen Hoover | Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe by Brock Clarke

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster Canada and Ambur of Thomas Allen & Sons for Regretting You and Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe? I bought a copy of Thunderhead just so I can read The Toll, and of course, a new Colleen Hoover is always welcomed. I started reading Calvin Bledsoe but I’m not too far into it to tell you about it.

So these are the books I hauled in November. Have you read any of these?

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November Wrap Up

Helloooo, December!

Wow. Y’all, we’re in the homestretch of 2019 and I could not be more happy. I am more than ready to greet 2020 and embrace it for all its worth. Not that 2019 was less than a stellar year, but a new year means new set of goals to crush. November was an outstanding month, reading wise as I read a total of 42 books. Blogging-wise, however, was so-so. Work is just being terrible, so I haven’t been able to find a steady ground. I kept finding myself trying to keep up. Anway, this is going to be a bit of a slog of a post, but let me break it down for y’all:

  • What Makes Us by Raffi Mittlefelhdt 4/5 Stars
  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie DNF
  • The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan 5/5 Stars
  • The Nightmark by Tiffany Reisz 3/5 Stars
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede 5/5 Stars
  • The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan 4/5 Stars
  • Dirty Letters by P Ward & V Keeland 4/5 Stars
  • Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • A Lie for A Lie by Helena Hunting 4/5 Stars
  • Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith 4/5 Stars
  • City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab 4/5 Stars
  • The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek 5/5 Stars
  • Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis 3/5 Stars
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes 4/5 Stars
  • Three Women by Lisa Taddeo 3/5 Stars
  • Beard Necessities by Penny Reid 5/5 Stars
  • The Institute by Stephen King 5/5 Stars
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi 4/5 Stars
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey 4/5 Stars
  • Tell The Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars
  • The Rebel King by Kennedy Ryan 5/5 Stars
  • Well Met by Jen Deluca 4/5 Stars
  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Bridgid Kemmerer 4/5 Stars
  • Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky 5/5 Stars
  • Say You Still Love Me by KA Tucker 4/5 Stars
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell 5/5 Stars
  • Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell 4/5 Stars
  • The Field Guide to the North American Teenagers 4/5 Stars
  • I Hope You Get This Message by Farah Naz Rishi 2/5 Stars
  • I Hear the Sunspots by Yuki Fumino 3/5 Stars
  • Worship by Ella James 4/5 Stars
  • Adore by Ella James 4/5 Stars
  • Heartstopper Volume 1 & 2 5/5 Stars
  • The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 4/5 Stars
  • Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid 4/5 Stars
  • The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo 4/5 Stars
  • Royals by Rachel Hawkins 3/5 Stars
  • Permanent Record by Mary HK Choi 2/5 Stars
  • Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta 5/5 Stars

My fingers are cramping. Honestly, if I wasn’t so terrified of filming myself, this post would be less shorter and probably easier to do. Lol. Well, I don’t know about easier, as being in front of camera terrifies the living shit out of me. So yes, I read a lot. Honestly, even if I keep telling myself that I’m going to pump the breaks on reading, I seem to go full speed ahead regardless. Same is true for December. I said I’m going to slow it down, but as of this writing, I’ve already read two books. What’s a girl to do? Sigh.

Favourites of November: The Institute by Stephen King, Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky, and The Day the World Came to Town by Jeff DeFede. If you noticed that I wrote Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil three times, you’re not seeing triple. I did re-read the book thrice and loved every second of it. I think it’s fast becoming my favourite Melina Marchetta novel to date. I’m still not able to write a review for it, though. Maybe I’ll add it to my goals for 2020.

So I’m not going to keep you any longer. This post is pretty long enough as it is. I hope your December will be packful of books, love and family.

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Books From the Backlog [6]: The Boy Who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

I bought this book back in 2013 when it first came out and hasn’t had the chance to pick it up. I mentioned this before that whenever children are involved in a thriller novel, the scare factor amps up higher. Well, in this book, we have a boy who has an imaginary friend, Ruen. A 9000-year old demon. His therapist starts to question whether Alex suffers from schizophrenia or can he really see demons? I want to read this sooner rather than later. I attempted to read it last month, but I got side tracked. Have you read this? What do you think?

Books from the Backlog is a Thursday feature over at Carole’s Random Life in Books. I’m just along for the ride. 🙂

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[783]: What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt

B O O K R E V I E W

What Makes Us

by Rafi Mittlefehldt

You’re seventeen years old. You’re conscious of all the social injustices in your world. You do your best to take part, in fact, you even start a protest. You’re not afraid to speak your mind. But on the very first protest you led, a counter protest almost ended badly. But then one of the reporters present figured out who you are, who your parents are. From there, the secrets of who your real father was revealed. All your life you never knew. You didn’t know that your father was a known terrorist who set off an explosion during a parade in New York City, killing 4 people and injuring more.

But your mother hid you. Changed your identity in an attempt to escape the guilt, the blame, the consequences of your father’s actions. Until all was revealed.

This is the story of Eran and how in one single moment of impulsive anger had changed his life, made him question who he was and how much of him was his father. Will he follow his father’s footsteps? Or will set himself on his own path?

This was a tough read. I saw anger in all sides, ignorance, and reluctant forgiveness in some. A mistake that started 15 years ago blew up in something that could’ve been catastrophic. It’s sad, really. To blame a boy who was only two years old when his father committed a heinous act, then try to accuse the mother of having knowledge of her deceased husband’s plans, and therefore should be guilty.

I felt Eran’s isolation and anger at the world, especially at his mother for keeping that secret. He became lost and unsure of who he was in a span of a day. I felt his shame and guilt; his hurt for seeing his entire neighborhood shun them and attempt to drive them off the city. I also felt the moment he questioned and doubted his mother’s culpability, to his shame, when all she tried to do was to save him from people’s judgement.

What Makes Us made me think about the world outside my home. That even though I often found myself lost in the commentary section of political debates, it’s not enough and a complete waste of time, to be honest. It also made me think about truth, justice, and how far I will go if I ever find myself in Eran’s mother’s shoes.

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Library Haul

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson | Wild Country by Anne Bishop | The Field Guide to The North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe | Meet Cute by Helena Hunting | Say You Love Me by KA Tucker | Passion on Park Avenue by Lauren Layne | The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

I hope your week is going well so far. It’s Tuesday, and with the week I had last week, I sure hope mine is going much better. (I’m writing this post on Sunday afternoon.) Work was awful. I got blamed for shit that absolutely had nothing to do with me, and my boss won’t listen to my explanation. Ugh. But I’m trying my best not to let that get to me because I used to take everything to heart. I end up acting rashly and it usually never ends well for me.

Anyway, last week was a relatively good reading week:

  • Quichotte by Salman Rushdie was a such a slog to get through. So much so that I DNF’d it. I mentioned it before that he’s a bit more verbose and cerebral for my taste, but I wanted to give his book another chance. Unfortunately, I lost my patience somewhere along the way.
  • A Higher Loyalty by James Comey was a great book. For those who’s not familiar with Comey, he was fired by Trump as the FBI director because he wouldn’t pledge loyalty disguised as mishandling of the investigations into Clinton emails. *eyeroll* This was a fascinating read; one that made me want to take a shower soon after. Because in this memoir, Comey discussed The Steele Dossier. And if you’re not familiar with that, Google it. Or don’t. Unless you want to upchuck whatever last meal you just had. 4/5 stars.
  • The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi was great as well. Hailed as a copycat of Six of Crows, this one features a group of misfits who has their own agendas but decided to band together to get to their own respective goals. Severin, the token Danny Ocean of the crew, has one goal in mind, to restore his name as a Patriarch of his House. I absolutely loved this. It was suspenseful, smart, full of magic and puzzles to solve. 4/5 Stars.
  • The Institute by Stephen King. Prodigies were regularly abducted and honed to become some sort of super weapons in this latest by the King of Horror himself. The methods, however, are the stuff of nightmares. This was only my second Stephen King novel. I wouldn’t go running to the bookstore to buy all his books, but I will be definitely on the lookout for something similar. 5/5 Stars

As of this writing, I managed to read 3 of the 5 books I set out to read on my last On The Night Table post. I’m about to read the fourth, which makes me very happy because I have a few library books I need to read before the 21st.

Keeping this short. Happy reading, everyone!

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[782]: A Lie for A Lie by Helena Hunting

This is the first book in Helena Hunting’s All In Series — which is a spin off from her Pucked series. A hockey themed romance that centers on Chicago’s fictional NHL team. I have been enjoying most of the books in Pucked, and no matter how many books I’ve neglected to read, Ms. Hunting somehow makes going back into it virtually painless. I don’t know if it’s because she writes the most memorable characters, or is it because simplicity of plot, characters, settings makes it so.

In this novel, we meet RJ; a once rookie, now a superstar in his own right basically trying to escape the wilderness of professional hockey. The partying, the women who throw themselves at them, and the media hounds. On his flight to Alaska, he encounters Lainey, a biologist who was on a research trip to study the Alaskan wildlife. Long story short, their meet-cute was awkward but their chemistry was undeniable – one that they couldn’t ignore. When Rook abruptly left due to family emergency, Lainey had no means to contact him. Months later, they meet again, but the reunion was far from sweet.

I can never turn down a hockey-themed romance. I have no clue why. It’s not like I’m a huge hockey fan to begin with. We do have an NHL team in my city that I follow but not as religious as I follow the LA Chargers. I think it’s the aggression that I tend to see when they play on the ice. And while I actually haven’t read about a hockey player whose aggression follows him in the bedroom, I still think hockey players are hot. Lol.

Rook is no different. He may be a bad mofo on the ice, but he’s a teddy bear in real life. He truly cared that he lost touch with Lainey and did his best to try and make amends when they were finally reunited. I also loved Lainey. She’s an independent woman who made do with the hand that she was dealt. There was a surprise here that I absolutely loved. I know some romance readers don’t like that plot device, but I’m a huge fan.

Serial books aren’t always fun from one installment to the next but one thing is for certain: Hunting knows hockey romance. She could keep writing books in this world and I’ll keep reading them.

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[781]: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

The writing duo of Keeland and Ward are one of those author collabs whose work I tend to enjoy. I haven’t fully explored their back list, but I can at least admit that whenever I see they have a new release, my ears perk up. The instant reaction is the compunction to one-click that baby right into the oblivion that is my Kindle.

Their latest (which I read in one night — soon after I got in the mail, no less) didn’t disappoint. You’ve got a Brit who followed his dreams right to the US of A, and an American novelist with a pet pig. The best part of a romance novel is how an author (or authors, in this case) connects two unseemingly likely characters right into the path of love. For Griffin and Luca, it all started when they were kids and with the aid of a good ol’ snail mail. Once pen pals for years, the two lost connection when they were on the cusp of adulthood. There were reasons, of course. But Griffin never did find out what they were. One night, when Griffin was feeling the sting of rejection, Griffin wrote Luca a hate mail that she didn’t get to read until years later.

Admittedly, this book was emotionally-charged than usual. At the risk of spoiling one of the driving force of the plot, Luca, over the years, had become a recluse. She shied away from people and being in public places. She does her grocery shopping in the middle of the night when there’s very little chance that she’d run into people. Aside from her ancient therapist, she spoke to the grocery clerk that works the night shift and her pet pig, Hortencia. Her world shrunk considerably. And then there’s Griffin – whose station in life couldn’t be more different.

In other words, they have a huge stumbling block to face if they ever want to give their relationship a go. There’s also the distance: Griffin is based in Los Angeles, and Luca in Vermont. Regardless, they’ll give it a fighting chance — until they couldn’t.

While it would’ve been tempting to let Luca be the type of character who miraculously found cure for her disorder in a man, the authors didn’t cop out and do just that. Luca needed patience, kindness and generosity in her partner so I feel like Griffin was just that person. It was frustrating at first, to give Luca her space, but in the end, I understood. Because sometimes, the pressure of trying to be “normal” for the people that we love hurts us more than we realize.

Once again, the writing duo of Keeland and Ward deliver in spades. A story about how important it is to accept that sometimes, we have to give the people we love what they need even if it means forgoing ours. Griffin understood Luca’s predicament and he didn’t push her just because he wanted to be with her. If you’re asking if this ends in HEA, *spoiler alert* it does.

Huge shout out to Montlake Romance and Thomas Allen & Sons for letting me be a part of this blog tour. Please follow along!

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[780]: The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong

I’ve always found that novelists from Scandinavian and Asian countries to be first class story tellers in the Thriller genre. I don’t know what it is but their books, as well as the movies just give me the chills.

The Good Son definitely fit the bill as well. Written by a Korean author, this book tells the story of a man who woke up bloodied but somehow relatively unharmed. Upon further examination, he finds scratches and bite marks on his arm. And as he moves about his house, he finds his mother in her bedroom — in a bloodbath with a deep slash across her neck. He realizes too soon, and with uncanny calmness that he may have had a hand in her death.

The story pieces together in a series of flashbacks while he tries to figure out the next step: turn himself in? Bury his mother? Or dispose of her body then leave the country altogether. But the more time he spends trying to decide his next move, the more bodies fall.

The terrifying thing about the story is the undetached way he spoke of the deaths. Because, yes, soon enough, the readers will realize that our character gets a thrill out of killing people. Especially the process of how he stalks his prey then calmly watch them bleed. As if he’s roasting marshmallows or something.

We also learn that he’s always been deranged even as a child. The first time he saw his dad used an antique razor while shaving, he asked with cold-blooded intensity if he could have his blade when he dies. Which was the reason why his mother hid it from him over the years. But he found it anyway. It was especially chilling to find out that he had a part in the deaths of his father and brother.

The Good Son challenges the basic idea of nurture vs. nature. And while in most cases, someone can be nurtured into someone not homicidal, this is an exception where nature definitely wins over nurture.

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On the Night Table [59]

Happy Monday, everyone! And if you’re in Canada, I hope you’re having a solemn Remembrance Day. Selfishly, I took the opportunity to catch up on sleep, rearrange my bedroom bookshelves, and shelve some read books to gain some order in my life.

I started reading Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis last Saturday, and even if there’s nothing mind-blowing about her advice, it helped me gain some perspective about how I’m feeling lately. The root cause of my maudlin mood that has nothing to do with the weather, but with how I’ve been overwhelming myself with shit that don’t matter.

The first thing I did was deactivate my personal Facebook account. I’ll tell you how I feel when the week is through. The next thing I did was well, clean my bedroom even though my bedroom is pretty spartan to begin with, I still thought it could use a bit more organizing. My bedroom is my haven and where I do the most of my reading, so it has to be clean and organized all the time. I also cleaned my bookshelves in my bedroom to make room for the books that were sitting on the floor. I definitely need to do an unhauling one of these days, but I just don’t know where to start. Sigh.

Anyway, like I mentioned on my recent Hoarders post, I finally reached my all-time goal of 2,000 books. As well, my Goodreads goal for the year of 230 books. So this week, I decided to read the books I received for review — which isn’t much considering I’ve hold off requesting for most of the year:

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie | What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt | Well Met by Jen DeLuca

All these books are from Penguin Random House Canada. I also got The Toll by Neal Shusterman from Simon & Schuster in the mail last week but I haven’t read Thunderhead so I can’t read this yet. I’m re-reading Scythe so I can read Thunderhead.

I’m also endeavouring to read The Institute by Stephen King — only the second Stephen King novel in my arsenal. As well, Madame Bovary which is a classic lit about an unsatisfied married woman looking for romance in her otherwise lackluster marriage. I’ve always wanted to read it, so I thought since I now have the time, I might as well.

Please come back and check out my review of Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward on Thursday, the 14th. It’s my tour stop and y’all know I haven’t done too many of those as well. This is all for now, everyone. Thank you for being my sounding board. <3

Have a great week!

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