[762]: The Mister by E.L. James

The Mister by E.L James | April 16th, 2019

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

Le sigh.

I’m glad I didn’t buy a copy, to be honest. I borrowed the audio from my library. I didn’t have any expectations when I added it on my TBR. But I certainly didn’t expect to be bored out of my wits. Full disclosure, I got up to chapter 19 before I quit. Yes, I gave it the benefit of the doubt before I realize the novel would not improve, nor would the story go faster than the molasses-in-winter pace it had going on.

I don’t think it’s a big secret that my guilty pleasure is reading about billionaires and the virgins they attract into their lairs. Based on Ms. James’ earlier successful novels, she knows a thing or two about this trope. I think that’s why I had a hard time saying no, to be perfectly honest. However, this was a snoozefest. And the characters lack, well, characterizations – personalities, if I may.

I think she really tried, though. In this book, we have a photographer, Earl, DJ, and model to replace Christian Grey. His name is Maxim Trevelyan. So instead of a billionaire extraordinaire, our hero is someone that she tried to add some depth. Unfortunately, no amount of versatility could save our poor Maxim. He, like, Christian Grey only thinks about the woman in his periphery. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but at this point in my reading life, I just can’t be bothered. I need something more in my hero.

Let’s talk about our virgin. Oh man, she could’ve saved this travesty. She’s an Albanian who was a victim of human trafficking. But then her story got convoluted with the addition of an abusive fiancĂ©. I wish she’d picked one character plotline and went with it. I mean, did she run away from the fiance? Or did she run away for a better life? It would’ve been interesting to see her plight as someone who got away from those who attempted to sell her. As it was, that point of her characterization was not fully explored.

As a reader, it’s frustrating when an author can’t find a way to remove themselves from the shadow of their previously successful novel. When Ms. James was a fanfiction writer, I was one of her legion of fans who thought she was the bees’ knees and looked forward to reading best selling novels she’d write. This is just her second endeavour, if you think about it. Here’s hoping she’ll get better at it. 🙂

Books from the Backlog [5]: Vox by Christina Dalcher

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Published: August 21st, 2018 | Source: Simon & Schuster for review

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.

I was so excited to receive this package from Simon & Schuster Canada. When I read the blurb, I was already pumped to read it. This book came at a perfect time when women are finding the voice to speak out against inequalities and injustices rooted in sexual abuse. But for some reason, I set it aside as the writing was not jiving well with me. I really want to read it, though. So today, I thought I’d feature it here to serve as a reminder.

So this is set in a world where women’s spoken words are counted. But that was just the beginning. It’s been heralded (and chided) as a The Handmaid’s Tale copycat. That alone makes this novel so interesting to read.

Books from the Backlog is a weekly feature from Carole’s Random Life in Books.
It’s a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your bookshelf unread. 

Waiting on Wednesday [19]: August Releases

Once again, I’m a bit late as I used to do these posts at the beginning of the month. And since I was doing God knows what then, I wasn’t able to write it. So here, I thought I’d share with you some of the books that I’m looking forward to acquiring this month.

Things You Save in A Fire by Katherine Centre | The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang | Fence, Vol. 3 by C.S. Pacat | The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai | Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon

I’m especially looking forward to reading volume 3 of Fence. I feel like I’ve waited long enough for the volume! Things You Save in A Fire features a female firefighter – which I’m so curious to read about. The Right Swipe is purely because I’ve been seeing this everywhere on Twitter. I thought I’d check out what the big deal is. Ziggy, Stardust & Me by James Brandon is a coming of age story about a gay teen set in the backdrop of the Vietnam war. I’ve been dying to read this book since I saw it on Goodreads. An finally, The Dragon Republic. Now, y’all know I’m not much of a fantasy reader, but I absolutely love The Poppy War so I can’t wait to get this book in my grabby little hands!

The Day He Came Back by Penelope Ward | Happy-Go-Lucky by L.H. Cosway | Blood Truth by J.R. Ward | Outfox by Sandra Brown | Handle with Care by Helena Hunting

The Day He Came Back is a second chance romance, so of course, I’m down. Happy-Go-Lucky is a story about an extrovert trying to lure an introvert out. Outfox is a no-brainer. I mean, I already have a copy so, I can’t wait to dive in. And I just love, love, Ms. Hunting. I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll read whatever she puts out. Also, Canadian!

what about you? what are you most looking forward to reading this month?

[761]: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Publication Date: April 13th, 2004

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil. 

If you’ve read any book by this author, you’d know that she has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re a witness more than a reader. She pulls you into the story so viscerally that it’s as if you’re dragged from where you’re sitting right into the pages of the book – as a bystander to whatever fucked up scene is happening. Like a dream or a nightmare that you’ve become a part of.

Admittedly, I have no idea what “Bacchanal” murder is. Later on, I find out that it’s when you’re in a euphoric/mindless state that you have no clue what you’re doing. Nor you’ll remember what it is you did whilst in the moment. So it goes that six, privileged bored people set out into the woods, high, drunk, starved and completely off their fucking minds with the intention of just being in a rapturous state. What happens after was the murder of a farmer whose land they trespassed. The state of his body when found, however, will make even the vilest of serial killers flinch. Right away you can tell that the group is hiding a secret – the knowing looks and the jittery nerves that come off from them was palpable.

This is not your typical murder/mystery novel in a way that you’ll be hunting for the killers. You know who the killers are from the get-go but how the murder happened was the most riveting aspect of the book. Not only that, one of the characters decided to play the blackmail card and put everyone on their toes by having the murder hang over their heads even though exposing them would mean he himself would be exposed.

Our narrator, Richard Pappin is the unfortunate sob who got inadvertently involved just because he was a part of the elite Greek class with whom only these six people were enrolled. He was mesmerized and maybe a bit starstruck, so much so that he knowingly involved himself in the covering of the crime. He was a lonely figure; an outlier from Texas whose family could live with or without his presence. In this group, he suddenly found a camaraderie that’s been missing in his life. This was what made committing the cover-up an easy pill to swallow for him. For the first time in his life, he belonged somewhere.

There is no deeper meaning to the book. Classism or elitism ran rampant; as well, drug use and alcohol. Other than that, it’s just a murder story and the lengths people will go through to cover the crime. Even so far as committing another one. In the end, I supposed they got their comeuppance, but not in the way that criminals should’ve met theirs. Life, guilt, and fate probably had more to do with their karma more than anything. I read Ms. Tartt’s Goldfinch two years ago and to this day, I’m still in awe of her writing and story-telling chops. I say The Secret History is much less complicated than Goldfinch. But still no way less than stellar.

On the Night Table [53]

Hey, all. How was your weekend? I didn’t get much reading done as weekends are usually crazy busy in my house. My husband works at night during the week so he typically naps all weekend long which means I have to do most of the household chores if I ever want to keep a clean house and have some clean laundry for the entire family. Lol.

Anyway, the last time I did one of these was November of last year – certainly been a while. This week, I have a 2016 release from David Arnold and a recent one from Sandra Brown. While Ms. Brown is a staple on my shelves, David Arnold’s work are a new taste. Can I just say that this was such a pain to write? WordPress is such a bitch to use nowadays. *facepalm* And I think I missed one WordPress update so now, I can’t download the newest one because I’m missing a component. Seriously considering switching to another platform if it weren’t such a pain and a half. Sigh.

So here are the synopsis:

FBI agent Drex Easton is relentlessly driven by a single goal: to outmaneuver the conman once known as Weston Graham. Over the past thirty years, Weston has assumed many names and countless disguises, enabling him to lure eight wealthy women out of their fortunes before they disappeared without a trace, their families left without answers and the authorities without clues. The only common trait among the victims: a new man in their life who also vanished, leaving behind no evidence of his existence . . . except for one signature custom.

Drex is convinced that these women have been murdered, and that the man he knows as Weston Graham is the sociopath responsible. But each time Drex gets close to catching him, Weston trades one persona for another and disappears again. Now, for the first time in their long game of cat and mouse, Drex has a suspect in sight.

Attractive and charming, Jasper Ford is recently married to a successful businesswoman many years his junior, Talia Shafer. Drex insinuates himself into their lives, posing as a new neighbor and setting up surveillance on their house. The closer he gets to the couple, the more convinced he becomes that Jasper is the clever, merciless predator he’s sought–and that his own attraction to Talia threatens to compromise his purpose and integrity.

This is Drex’s one chance to outfox his cunning nemesis before he murders again and eludes justice forever. But first he must determine if the desirable Talia is a heartless accomplice . . . or the next victim.

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.

This is a story about:

1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

I really am sorry for the formatting of this post. I have to figure it all out somehow. I hope you’ll have a great week of reading and nice weather, y’all.

xoxo

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 219

Recursion by Blake Crouch | Lake Silence by Anne Bishop | Outfox by Sandra Brown | Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis | The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman | Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

I am all of a sudden inspired this week! I don’t know what happened. But I think my decision to be somewhat active on Twitter was the catalyst for me to start blogging again. As well, I feel like a tremendous weight has been lifted off my shoulders recently. It’s the fact that I no longer have any deadline for reviews and no blog tours to participate in. After coming to the conclusion that I can never be the responsible blogger that I desperately aimed to be all these years, I was able to write some reviews for future postings and be an active blog commenter again. But in all honesty, it’s you, dear bloggers. Those who hasn’t given up on blogging even though our outlet is becoming less and less popular nowadays. YOU INSPIRE ME TO KEEP GOING. Because at this point, the comments no longer matter. There is no more competition.

Thank you so much for all your well wishes. I am feeling so much better. I just need to catch up on sleep so I can go back to my fitness routine. I managed to go to the gym 5 out of the 7 days this week, so that’s progress. Food-wise, still no appetite since my throat is still recovering.

BOOKS READ THIS WEEK

City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson | The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk | I’ve Been Meaning To Tell You by David Chariandy | She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper

Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn | Literally by Lucy Keating | The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

My favourite reads of the week is a toss up between The Beauty That Remains and The Travelling Cat Chronicles.  

I’ve been supplementing my reads with audiobooks so I’m managing to read 4 or 5 books a week. Since I’m on a time crunch with a goal to read at least 25 per month, having my Libby app has been such a huge help.

How’s your week been? Read any good books lately?

[760]: In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

This book was a bit of a surprise. It’s romance and history set in the backdrop of Nazi Germany. But what made it surprising was the time travel elements — perhaps I should’ve warned you about spoilers. Oh well.

Max and Hanna met before Germany lost its mind and allowed Hitler to brainwash them into thinking the Aryan race was superior. I found this particular plot point to be interesting as it showed how the German people slowly fell into the narrative that Jews did not belong in Germany. As well, how some Jewish people were lulled into a complacency. They didn’t think one person could influence an entire nation to do his evil will. It most certainly is chilling to hear the propaganda being echoed down South in the present, only the supposed enemies this time are asylum seekers and illegal immigrants crossing the border. Not only that, it’s interesting to see how Hitler slowly and effectively made work of turning the media and his political rivals into the enemies of the people. Which is also what’s happening in the States. If we’re ever not to repeat history, I hope people are paying attention.

Anyway, believe it or not, this book is a historical romance between a German and a Jewish girl. I’m always ready for heartbreak when I pick up a book set in World War II. So business as usual when I decided to read this book. Like I mentioned previously, this has time travel elements. It reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wife in such a way that Max kept disappearing on Hannah, so aside from the German-Jewish coupling a taboo at that time, their relationship was tenuous at best. I felt Hannah’s frustration because just when they were making headways in their relationship, Max disappears on her (through no choice of his own, mind you). Over the years, the pattern repeats. I felt like they were apart more than they were together.

Despite of that, I did enjoy this book. It was not pretty, nor as historically significant as The Tattooist of Auschwitz. But it still made my heart ached as any novels in this setting usually do.

Throwback Thursday [15]: The Infinity Gauntlet

I’m not a comics enthusiast by any stretch of imagination, but I’m a graphic novel reader. Over the last few years, however, I’ve followed the Marvel Comics Universe with great passion. I started off as a Thor fan, but since being introduced to other cast, I really can’t pick a favourite. I suppose I love them all.

In April, Avengers fans were treated to the last movie of the franchise, Endgame. It was a phenomenal hit; hordes of fans witnessed the end of an era. Ever since its release, I’ve watched and re-watched the movies almost religiously. As in, there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t watch a Marvel movie.

I’ve always known my husband was a collector back in the day. What I didn’t realize was that he owns a treasure trove of nerdgasmic proportion. One Saturday night, the kids and I decided to raid his stash and found The Infinity Gauntlet – which for us, is the holy grail of Marvel Universe. I could talk about what the series is about but this post would be too long.

So today, I thought I’d share with you this first edition, six-issue limited series that was first published in 1991. I wish I can tell you that it holds some financial value, but let me tell you that it does not. For me, it’s the shared love we all have for the characters and the story line. Many a dinner discussion has been about the movies and finding plot holes and inexpiable occurrences that needed explanation. I suppose the time my family spent together talking about the movies is priceless enough. We looked forward to each movie release. For the first time in a long time, we can actually agree on which movies to watch.

How about you? Does your family share a similar passion for something?

Life Lately.

We’re halfway through August already. Can you believe it? My kids are freaking out some because summer is drawing to a close. My eldest starts university and my boy will be in year 7 come September. Our summer has been uneventful. Aside from my daughter turning 18 and her graduation, we’ve pretty much become homebodies — all of us.

I have been plagued with injuries and illness all summer long so health and fitness suffered a great deal. I am, however, reading a lot. And when I can, writing reviews that I’ve yet to post.

I missed my 8-year anniversary on the blog back in August 6th, but that’s okay. I haven’t given up yet. Reading-wise, I’m determined to reach my goal of 2,000 books read all time this year. I’m currently 92 books away.

READING UPDATES

I’m currently reading this one. It’s a darkly comedic crime fiction featuring an 11-year old girl and her recently released from prison father on the run from an Aryan gang. I’m enjoying it so far.

This started out well, but it’s petering out to something lacklustre. I hope it improves but I’m running out of pages.

I hope you’re enjoying your week and your current read. 🙂

Throwback Thursday [14]: I’m With the Vamps, Of Course.

The latest news about Robert Pattinson being tapped as the new Bruce Wayne was certainly a big surprise for me. To be honest, I’ve kind of lost track of Robert after the Twilight movie franchise was over. Apparently, he’s had some roles that showed off his chops outside of the brooding, sparkly vampire we all loved. In any case, and after the shock wore off, I’ve come to slowly acclimate myself in the idea that he’ll give the role justice. Let’s hope. DC certainly hasn’t had that much success lately (besides Aquaman, that is). So if Robert does well, and if his hoards of fans come out to support this, he could potentially shut down the haters.

Today’s post is an homage to the books that restarted my love for reading. Say what you will about the books, but I know a lot of readers owe the same gratitude to Ms. Meyer. Regardless of all its faults, the series ignited everyone’s passion for reading again, particularly the YA genre. My reading taste has grown over the years, but YA remains in my arsenal.

In 2008, while perusing the bargain books at Walmart, a paperback copy of a book caught my eye. It’s predominantly black; the cover featured extended hands cradling a blood red apple. Nothing extraordinary about it but I picked it up, anyway. Little did I know that it would be the start of an obsession that I never knew I needed. It only took three chapters before I was sucked in. As immediate as the next day, I went and searched high and low for the remaining books in the series.

Fanfiction came next. Then, the hysteria of fandom. We’ve had many ups and downs, the Twihards and I. It was (and probably is still) a very dedicated and hardcore fans. We were passionate and more often divided about the whole RPattz and KStew pairing. But regardless of our stance, we were united in our love for the franchise.