Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 213


The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan | The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner | The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo | The Familiar by Mark Z. Danielewski | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

Heyyyy.

Ugh. Work kicked my ass last week! I did not have a moment to spare and by the time I get home, all I wanted to do is to park my carcass in bed and get under the covers! I’m hoping things will be different this week. Weather is cooperating at least. We’ve been having sunshine and pretty sultry temperatures. Not great for my hair but I’ve been taking advantage and getting my steps in.

READ LAST WEEK

I loved Louise Bay’s books except for The Ruthless Gentleman. I didn’t see any ruthlessness from the character, to be frank. Heart Berries was an astounding novel. So fierce, fearless and powerful.

And with that, my Goodreads reading challenge deficit is now a surplus! I’m one book ahead of my goals which makes me so happy! I didn’t think I’ll get here but here we are.

Unfortunately, my reading plans didn’t pan out so well in the last couple of weeks so I don’t know what I’m going to read next. I’m still working on finishing the couple of books on my TBR (Blood Fury by JR Ward and The Break by Katherena Vermette). I just added another book to my reading queue as well – All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire. I should just give in and download the audiobooks for the first two as I’m getting tired of seeing them on my pile.

Anywho, let me know how your week has been, peeps.

Happy reading.

xoxo

[745]: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

Georgeous prose, honest and candid. Heart Berries takes the reader on a chaotic journey through an Indigenous woman’s life wracked with obsessive love, maternal love, and mental illness.


Heart Berries
by Terese Marie Mailhot

This book is so profound in ways that I could not begin to translate into words. It’s a tiny book but the destruction that I’m left with is so complete. I don’t know what to do with all of it.

I’m terrified to admit that I found such a tender kinship with the author. I’ve felt it all. The obsessive love, the maternal love that sometimes, I thought I might just be going insane. The difference between us is the consciousness – our state of minds. She knows there’s something wrong with her mind. She takes medicines for it and even have been confined in a mental hospital for rehabitilation. While I, can’t sometimes grasp whether it’s the love I was feeling that was making me insane or am I already there?

In any case, this book had me gasping for breath sometimes. It’s so empathically real that the emotions she conveyed felt visceral. She’s so desperate for a man who may or may not love her but her feelings for him was a gushing faucet that can’t be turned off. Though she tried to – to no avail. She kept coming back to the scene of the crime knowing that the killer is still there and she’d be bludgeoned yet again. But she unabashedly embraced it all.

She writes about her relationship with her mother – who I found was as devoted as they come but yet difficult at times. The scars from being a victim of the residential school integration remains fresh in many native peoples to this day. Poverty, addiction, and broken families seem to be the lasting effect. Terese married young, bore her children young. Lost one child in a custody battle and desperately hung on to the other child despite all odds. To read her try to be a good mother to the one she lost during her supervised visits was heartbreaking. She tries her best as many mothers do.

Mailhot writes from the heart, and sometimes from her broken mind. The result is a heart-rending, fierce memoir that leaves a lasting effect long after you’ve reached the end.

 

 

Books from the Backlog [3]: For Darkness Shows The Stars

*Books from the Backlog is a regular feature over at Carole’s Random Life in Books.

This week, I’m featuring a book that came out in 2012. I knew I wanted to read it because it was marketed as a YA SciFi version of Jane Austen’s Persuasion – which is my absolute Jane Austen favourite. Captain Wentworth is infinitely hotter than Darcy, in my opinion. I have no idea why I never read this book but I’m so glad I saw it while scouring my basement bookshelves.

From Goodreads:

It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Starsis a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Have you read this?

 

[744]: Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

A sparsely told tale of murder in the eyes of three dissimilar narrators.


Girl in Snow
by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow tells a detailed story of a murdered teen who didn’t lack for friends and enemies. Though the author didn’t necessarily focus on solving the case, per se. It was more an account of her life through the eyes of three unrelated narrators.

Unfortunately, I was wholly removed from the story. The writing lacked a certain quality that evokes empathy or enthusiasm to see through the ending. I’ve never read something like this before, where the main character is dead and the story backhandedly revolves around her but because the narrator isn’t her, it really wasn’t.

There are three narrators that are directly and indirectly related to Lucinda Hayes: there’s Cameron Whitely who had this obsession about her. He’d been caught stalking her a number of times and yet the author wouldn’t be so lazy as to pin the murder unto him. There’s the token girl who hated her very existence simply because they were friends before but since Lucinda belonged in the popular crowd, their friendship suffered until they could no longer stand each other’s presence. And then there’s the investigator solving the case. His only relation to Lucinda’s case was through Cameron. Officer Russ used to be Cameron’s father’s partner in the force until his involvement in a case led to his ruin.

In truth, I had a hard time unpacking this book. There were threads in the story that I struggle to unravel, leading to my disinterest in the story. The characters left me cold, and the writing, beautiful though as they may be, was just unattainably circuitous. The author offered a few red herrings, for sure. But because of the narrators’ respective stories, I got easily distracted and eventually lost interest.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 212


Circe by Madeline Miller | Only Human by Syvail Neuvel | The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel | Aftermath by Kelley Armstrong | Folded Notes from High School by Matt Doren | The Foreseeable Future by Emily Adrian | All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire

Thanks to Penguin Random House Canada for my copies of Only Human & Aftermath. As well, to Ambur Hostyn of Thomas Allen & Sons Ltd. for my copies of All The Little Lights & The Optimistic Decade. Much love to Penguin Teen Canada for my copies of Folded Notes and The Foreseeable Future. 

Hello.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. We had our Victoria Day here in Canada so just getting off a three-day weekend. I had planned on catching up and doing some blog-hopping but that didn’t pan out. I also did a mini-readathon of sorts to finish the books I’d started from a while back. I managed to finish these two from my pile:

Heart Berries is a beautiful memoir about a Native American woman who struggled with mental illness while coping with her difficult relationships with her mom and the man with whom she couldn’t seem to cut ties. It’s at times funny, emotional, heartrending, and frustrating. I enjoyed this slight but equally powerful book.

How to Survive A Summer by Nick White was also incredibly moving. It’s about a conversion camp for teens and what the main character went through. It was a tough read, to say the least.

So for last week, I managed to read a total of four books in total. Hot Asset by Lauren Layne was a fun read but to be honest, I was more interested in finding out why Ian Bradley was being set up more than the romance. Overall, I liked it.

Seeing Red is a quintessential Sandra Brown so of course, I loved it.

On the Blog This Week

Reviews of Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka, Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot.
Books from the Backlog featuring: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

Currently Reading

I’m working on reading my review copies so from last week, so I still have Love & Luck and The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder. But I might reinforce these reads with audiobooks. In the meantime, still working on finishing Blood Fury by JR Ward. It seems I’ve been reading this thing for years. Sigh.

I hope you’ll have a great week of reading, y’all.

 

At Home: Five Things About My Week


Hello.

How have your week been? Well, allergies are slowly going away. I’m still stuffed up but I don’t have nearly the same urge to gouge my eyes out in the last couple of days so it’s going great. My reading have slowed down just because I can’t keep my eyes open. A cold compress helped the itchiness a bit so I was able to sleep. It’s been a rough allergy season, I tell ya. Other than that, here’s how my week went:

Gave Up Coffee As My Pre-Workout.

I discovered AMRAP. It’s a preworkout supplement that helps me last longer during gruelling workouts. It’s carb-free and because it’s made with Stevia, it has natural sweeteners. I find that I’m not as sore as I usually am after a 3-classes session. So, hurray! I might be cured of my coffee addiction after all. Haha.

Reading: How to Survive A Summer by Nick White

…in A Gay Conversion Camp. There are no ghost stories around a campfire…or smores. What you’ll get is a dark, gritty tale of a son of a preacher man who was sent to this camp. The ghost story becomes his own horror story.

Watched Infinity War and Cried Within 5 Minutes of the Movie.

…because: (spoiler)LOKI.

Bye, Garmin. Hello, Fitbit

I was a FitBit girl to begin with but then I switched to Garmin only to realized Garmin is stingy with steps and calories. Steps – I don’t really mind but calories? During the last few months, I learned that if you’re not feeding or fueling your body enough, you are not going to lose weight. Weird, right? But what your body does actually when you’re restricting calorie intake is that your body goes into a survival mode wherein it hoardes all the fat in your body to sustain itself. According to Garmin, I was only burning 100-150 calories per half an hour session. When I switched to Fitbit, I’m burning up to 250 calories per half an hour session. I take at least 4 classes a day, so the calorie count makes a big difference. Hence, the change.

Hockey Playoffs are Killing My Mojo

Come on, Jets! I can’t believe we’re going to lose to a freshman team. We are better than this! Ugh. In a way, I hope they’ll put me out of my misery soon. So tired of these highs and lows.

What have you been up to this week?

COMMENTS ARE LIKE CUPCAKES. Nom. Nom.

[743]: The Thief by J.R. Ward

A disappointing installment that tried and failed to inspire a renewed fervor for the author’s favorite character.


The Thief
by JR Ward

I haven’t reached the point in which I’d say I’m over with this series – no matter how much I didn’t enjoy an installment. Well, maybe I came close as I read the first few chapters of the latest. Truthfully, I was looking forward to reading this because the Warden said it was about Assail and Sola. Their story was long overdue and I’d waited long enough. So I was ecstatic and have pined for this book for a year. But as we all know, Warden does not only dedicate a book solely on a pair of characters. She tends to fill the pages with stories of other characters as well.

Let’s get the ugliness out of the way first.

Vishous and Mary. It is with to my utter disappointment that the Warden sullied by initial admiration for this couple. In all honesty, I disliked Mary here and I hated Vishous with the passion of a thousand suns. I won’t get into the whys because it would be revealing too much of their part of the story. Let’s just say that Mary was painted as the victim of blame the victim scenario, and Vishous – well, he was not the man I loved in the past few books. He was insecure – far from the alpha male, take-charge vampire of the old and he was too selfish. Me, me, me. He blames Mary for the widening rift in their marriage because Mary was too busy being a doctor. Dude. What? Spare me the you-don’t-have-time-for-me-anymore bullshit. The worst part? And this is after his transgressions, Mary was only too willing to forgive and forget. Arrrggghhhhh.

Realistic, though as it was, seeing as every happily married couple goes through rough patches at one point in their blissful union, what Vishous did was an unforgivable sin. Call me insane, but he was one step away from the cliff. Regardless of whether or not he jumped is irrelevant. The truth of the matter is, there was planning involved. He’d thought of it and made it happen. So, screw you, V!

The good part.

Assail and Sola. We finally have their story and it was a good one. They are the sole saviors of this trainwreck. Assail is still under a coma from going cold turkey from his heroin addiction (or was it cocaine?). They were ready to pull the plug on him when his cousins intervened. They thought that if anybody could bring him back from the brink, it would be Sola. But she wasn’t so receptive to come back at first considering there was a price over her head. Needless to say, and miracles of miracles, he woke up as soon as Sola made her presence known. La di da, they’re reunited and their love blossoms.

The conflict in their story was that Sola didn’t know of Assail’s true nature. And because she comes from a staunch Catholic upbringing, vampires aren’t exactly God’s greatest creation. So he hid that fact for as long as he could until he couldn’t. At the same time, Sola’s enemies are gunning for her head.

Overall, I didn’t get off to a good start with this book. It was a placid installment as far as this series goes. Am I going to stop reading? Hell no. These characters have become a part of my life now that it would be as if I’m cutting ties with my best friends for no reason at all if I’d stop. In goodness and in bad, I’m in for the long haul.

Books From the Backlog [2]:Precious Stone Trilogy


Today’s books from the forgotten pile is a trilogy of German origin about time travel and romance. It has a pretty good rating average on Goodreads (and I usually have a good luck if I based my choices on their rating), so I don’t know why I didn’t pick it up when I bought the first book in 2011.

I have all three but I can’t find the third book for pictures. If you see the mess that is my shelves downstairs, you’d understand.

Have you read them?

[742]: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

A darker shade of YA; prevalently sinister, rich in magic and suspense.


The Price Guide to the Occult
by Leslye Walton

I was over the moon when I got this book even though at the time, the extent of my knowledge was that it was written by the same author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. I was so excited that I started reading it right away. This book is darker than the usual YA. It has magic in spades and the persistent ambiance of an approaching mayhem. It’s ripe in history as well – which is surprising considering how slight this book is.

The book is about the generations of Blackburn women. Starting from the matriarch Rona Blackburn. All she wanted was to start a new life on a remote island and while she was received nonchalantly by some, the others have already pegged her for a witch that will bring down death and distraction in their small community. It didn’t end well, so she cursed them.

Fast forward to the present time, Nor Blackburn’s mission in life was to lay low and live a normal life. But because she’s a Blackburn, her last name comes with a baggage. Her childhood on the island wasn’t the best: her mother saw her as a burden who mistreated her at every turn until she abandoned her. But she’s not all alone in the world. She’s got good friends and great grand mothers who love her. If it weren’t for them, her life would be completely miserable. When a mysterious book of spell arrives on the island, promising to give the recipient of the book whatever their hearts desire – for a price, that is – Nor knew it wasn’t a coincidence. Especially when strange things started happening on the island.

Soon, the anxiety she felt manifested in the return of her mother. Superseded by missing townspeople, deaths, and mysterious behaviours of the flora and fauna variety.

I enjoyed this book immensely. It may look like it took me a long time to read it (February to May) but I didn’t really. I had to take a break to fulfill other reading obligations. Y’all know what that’s like. Lol. Anyway, it’s hard not to fall in love with Ms. Walton’s writing. She makes every creature, every character, and even the island seem larger than life. Like it could very well pop out of the pages of the book.

Nor’s story as a child wasn’t so fun to read. She went through so much abuse in the hands of her mother. See, the Blackburn women are gifted with witchcraft and her mother felt that amongst the Blackburn women, Nor was a dud. Also, they are cursed not to find the love of their lives. Nor’s father wasn’t exempt from this curse. Unfortunately, Fern, Nor’s mother, fell in love with a man who would never reciprocate. And because she’s a vindictive witch, he’ll never live in peace. And in turn, Fern took it out on the one reminder of her curse, which was Nor. The extent of her evil tendencies was boundless. Truly a hateful, sinister woman.

There’s so much to look forward to if this is ever going to be a series. The ending left the door wide open, for sure. There’s the temporary truce between Gage and Nor, who, for some reason hated her guts. I need to know why because that wasn’t explained here. The Price Guide to the Occult reminded me of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic but somehow even more darker.

On The Night Table [50]


Good Morning, everyone.

This week’s On the Night Table are a couple of books that I knew next to nothing about. So here is the Goodreads synopsis for both books:

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

Who doesn’t want to visit the mystical, Ireland?


In the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, a captivating mystery about a boy with synesthesia—a condition that causes him to see colors when he hears sounds—who tries to uncover what happened to his beautiful neighbor, and if he was ultimately responsible.

Thirteen-year-old Jasper Wishart lives in a world of dazzling color that no one else can see, least of all his dad. Words, numbers, days of the week, people’s voices—everything has its own unique shade. But recently Jasper has been haunted by a color he doesn’t like or understand: the color of murder.

Convinced he’s done something terrible to his new neighbor, Bee Larkham, Jasper revisits the events of the last few months to paint the story of their relationship from the very beginning. As he struggles to untangle the knot of untrustworthy memories and colors that will lead him to the truth, it seems that there’s someone else out there determined to stop him—at any cost.

Both a refreshing coming-of-age story and an intriguing mystery, The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a poignant and unforgettable read—perfect for fans of bestselling authors such as Fredrik Backman and Graeme Simsion.

Imagine having your senses so tuned to the colours of sound?

So have you read these? Let me know in the comments!