Monday, March 30, 2020

Two Mini Reviews: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

18 Tweets You'll Enjoy If You're Currently Working From HomeMarch has been a month..that's for sure. I know we are all battling through our own personal changes both at home and work as our new reality sets in. I have not been able to do too much reading since my school has transitioned to working remotely. I miss my students (I am a school librarian) and it is still weird to me. Now that the Governor (New Hampshire) has decided that we are remote learning through April, I hope my schedule will even out as I work with helping my students and teachers remotely. 

In the meantime, here are two mini reviews I did get written these past couple days as I finished up my hefty adult fantasy novel The Fifth Season and my classic for the month (another almost 20 hour audiobook) Jane Eyre. Instead letting time past without writing their reviews, I decided to start a new Mini Review feature here on Love.Life.Read.

Adult Fantasy Review:

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up...My goodness what did I just finishing reading? This book is a rollercoaster, granted it is one that builds slowly in some cases for this non-avid fantasy reader. The twists at the end though, I couldn't believe it. I had to go back and re-read multiple chapters because I just did not see the end coming. I think part of that is not having the experience of adult fantasy/science fiction blends before this book. Even not being an avid fan of the genre, I cannot deny the beautiful way Jemisin crafted this story, leading the readers to be surprised. What I truly appreciated about this book is the amount of diversity woven into this story--why can this not be more commonplace?

Audiobook Review:

Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit I have not read this classic until now and upon reflection, I am glad I held off as I do not think I would have appreciated the intricacies in this novel. I had a hard time getting into the story as Jane had a hard childhood with abuse and neglect. I am glad I stuck it out because I grew to appreciate this novel. While it is not a favorite, I will not hesitate reading another Bronte book.

I completed this title as an audiobook, as I find I quite enjoy listening to classics, with this one narrated by Thandie Newton. While there were times I had troubles distinguishing some of the minor characters, Newton brings life to this sometimes challenging story to listen to. Jane's character arc and strength comes out Newton's performance as we watch Jane grown from a neglected young child to a strong confident young woman.

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Sunday, March 22, 2020

Review: On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

On the Corner of Love and Hate (Hopeless Romantics, #1)

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina BocciMy rating: 3 of 5 stars

Emmanuelle is the daughter of the outgoing mayor of Hope Lake, Pennsylvania and her longtime friend, Cooper, is now running to fill her dad's shoes. While she thinks Cooper is the best choice for the town to keep moving in the direction forward, Emma also recognizes he needs to change his public persona and she reluctantly gets roped into helping with his campaign forcing them to get over their reluctance to work together.

This is a friends to sort-of enemies to friends to lovers story that is a cute and sassy contemporary romance if anyone needs a mood boost. Without a doubt, this is a sweet closed door romance that allows you to get lost in the characters. I can relate to Emma being a fellow Type-A personality, with disorganized people baffling to me. Cooper feels like an almost too perfect hero at times, with the all-American good lucks and being smart, but that is an archetype character for a reason (most people are drawn and want some version of it). I have to say I am also drawn to the town, as I imagine Bocci wants to happen. It would be a town that I would want to visit and spend a long weekend there going to the brewery, hiking around the lake, and so forth. For fans of Shannon Stacey and Susan Mallery, this is romance lend itself to escaping away from reality, even with it not bringing "new" to a standby classic romance frenemies trope or small town setting.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Review: I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

I Have No SecretsI Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine what it would feel like locked into your body not being able to move under your own control or communicate. For people with severe Cerebral Palsy, this might be their daily reality and for our main character, this is what Jemma experiences each day. Sarah is her home health aide and with Sarah, Jemma feels safe and cares for and Sarah treats as a smart but differently baked teenager. When Sarah goes missing, Jemma feels like she knows what happened—if only she had a way to communicate it.

This is a quick read, even for those who are more reluctant as the chapters are short. The first part of the story helps connect you to care about Jemma and Sarah and when Sarah goes missing, the plot quickens propelling you to finish the story to find out if Jemma has solved it correctly. Though some moments had me questioning the plausibility and had me reluctant to suspend disbelief, I did ultimately enjoy reading this book.

Fans of Agatha Christie will appreciate the few references to her work and those seeking a mystery thriller featuring a main character with a disability will find this a good fit.

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Sunday, March 15, 2020

Review: Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani

PashminaPashmina by Nidhi Chanani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pri wants to know more about her father and especially India but her single mother is reluctant to speak of her past. When Pri finds a magical pashmina, she is transported into a world to learn more about herself and her desires.

This is a sweet graphic novel about family and rising above our fears. I liked how Chanani uses different coloring techniques to visually keep the different threads of the stories united, even with being separated by each other. The twist at the end seemed a bit predictable but it is satisfying nonetheless. This is an excellent graphic novel for middle school and up, that delves into families, education, poverty, appreciating what we have, and rising above our fears.

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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left CubaWhen We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After finishing up Next Year in Havana, I knew I wanted to read Beatrix's story as well and I am glad to say I was not disappointed. For those wanting the same story as the first one, you will be disappointed. This one spans more time and after all, Beatrix and Elisa are two different people entirely as Beatrix is not one to stay at home quietly. I found the pacing in the middle sometimes a bit dragging in the middle, when waiting between events I know that happen to actually take place in the books.

What I appreciate most about historical fiction is reading about time periods and events that contain actual events and this one is no exception. Of course with all historical fiction, it is the author's interpretation based on their research, but I find it is a great way to get a "hook" into another part of our world's history to go off and learn more about on my own time now. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to learn more about Cuban-American history.

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Sunday, March 8, 2020

Review: Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors
By B.A. Paris
Read From: personal copy

What do you do when what seems like the perfect marriage turns out to be anything but perfect? Grace meets the perfect man, the prince charming she has wanted her adult life, knowing that with her comes the responsibility of her different able sister. Only Jack is hiding a deadly secret and is far from perfect and skillfully adept at hiding his true nature. Grace marries Jack and her life quickly crumbles leaving her with no choice but to want to get out--alive.

As I am still newer to the thriller genre, having the two timelines interwoven jarred me a bit for the first several changes, but I quickly got into the story. I almost feel if I were to reread this title someday, I almost want to read the two timelines together--reading all the past chapters first, then the present chapters, though I did appreciate the way the story unfolded.

Trigger warning for abuse--physical, emotional, and mental abuse. Stories of abuse are not one I can easily read usually, preferring to DNF them instead of finishing them out. I stuck this one as I became increasingly invested in our main character, Grace. Jack is spine chillingly scary--the sort of person that exists in plain sight, which makes it seem all too real when reading it. Knowing this, please heed the trigger warning if this something that might hurt you further.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Audiobook Review: Wundersmith (Nevermoor #2) by Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #2)Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent follow up to the first in the series (The Trials of Morrigan Crowe), Townsend takes back to Nevermoor as Morrigan learns more about her unique gift. Not only does she not understand exactly what a Wundersmith is, she still needs to learn what and how to use wunder, which she hopes to do at school. Once at school however, school is not as she hoped it would be ultimately.

With additional voices and the continued voices of favorite known characters, Gemma Whelan continues to take Townsend’s characters and world and add richness and depth to it while each original character’s voice sounds the same. There are some awkward pauses after each chapter, but that is a production flaw and not a performance or story flaw, so my rating does not reflect this because it ultimately did not bother me that much. This is an excellent follow up and I eagerly look forward to the third installment.

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