adult

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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Title: The Light Between Oceans

Author: M.L. Stedman

Genre: Adult, Historical Fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

3.5 stars.

It was a slow start and I almost gave up a few times, but it’s a great story once you get into it.

Tom is the lighthouse keeper on Janus Island. It’s a lonely existence, really. He has only his wife, Isabel, for company. A ship visits them every few months to replenish their supplies, and they only visit the outside world every couple of years.

Tom and Isabel are quite happy on their little island. It would probably be perfect, except Isabel suffers through 3 miscarriages, which takes a toll on them both.

One day, Tom discovers a boat with a dead man in it…and a living infant. Isabel, who has just lost her third child, assumes the child is an orphan, and convinces Tom to pretend the child is theirs, because who would ever know the truth? How could anyone ever find out?

It sounds so simple, really. Until they find out the consequences of keeping the child. Because her real mother, Hannah, is alive and lives in Partageuse–the same town Isabel comes from, the same town they visit every few years when Tom reports for official business.

The emotional turmoil of knowing both the happiness of having a child and the ache of losing one haunts them, particularly Tom. Do you give up something that gives you so much happiness because you know it is the cause of someone else’s suffering? Or do you turn your back on that suffering, because you know how much it will destroy you if you give it up?

The book captures all these conflicting emotions very well. Isabel’s selfishness, Tom’s struggle because he’s always wanted to do what is right, Hannah’s agony of struggling through life without the closure of knowing exactly what happened to her child… I struggled along with them all throughout.

My only complaint is that the alternating usage of verbs (past tense to present and back to past tense again) kinda jarred me throughout the whole book. It bothered me so much I’d lose the feel of the story sometimes, haha. But I really liked the writing and the characters.

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

83142Title: The Bronze Horseman

Author: Paullina Simons

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Adult

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Summary:

During the summer of 1941 the Metanov family are living a hard life in Leningrad. As the German armies advance their future looks bleak. For Tatiana, love arrives in the guise of Alexander, who harbours a deadly and extraordinary secret.

The Bronze Horseman was a book I really, really wanted to like. A good friend of mine recommended it to me and sang praises about it, which convinced me to grab a copy as soon as I saw it at a secondhand bookstore.

I suppose the premise itself is interesting enough, although the formula is nothing new: star-crossed lovers in the midst of a war, will they ever get together??

The one thing I appreciated about this book was how it was set in Russia just as World War II was starting. The book encompasses the span of the war and you get to see how people struggled to live during this time. There’s a ton of books set in WWII but most of the books I’ve read are set in the UK or countries occupied by the Nazis, etc. Russia is an interesting setting, considering their Communist government. It’s quite different from other countries.

That being said, I didn’t like much more about the book. I thought it was unnecessarily long, and watching Tatiana and Alexander dance around each other while trying to hide their feelings from being discovered by other people got old fast enough.

I also think, if you took away the historical setting, this would be just another typical romance. Girl meets boy, boy is attached to another (in this case, Tatiana’s sister), they fall in love anyway, they meet in secret, basically it’s all you-and-me-against-the-world stuff. >_<

I thought Tatiana was an annoying heroine, and her development from naive, idiotic girl to Mary Sue loved by all just didn’t amuse me at all. I just don’t understand how anyone can like her. She starts off as a selfish brat, then becomes a martyr who endures all her family’s abuse, then ends up being a Mary Sue who is ~perfect and smart and has everyone falling for her. She’s also a damsel in distress who always has to end up being saved by Alexander or someone else.

Idk

Alexander is a more interesting character, given his ~secret past, but I ended up not liking him either in the long run. Probably because he gives in way too much to Tatiana’s whims, it’s kinda annoying. Oop.

Honestly? I think the one part I thoroughly enjoyed was when Alexander finally couldn’t take it anymore and started yelling at Tatiana for causing all the heartache they had to go through. (Which was totally justified, imo.)

I’d yell myself for wasting my time too, but I’m too busy congratulating myself for actually finishing this long, long book despite the many urges I had to just throw it at the wall.

The book ends in a cliffhanger of sorts (sigh) and I guess I’ll try to read the next book (even though I’m not invested in the characters AT ALL) in the hopes that the sequel is better.

cDkyomW

Please let it be better, book gods.

The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

18664342Title: The Fever Series

Author: Karen Marie Moning

Genre: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death—a cryptic message on MacKayla Lane’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed—a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

I’m reviewing the entire series as a whole because I binge-read it and I have too many feels + it would be too spoilery to review them all. Haha. Also I honestly lack the skill to express just how good this series is so I made this list of reasons why it is amazing and why you should definitely read it:

  1. I read six books in this series in a week. Which is saying something considering how short my attention span is lately. 😄  To be honest, I’ve seen a lot of praise for this on Goodreads. I was hesitant to start the series though, because the cover of Darkfever (at least the first one I saw on Goodreads heh) looked like something from the New Adult genre and I wasn’t in the mood to read NA. But now I’m really, really glad I read the series because it was so much more than I ever expected. 
  2. The characters. Ms. Moning is an excellent writer who gives us well-written, complicated characters that you just can’t help but love and cheer for. The main characters, Mac and Barrons, are the epitome of everything I hate in characters. Mac is that silly, spoiled, weak, selfish girly girl who whines a lot. Barrons is a douchebag who is possessive and violent and the ultimate alpha male. Despite that, I love them. I’ll admit I was pretty annoyed while I read Darkfever, but they grew on me. It’s amazing. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I love them so so much that I am already dying for the next book, which doesn’t come out until next year. RIP me. I particularly love Mac soooo much, she’s an excellent example that female characters CAN be as tough as nails (ala Katniss Everdeen) AND enjoy fashion/shopping/painting your nails/etc too. Because being feminine doesn’t mean you’re weak! The Unseelie King is another fave, but I refuse to say anything else because everything is potentially spoiler-ish. Lol.
  3. The world-building. Even if for nothing else, read it for the magnificent world Ms. Moning has created. My mind was blown away by the different courts and kinds of Fae she created. I want to live in this world, even if it’s only so I can meet Barrons i’m so shallow lmao Just keep those fecking Shades away from me! I’m afraid Ms. Moning has upped my standards to impossibly high levels for urban fantasy and Fae-related stories because this is probably the best Fae-related plot I’ve read.
  4. Excellent writing. I’m super super glad there were three public holidays last week because I spent them all hiding underneath the sheets while reading the books. I couldn’t put them down, even when I was freaking out because the Shades are so scary and and my brain was frantically wondering if they’re nomming on me now in the dark? but who cares because I need to know who killed Alina and what the hell Barrons is and how Mac is going to survive all this shit?? Also can I just say that it is super, super awesome how Mac gets into shit and she always gets out of it herself instead of Barrons or V’lane or some other guy swooping in to save her?? Mac is awesome, guys.

Confession time: Okay, fine, I skipped Iced because Dani’s way of talking annoys me so I don’t know if I can survive a whole book of “fecks” and “dudes” but I will attempt to read this eventually!! I mean, I love Dani but I can only stand her in small doses :(((( I’m hoping this will change when I get around to reading Iced. X’D

 

De-stressing with Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring books have become quite the crazy lately around these parts. I’ve seen a lot of variations in book stores, and it’s amazing how fast they get sold out. I managed to snag a few on a couple of impromptu shopping sprees last month (RIP wallet) and dang, the artwork is sometimes so pretty that I kinda don’t want to color it because my coloring/shading/blending skills kinda suck. I end up leafing through the pages and admiring the beautiful details instead. 😄

I don’t think I can properly rate coloring books so I’ve written mini-reviews instead about the ones I’ve got so far. These are the coloring books I’ve managed to get my hands on: (more…)

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

17251093Title: The Casual Vacancy

Author: J.K. Rowling

Genre: Adult, Realistic Fiction, Drama, Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary:

A big novel about a small town…

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

I started reading this a long time ago, then put it aside because it just wasn’t interesting to me at the time.

I guess sometimes you just need the perfect timing and place to enjoy a book. This sat for so long on my to-read list before I considered reading it again. And I am SO glad I did.

I’m glad I didn’t read this book when it was released. All that hype, all that excitement for the very first book released by JK after Harry Potter? I’d probably have been disappointed.

See, the important thing here – which probably most reviewers have already said – is that you should NOT expect this to be like Harry Potter. At all. Because it isn’t. There is no magic, no spells and mystical creatures and flying motorcycles and such. This is a book about how one man’s death can affect many lives in a small town. It’s about ordinary people.

But it’s an extraordinary book.

It somewhat reminds me of the show Broadchurch. Except Broadchurch deals with the tragic murder of a child. The Casual Vacancy deals with the death of one man, no foul play whatsoever. But oh, how his death influences the lives of so many.

Like Broadchurch (at least, imo), The Casual Vacancy starts out a bit slow. Persevere if you feel like giving up after a few pages..continue reading because the pieces all fall together eventually. Or set aside the book for another time, like I did, and you’ll definitely realize the beauty of this book.

What I’ve gathered from this book is that it’s really amazing how significant each person is in the universe. You may think you’re not really anyone important, that no one would ever miss you if you disappear. But this book can prove you wrong. We’re all connected, in one way or another, whether in a good or bad way.

The House At Riverton by Kate Morton

The House At RivertonTitle: The House At Riverton

Author: Kate Morton

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Summer 1924

On the eve of a glittering society party, by the lake of a grand English country house, a young poet takes his life. The only witnesses, sisters Hannah and Emmeline Hartford, will never speak to each other again.

Winter 1999

Grace Bradley, ninety-eight, one-time housemaid of Riverton Manor, is visited by a young director making a film about the poet’s suicide. Ghosts awaken and old memories – long consigned to the dark reaches of Grace’s mind – begin to sneak back through the cracks. A shocking secret threatens to emerge, something history has forgotten but Grace never could.

Set as the war-shattered Edwardian summer surrenders to the decadent twenties, The House at Riverton is a thrilling mystery and a compelling love story.

If I could sum up this book in one gif, it would be this:

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I carried this book around for several weeks and complained a lot because it was so thick and heavy and took me forever to finish. But I REGRET NOTHING. NOTHIIIIING.

Reading this book was like going on a long, long car trip to your favorite place in the world. At first you’re so excited that you kinda ignore everything else and irritably wish you could just get to your destination already, because you know how fulfilled you’ll be when you finally get over this arduous trip.

Towards the middle, you start to get interested in the sights and scenes you’re passing by. Curiosities pop up and hold your attention, and you slightly forget about your destination. Something on the road holds your interest more at the moment.

Eventually, the things you pass by seem familiar, and you recognize that these are all signs that point out you’re getting closer and closer to the end of your journey, and this fills you with so much anticipation because finally, you’re so close..but at the same time you dread the end because the trip wasn’t as arduous as it had seemed at first, and now you’re reluctant to let go of the things that held your interest on your way here.

When you finally get to your destination, your favorite place in the world, you’re elated because the trip was so worth it, no matter how long it took and what you had to go through to get here. Yet, at the same time, you glance wistfully down the road you just traveled on, because while there were times when it was tiring and things seemed to move quite slowly, the journey was just as great as getting to the end of it.

Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

Love, RosieTitle: Love, Rosie

Author: Cecilia Ahern

Genre: Romance

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

From the bestselling author of PS, I Love You comes a delightfully enchanting novel about what happens when two people who are meant to be together just can’t seem to get it right.

Rosie and Alex are destined for one another, and everyone seems to know it but them. Best friends since childhood, their relationship gets closer by the day, until Alex gets the news that his family is leaving Dublin and moving to Boston. At 17, Rosie and Alex have just started to see each other in a more romantic light. Devastated, the two make plans for Rosie to apply to colleges in the U.S.

She gets into Boston University, Alex gets into Harvard, and everything is falling into place, when on the eve of her departure, Rosie gets news that will change their lives forever: She’s pregnant by a boy she’d gone out with while on the rebound from Alex.

Her dreams for college, Alex, and a glamorous career dashed, Rosie stays in Dublin to become a single mother, while Alex pursues a medical career and a new love in Boston. But destiny is a funny thing, and in this novel, structured as a series of clever e-mails, letters, notes, and a trail of missed opportunities, Alex and Rosie find out that fate isn’t done with them yet.

From the gifted author of PS, I Love You comes this charming, romantic, addictively page-turning novel that will keep readers laughing and guessing until the very last page.

Reminds me a lot of One Day but less depressing and with more likeable characters. One Day had me tearing my hair out at Emma being so stupid at waiting for Dexter to finally stop being a douche and notice her.

Love, Rosie, though, is all about the missed opportunities and the way life can really, really fuck with you sometimes. While Rosie and Alex have their stupid moments, they’re not as annoying as Emma and Dexter were. And the things that keep them apart aren’t just their dick moves and hesitation to tell each other how they feel, but also life and people and jobs, etc.

This book just makes me want to scream at people, “Tell the people you love how you feel and don’t hesitate!” It is always better to say how you feel despite any consequences, rather than forever asking “What if?” and living with regrets. Okay, so you may regret it if you tell someone how you feel and things become awkward, but that is ten times better than never saying anything and having to live with the thought that you didn’t do anything.

Read this book if you enjoyed One Day but prefer a less depressing and funnier, wittier story.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Okay, I was supposed to write reviews for the books I listed in my previous post, but I just needed to gush about this book first!!

9781250002693

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.

When the body turns up and is identified, Detective Kusanagi draws the case and Yasuko comes under suspicion. Kusanagi is unable to find any obvious holes in Yasuko’s manufactured alibi and yet is still sure that there’s something wrong. Kusanagi brings in Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and college friend who frequently consults with the police. Yukawa, known to the police by the nickname Professor Galileo, went to college with Ishigami. After meeting up with him again, Yukawa is convinced that Ishigami had something to do with the murder. What ensues is a high level battle of wits, as Ishigami tries to protect Yasuko by outmaneuvering and outthinking Yukawa, who faces his most clever and determined opponent yet.

Wow. This. Book. Is. Brilliant.

Okay, so the reason I actually discovered this book was because someone in K-pop was reading it and I was curious to find out about his reading tastes. LOL @ my shallow reasons XDD But I regret nothing now!!!

The Devotion of Suspect X begins with an accidental murder. Yasuko Hanaoka is your normal lady trying to live a normal life with her daughter. Except she’s got this no-good ex-husband, Togashi, who shows up and tries to get money from her. She tries to refuse, he threatens her and eventually he ends up dead on the floor of her apartment. Her neighbor, Ishigami (who has a sort of crush on her), overhears the commotion and decides to help her get rid of the body and cover up the entire thing.

Okay, that sounds pretty normal for a mystery/crime novel, I guess. Except Ishigami is a mathematical genius who uses logic to create a plan that is super brilliant, and one I don’t really want to talk about because I might end up saying something spoilery. Nevertheless, it is amazing to read the book and unravel the pieces of the puzzle one by one.

It’s pretty interesting how math is a factor in this…I hate math but the way it is explained in this book is simple and easy to understood (kudos to you author and translator!!). I’ve always said you don’t really need ~complicated math in real life but…Ishigami treats the murder like a mathematical equation and just… nah, nope not gonna say anything because

But anyway. I was surprised at how fast I read through this book, even with the math equations and explanations. Because normally math makes me fall asleep or run away. lmao The story just sucked me in, waiting in anticipation and dread for them to discover who the killer was. Because I really, really didn’t want the police to find out since Yasuko, well, was justified in her reasons and I didn’t want her life (and her daughter’s) to be ruined :c

The plot twist totally killed me because I did not see it happeniiiiiing AT ALL, which was pretty awesome for me because…this is a crime novel where you know from the start who the killer is. It’s just..how everything was done being slowly explained throughout the book that’s so enthralling…and just when I thought I knew everything and decided to just wait for the inevitable (because well, shouldn’t all crime novels end with the crimes being solved lol), the author came and punched me in the face while cackling and saying, “Hah! Surprise!!”

And that left me stunned and unable to sleep for a while, despite the fact that I stayed up late to finish reading. lels

bless my source for discovering a new author to love huhu

2014 Favorite Reads (Part One)

One of the questions I hate the most is “What is your favorite book?” It’s impossible to answer. How am I supposed to choose out of all the beloved books that made me weep and laugh and rage and soar? I’d rather eat dirt than answer that question.

Of course, if you’re more specific, like if you wanna know what are my favorite books I’ve read this year, well…that’s answerable. Although it took me ages to actually write this post, mainly because I was so torn about what to choose. So many wonderful books, so little space on my list.

Choosing favorites is always tough, so I’m dividing them into parts (otherwise the list may grow bigger than I expected and i’ll end up not posting anything lmao). This post is about the top 5 books I loved reading during the first half of the year! O(≧∇≦)O

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