Reading

We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez | A Book Review

We Are Not From Here - Jenny Torres Sanchez

Title: We Are Not From Here

Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez

Genre: Contemporary (Young Adult)

About the book: It follows 3 kids in Pulga, Pequeña, and Chico who attempt to make the journey from their hometown in Puerto Barrios all the way to the United States.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I was looking forward to this novel as the premise sounded interesting and different from other books I’ve read. I like the title as well as the cover, both capture the essence of the story.

Characters: I adored the main protagonists. They are easy to relate to and likeable. I saw parts of myself in many of the characters. They develop so much, changing in such profound ways.

Quote:

“I guess sometimes lying to those we love is the only way to keep them from falling apart.”

Writing: The point of view alternates between Pulga and Pequeña. I loved the short chapters because they helped to build suspense and made me want to keep reading. The whole story is beautifully written but so heartbreaking at the same time. I enjoyed the Spanish words and phrases sprinkled throughout.

Final thoughts: I wasn’t sure what to expect with the ending, but I think Sanchez did a great job overall.

I highly recommend We Are Not From Here. It’s such a timely, relevant read that will have resonance for years to come.


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Reading

Alice By Heart – Steven Sater | A Book Review

Alice by Heart - Steven Sater

Title: Alice by Heart

Author: Steven Sater

Genre: Historical Fiction (Young Adult)

About the book: It’s based on a musical that follows Alice Spencer in London during 1940. She has to take shelter in a tube station because of World War II. Alice reads her favourite book, Alice in Wonderland, to Alfred, who is sick with tuberculosis. But slowly the two worlds begin to blur.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: Even though I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland before, I found the premise intriguing. It took me a while to get into the story though.

Characters: I like the relationship between Alice and Alfred; it was very sweet and wholesome. There are a number of other characters as well, and I found them to be quite unique.

Quote:

“Although it breaks my heart, I’ll help you let me go.”

Writing: The author is descriptive, as he includes a lot of imagery. I enjoyed the photos as well as the illustrations interspersed throughout the book. They added to the reading experience, making it easier to visualize some of the scenes described.

Final thoughts: The ending isn’t too unpredictable, but I liked the end nonetheless.

I’d recommend reading Alice in Wonderland before reading Alice by Heart That way, the story is easier to follow and you can understand all the references.


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Reading

The Woman In Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware | A Book Review

Title: The Woman in Cabin 10

Author: Ruth Ware

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It follows travel writer, Lo Blacklock, who goes on a voyage for work. One night, Lo wakes when she hears a splash that sounds like someone being thrown overboard. But everyone on the ship remains accounted for, and no one believes her.

First impressions: I read Ware’s debut, so I had an idea of what to expect. I like the title and cover.

Characters: Lo is a complex protagonist who has anxiety and panic attacks. She’s not the most likeable or reliable narrator, which made her story interesting to follow. I didn’t feel a strong connection to many characters however. A lot of them just didn’t resonate with me.

Quote:

“But I still think, in spite of it all, we’re responsible for our own actions.”

Writing: The short chapters help build suspense, but the middle of the narrative is a little slow. Near the end, the pacing picks up.

Final thoughts: I had a hard time predicting some events, but the ending wasn’t too surprising.

I try not to compare books to others, but this novel is similar to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. If you like that or a thrilling mystery, consider reading The Woman in Cabin 10.


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Reading

Orange Is the New Black – Piper Kerman | A Book Review

Title: Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison

Author: Piper Kerman

Genre: Memoir

About the book: It documents the author’s experience in prison after being charged with a drug-related crime.

First impressions: I’ve never watched the TV series, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but I was curious to check it out.

Content: The book mainly details Kerman’s time in jail. She writes about many of the women she meets there. I would’ve liked to read more about her life before and after her incarceration. That said, I think Kerman learns a lot from the experience.

Quote:

“All I felt was that I had willfully hurt and disappointed everyone I loved most and carelessly thrown my life away.”

Writing: The chapters aren’t long, and there are short chapter breaks within them. It’s well-written, but the memoir wasn’t an easy read for me. Kerman explores different and difficult topics like drug issues that opened my eyes.

Final thoughts: I wish the book could’ve explored what happened to the other women who got released. Still, I feel like this read will stick with me for a while.

Despite the hardships of jail, Kerman shares stories of kindness from her fellow inmates. If you’re looking for a prison memoir from the perspective of a woman, check out Orange Is the New Black.


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Reading

Consider This – Chuck Palahniuk | A Book Review

Title: Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different

Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Genre: Nonfiction

About the book: It’s part memoir and part writing advice.

First impressions: I love reading about writing, so I was excited to delve into this. I like the title, and the cover is clever.

Content: Palahniuk offers good advice, both his own and from other writers as well. He covers topics like tension, authority, plus much more. I expected the book to focus mainly on the writing process, but I loved the insights into things like doing book tours.

Quote:

“What if world events are unfolding in perfect order to deliver us to a distant joy we can’t conceive of at this time?”

Writing: The chapters are short, and the book itself isn’t very long. I wish it was longer. I appreciated the author giving advice without being preachy or condescending. He shares his mistakes and failures. There are funny, light-hearted moments but also more serious ones too.

Final thoughts: If you’re a writer and/or a fan of Palahniuk, I’d recommend Consider This. It’s a fun, fast read about writing.


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Reading

Solving Cadence Moore – Gregory Sterner | A Book Review

Title: Solving Cadence Moore

Author: Gregory Sterner

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s a standalone novel revolving around a cold case. Ten years ago, a young singer in Cadence Moore disappeared, and no one has been able to prove exactly what happened to her. Charlie Marx is the host of a podcast that tries to solve the mystery, but initially he lies about knowing the truth.

I received a free copy of the novel from Book Publicity Services in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I love a good mystery as much as the next person. I was expecting shorter chapters and sentences, but the author goes into a lot of detail, describing scenes thoroughly.

Characters: The characters are different and dynamic. Many of them face their share of challenges or obstacles. No one’s perfect, everybody has flaws.

Quote:

“I’m just trying to make you understand the biggest reason why your short-term goal may not be worth the long-term consequences.”

Writing: The story of Cadence Moore gets told in podcast transcripts, which was interesting. Also, the language is very mature.

Final thoughts: I’m glad the ending answers lingering questions and gives readers closure.

Solving Cadence Moore combines mystery and podcasts to create a crime podcast in book form.


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Reading

Nothing More Dangerous – Allen Eskens | A Book Review

Title: Nothing More Dangerous

Author: Allen Eskens

Genre: Mystery

About the book: It’s a coming of age novel that follows a teenager, Boady Sanden, who wants nothing more than to leave Jessup, Missouri behind. His small town is filled with secrets like the mysterious disappearance of an African-American woman named Lida Poe. Even though Boady has never met her, he realizes Poe’s life is intertwined with those in his community.

I received an advanced review copy from Hachette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: The premise sounded interesting to me. I was also intrigued by the title and cover. It took me a while to get into the story, but I appreciated how Eskens described small details.

Characters: I liked the protagonist and his development. He has flaws but overcomes a lot of obstacles. I wish I got to learn more about some of the secondary characters. That being said, the author creates likeable and relatable individuals who are three dimensional.

Quote:

“But memories aren’t like photographs; they can’t halt the passing of time.”

Writing: The chapters are short, and the novel itself isn’t too long. There’s a little bit of romance in the middle, but I appreciate that it doesn’t take away from the main storyline. Overall, Eskens explores important issues without holding back.

Final thoughts: The ending isn’t hard to predict, and loose ends get tied up.

If you want to read a powerful story that tackles prejudice and privilege, consider checking out Nothing More Dangerous.


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Reading

Amazons, Abolitionists, And Activists – Mikki Kendall And Anna D’Amico | A Book Review

Title: Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights

Author: Mikki Kendall

Artist: Anna D’Amico

Genre: Non-fiction (History)

About the book: It’s a graphic novel, exploring the history of women’s rights, starting from the past and concluding at the present.

I received an advanced review copy from Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

First impressions: I enjoy reading about history, so I couldn’t wait to delve into this book. I like the alliteration in the title, and it also gives readers an idea of what the book is about.

Content: I love the illustrations. The colours are beautiful and they complement the text. Both the author and artist are extremely talented.

Quote:

“How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause?”

Writing: I think there’s a great balance of words and pictures. Learning more about the issues women faced around the world put a lot of things into perspective for me. It’s such an eye-opening, educational read at less than 200 pages.

Final thoughts: I highly recommend Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women’s Fight for Their Rights to just about everyone.


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