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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

ARC Book Review: Girl Against The Universe by Paula Stokes

Author: Paula Stokes
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 17th 2016
My Rating: 5 cups
Source: ARC
Blurb (from Goodreads):

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

*Disclaimer: I won a physical ARC copy of this book. This does not influence my rating or opinion of the book.

I had really high expectations when I started reading this book. Mental illness and characters going to therapy are themes that I usually shy away from, because of my own profession. I find it hard not to focus on the technical aspects of these themes when reading, or on the fact that sometimes some of the stuff mentioned is inaccurate. So, as I said, really high expectations here.

Since I mentioned therapy first, I have to rate that. Major props to Paula Stokes for nailing the heart of therapy. I can't remember the exact quote (and like the idiot that I am I didn't write it down or anything *smacks self*), but Maguire's therapist says at one point something along the lines of "You're doing the hard work, I'm just here to guide you". Which, to me, as someone who's thinking of working in the field, is insanely gratifying because people, we are not wizards. That sentence (or the real version, from the book, not my memory of it), made me squeal in delight because YAY! Someone gets it!

I fell in love with Maguire right away. I admired her so much, from start to finish. She might seem like a weak individual at first, because of her PTSD and her other issues, but holy crap is she strong and brave! I love how she decides to start fighting her demons, how she decides to live instead of hide away from the world. I also loved the fact that there are a few bumps along the way, because it showed not only how strong mental problems are, but also that you have to be strong no matter what.

I also loved Jordy. He was a pretty complex character, but I loved the fact that he just provided the tiny push Maguire needed to start fighting her PTSD, and not the cure. Jordy was also really strong and I liked that he too managed to find himself along the way. I'm now going to pester Paula and bribe her with virtual cookies to maaaaaybe write a novella from his POV. Not a full novel (although I can hope!!), but just a glimpse into his psyche, how he got to the point we find him at the start of the book, how he decided to fight his own demons, how he felt when things got a little bit rough, how he feels now, at the end. Okay, so maybe that is a full novel *blush*.

I also learned a lot about tennis, which I never thought possible. I cried, because what else are you supposed to do when reading some of the most heartbreaking scenes in this book? This was also my first PA novel, and I definitely enjoyed it, enough to be add this author on my watch/must read list. So when this book comes out, grab a copy and read it, because it's an amazing story of how to face your demons by relying on yourself and not take shortcuts or rely on someone else to make the pain go away.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Obsessed With Covers #34: The Keeper Of The Mist, Empire OF Dust, The Otherlife

Y'all know how much I love a pretty cover. I think about...40% of the books that end up on my shelves (be they physical or digital) do so because of the covers. Call me shallow but you have to admit that a pretty, shiny cover will catch your eye faster than a dull, boring one. Two, simple rules that I'll follow:

  • 1, 2 or 3 (no more than 3, though) covers per week;
  • books should be new-ish; no more than 2 years old.
Oh, before I share the covers that made me drool or want to stare at them for hours and hours, I have to say something. This is a semi-original idea. Why semi? Because almost every book blogger has something similar. The only thing I came up with was the title. If by any chance there's another blogger with a similar feature with the same title, I assure you I'm not stealing your idea. I'm just THAT bad with titles. Believe me, I'd love to be smarter and have a witty name for this feature, but I don't. So, no copyright infringement/theft/steal or anything of the sort was desired. All I can say is sorry :P


It's been a while since I shared my recently cover loves, which is mainly because I've been in a huge blogging slump. I'm back on track though, guys! Here are some of my favorite covers for last week.

How gorgeous is this cover? I love that the background is grey and that the "mist" is colored, while also coloring the elements in the background as it advances and as it touches stuff. That must be some really powerful magic that the person is having and/or controlling. I also love that the mist is concentrating on either entering or enveloping what looks like a stopwatch. I wonder why that is. Also, I want to know the importance of the key and the calligraphy pen. Okay, so I will probably have to read this based only on the cover.

The Keeper Of The Mist - Rachel Neumeier

There's something hauntingly beautiful about this cover. Because, while the three Pyramids are reflected in the mirror of the key, in vivid colors, the key itself seems to be surrounded by snow. At least it looks like snow to me, it might be white sand, but I want to believe it's snow. And that makes me wonder why. Even if it is just really white sand, why is it that the scenery with the pyramids is so warm, and full of color, while the background is so...cold? I read the blurb, so I know it's about Alexander the Great, which makes my inner history nerd bounce around excitedly. I think this book will also end up in my TBR mountain.

Empire Of Dust - Eleanor Herman

I saw this book on Netgalley yesterday while I was browsing idly, just looking at the new books coming out, and it immediately caught my attention. The cover makes me think of darkness and danger, which if you pair it up with the blurb, it makes sense. I love the swirls, the gradient made by the colors used. I also am kind of intrigued on why no other colors were used. I am kind of hoping that there are some embossed elements there in the paperback version, because it just seems like that's what the cover needs

The Otherlife - Julia Gray

What about you? Did you saw any pretty covers lately?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Double Book Review: Replay and Stronger Than Fear by Marc Levy

Author: Marc Levy
Publisher: Robert Laffont
Release Date: January 1st 2012
My Rating: 5 cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):
On the morning of July 9th 2012, New York Times investigative reporter Andrew Stilman is jogging along the Hudson River when he feels a sudden, sharp pain in his lower back. He collapses in a pool of blood. When he regains consciousness, it's May 7th 2012—exactly two months earlier. From that moment on, Andrew has sixty days to uncover his murderer. Sixty days to find out who wants him dead and why. From New York City to Buenos Aires, Andrew embarks on a gripping race against time. By turns funny and heartrending, this page-turner builds up to a mind-blowing denouement.

Author: Marc Levy
Series: N/A
Publisher: Robert Laffont
Release Date: February 14th 2013
My Rating: 5 cups
Blurb (from Goodreads):
"Once again, Marc Levy proves his undeniable talent for storytelling… This powerful novel is a real pleasure to read." - LE FIGARO

High in the French Alps, amidst the wreckage of a plane trapped for years under ice, Suzie Baker recovers a document that she hopes will clear her family name. But Suzie's discovery catches the attention of the highest echelons of the American intelligence agencies and she soon realizes that there are many powerful, vested interests who want to keep the truth buried at all costs.

When New York Times journalist Andrew Stilman meets Suzie, he is immediately won over by her wicked charm and sheer spunk. Unwittingly, he finds himself lured into her investigation. By the time he realizes how dangerous it is, it's too late for him to turn back. From the underground tunnels of New York City to the North Pole's barren icescapes, Andrew and Suzie are on the run. As they try to outmaneuver their enemies, they risk their lives to expose one of the best-kept secrets of our time.

One of France’s bestselling authors, Marc Levy’s novels have been translated into 49 languages and over 35 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide.

This review is going to be a little bit different that my normal reviews. I usually don't feel the need to review two books *(that are connected), together, but these two books kind of deserve to be together. My parents, who both share my love of Marc Levy, read them before me, and they both warned me to prepare myself to get my mind blown. I wasn't even ready for the awesomeness.

You guys already know how much I love this author, so I may be a little bit biased, but I feel like these are his best books so far. Before I talk about the plots, the characters, the writing style, I need to acknowledge the research put into these novels. With Replay I got to learn a little bit about the darkest times in Argentina's history, a time where breathing the wrong way could get you killed. I knew a little bit about the Dirty War, about the military government and about how thousands of people suffered because of it, but I never knew the finer details. I never knew about the hundreds and thousands of people who disappeared and were never again found, I never knew about how even today there are people who still suffer because of those years. And then with Stronger Than Fear I got to explore the concept of global warming, and the North Pole and it's economic value. I always love reading Levy's books not only for the story telling, but because of his research, the way his books always teach the reader something.

Andrew is, among some other characters, the main hero in both of these books. Funny enough, I read STF first, not knowing that it was a sort of continuation of Replay. Andrew is a really smart and stubborn guy. Throughout both of the books I loved his dedication and his willingness to get to the bottom of things no matter what. I liked how passionate he got about whatever subject he was researching and writing about, how he would stop at nothing to find out the truth about stuff.

Another thing that I loved about both books is not knowing what's real and what is happening in Andrew's mind. Replay tells Andrew's story leading up to him being stabbed on the street, and then how he magically wakes up and he realizes he went back in time and ended up 2 months prior to being attacked. Stronger Than Fear, although focused on a very different story, has a few scenes that happen in Andrew's comatose state, where he's "seeing" things that aren't really happening. So this is basically making me question not the facts of the second novel, but the plot and if it wasn't by any chance something drug-induced. That would be an interesting plot twist! The other characters, while some of them very important (like Suzie, the heroine from Stronger Than Fear) are also really well created and make the story seem multifaceted. However, it's Andrew that held my attention in both novels. Maybe because I was so focused on finding out where the action was taking place, instead of on character development and plot. It's possible that if I was to reread these books, I'd have a very different experience and I'd focus on the rest of the characters, who knows?!

The writing style is, as always, magnificent. Trust Levy to write a complicated story and make it engaging. Both novels are pretty fast paced, and they both gave me massive book hangovers after I finished reading them.

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