Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"Macy's school officially classifies her as "disturbed," but Macy isn't interested in how others define her. She's got more pressing problems: her mom can't move off the couch, her dad's in prison, her brother's been kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and now her best friend isn't speaking to her. Writing in a dictionary format, Macy explains the world in her own terms..." [+ More].

Does this story have a point? At 35% I don't see it yet. What is this Macy chick so angry about? Is there even a plot here? Why does she curse teachers off, throw chairs and tables and doesn't get expelled? Is this a school for crazy kids and I don't know about it?

Oh yes, Macy is crazy, disturbed, has attention deficit disorder, was born in jail, is poor, and has parents that are physically and mentally absent. So of course her life is shit. Is she doing anything to change that? No. On the contrary, she takes advantage of her "mentally disturbed" status to tell teachers to fuck off and get away with anything. I do not have a problem with cursing but I haven't heard of a student cursing a teacher off and getting away with it. Oh! yes, Macy is sent to see the principal. Hmmm... how many times?

Macy has mental problems and she knows it so she acts extra ghetto because she knows that she can get away with shit.

I didn't like Macy at all. Maybe not everybody wants to do and be better in life. Maybe some people are perfectly happy living the shitty lives they got; well, this is the sense I got from Macy.

Not all books must have a happy ending either, but at least the story should move towards something. What is the point of this book? What is it that Macy wants in life? It's not clear yet; maybe it will be revealed towards the end of the book but I am not interested anymore.

No, I did not connect with this one. DNF at 35% because there are other books out there about diversity, minorities, poverty, abuse and all that crap that make more sense than this one.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this title.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You (Beartown #2)

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

Release date: June 5, 2018

"After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach..." [+ More].

When I finish crying I'll come back to write a review.

*** Okay, five days later I can think about this book without having a sense of longing in my heart.

What did I just read? Just like the book before, Beartown this book is flawless. Man, Backman can write!

The characters have the same depth as before. I was so into it that I felt I was from Beartown too. Benji... has a more perfect character ever been written?

I am not going to go into details about the characters and the plot because the story picked up where it was left in the previous book. Do you need to read Beartown first? Not necessarily; enough background is given to engage in Us Against You without having to read Beartown.

The only thing that I felt was dragging were the parts about Peter and his wife. It could definitely have been shorter.

Is there a third book coming? I hope so! Maybe about Alicia?... I don't think Benji's character could be exploited any more. Lol!

I don't know what to write to express how much I loved it. I fucking cried at the end. Jesus! It is fiction!!! Yeah, well, tell that to Us Against You. It felt very real to me.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this title.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Bring me Back by B. A. Paris

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

Release date: June 19, 2018.

"A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she's not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he's engaged to be married; he's happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She's turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love..." [+ More].

I still can't believe I wasted one day of my life reading this crap. "Addictive" and a "page turner" it is not. I just wanted to stop reading this stupidity, but if I actually stopped I wouldn't be able to fully tell how much of a bad story this book is.

So Layla disappeared one night and 12 years later she is... like back. Fine. The problem is the ridiculous chat conversations that she has with Finn (the ex); they are so absurd that I decided not to read that part anymore. So Finn chatting with Layla, a person that has been gone for 12 years, and no emotion is shown. Hello! A "where the fuck have you been?" is in order!

Oh! He still loves her! Holy crap.

So now Finn is going to marry Ellen (Layla' sister) and that is what apparently has brought Layla back from the dead.

The story is told in the past and present. The past consists of events that took place between Layla and Finn before she disappeared, I guess to show us how deep their love was...? Unnecessary crap.

Anyways, the real reason of why Layla had been gone 12 years came like a sudden slap that just made mad. Yes, I was mad at reading something so wacky (not the reason itself but the way it was played out).

The best part is that Layla leaves an email explaining EVERYTHING! Isn't that convenient? I suspect that written evidence is the prefer method of A. B. Paris for solving a story. (The same happened in The Breakdown but instead of an email it was text messages (like people discuss their crimes over texts...).

Anyway, everything was nicely explained here in the form of an email and that was that.

I wanted to see real emotions but these characters acted like robots.

This is my last Paris book. I am not wasting my time anymore with this author.

Thanks Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this title.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

I liked her in the movie Girls Trip so I wanted to read her story. Well, it is all the same: from poor to fame. But to be fair, I don't see me reading a book, for instance, about how Madonna's daughter became a model. So I guess that just people with poor upbringings have something to tell.

The book is very fast to read; unfortunately, it has no depth at all and it is haphazardly written. At least she is not playing the victim here. She talks about her foster years, some bullying and this and that with a light heart and I liked that. What is past is past.

You could say that rather than being a victim this book is about being a survivor and making it but it didn't feel like that to me. It feels like she rushed to write this book to take advantage of the little fame she got to do what celebrities do: write a book.

I think the writing in the book is her voice, but it feels so rushed and lacking in so many departments that I didn't find anything funny in here. There is no setting for any of the small scenes described here. She talks about Will Smith and Jada and I felt she was talking about aliens.

She learned to read in ninth grade, yet at the end of the book when she is 35 years old, she mentions that she can barely read. Not a big, just that now what she said before is unreliable for me.

She also mentions some encounter with Mary J. Blidge that rather than funny sounded awkward. I mean, without some little background and set up, your conversation with Blidge is not going to make laugh (assuming that was the point).

Haddish shows such an unbelievable level of ignorance at some points that it was just unbelievable. You don't know what a Bar Mitzvah is? come on! You just made up that shit to sound funny because I even know what it is (and I wasn't even raised here).

I guess that she went for most stereotypes about black people here because that is what she sells. So if you've been to some of her shows then you will get that in this book.

She definitely has (had) a story to tell, but for me, it didn't come out right in this book. What I was reading was bad acting and all over the place thoughts and sporadic dialogue that delivered empty words for the sake of making some simple souls laugh.

To write a funny book, Haddish needs to get her thoughts together in order to write a book with some coherence. 

I am so glad I checked this book out of the library! When I requested it, there were about 40 patrons ahead of me and I was just about to buy it when bam! I got it. Good; it saved me a trip to the post office to return it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

We Now Return to Regular Life by Martin Wilson

Rating: 3-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"Sam Walsh had been missing for three years. His older sister, Beth, thought he was dead. His childhood friend Josh thought it was all his fault. They were the last two people to see him alive.

Until now. Because Sam has been found, and he’s coming home. Beth desperately wants to understand what happened to her brother, but her family refuses to talk about it—even though Sam is clearly still affected by the abuse he faced at the hands of his captor...." [ + More]

I enjoyed this book because the POVs between Josh and Beth were distinct. I like how things developed but the story left me with kind of an empty feeling. First, I couldn't relate to the prose of 14 year old Josh. The way he expressed himself was more like a grown up. But maybe that is the way that kids talk here in the USA. Where I am from, no way a 14 year old will speak like that.

I didn't like that Beth didn't want to know, or didn't want to ask, about what happened to her brother. I get that her mother told her to let it go for now, but after a while, why won't you talk to your brother about what he went through? And she even said that she didn't want to know.

Also, the parents never talked about what happened or showed any... emotion. It was like them didn't want to know either. But I wanted to know. I mean, not the details (although I'm sick like that - and then spend a week depressed wondering how people can be that cruel) but at least I wanted to know more.

Will he ever tell his parents why he didn't escape? His attachment to the kidnapper was not explain, but I have read so many books about this subject that I know what is Stockholm syndrome by now.

As the end of the book was approaching I was getting desperate because too many things were left int he air. Maybe the author didn't want to explain every single thing so... I just wanted more.

But as I said, I enjoyed the beginning a lot (although Beth's life bored me after that).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behavior. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren’t, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she’s finally engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she’s taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won’t let her walk away..." [+ More].

So Ethan, 23, becomes obsessed with his professor, Dr. Sheila Tao (16 years older) and if he can have her nobody can. Well, yes, we older women usually have that effect on younger men (lol).

What I did not buy in this book is that this professor is a doctor, a psychologist, yet she allowed Ethan to record them having sex. Seriously? Even I know better. But hey! The book was published in 2011 so maybe that is why such thing would fly.

The second turn off was that there is a website, which publishes "outrageous gossip and nasty comments about all things involving the university" yet it hasn't been shout down? No, the existence of this site is no secret, even Dr. Sheila Tao herself clicks on the site to see what's going on. I need to return this book and read something more believable.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"In the Midst of Winter begins with a minor traffic accident—which becomes the catalyst for an unexpected and moving love story between two people who thought they were deep into the winter of their lives. Richard Bowmaster—a 60-year-old human rights scholar—hits the car of Evelyn Ortega—a young, undocumented immigrant from Guatemala—in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn. What at first seems just a small inconvenience takes an unforeseen and far more serious turn when Evelyn turns up at the professor’s house seeking help. At a loss, the professor asks his tenant Lucia Maraz—a 62-year-old lecturer from Chile—for her advice. These three very different people are brought together in a mesmerizing story that moves from present-day Brooklyn to Guatemala in the recent past to 1970s Chile and Brazil, sparking the beginning of a long overdue love story between Richard and Lucia..." [+ more]

Another superb novel from Allende. It follows the same scheme of her previous works as it follows a character (or characters) from their native country to the US. In the Midst of Winter is another immigration tale of courage, struggles and hope. As always, the writing is captivating.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium by Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco

Rating: 5-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"What types of human trafficking crimes are being committed here in the United States? Who are the victims of traffickers? How do we all unknowingly consume the services and products of slavery? And why are human traffickers able to maintain their illicit operations with relative impunity--indeed, with less than .01 percent of human traffickers ever being held accountable for their crimes?..." [+ more]

Very well written and researched. I'd have never thought that kids that go door-to-door selling might be subjects of human trafficking.

This book opened my eyes to different forms of human trafficking (some I knew). The saddest part is that the perpetrators rarely get convicted or get convicted for a very short time.

The book is easy to read.I wonder if this was the author's dissertation turned into a book? Very well done.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

Rating: 4-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"One teenager in a skirt.
One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever.

If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one..." [+ More]

This is one of those books where is better not to say much God forbid you offend someone. I found it interesting that some people out there consider themselves neither female not male but just a being. Well, I understand that but, when it comes to having sex, you will have to have sex as a gender. So if you are agender, what are you when having sex? Female for a bit and then change to male? Hmmm... confusing.

So here we have Sasha, a teenager who considers himself or herself to be agender Then Sasha has an accident on the 57 Bus and the kid who causes it goes to jail.

I won't say more not to spoil the plot. I found this book was more about how an agender person feels  and how the system treats some teenagers that get in trouble. Unfortunately, I never felt sorry for Richard. As explained in this book, it wasn't about who did what to Sasha but the state of mind of Richard when he did it. If it goes to that, then every teenager (and every person) who does something is in some type of state of mind when they do it. Is that an excuse for what they do?

So I think this book is more about trying to teach you a little bit about this new agender and pansexual thing that is going on today. I guess some people might really be born this way (not feeling sexual or romantic desire either way or toward any gender), others... I feel like promiscuity makes them claim these status (like Miley Cyrus). I don't really need a label to have sex with whoever I want to have sex.

Anyway, it was an interesting book.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Black Bird Season by Kate Moretti

Rating: 2-Stars

Summary on Goodreads.

"In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by ..." [+ more]

Just like Little Fires Everywhere, The Black Bird Season is very well written but not engaging for me. I couldn't stand Nate (the teacher) and his stupidity.

So a student, Lucia, called Nate to meet up at a motel because she was in trouble and he went there. I know this book is a work of fiction but... come one. What struggling (very short on money) teacher pays for a hotel room for a student, twice? Just so the student could have a place to crash or whatever.

Then we have Alicia, Nate's wife who is going through a lot because their son is autistic.

Bridget, Nate's friend who solves Lucia's mysterious disappearance (yes, once again the police is useless).

We have some back and forth in time, I guess to make the story longer.

And Lucia, your typical poor (literally) white girl that wants to fit in but nobody pays attention to. Well, she is gonna make sure she gets attention now! No, no, no. I have read this plot many times before that I lost interest.

As I said before, very well written, it just wasn't interesting for me.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned -- from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren -- an enigmatic artist and single mother..." [+ more]

This book is definitively a 5-stars book. It is so well written that I feel highly ashamed for not even finishing it.

I give it 1-star because I personally could not put up with its slow progression and quite development. The book, however, reminded me of Big Little Lies which I loved. I think that sometimes your mood affects your reading and that is what happened with Little Fires Everywhere and I.

The story revolves around this rich family fascinated with Mia and her daughter who are poor and moved around the neighborhood. It also takes on an adoption battle: a couple adopts a Chinese baby but now the biological mother wants her back. Interesting, indeed.

Seriously, the writing is spot on. It is just that at the moment I prefer something more engaging and fast paced.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Misfortune of Marion Palm by Emily Culliton

Rating: DNF

Summary on Goodreads.

"Marion Palm prefers not to think of herself as a thief but rather "a woman who embezzles." Over the years she has managed to steal $180,000 from her daughters' private school, money that has paid for European vacations, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, and perpetually unused state-of-the-art exercise equipment. But, now, when the school faces an audit, Marion pulls piles of rubber-banded cash from their basement hiding places and flees, leaving her family to grapple with the baffled detectives, the irate school board, and the mother-shaped hole in their house. Told from the points of view of ..." [+ more]

I must be losing me sense of humor because I didn't find this amusing one bit. On the contrary, I was annoyed with Marion and her dynamics to buy a ticket in order to escape. Why would you have to pull out $500 dollars to pay for a $20+ ticket?

And, you are embezzling money but don't have a plan for when you are found out? And when you do run away you do so leaving your 8 year old daughter behind? Why? You never loved the child?

I thought the book was self published but no, it is not; which makes me ask, what's up with the cheap cover?

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

Available Febryart 27, 2018 on Amazon

"Will Hurley was an attractive, charming, and impressive student at Dublin's elite St. John's College-and Ireland's most prolific serial killer. Having stalked his four young victims, he drowned them in the muddy waters of the Grand Canal. Sentenced to life imprisonment when he was just nineteen, Will is locked away in the city's Central Psychiatric Hospital..." [+ more]

So Will has been in prison for 10 years for being a serial killer. Now, women have started to turn up dead in the same manner. A copycat, an accomplice? Will says he has information to give but he will only give it to Alison, his girlfriend 10 years ago. Alison. after the necessary I-dont-want-to-go speech goes to see him. So now Alison gets involved in the investigation and obviously (being smarter than the police) solves the murders.

I didn't like anything about these characters. The story is divided between "Alison Then" and "Alison Now". I didn't care at all for past Alison and how the last thing she told her friend Liz was "fuck off" and next thing you know Liz got killed by the serial killer who might or might not be Will (Alison's boyfriend at the time).

And what was that important information Will had to share and would only tell Alison? "I'm innocent. Help me prove it." Ohhh it took you 10 years man! After that Will is out of the story.

So Will goes to jail for confessing to a crime he didn't commit. He was not the serial killer but said he was because 1) the prosecutor adviced him to plea guilty, 2) he thought nobody was going to believe him (because all the evidence pointed to him, and 3) his parents just wanted to get it over with. Ouch! Yes, let me say I did it so life can go on.

As always the police are idiots and Alison figured out who the real slim shady killer was.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this title.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Draw and Color the Baylee Jae Way

Rating: 1-Star

Available on Amazon on December 7, 2017

Summary on Goodreads.

Oh No! I think this book tried to cover too many things at once. The drawing instructions are very scarce; it shows you how to draw a mouth and next it shows you a mouth in profile for you to practice but it doesn't tell you how to do that (or the face that goes with the mouth).

Beware that you must have the whole Copics collection to follow the instructions. Obviously, you could use other markers but, what other brand comes with five different shades of green? (for example).

The book is definitely for children but if you are an adult with absolutely no clue of how to color, this book will also do.

I have read many coloring and drawing books and this one definitely is one of the... least... how can I say it, useful. The tutorials to (for example) color leaves and gems and such are all over the internet so I don't know why she wasted her time including that here. And the tutorial to color gems is not even good - very basic.

In short, I can recommend three GOOD books on drawing and coloring that are way better than this one: How to Draw Fun Fab Faces (books 1 and 2) by Karen Campbell, Color Workshop by Rachel Reinert, and Colorist's Special Effects - color interior: Step by step guides to making your adult coloring pages POP! by Helen Elliston.

I supposed that if you are a fan and follow her Youtube channel you might buy the book to support her and that is fine; but don't expect to find anything new or useful here. Even the instructions to draw a face are available for free online. And the tip of adding salt to watercolor? So old news!

Thanks Netgalley for providing with a free copy of this title.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When I'm Through with You by Stephanie Kuehn

Rating: 1-Star

Summary on Goodreads.

"Ben Gibson is many things, but he’s not sorry and he’s not a liar. He will tell you exactly how what started as a simple school camping trip in the mountains ended the way it did. About who lived and who died. About who killed and who had the best of intentions. And he’ll tell you about Rose. But he’s going to tell you in his own time. Because after what happened on that mountain, time is the one thing he has plenty of..." [+ more]

I thought I was a Kuehn's fan, but after reading The Smaller Evil and now this book I don't know anymore.

As always, Kuehn's writing is good but I didn't like the characters.

Ben is dating Rose just because. If I'm not mistaken he doesn't love her, as he said when he was going over to see Rose after she came back from a trip that he wasn't excited to see her again. But then they go on a camping trip and there Rose gets wounded and suddenly Ben is all "my Rose." I mean... where did this love come from?

So Rose and Ben are total opposites: rich and poor, outgoing vs introvert, free spirit vs undecided... and so on; but this match is not made out of love because is pretty clear that Rose doesn't love Ben either.

I was bored with Ben indecisiveness and Rose free-spirited personality.

Rose, Ben and other students go on a camping trip to put into practice the surviving skills they were learning at school. During this trip, (naturally) some students behave stupidly and bad things happen.

That terrible thing that Ben did? He killed Rose because she got shot (because other students cleverly decided to rob other campers) and he couldn't heart to see her suffer. Yeap, pretty stupid in my opinion.