Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

"Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage." ~ Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
 

Hello my loves, it has been quite awhile since I've written a book review. I was an ambassador for Book of the Month before I went on a mini hiatus from Instagram and I am really hoping I can return as an ambassador because BOTM has THEE best book selections EVER. 'Pachinko' was in my February BOTM box. I started buddy reading with my sweet friend Brittany  and Dominique  . Brittany finished a few weeks ago and I, the slow reader as usual, finished today. Yay!! So here's my review.

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ADVANCED READER'S COPY ~ Broken Bay by Andrea Dunlop ~ Spoiler Free

Hi my loves! It has been forever....


I am more than happy to post the cover reveal for 'Broken Bay', a novella, sent to me by the author, Andrea Dunlop.  This is an advanced reader's copy and doesn't release on e-book until May 2, 2017. It is up for pre-order and I hope you grab it and enjoy it as much I did! I was enthralled by this story of five new post millennial female friends revealing their own personal truths about men and relationships while searching for one who goes missing. Dunlop wrote the sentiments of most women struggling to define themselves amidst the pressures to be married or committed to someone by a certain age extremely well. I really liked that, although all of these characters spilled the most broken parts of themselves when it came to infidelity and other aspects of intimate relationships, they weren't forlorn or weak characters. The narrative of this story was still written from a somewhat feminist perspective. Check the synopsis below:


Synopsis:

Hannah—knee-deep in nailing down catering plans and floral arrangements for her upcoming nuptials—is ready for some R&R. Stealing off to a quiet, secluded island off the coast of Washington state for good wine and fresh air with her four best friends seems like the perfect way to spend her bachelorette weekend.

But the island may have other ideas.

Halfway through the trip, the bride-to-be mysteriously disappears, leaving the bridesmaids confused and increasingly panicked. To make matters worse, there’s something…amiss about the house they’re staying in. As the tension rises, personalities clash, secrets spill out, and the girls begin seeing and hearing things they can’t explain. While Hannah’s friends desperately try to discover what has happened to her, an ominous storm rolls in that could trap them on the island indefinitely. Now the girls who came to celebrate with Hannah begin to wonder, is she going to make it to the wedding? Is she going to make it home at all?


This novella was a page turner. I could not figure out what actually happened to Hannah until the very end. I loved that Dunlop used possible paranormal activity really as a metaphor for what was actually happening. This book reminds me of my own personal feelings about how there is this desire for women to attain a certain kind of life or lifestyle that may not really be suitable for them. It is simply an unconscious seed that has been planted by society which dictates what a woman's role is thereby creating fairytale ideas rather than a reality. All of these characters represent women in different kinds of relationships, with varying opinions about it that in hindsight help them to learn more about one another as they have transitioned into their adult roles and what that means. This book would be great coffee chatter. I absolutely loved the ending of this book. No fairytale ending. You will be surprised!

My rating: {3.8/5}

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

It is 2:00am and I just finished 'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber. What lead me to this book was 'The Night Circus'!! You can read my review for TNC here .  The atmosphere of The Night Circus was so magical and enthralling.  Morgenstern's writing was so rich and I craved that vibe in another book so when the buzz started for 'Caraval' I was super excited for it!

The pacing of this book was perfect up until the last few chapters before the very last chapter. Even with that, the story kept my attention and I needed to know what was going to happen next right away and I couldn't stop that's why I was able to finish it so quickly. Here's the synopsis:


Synopsis: 

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.


This story is truly about love and sacrifice. The main characters, Donatella and Scarlett are sisters living under the iron fist of an abusive father in Trisda. If he deems their behavior as unacceptable he brutally punishes one sister to emotionally hurt the other because he is fully aware of the connection and unbreakable bond they have. The Caraval is a seemingly unreachable magical place for both girls particularly Scarlett who is to be married off to someone she doesn't love under the order of her father. I think Caraval represents an escape from their harsh realities.

Their need to protect each other arises again as Scarlett finally gets her invitation to Caraval. They enter into a game of survival and once again have to protect each other but this time from the mysterious 'Legend' of the Caraval. The game they are playing is finding Donatella. Scarlett comes across a very charismatic sailor by the name of Julian who is not who he seems. I was intrigued by Julian because I knew he wasn't who he claimed to be, but I couldn't figure out if he was actually the villain or even Legend himself. I thought Garber wrote his character really well. In hindsight, there is too much sap between Julian and Scarlett for my taste. Although Julian's character has desirable traits, a "hot" male character is not enough to carry an entire story. Scarlett was a girl with many emotional scars so I would've liked to see her not fawning over Julian every time they had a close encounter.  She needed him for the journey, but not so much the emotional stability. I was hoping as she developed she would find that on her own.

Every person has the power to change their fate if they are brave enough to fight for what they desire more than anything.

One element of the story that I truly enjoyed were the clues given to Scarlett to find her sister. It was interesting to see her character study each clue literally, but in each clue there was really a metaphor; something much deeper. It forces her to look within herself and pay attention to things that are not just on the surface. The clues test Scarlett's will to persevere even when she doesn't completely understand what is happening. I also like that everyone in Caraval was a player in the game including Julian who actually turned out to be Legend's brother which is why he felt obligated to be involved. This was the thing that connected he and Scarlett. Julian understood what it's like to sacrifice for a sibling because you love and care for them so much.

The plot twist was that Donatella was in on it. She knew what was going on. Donatella's explanation to Scarlett about all of the events that took place; her death, Julian's death, Legend and Caraval could have been condensed into one chapters, but it ends up being roughly three chapters so that part dragged a bit for me. In the end Julian and Scarlett's death were only in the dream state and actually a part of the game. The plot twist wasn't strong for me. 

I would definitely recommend giving this book a read. It's truly an adventure. I'd say if you are a hard core fan of The Night Circus like I am and you are seeking that rich circus-vibe type narrative, don't go into this with those expectations. I think I might've psyched myself out because of that thinking LOL. Nevertheless, this book is wildly entertaining and fun so read it for what it is!

My Rating: {3/5} 

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

 
 
I’m trying to speak—to write-the truth. I”m trying to be clear. I’m not interested in being fancy, or even original. Clarity and truth will be plenty, if I can only achieve them.
— Octavia Butler // The Parable of the Sower

Octavia Butler was one of the most phenomenal science fiction writers ever! I definitely don't think she's gotten enough praise for how brilliantly she crafted deeply moving stories. I read 'Kindred' by her a long time ago and it is definitely time for a reread. I am so excited about this series because I love books that are richly written and pull me into the world where I am left to feel every emotion of the characters as they develop. Butler's writing in this book is a foretelling. I think that with society being in the place it is now, anarchy and the residuals of it don't seem like that far fetched of an idea. 'The Parable of the Sower' details every aspect of world much different than the one we know and what it takes to survive it. 


Synopsis: 

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny and the birth of a new faith.


The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler PUBLISHED January 1, 2000 Grand Central Publishing {First published November 1, 1993} GENRE: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Speculative Fiction PAGES: 356 FORMAT: Kindle SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

PUBLISHED January 1, 2000 Grand Central Publishing {First published November 1, 1993}
GENRE: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Speculative Fiction
PAGES: 356
FORMAT: Kindle
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}

This is how you write dystopia! Lauren, the main character, is only fifteen years old but after losing her brother Keith and her father, a pastor, she didn't falter or lean on a "male hero" to carry her through a post apocalyptic society riddled with anarchy. She is a thinker, but also trying to make sense of her faith in the midst of everything surrounding her. I really liked the relationship between her and her father. Being that her father is a pastor, he believes that God controls everything and that people need to just be quiet and be still and believe in the power of prayer. As Lauren began to figure out where God fits into the chaos she almost becomes the antithesis of her dad's beliefs; God is in control but we shape God by not just sitting idly by and praying but being a representation of this greater power through action. I am a Christian, but when I was fifteen years old I definitely didn't have the forethought to dissect religion or create such a deep understanding of faith the way Lauren does. However, I was not faced with living in a society plagued with such anarchy. The other trait of Lauren's father that I loved is that even with his religious perspective he knows that he needs to teach his daughter and others survival skills. 


Throughout the story, Lauren develops her own belief system. She, in hindsight, sows a seed of new faith for people to follow in a new world. She is dealing with a human existence where violence and murder are normalized so there is opportunity for her to create a new way of thinking; a new way to give hope in a fully declined society. Lauren, at some point, in the story connects with Harry and Zahra. These two essentially become like family to her as they strategize their survival which includes acquiring weapons. The dynamics of their relationship is so interesting. They all are prejudged towards each other based on hearsay, rumors etc. but having to depend on each other allows them to be open with one another no matter what. Feeling comfortable enough to open up to someone is the foundation of most relationships no matter the set of circumstances.

When Zahra and Harry were supposed to be look-outs where they had settled they took a moment to be intimate with Lauren watching on. I think Lauren felt lonely in that moment. She had lost everyone she loved. Afterwards, when Lauren approached them about being mindful and letting them know their actions could've gotten everyone killed, Zahra asked Lauren if she were jealous and explained that she just need someone, something. I don't feel as if Lauren's feelings were based on any feelings of attraction she had towards Harry. I think she needed to just feel connected and Zahra and Harry's moment made her feel disconnected and left out. She also developed a close knit relationship with Zahra which was needed. She is a young girl after all. 

The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one’s own place,
One’s own people,
One’s own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise-
Into growth and new community,
Into vast, ongoing
Change.
— The Parable of the Sower

 

Lauren always recruited likeminded people into her circle because of her fore thinking. She had to have the right people around her not only to rebuild but pass on her written parables for a new society to think of God and spirituality in a completely different way. Another character that is introduced towards the end of the book is Bankhole. Finally Lauren has someone she felt romantic feelings for. I wanted this so much for her, but I loved that Bankhole and Lauren's relationship were written in a way that did not take away from her strength.

I started researching and I found a passage from the bible because I wanted to have a greater understanding of what 'Parable of the Sower' actually meant.

 
 

I think whether you are religious or not, spiritual or not there is truth in planting a seed on good soil. This is how I think Butler developed Lauren's character. She is the sower. She is planting new faith, with the parables from her journey of survival, in a world without it. This book is brilliant and a must read! This definitely gave me an idea for a podcast!

My rating: {5/5}

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

But true rulers are not born. We are made.
— The Rose Society

Hello my lovely bibliophiles!! I have finished the second book in Marie Lu's 'The Young Elites' series. It's somewhat difficult to review books individually in a series because the story is broken into pieces. Where the plot may seem slow, it may shift in the next book. I don't want to judge the entire series before I've finished it. I wasn't a huge fan of 'The Young Elites' which I think is unpopular opinion, but I found 'The Rose Society' to be a much better read. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed reading the development of the main character although her teen angst annoyed me a bit, but I realized after my buddy read discussion that this is actually a huge part of her character arc so I can put her in a different perspective while reading the final book in the series, The Midnight Star. Read the synopsis for The Rose Society below to get a glimpse. 


Synopsis:

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?

Bestselling author Marie Lu delivers another heart-pounding adventure in this exhilarating sequel to The Young Elites.


You can read my review for the first book, The Young Elites, here before you delve into this one....I'll wait for you. Welcome back!!! Now that you have been familiarized with Adelina, our main character, and how determined yet morally gray she is, Adelina is in a sense losing her mind. Her fear is completely consuming her to the point where even her sister, Violetta, is in danger of her power. Adelina almost killed her own sister in the end. I initially feared for Violetta from the first book because of all the resentment Adelina harbored towards her for being seemingly "perfect". Adelina's rage could be solely defined on her feelings of alienation, but I also think the collapsing of her mind, where she becomes even more twisted in this book, is also due to her expansion of her power. This is part of her character arc. However, the plot arc was a bit weak for me. I did however love Magiano, a malfetto thief. He way coy, quirky and always up to something. I loved his relationship with Adelina and it made me happy that she did not connect romantically with Enzo. It was apparent in the first book that Enzo's interest in Adelina was a selfish one. He was a ray of sunshine amongst an ambiguous group. I was really invested in his character. 

The Young Elites by Marie Lu PUBLISHED October 13, 2015 G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy PAGES: 398 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

PUBLISHED October 13, 2015 G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy
PAGES: 398
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}


Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, so she destroyed them all.
— The Rose Society

There were a lot of aspects to the story that I found unnecessary like why she captured and held Teren instead of just killing him. This is the part of the plot that is a bit weak and more of an attempt to stretch the story into a third book. I am also interested in reading what happens to the Dagger Society considering they are losing their powers. I thought this was a part of the weakening plot as well, but I realized that it probably has a purpose that I won't be introduced to until the third book. How will Adelina and the others function without their powers? What will this mean for the Daggers as a whole?

Another character I became invested in was Queen Maeve.  Although I knew she would use her powers to resurrect the dead to bring back Enzo, I loved her fearlessness and the intense encounter with Guiletta. She made her presence felt. I always connect with characters that represent or stand up for the underdogs. She wanted someone to rule Kenettra who would treat malfetto's fairly and I am pretty sure the next ruler will be Adelina, but even with the predictability I am curious how Adelina will rule if in fact she is losing her power and how Teren will develop being a malfetto himself and dead set on destroying his own kind. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. My rating for 'The Rose Society' is higher than 'The Young Elites' so my expectations for 'The Midnight Star' are even higher. 

My rating: {3.5/5}