September 2017 Wrap Up

September was a good reading month, I ended up reading 7 books (1 was a re-read). I’m looking forward to October!

Favourite book: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows and Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Least Favourite book: 
Odd & true by Cat Winters
Favourite review I wrote:
 The Dinner by Herman Koch

My lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

 My review   ★★★★☆

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.

At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.

Like that could go wrong.

The Dinner by Herman Koch

My review   ★★★★☆

Paul Lohman and his wife Claire are going out to dinner with Paul’s brother Serge, a charismatic and ambitious politician, and his wife Babette. Paul knows the evening will not be fun. The restaurant will be over-priced and pretentious, the head waiter will bore on about the organically certified free-range this and artisan-fed that, and almost everything about Serge, especially his success, will infuriate Paul.

 

 

Welcome Home by Eric Smith

My review   ★★★☆☆

Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more.

 

 

 

Odd & True by Cat Winters

My review   ★★☆☆☆

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

My review   ★★★★☆

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places’ Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.

Anna and the French kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Re-read   ★★★★★

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

The Friday 56 (3)

 

 

Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rosecityreader and The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, be sure to visit their blogs!

Select by Marit Weisenberg

Book Beginning:

“Julia!”
That startled me. I turned my head, tucking my hair behind my ear so I could see Angus come to stand beside me.

56%:

John had bent his head to kiss me again when a knock vibrated through the door right behind my head.
“Mom and Dad just pulled in!”
“What?” John moved me unceremoniously to the side and opened the door. He walked into the hallway and must have seen that us brother was right.

 

What are you currently reading? Did you enjoy this book beginning and 56?

The Friday 56 (3)

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli review

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Published by Hatchette Australia on October 3, 2017
Genres: high fantasy, young adult, romance, fiction
Pages: 432
Goodreads

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

REVIEW

The Last Namsara is an epic high fantasy novel consisting of dragons, royalty and a kick-ass female character as well as a unique romance. A superb debut, I’m excited to see where the story goes next!

The characters within The Last Namsara were ruthless, cunning and feisty. Asha, daughter of the king, was a dragon slayer and she was definitely not faint-hearted, I admired her strength and the power she emanated. She fought for herself and did everything in her power not to be controlled by her evil betrothed Jarek. But despite her strength, Asha was feared by her people and she had to still figure out her inner essence and the truth behind her past. Jarek was manipulative, heartless and vile, his attempts to control everyone and each situation were horrid and he constantly threatened and abused those who didn’t listen. On the other hand, Jarek’s slave Torwin had a heart of gold and despite being continually manipulated he fought hard for his rights. Although Asha and Torwin’s relationship was forbidden by law, I found it endearing and unique as more often than not it’s the helpless girl who falls in love with the powerful prince.

The plot had numerous twists and turns and the story definitely flew by fast. Asha’s time spent in the royal palace of her father was heavily contrasted with her journey’s outside the palace walls where she was to fend for herself and slay any dragon that lay foot in her path. The present-day narrative was woven with ancient stories that proceeded to supply further background knowledge of the world and were relevant to existing events. There were betrayals, secrets that were exposed and armies that were geared towards war. Dragons played a crucial part in this mighty tale, they were known as disastrous and must be hunted down at all costs. But Asha slowly unveils the truth behind the dragons, and as she spins tales to lure them in, the dragons begin to tell stories of their own…

Overall, The Last Namsara is a splendid fantasy novel with an array of elements that brings the story together. A great first start to an epic series!

The Friday 56 (3)

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a meme created by Marcia of To Be Continued, you can find the dedicated blog here.

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Instagram // @readwithkatie

Physical Books

The Secret History by Donna Tart

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and for ever.

 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers…

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

“I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she has her dry cleaning done, where she works. I don’t know the colour of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.”

Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

An addictively suspenseful and tautly written thriller, The Good Girl is a propulsive debut that reveals how even in the perfect family, nothing is as it seems…

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Three sisters, one birthday, one little problem …

It happens sometimes that you accidentally star in a little public performance, your very own comedy, tragedy or melodrama.

The three Kettle sisters have been accidentally starring in public performances all their lives, affecting their audiences in more ways than they’ll ever know. This time, however, they give a particularly spectacular show when a raucous, champagne-soaked birthday dinner ends in a violent argument and an emergency dash to the hospital.

So who started it this time? Was it Cat: full of angry, hurt passion dating back to the ‘Night of the Spaghetti’? Was it Lynn: serenely successful, at least on the outside? Or was it Gemma: quirky, dreamy and unable to keep a secret, except for the most important one of all?

Whoever the culprit, their lives will have all changed dramatically before the next inevitable clash of shared genes and shared childhoods.

eBooks

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Autonomous features a rakish female pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who traverses the world in her own submarine. A notorious anti-patent scientist who has styled herself as a Robin Hood heroine fighting to bring cheap drugs to the poor, Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses across what used to be North America—a drug that compels people to become addicted to their work.

On Jack’s trail are an unlikely pair: an emotionally shut-down military agent and his partner, Paladin, a young military robot, who fall in love against all expectations. Autonomous alternates between the activities of Jack and her co-conspirators, and Joe and Paladin, as they all race to stop a bizarre drug epidemic that is tearing apart lives, causing trains to crash, and flooding New York City.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

In this, Boyne’s most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart’s Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.

Moxie by jennifer Mathieu

Moxie girls fight back!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her small-town Texas high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes and hallway harassment. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, so now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. Pretty soon Viv is forging friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, and she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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 – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Behind Closed Doors by B. A Paris

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.
You’d like to get to know Grace better.
But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.
Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.
Sometimes, the perfect marriage is the perfect lie.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don’t.

As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

Aelin’s journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

In the next installment of the New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series, follow Chaol on his sweeping journey to a distant empire.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

Paper Princess by Erin Watt

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees.

Broken Prince Erin Watt

From wharf fights and school brawls to crumbling lives inside glittery mansions, one guy tries to save himself. 

THESE ROYALS WILL RUIN YOU…

Reed Royal has it all—looks, status, money. The girls at his elite prep school line up to date him, the guys want to be him, but Reed never gave a damn about anyone but his family until Ella Harper walked into his life.

What started off as burning resentment and the need to make his father’s new ward suffer turned into something else entirely—keep Ella close. Keep Ella safe. But when one foolish mistake drives her out of Reed’s arms and brings chaos to the Royal household, Reed’s entire world begins to fall apart around him.

Ella doesn’t want him anymore. She says they’ll only destroy each other.

SHE MIGHT BE RIGHT.

Secrets. Betrayal. Enemies. It’s like nothing Reed has ever dealt with before, and if he’s going to win back his princess, he’ll need to prove himself Royally worthy. 

Twisted Palace by Erin Watt

These Royals will ruin you…

From mortal enemies to unexpected allies, two teenagers try to protect everything that matters most.

Ella Harper has met every challenge that life has thrown her way. She’s tough, resilient, and willing to do whatever it takes to defend the people she loves, but the challenge of a long-lost father and a boyfriend whose life is on the line might be too much for even Ella to overcome.

Reed Royal has a quick temper and even faster fists. But his tendency to meet every obstacle with violence has finally caught up with him. If he wants to save himself and the girl he loves, he’ll need to rise above his tortured past and tarnished reputation.

No one believes Ella can survive the Royals. Everyone is sure Reed will destroy them all.
They may be right.

With everything and everyone conspiring to keep them apart, Ella and Reed must find a way to beat the law, save their families, and unravel all the secrets in their Twisted Palace.

Fallen Heir by Erin Watt

These Royals will ruin you.

Easton Royal has it all: looks, money, intelligence. His goal in life is to have as much fun as possible. He never thinks about the consequences because he doesn’t have to.

Until Hartley Wright appears, shaking up his easy life. She’s the one girl who’s said no, despite being attracted to him. Easton can’t figure her out and that makes her all the more irresistible.

Hartley doesn’t want him. She says he needs to grow up.

She might be right.

Rivals. Rules. Regrets. For the first time in Easton’s life, wearing a Royal crown isn’t enough. He’s about to learn that the higher you start, the harder you fall.

Dress Codes for Small Towns by Courtney Stevens

As the tomboy daughter of the town’s preacher, Billie McCaffrey has always struggled with fitting the mold of what everyone says she should be. She’d rather wear sweats, build furniture, and get into trouble with her solid group of friends: Woods, Mash, Davey, Fifty, and Janie Lee.

But when Janie Lee confesses to Billie that she’s in love with Woods, Billie’s filled with a nagging sadness as she realizes that she is also in love with Woods…and maybe with Janie Lee, too.

Always considered “one of the guys,” Billie doesn’t want anyone slapping a label on her sexuality before she can understand it herself. So she keeps her conflicting feelings to herself, for fear of ruining the group dynamic. Except it’s not just about keeping the peace, it’s about understanding love on her terms—this thing that has always been defined as a boy and a girl falling in love and living happily ever after. For Billie—a box-defying dynamo—it’s not that simple.

Readers will be drawn to Billie as she comes to terms with the gray areas of love, gender, and friendship, in this John Hughes-esque exploration of sexual fluidity.

The Rattled Bones by S. M Parker

Unearthing years of buried secrets, Rilla Brae is haunted by ghostly visions tied to the tainted history of a mysterious island in this haunting novel from the author of The Girl Who Fell.

Maine-bred, independent Rilla Brae is no stranger to the deep. She knows the rhythms of hard work and harder seas. But when she experiences the sudden death of her father, the veil between the living and the dead blurs and she begins to be haunted by a girl on a nearby, uninhabited island. The girl floats a song over the waves, and it is as beautiful as it is terrifying. Familiar and distant.

Then Rilla meets Sam, a University of Southern Maine archeology student tasked with excavating the very island where the ghostly girl has appeared. Sam sifts the earth looking for the cultural remains of an island people who were forcibly evicted by the state nearly a hundred years ago. Sam tells Rilla the island has a history no locals talk about—if they know about it at all—due to the shame the events brought to the working waterfront community. All Rilla knows for sure is that the island has always been there—an eerie presence anchored in the stormy sea. Now Sam’s work and the ghostly girl’s song lure Rilla to the island’s shores.

As Rilla helps Sam to unearth the island’s many secrets, Rilla’s visions grow—until the two discover a tragedy kept silent for years. And it’s a tragedy that has everything to do with Rilla’s past.

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

In a world where every word and gesture is copyrighted, patented or trademarked, one girl elects to remain silent rather than pay to speak, and her defiant and unexpected silence threatens to unravel the very fabric of society.

Speth Jime is anxious to deliver her Last Day speech and celebrate her transition into adulthood. The moment she turns fifteen, Speth must pay for every word she speaks (“Sorry” is a flat ten dollars and a legal admission of guilt), for every nod ($0.99/sec), for every scream ($0.99/sec) and even every gesture of affection. She’s been raised to know the consequences of falling into debt, and can’t begin to imagine the pain of having her eyes shocked for speaking words that she’s unable to afford.

But when Speth’s friend Beecher commits suicide rather than work off his family’s crippling debt, she can’t express her shock and dismay without breaking her Last Day contract and sending her family into Collection. Backed into a corner, Speth finds a loophole: rather than read her speech – rather than say anything at all – she closes her mouth and vows never to speak again. Speth’s unexpected defiance of tradition sparks a media frenzy, inspiring others to follow in her footsteps, and threatens to destroy her, her family and the entire city around them.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The next thrilling installment in the Harry Hole series.

The night the first snow falls a young boy wakes to find his mother gone. He walks through the silent house, but finds only wet footprints on the stairs. In the garden looms a solitary figure: a snowman bathed in cold moonlight, its black eyes glaring up at the bedroom windows. Round its neck is his mother’s pink scarf. Inspector Harry Hole is convinced there is a link between the disappearance and a menacing letter he received some months earlier. As Harry and his team delve into unsolved case files, they discover that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing over the years. When a second woman disappears Harry’s suspicions are confirmed: he is a pawn in a deadly game. For the first time in his career Harry finds himself confronted with a serial killer operating on his turf, a killer who will drive him to the brink of insanity. A brilliant thriller with a pace that never lets up, The Snowmanconfirms Jo Nesbø’s position as an international star of crime fiction.

The Women in the Castle Jessica Shattuck

The instant New York Times bestselling novel…

Set at the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, a powerful and propulsive story of three widows whose lives and fates become intertwined—an affecting, shocking, and ultimately redemptive novel from the author of the New York Times Notable Book The Hazards of Good Breeding

Amid the ashes of Nazi Germany’s defeat, Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the once grand castle of her husband’s ancestors, an imposing stone fortress now fallen into ruin following years of war. The widow of a resistor murdered in the failed July, 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Marianne plans to uphold the promise she made to her husband’s brave conspirators: to find and protect their wives, her fellow resistance widows.

First, Marianne rescues six-year-old Martin, the son of her dearest childhood friend, from a Nazi reeducation home. Together, they make their way across the smoldering wreckage of their homeland to Berlin, where Martin’s mother, the beautiful and naïve Benita, has fallen into the hands of occupying Red Army soldiers. Then she locates Ania, another resistor’s wife, and her two boys, now refugees languishing in one of the many camps that house the millions displaced by the war.

As Marianne assembles this makeshift family from the ruins of her husband’s resistance movement, she is certain their shared pain and circumstances will hold them together. But she quickly discovers that the black-and-white, highly principled world of her privileged past has become infinitely more complicated, filled with secrets and dark passions that threaten to tear them apart. Eventually, all three women must come to terms with the choices that have defined their lives before, during, and after the war—each with their own unique share of challenges.

Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. Combining piercing social insight and vivid historical atmosphere, The Women in the Castle is a dramatic yet nuanced portrait of war and its repercussions that explores what it means to survive, love, and, ultimately, to forgive in the wake of unimaginable hardship.

A Poison Dark and Drowning by Jessica Cluess

The magicians want her to lead. The sorcerers want her to lie. The demons want her blood. Henrietta wants to save the one she loves. But will his dark magic be her undoing?

Henrietta doesn’t need a prophecy to know that she’s in danger. She came to London to be named the chosen one, the first female sorcerer in centuries, the one who would defeat the bloodthirsty Ancients. Instead, she discovered a city ruled by secrets. And the biggest secret of all: Henrietta is not the chosen one.

Still, she must play the role in order to keep herself and Rook, her best friend and childhood love, safe. But can she truly save him? The poison in Rook’s system is transforming him into something monstrous as he begins to master dark powers of his own.

So when Henrietta finds a clue to the Ancients’ past that could turn the tide of the war, she persuades Blackwood, the mysterious Earl of Sorrow-Fell, to travel up the coast to seek out strange new weapons. And Magnus, the brave, reckless flirt who wants to win back her favor, is assigned to their mission. Together, they will face monsters, meet powerful new allies, and uncover the most devastating weapon of all: the truth.

Little & lion by Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.

 

The Friday 56 (3)

Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rosecityreader and The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice, be sure to visit their blogs!

32667458.jpgThe Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Book Beginning:

Asha lured the dragon with a story.
It was an ancient story, older than the mountains at her back, and Asha had to dredge it up from where it lay deep and dormant inside her.

56%

The king lifted his hand.
“Get up, Asha.”
It wasn’t a request, She pushed herself onto her knees and rose, keeping her eyes on the floor. The dragon king reached for her chin, forcing her to meet his gaze, It shocked Asha. The dragon king never touched his Iskari. Her eyebrows formed a vicious vale and his normally warm eyes were wary. Distant.
“Have I misplaced my faith in you?”
Yes. I’m more corrupted than you ever thought
Asha wanted to close her eyes against that disappointed gaze.
“No, Father.”

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A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck review

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on September 26, 2017
Genres: young adult, contemporary, romance
Pages: 272
Goodreads

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places’ Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

REVIEW

A Short History of the Girl Next Door is a novel that is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking. It delves into unrequited love, the awkwardness of being a teenager and how to navigate life when everything appears to be going against you. Hilarious and quirky, I thoroughly enjoyed Jared Reck’s debut novel that had me smiling, gasping out loud, and most definitely teary-eyed.

I was all for Jared Reck’s writing, it was descriptive, eccentric and the perfect style to complement this type of story. Accompanied by Matthew’s sense of humour, wit and introspect, it made for a dynamic novel.

The characters within A Short History of the Girl Next Door were so endearing and you can’t help but love each and every one of them! Matthew, the protagonist, was one of those awkward teenagers when what they conjure up in their head isn’t always what plays out in real life. His adoration and respect for Tabby was so sweet and his love for poetry and basketball completed his potent character. Tabby was the complete opposite of Matthew, she was wild, outgoing and always in the spotlight. But the sharp contrast between the two was what made their relationship so magnifying. Matthew’s parents had his best interests in mind without being suffocating, and his mother was especially supportive and understanding of him. As for Tabby’s boyfriend Liam Branson, as much as you try to dislike him for getting between Matthew and Tabby, you just can’t! He’s such a great guy and he respected Matthew and his deep-rooted friendship with Tabby. Of course, I can’t write my review without mentioning Mr Ellis, Matthew’s English teacher who ignited his love for poetry, and let’s be honest, is everyone’s dream teacher! This cast of characters brought life to the story in a refreshing and relatable manner that I thoroughly appreciated.

Now, the plot is where I felt things got a bit iffy, I really enjoyed the first half of the novel and I thought it was going to be one of those happy, cheery contemporary books. But that was where I was wrong… a major plot twist was revealed around 65% of the way through that completely threw me off guard and I immediately began second-guessing the story. Obviously, I can’t tell you what the plot twist is without ruining the story but I felt it to be a touch tropey, and I was afraid A Short History of the Girl Next Door was going to be just another one of those YA books that I’ve read before. Luckily, the plot twist didn’t end up destroying the story entirely and I was actually pleasantly surprised with how it dealt with the “situation”. Just be warned that this book does include some tear-jerking moments.

Overall, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is an erratic novel with loveable characters that deals with some serious and significant topics along with its dashing side of humour. If you have a passion for basketball you’ll appreciate this even more than I did, an entertaining and moving novel that you can devour in less than a day!

★★★★

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a meme created by Marcia of To Be Continued, you can find the dedicated blog here.

ARC’s

A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck

The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.

Humorous and heart-wrenching, A Short History of the Girl Next Door is perfect for readers who fell in love with All the Bright Places’ Finch or Stargirl’s Leo.

eBooks

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. An atmospheric, suspenseful and gripping story of two people finding love while fighting to survive. 

When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

 

 

 

Warcross by Marie Lu

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Zero Repeat Forever by Gabrielle Prendergast

He has no voice, or name, only a rank, Eighth. He doesn’t know the details of the mission, only the directives that hum in his mind.

Dart the humans. Leave them where they fall.

His job is to protect his Offside. Let her do the shooting.

Until a human kills her…

Sixteen year-old Raven is at summer camp when the terrifying armored Nahx invade, annihilating entire cities, taking control of the Earth. Isolated in the wilderness, Raven and her friends have only a fragment of instruction from the human resistance.

Shelter in place.

Which seems like good advice at first. Stay put. Await rescue. Raven doesn’t like feeling helpless but what choice does she have?

Then a Nahx kills her boyfriend.

Thrown together in a violent, unfamiliar world, Eighth and Raven should feel only hate and fear. But when Raven is injured, and Eighth deserts his unit, their survival depends on trusting each other…

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.

But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

The Friday 56 (3)

Odd & True by Cat Winters review

Odd & True by Cat Winters
Published by Amulet books n September 12, 2017
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, fantasy
Pages: 368
Goodreads

Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.

In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

REVIEW

I wanted to love this so badly, I heard so many good things about Cat Winters and this was the first book of hers that I read. Unfortunately Odd & True didn’t live up to my expectations, it wasn’t horrible, there were definitely some aspects that I enjoyed. However, I felt the story as a whole was pretty mediocre.

Cat Winter’s writing was pleasant, the way in which she described some things I found to be quite enjoyable. The novel is told in alternating perspectives from two sisters Odette and Trudchen Grey. Odette, the eldest sister recounts her memories from the past, living with her mother and baby sister in a remote house, and being visited occasionally by her father and uncle Magnus. She also describes her time living away from her sister Tru, and the hardships she encountered along the way. Tru tells the story of the present day, and we slowly learn how incredibly sheltered Tru’s upbringing was, as she beings to learn the truths of her family. Although I found Oddette’s chapters to be far more sorrowful, I enjoyed her perspective over Tru’s, it was brutal, honest and the things she went through is definitely something a young girl should never have to endure.

The characters is where I felt like Odd & True lacked the most. Odette and Trudchen weren’t horrible characters by any means but I felt like they lacked dimension and they read younger than their ages. This may be due to their sheltered upbringing, but I just couldn’t quite get myself to look past it. I didn’t quite understand the reasons behind their motives, and I wasn’t connected to them in the slightest. But I must say I greatly admired Od’s strength and Tru’s growth and strength, despite her disability she didn’t let anything hold her back. Also thumbs-up for diversity with a disabled main character!

As Odd & True was a mainly character driven story, not a tremendous lot happened plot-wise. Up until around half-way through the novel, we hadn’t progressed much, however, half the story is told in the past so the present day plot may suffer from that. I found there to be a lot of telling and explaining but not a lot of showing, so I tended to get a bit disinterested sometimes and wished the plot would hurry itself up a bit.

Overall, I am quite disappointed in Odd & True. Although it wasn’t a terrible novel, it definitely did lack in the character and plot departments. But suffice to say, just because I didn’t enjoy it doesn’t mean other people won’t love it!

★★

Welcome Home by Eric Smith review

Welcome Home by Eric Smith
Published by Flux on September 5, 2017
Genres: short stories, young adult, anthologies
Pages: 352
Goodreads

Welcome Home collects a number of adoption-themed fictional short stories, and brings them together in one anthology from a diverse range of celebrated Young Adult authors. The all-star roster includes Edgar-award winner Mindy McGinnis, New York Times bestselling authors C.J. Redwine (The Shadow Queen) and William Ritter (Jackaby), and acclaimed YA authors across all genres, like Adi Alsaid, Lauren Gibaldi, Sangu Mandanna, Karen Akins, and many more.

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

REVIEW

Welcome Home is a wonderfully diverse collection of short stories, each touching on the theme of adoption. Some of the stories were okay, and some of them I LOVED! This anthology definitely gave me more insight into adoption and the various aspects it can encompass.

Adoption is something that I feel strongly toward, and I was excited to read Welcome Home to get a better understanding of what it’s like being involved in adoption. The first couple of stories got me sceptical of the book, I felt they were too short and there wasn’t enough time to connect or feel for any of the characters. And I felt like to really relate to the stories you had to have some connection with adoption. I was worried that all the stories would be like this, but thankfully as I read on I felt the stories got increasingly better, and there were definitely some that pulled on my heart strings! Some of the stories, in particular, being Up by a Million by Caela Carter, The Snow covered Sidewalk by Randy Ribay and Peace of paper by Courtney C. Stevens. The stories ranged from all different genres including contemporary, fantasy and sci-fi and explored the infinite love between parents and their children, the bonds children form in foster homes and orphanages and more!

Another aspect of this anthology that I enjoyed was the incredible diversity that was present! There were characters who were people of colour, a Haitian character, Asian characters and people of different sexualities, gender identities and religions all found within these short stories. Welcome Home brought together characters from all different backgrounds, races and sexualities to create an anthology that many people can relate to and feel represented by. This book also dealt with other topics aside from adoption such as drugs, sexual assault, teenage pregnancy and murder.

Welcome Home managed to explore countless facets of adoption, not two stories seemed alike! There were stories about children who ended up being adopted, people deciding to put their child up for adoption, people who visited their child in their adopted family and children who didn’t even know their parents, children in foster care and orphanages, children questioning who their birth parents were and people who didn’t question or want to find out at all, children adopted outside and inside the country, people who were best friends with someone who was adopted and even people who are adopted as an adult. Welcome Home showed everything from the nitty gritty to the downright beautiful. There were so many sides of adoption I didn’t even realise, and so many ways adoption can affect people’s lives, it doesn’t just affect the child and their parents, but everyone else that surrounds them too! Seeing how different people’s adoption stories can be was a real eye opener.

Overall, Welcome Home is a terrific anthology focused on adoption, it is incredibly diverse in both its representation and stories and that’s what makes this book so great! An amazing novel if you have ties with adoption or you would like to get a better insight into adoption.

INDIVIDUAL STORY RATINGS:

  • Carlos and the Fifteen-Year-Old Heart by Ali Alsaid – 2/5
  • Strong Enough by Karen Atkins – 2.5/5
  • The Sign by Erica M. Chapman – 2/5
  • Up by a Million by Caela Carter – 4/5
  • Mama’s Eyes by Libby Cudmore – 3.5/5
  • A Kingdom Bright and Burning by Dave Connis – 2.5/5
  • The Inexplicable Weight of Mountainsby Helene Dunbar – 2/5
  • Webbed by Julie Esbaugh – 2.5/5
  • Life: Starring Tallulah grey by Lauren Gibaldi – 3/5
  • Salvation by Shannon Gibney – 3.5/5
  • Twenty-seven Days by Jenny Kaczorowski – 3.5/5
  • Ink Drips Black by Juli Leung – 3/5
  • Upon the Horizon’s Verge by Sangu Mandanna – 4/5
  • Lullaby by Matthew Quinn Martin – 4/5
  • Census Man by Mindy McGinnis – 3/5
  • Invites by Lauren Morrill – 2.5/5
  • Empty Lens by Tameka Mullins – 2/5
  • A Lesson in Biology by Sammy Nickalls – 3/5
  • Tunneling Through by Shannon Parker – 3/5
  • These Broken Stars by C. J Redwine – 3/5
  • The Snow-Covered Sidewalk by Randy Ribay – 4/5
  • Deeply by William Ritter – 3.5/5
  • Meant to be Broken by Stephanie Scott – 4/5
  • Moving the Body by Natasha Sinel – 4/5
  • In Pieces by Eric Smith – 2.5/5
  • Peace of Paper by Courtney C. Stevens – 4/5
  • Happy Beginnings by Nic Stone – 3.5/5
  • The Take Back by Kate Watson – 3/5
  • Jar of Broken Wishes by Tristina Wright – 2/5

★★★

note: my overall rating is an average of my ratings for the individual stories

QUOTES: 

Quotes have been pulled from ARC and are subject to change

“”You’re adopted, right?” Warren asks, interrupting me. I freeze. That question. Of course he asks that question. Everyone always asks that question eventually. And even though the answer’s yes, I’m so damn sick of that question because – no matter how well you do in school, no matter how unaccented your English is, no matter if you’re student council president and get along with everyone – if you’re a Chinese girl with white parents and don’t resemble anyone else in this town full of white people, everywhere you go that question is always in everyone’s eyes, always on the tip of everyone’s tongue – even though they already know the answer to that question.”

“There was nothing about real families that looked like trees. He was less a tree and more a complicated mess of broken branches, of limbs grafted on at odd angles, and of other trees that had grown tangled with his own. And then there were all the branches that mattered to Jay, but didn’t properly connect to his tree at all. Branches that he only wished were part of his tree,”

“One day, when I had my courage up, I asked him “Why?” And you know what he said? He said, “Some kids aren’t born to you. Some kids just arrive.” That’s when I realised it wasn’t anything I had done or hadn’t done that made Luke love me, And it might sound silly, but I’m glad for his answer. I’d rather him love me for who I am, because I’ll always be me,”

“You’re weary with not belonging to someone. you’re thinking that the girl or guy you love will fix the hole inside your chest. You want a piece of paper to be a peace, p-e-a-c-e, of paper that says you’re worthy. Here’s the thing: you are worthy already. Every single one of you. Regardless of who does or doesn’t love you.”

 

 

The Dinner by Herman Koch review

The Dinner by Herman Koch
Published by Text on July 25, 2012 (first published in January 2012)
Genres: fiction, mystery, thriller
Pages: 309
Goodreads

Paul Lohman and his wife Claire are going out to dinner with Paul’s brother Serge, a charismatic and ambitious politician, and his wife Babette. Paul knows the evening will not be fun. The restaurant will be over-priced and pretentious, the head waiter will bore on about the organically certified free-range this and artisan-fed that, and almost everything about Serge, especially his success, will infuriate Paul. 

REVIEW

The Dinner is an undeniably cruel and twisted mystery novel, so cleverly constructed, you’re left both curious and confused throughout the entirety of the story. A book best to go into blind, you will be shocked by the ending that swiftly creeps up on you.

The story is set entirely in one night, a dinner at an overpriced pompous restaurant in Holland where you have to book three months in advance to get a table. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, the extravagance of the restaurant performed as a pretence for the truth behind the get-together, something much darker and sinister indeed. The dinner is punctuated by appropriately timed flashbacks, that are somehow both detailed yet obscure, slowly adding more pieces of the puzzle to this disturbing story.

Usually when I enjoy a book I admire the characters, however, this certainly wasn’t the case for The Dinner. The novel is told from the perspective of Paul Lohman, who is accompanied to the dinner by his wife Claire. They are meeting with Paul’s brother, a well recognised political candidate, Serge Lohman, along with his wife Babette. I wasn’t fond of any one of the characters, I found them to be utterly distasteful and deceitful, but that’s what made this book so intriguing. From the beginning, we are lead to believe that they are (semi) innocent men and women, however, each and every one of them possesses valuable secrets that will ultimately affect the final outcome. For these upperclassmen, every situation resembles a game, as they must be sure their masks are firm and their actions give the right impressions, every motion is a statement.

Paul was a pleasant but unreliable narrator. He was extremely perceptive, detailing everything, from the grand to the trivial. He would read into the slightest of gestures or subtlest of expressions, it was a constant dissection and analyzation of even the imperceptible notions. If you can’t stand pages of lengthy descriptions then you might want to steer clear of this one. Although with descriptive writing, you would assume this book drags on slowly, however, I didn’t find that to be the case at all! The book quickly captured my attention, and I couldn’t tear my eyes from the pages, it only took me 1.5 days to finish!

The further we read in the novel, the more is revealed and the sophisticated dinner soon turns into a story of crime and the risks parents are willing to take to hide their children’s own wrongdoings. How far is too far? The Dinner touches on a number of issues, such as happiness and what it means to be a “happy family”. Is anyone really happy? Or are we all just acting to make it look we are? It delves into morals and questions right and wrong. It also discusses sexualisation, physical violence, mental illness, dehumanisation and the meaning of family. This short book really does pack a punch for its size and comprises of an array of thought-provoking paragraphs.

The Dinner is a corrupt story, unique in its abilities to somehow not shy away from the gruelling truth but also leave a lot to your imagination, nothing like I’ve ever read previously! It’s shocking and undeniably problematic, brimming with ill-conceived actions, it’ll make you reconsider everything.

★★★★

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