Tag Archives: Reviews

*Review* Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Gener: Adult Fantasy
Published: October 8, 2019
My Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Synopsis:
Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicides. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

                        My Thoughts

Admittedly, this was my first foray into Bardugo’s works, and – as I’ve since learned – she’s rather celebrated and idolized YA author. With that in mind, I understand some reviewers’ shock and distress over the ‘dark’ and ‘gore’ of Ninth House. Adult literature is a far cry from YA, so if you’re all excited to see Bardugo’s name on this one, maybe proceed with caution. Ninth House starts unapologetically with a scene of chaos and blood and I admire this YA author’s in-your-face approach to warn her devoted young readers of what’s to come and this new direction of hers.

Ninth House takes you somewhere unexpected. Beneath the gothic-revival towers, brownstone clad libraries and manicured lawns of Yale; insidious meetings of black-robed clad elites are held. Bardugo takes the reader down into the shadows and amongst the societies that are manipulating the world; foretelling stock market crashes, creating some of the most creative and influential minds of history, disrupting physics and the natural laws and doing it all in the midst of a bunch of college kids. And like any group of invincible-minded youth, there’s scandal, drugs, lies, unnecessarily on-point frat boy revulsion and, of course, murder. What college experience is complete without, amIright?
We follow the story of Alex Stern, a girl with more than a bit of a past, who is inducted into this world beneath Yale’s prestigious gleam because of a ‘talent’ she has for seeing what others deem isn’t there. Riddled with unlikeable traits and a questionable moral compass, Alex is forced to transition from ignorant rookie to full-fledged gatekeeper against the magic of this dark world and the unsuspecting students that walk above it. The narrative unravels between seasons to connect the present with the ramifications of the past drawing on the development and the re-emergence of old, less subtle habits Alex has as she navigates this new world and a murder case that runs deeper than anyone anticipates.

Warning: Toeing the waters of violence and vulgarity, Ninth House deals with some adult themes, such as PTSD and abuse and may be triggers for some, so this book isn’t for everyone.

I found Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo to be a somber and thrilling read – a slow burn that leaves you feeling the heat long after you’ve closed the pages. It’s a story brimming with ancient mysteries, ghosts, magic, powerful relics and the promise of danger that takes its time weaving a plot that is sure to spin you around on more than one occasion. Although my impressions of our main heroine, Alex Stern were lackluster, to say the least, I did enjoy Bardugo’s ability to paint diverse and formidable characters that are able to threaten a reader’s expectation of what a protagonist is. Everything felt very intentional and the writing perfectly emphasized and complemented the dark, atmospheric vibe of the plot.

All in all, I liked this book but found that I wasn’t invested in the characters. That said, I definitely acknowledge the potential. There was a lot of build-up here. Lots of explanations and world-building, and going in not having it in my mind that I was reading the first of a potential series definitely had me theorizing about where this story could go next. The ending screams “more to come” and I look forward to watching this story progress somewhere more plot-driven now that all that groundwork has been laid. It’s clear that Bardugo still has many layers to this world to unwrap and mysteries she’s carefully bookmarked for later.

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*REVIEW* My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Fiction
Published: November 20, 2018
My Rating: 2/5

Goodreads Synopsis:
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

                         My Thoughts

This one popped up everywhere! And I mean EVERYWHERE! The hype was so real and I got swayed.

Unfortunate for me.

I found this book unmemorable. Even while reading it, I kept thinking, ‘what’s her name again?’, or ‘oh yeah – that dude.’ There just wasn’t much there that kept me rapt or in belief of Ayoola’s psychopathic tendencies or her sister’s flip-flopping jealousies and momma-hen loyalty. The premise of My Sister, The Serial Killer is attractive enough. (Come on, the name alone stirs intrigue). Oyinkan Braithwaite’s novel tracks the lives of two sisters as they navigate the trials of dating, family and the etiquette of covering up crime scenes.

Ok, ok, I’m being sassy. But really. These characters, (even for sociopaths), were just the worst. One sister’s entitled, actually psychotic and prefers a good stabbing to old-fashioned dumping, and the other is the strange dichotomy of a stabby enabler and resentful big sister. And I have no gripes with an unlikeable character, or 5 – sometimes the unlikeability of a character is the drug of a book. You read on and on because you’re so enamored with the awfulness of them. But that wasn’t the case here – with My Sister, The Serial Killer I was just annoyed. The women were manipulative and petty and the men shamefully one-dimensional. I understand Braithwaite’s embellishment of society’s vanity, but there was an uncanny amount of irrelevancy to these characters and their arcs.

It felt as though the writing style could have been brilliant for the book I had been anticipating to read – something cryptic, full of dark humor and salacious intent. Not this weirdly unremarkable story that didn’t let itself become fully facetted. Admittedly, I finished it up in a day or two and that means something kept me interested enough, but I also attribute the quickness to its shallow nature – there wasn’t much hard-hitting stuff here.

It wasn’t all bad though. The writing itself wasn’t bad. There were moments of clever foreshadowing and I enjoyed Braithwaite’s ability to slip into that darker prose with the perfect amount of attention fed to detailing. But all in all, it just sort of let me down. I love clipped prose and this premise could have been so sophisticated alongside that style, but I felt the execution wasn’t there. It’s a read that’s left me feeling pretty ‘meh’. I guess I’m glad I read it to satisfy the curiosity behind the hype, but otherwise, it’s not one I’ll really recall months from now.

*Review* The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: February 2018 by Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis:
Alaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.
For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strongmen and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

My Thoughts

What a satisfying read! This is my second Kristin Hannah read, (the first being The Nightengale), and I’m starting to get a good feel for her style. The Continue reading *Review* The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

2016: My Top 5 Reads in a Year of Turmoil

So maybe 2016 was a little bit of a crap shoot for the world. I very intentionally avoid talking politics or scandals or cringe worthy news updates on here because there’s enough of that pressing in on all sides of us. There’s fake news filling our Facebook feeds, anger, disappointment, confusion and fear pulsating everywhere. Right here, this blog of mine, has been my own personal reprieve from all of it. I hope that my readers can know that I feel just as much emotion regarding the events of the world around me as any of you and I have difficulty, not in acknowledging it, but in coping in ways that are still responsible and intelligent. One way I honour this criteria is by encouraging and demanding of myself a constant strive for knowledge.

Reading is one of the most powerful resources we have to bettering ourselves and our responses to the curveballs the world throws our way. There’s so much to learn from the words of others and the incredible insights that they can spark in our own minds. So without further adieu, here’s my top five books that’ve gotten me through this year and promise to be lifetime favourites:

#5. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
18803640.jpg “I think of what wild animals are in our imaginations. And how they are disappearing not just from the wild, but from people’s everyday lives, replaced by images of themselves in print and on screen. The rarer they get, the fewer meanings animals can have. Eventually rarity is all they are made of.
Continue reading 2016: My Top 5 Reads in a Year of Turmoil