The Return

The ReturnThe Return

By Rachel Harrison

Source Received from the publisher

Published by Berkley
on March 24, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

four-half-stars

An edgy and haunting debut novel about a group of friends who reunite after one of them has returned from a mysterious two-year disappearance.

Julie is missing, and the missing don’t often return. But Elise knows Julie better than anyone, and she feels in her bones that her best friend is out there, and that one day she’ll come back. She’s right. Two years to the day that Julie went missing, she reappears with no memory of where she’s been or what happened to her.

This was one of my highly-anticipated 2020 reads! That eye-catching cover and intriguing synopsis grabbed me as soon as I first heard of this book. I was beyond excited to receive an e-ARC from the publisher and couldn’t wait to dive into this one.

I loved this book! It was such an interesting look at friendship and shared history, and I loved the dynamic among the group of four. The mystery itself behind Julie’s disappearance and then reappearance had a twist that I hadn’t anticipated from the synopsis, and I think readers are split on whether they liked that element of the story or not, but I was definitely the target reader for this kind of book!

This was a really quick read for me because I was pulled in by the strangeness of everything, from the hotel to its staff to Julie’s behaviour, and everything seemed just ‘off’ enough to create an unsettling atmosphere that only became more pronounced as I read. I didn’t want to put this book down as soon as I started. And while I do feel like things were a bit rushed in the end, given all the buildup, I truly enjoyed this book.

It was one of the few things I’ve been able to read and properly lose myself in and forget, temporarily, about what’s going on in the world right now. The Return is one of my favourite reads so far this year – highly recommended!

four-half-stars

The Shadows Between Us

The Shadows Between UsThe Shadows Between Us

By Tricia Levenseller

Source Received from the publisher

Published by Feiwel and Friends
on February 25, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

four-half-stars

Alessandra is tired of being overlooked, but she has a plan to gain power:

1) Woo the Shadow King.
2) Marry him.
3) Kill him and take his kingdom for herself.

No one knows the extent of the freshly crowned Shadow King’s power. Some say he can command the shadows that swirl around him to do his bidding. Others say they speak to him, whispering the thoughts of his enemies. Regardless, Alessandra knows what she deserves, and she’s going to do everything within her power to get it.

But Alessandra’s not the only one trying to kill the king. As attempts on his life are made, she finds herself trying to keep him alive long enough for him to make her his queen—all while struggling not to lose her heart. After all, who better for a Shadow King than a cunning, villainous queen?

I knew I was going to love this book from the first sentence! This was such a fantastically fun, somewhat dark story, and I loved that Alessandra was strong-willed and knew what she wanted, and went for it. She was not ashamed of her desires or her body or her mind, and that was really refreshing to read!

I loved the romance, and although this story felt like it wrapped up a bit too quickly right at the end for me, I also appreciated that this was a stand alone. I thought this was a pretty satisfying read, and one of my favourites of the year so far. Recommended!

four-half-stars

Week In Review

It’s been a strange week! After this past week’s vacation, I’ll be going back to work tomorrow, but from home. I’m looking forward to not having to take the bus for the next while, but it will definitely be a change.

I wound up reading a bit, watching a lot of K dramas, and playing a fair amount of Animal Crossing. I am quite adaptable to self-isolation!

New books:

I did snag some e-ARCs from Edelweiss and Netgalley:

Before the Coffee Gets Cold, Toshikazu Kawaguchi;

The Return, Rachel Harrison; and

Final Cut, SJ Watson.

Books read:

I finished four books this week:

The Silence of Bones, June Hur;

Adulthood is a Myth, Sarah Andersen;

Little Weirds, Jenny Slate; and

The Return, Rachel Harrison.

Current reads:

I’m reading  House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, and I will probably pick a book from my 2020 Pop Culture Resolutions list to start.

Posts:

I’ve obviously not been writing any reviews lately, although I have been reading. I’m going to try and get some written this week, if I can get my brain to focus.

The only thing I posted this week was about the shows I’ve been watching this past week to stay sane in these strange times!

Time to try and get some more reading done, play some Animal Crossing, and watch some more Netflix.

What I’m Watching

This has been a strange week! I’ve been on vacation, but social distancing which means I finally have a legitimate reason to stay inside all day, read, avoid people, and never leave the house.

For the first few days, though, it was really hard to focus on reading or TV or anything other than endless scrolling through my Twitter feed and watching the news nonstop.

Eventually I was able to read, but (as you may have noticed) had zero motivation to write any book blog/review posts. My brain just wasn’t there.

Then I discovered that watching subtitled shows was a fantastic way to get through this strange time: I could watch something I was enjoying, but having to keep my eyes glued to the screen to read subtitles meant I couldn’t look at my phone/Twitter/news at the same time. How convenient!

So I wanted to talk about the Korean dramas that I’ve watched recently, in case anyone else would like to try this method for staying sane.

Strong Girl Bong-soon

(Watched via the Viki app)

My first K drama! I will always have a special place in my heart for this show. It stars Park Bo-young, Park Hyung-sik, and Ji Soo. I described it on a previous blog post like this:

Bong Soon is a girl with superhuman strength, but she wants to make video games and has a crush on her childhood friend. She gets a job as a bodyguard to a video game CEO, and then there’s a creepy kidnapper in her neighbourhood, and gangsters, and family drama. There was definitely a lot going on, but it was fantastic. And the soundtrack is excellent!

This show is A Lot, but in the best way. It made me laugh out loud several times, and I really liked that there was a bit of a creepy element to it! I also loved the romance, and the soundtrack is A+.

Touch Your Heart

(Watched via the Viki app)

This was a very fun, fluffy romcom starring Yoo In-na and Lee Dong-wook. She’s an actress trying to make a comeback following a scandal, and he’s an uptight lawyer, and she takes a job as his legal secretary as research for a movie role she’s hoping to get, but sparks fly and it’s so fun! It’s very cute, funny, and I loved the subplots with the supporting cast.

Strangers From Hell / Hell Is Other People

(Streamed via OnDemandKorea website)

This is a very different show from the first two! It stars Im Si-wan and Lee Dong-wook, and is a really strange, creepy psychological horror about a young man who moves into a rooming house and everyone there is weird, and people go missing, and I binged this one pretty quickly.

This was very much my kind of show, but definitely not for everyone!

Kingdom

(Streaming on Netflix)

I’ve only seen the first few episodes, but this show has zombies, so I’m definitely into it! It’s a historical drama staring Ju Ji-hoon, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sung-kyu, and Kim Sang-ho.

There’s palace intrigue, sword fighting, great scenery, and of course zombies! Season two is on Netflix now so I have more of this show to look forward to!

Crash Landing On You

(Streaming on Netflix)

I’ve only seen the first two episodes of this show, but I am into it! It stars Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin. He plays a North Korean army officer and she plays a South Korean heiress who accidentally ends up in North Korea. He discovers her in the DMZ, and shelters her while they figure out how to get her back to South Korea. I am waiting for them to fall in love!

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God / Goblin

(Watching via the Viki app)

I’m only three episodes into this show, but I can already tell that I’m going to love it. It stars my two favourites, Gong Yoo and Lee Dong-wook, and Kim Go-eun. Gong Yoo plays a man who is immortal and cursed, Kim Go-eun plays a girl who might be able to save him from the curse, and Lee Dong-wook is a grim reaper and also his roommate. It’s so so good already!

I have several more K dramas on my To Watch list, and I can’t wait to see them!

Week In Review

I’m on vacation this week coming up, which looks like good timing in terms of Covid 19 happenings. I will happily self-isolate and stay home with my books, Netflix, TTMIK lessons, and Nintendo. I hope everyone is staying smart and safe out there!

New books:

Not that I need an excuse to buy books, but with vacation and self-isolation on the horizon, I stocked up on some ebooks:

Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey;

When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey;

Saint X, Alexis Schaitkin;

Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, K.J. Parker; and

Tash Hearts Tolstoy, Kathryn Ormsbee.

Books read:

I only finished two books this past week, bringing my total for the year to 39:

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid, Kate Hattemer; and

Pippa Park Raises Her Game, Erin Yun (e-ARC).

Current reads:

I’ve just started to read an e-ARC of The Silence of Bones by June Hur, and I’m planning to start reading my library copy of House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas later today.

Posts:

I shared two reviews this past week: The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen, and In Five Years by Rebecca Serle.

Time for some books, coffee and K dramas (currently watching Touch Your Heart and Crash Landing On You!). Happy Sunday!

In Five Years

In Five YearsIn Five Years

By Rebecca Serle

Source Received from the publisher

Published by Atria Books
on March 10, 2020

Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

three-stars

Where do you see yourself in five years?

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

I was so intrigued by the premise of this book, and I was eager to read it when I received an electronic copy for review.

This was a very quick read, since I was pulled into the story right away. And while I really appreciated that this book offered a look at a deep friendship and bond between Dannie and her best friend, Bella, there was something about it that just didn’t click with me on an emotional level.

This was not what I expected it to be. I went into it thinking it was going to be more of a romance, but it really wasn’t. I liked that the book surprised me, and I was eager to read to the end to find out what happened, but I just didn’t connect with any of the characters. I felt strangely removed from Dannie and Bella’s relationship, which is why I think I didn’t have any emotional stakes in this story. I was interested to see how Dannie’s story would turn out, yes, but I wasn’t invested on a deeper level than that, and so despite what was happening on the page, I never felt moved.

I seem to be in the minority, though, and there are lots of glowing reviews for this one.

three-stars

The Merciful Crow

The Merciful CrowThe Merciful Crow

By Margaret Owen

Series: The Merciful Crow #1
Source Purchased

Published by Henry Holt (BYR)
on July 30, 2019

four-stars

A future chieftain.

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

This was a book club pick, and I think it might have been one that I suggested. I read the synopsis and saw favourable comparisons to Leigh Bardugo, so of course I was very excited to read it!

Generally, I quite enjoyed this one. I was so interested in the magic system, and I really liked Fie. I also liked that the story surprised me on occasion, and I really liked the writing. There was a sharpness to Fie that I enjoyed.

Tavin and Jasimir seemed woefully underdeveloped by comparison, and early on were indistinguishable from each other. I do want to read the sequel, and I hope we get to learn more about them then.

The story really dragged for me in the middle, compared to the rest of the book, but I feel like I should admit that this could be because I read this book while I was fully consumed by the BTS comeback, so it’s likely that no book could have held my interest during that time.

four-stars

Week In Review

I am not happy about losing an hour of sleep/reading time today, so let’s just pretend it isn’t happening.

I’ve been reading a lot, and I’ve also been watching a lot of TV. I’ve started watching K dramas and I am loving my choices!

So far, I’ve watched all of Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, and I loved it!

Bong Soon is a girl with superhuman strength, but she wants to make video games and has a crush on her childhood friend. She gets a job as a bodyguard to a video game CEO, and then there’s a creepy kidnapper in her neighbourhood, and gangsters, and family drama. There was definitely a lot going on, but it was fantastic. And the soundtrack is excellent!

It was really sweet and funny and also had some creepy moments, and I loved the romance!

Now I’m watching Touch Your Heart. I’m only a few episodes in, but it’s very delightful. Very cute and funny and fluffy.

Oh Yoon-seo is an actress who has had a major public scandal, so she’s been out of the public eye for a while. As part of her efforts to get a role and make a comeback, she starts working at a law firm as a secretary for Kwon Jung-rok, who is a great lawyer but comes across as cold.

It’s very silly and sweet, and I’m really enjoying it.

New books:

I received a copy of The Silence of Bones by June Hur (big thank you to Raincoast Books!). This is one of my highly anticipated 2020 reads, and I don’t think I can wait too long to start reading this!

I also snagged two majorly anticipated reads from my library:

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid, Kate Hattemer; and

House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas.

And for my Kobo, I purchased four 2020 books that I was really excited about:

Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey;

Topics of Conversation, Miranda Popkey;

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson; and

Foul is Fair, Hannah Capin.

Since my last Week in Review post, I’ve read six books, bringing my total for the year up to 37 (I’m aiming for 40 by the end of March):

In Five Years, Rebecca Serle;

Dead To Her, Sarah Pinborough;

The Merciful Crow, Margaret Owen;

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson;

Darling Rose Gold, Stephanie Wrobel; and

The Shadows Between Us, Tricia Levenseller.

Current reads:

I’m about halfway through The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid, and will likely finish it today. I’m also reading an e-ARC of a middle grade novel, Pippa Park Raises Her Game by Erin Yun.

Posts and reviews:

I shared a Saturday Soundtrack about BTS (what else); a Waiting on Wednesday post; and my February Quick Lit post.

I also posted a few reviews:

The Better Liar, Tanen Jones;

Seven Deadly Shadows, Courtney Alemeda and Valynne E. Maetani;

The Only Child, Mi-ae Seo; and

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Holly Jackson.

Now it’s time for some more reading and definitely some more coffee. Happy Sunday!

Quick Lit

February 2020

I’ve been reading a lot lately, and not always feeling like I want to write a full review for each book read (or sometimes I just don’t have much to say about a book). So I was inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit posts, as well as Hannah at So Obsessed With‘s monthly Quick Lit posts, and decided to do something similar as a way to briefly discuss the books I read in a month but don’t write full reviews for.

February was a decent reading month. I read 12 books, and I’ve reviewed/will be posting reviews for nine of them. Here are my thoughts on the rest!

Prosper’s Demon, K.J. Parker (purchased) – 5⭐

This novella was fantastic! It was really interesting, and I loved the ending. I am definitely going to track down more by K.J. Parker.

A Perfect Crime, A Yi, Anna Holmwood (transl.) (purchased) – 3⭐

I think I went into this with really high expectations. It was fine. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it, was curious to know how it ended, but it won’t stay with me. I haven’t read L’Etranger by Albert Camus since I was in high school, many many many years ago, but A Perfect Crime reminded me of that book (however accurate it may be).

Murder Lo Mein (A Noodle Shop Mystery #3), Vivien Chien (purchased) – 3⭐

This was another pleasant entry in this cozy mystery series. I already own the next book in the series and am looking forward to reading it.

Strange Planet, Nathan Pyle (purchased) – 5⭐

Hilarious and delightful!

Shelter, Yung Yun (library) – 4⭐

This book really crept up on me. I thought it was a tangled and moving story.

Dead To Her, Sarah Pinborough (library) – 2⭐

This was disappointing. It was too long, tried to be too complex and came off as convoluted, and it was pretty boring. I should have DNFd but I was hoping that I’d start to enjoy it as it went on.

What have you been reading lately?

A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder

A Good Girl’s Guide To MurderA Good Girl’s Guide To Murder

By Holly Jackson

Source Purchased

Published by Delacorte Press
on February 4, 2020

four-stars

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

I am always intrigued by a YA mystery/thriller, and this one really pulled me in based on its synopsis.

I liked this book right away. I had so much fun reading it and got so pulled into the story that I read it in one day. I really liked Pip. She was such a great clever character. Every time I thought of a possible suspect/motive, Pip thought of it too.

The format was interesting, switching from third person narration to first person in the form of Pip’s interviews and investigation journal entries. I liked that variety.

While I do think that the story got a little convoluted in the end, overall I had so much fun reading this book, and definitely recommend it for YA mystery fans. I’m excited to see that it is the first in a series, and I am so looking forward to reading more about Pip unraveling more mysteries!

four-stars

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