Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star

Title: The Sun is Also a Star

Author: Nicola Yoon

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: November 01, 2016

Genre: YA

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This book is an outpouring of tears and everything that any girl looks for in romance – affection, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, hopefulness. The Sun is Also a Star is a book on race, immigration, young love, hope, family – everything and anything that can be connected with love. Just like in Everything, Everything, Nicola Yoon effortlessly brings together romance and culture by bringing together two young people from different worlds, representing love not only as a union between two people but also an understanding of dreams and differences between worlds and how these worlds affect dreams (wow, that was a riddle in an of itself!). Continue reading “Review: The Sun is Also a Star | Blinded by this Sunny Star”

ARC Review: The Beauty that Remains | Everything About this Beauty is B-E-A-Utiful

Title: The Beauty that Remains

Author: Ashley Woodfolk

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Expected Publication Date: March 06, 2018

Genre: Young Adult, LGBT, Mental Illness

Rating: 4 Stars

I received an ARC copy of The Beauty that Remains in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley, as well as the Delacorte Press for this advanced copy which is expected to be released on March 06, 2018.

Dear fellow Babblers,

The Beauty that Remains is Ashley Woodfolk‘s debut novel, believe it or not. It is sure to be one of the greatest books of 2018 and that’s saying a lot given that we’ve barely walked into February. This is all that a contemporary reader looks for – LGBT awareness, suicide, depression, diversity. I’m still in awe over how deep this book has got to me. The expression and heartbreaking grief of this novel is breathtaking, as ironic as that may sound. Pain, love and struggle after loss spreads the lives of a group of teenagers who, initially seem only similarly by age and loss of a loved one, but it’s this love and loss that bring them together at the end. That, and of course, some good ‘ole rock and roll…  Continue reading “ARC Review: The Beauty that Remains | Everything About this Beauty is B-E-A-Utiful”

Review: Murder in Little Shendon | Spitefully Slow, in Stuffy Ole’ Shendon

Title: Murder in Little Shendon

Author: A.H. Richardson

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: August 28, 2015

Genre: Murder Mystery, Thriller

Rating: 4 Stars

I was recently sent Murder in Little Shendon by publicists in exchange for an honest review.

Dear fellow Babblers,

A.H. Richardson’s Murder in Little Shendon is an Agatha Christie murder mystery written in the hand of our beloved 40-page-sentence author, Marcel Proust. This means to say that this book is a murder mystery in the way that it is not so much the murder that is at heart of the entire story, but rather the way in which it is described – how the murder, it’s suspects, and everything and everyone in between are presented to the reader. Alternating points of view and perspectives lure the reader into the story where everything is no longer cookie-cutter perfect and all is amiss, inviting the reader to solve the inexplicable question: who killed ole’ Barholomew Fynche and does anyone really even care ?

Goodreads Review:

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens – not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with delightful twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper. Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From the murdered man’s housekeeper to Lady Armstrong, her staff and her nephew. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion. Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. A.H. Richardson, noted author, places in your trembling hands a mystery murder that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, his friend Sir Victor Hazlitt and the famed Shakespearean actor Beresford Brandon. Scratch your head with them over the strange clues that turn up. Follow them as they tread carefully among the landmines that appear innocent as they lie hidden beneath the surface of mystery. Something evil skulks in this tiny country village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community? You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead – it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

Babble:

Set in a tiny, seemingly banal village called Shendon where all is expected to be right, a terrifying murder unfolds that brings a town together not for the mourning of a beloved inhabitant but rather as suspects of the murder of a brusque old man. In this post World War II British town Mr. Fynche is a sour antiques dealer but the reader never gets a chance to really get to know the guy as the story begins in the middle of things at the onset of his murder. Together with his trusted ally Sir Hazlitt and quirky actor buddy Beresford Brandon, local inspector Burgess traverse through the village, one by one questioning its inhabitants in order to discover the truth behind Mr. Fynche’s death. The three buddies split up, waking up a once gray and dreary town, spreading fire, spotlighting all everyone and anyone that they come across, determined not to miss a single detail of this sudden kill.

The novel quickly and suddenly alternates points of view between as multiple characters are introduced and made suspect, possibly villain in the story. Each character comes with a different past – their own story to tell, one way or another connecting them to the murder. Each have secrets, some more profoundly wicked than others. This is exactly what I found most appealing about the novel. The cook at Sir Victors aunt’s home is constantly fighting to keep still in the face of questions while a young newcomer evidently hides something that no one can guess but all can detect from her inscrutable manner. There are clues that the trio follows which bring them through twists, turns, and often back to where they started as they are lead to doubt what is being said and whom they should trust and believe is telling the truth and why others feel the need to lie. It was not so much the murder that drew me in, it was the flawlessness that the author displayed in using the murder as a way to study each and every person in the town. Richardson creates an accurate portrait as she takes the reader into the mind of the characters, revealing the secrets they keep, conflicts they are fighting, and the troubles that they have no choice but to confront with the unfolding of Mr. Fynche’s death. Each character has a story to tell and takes the reader along, back in time to the point where their secrets become their worst enemies.

The language is really old school, keeping up with the murder unraveling during the 1940’s. I particularly enjoyed this in the book, feeling as though I was reading into another time where everything was classic, different and the world was still suffering the consequences of the second world war.

If I have to give this book any negative feedback it would be the abrupt changes between first and third person, not to mention the random switches in perspective from one suspect to another. This made it at times hard to follow and keep up with what one suspect was saying, and differentiate it from what was actually going on in the book. As a result, I never really managed to feel as though I was in the story. I felt on the outside and never got the feeling that I could forget that I was simply reading a book. I also feel as though this book would have worked better were it formatted as a script rather than a novel with each scene taking the reader into the life of one of the characters. This would have solved the issues of distraction from the alternating time and character perspective. It also would have made the story far easier to connect with as each scene could have connected the suspect with their role in the murder, all-the-while canceling out issues of reliability and whether or not the suspect can even be trusted in solving the murder.

All the suspects’ stories lead up to the riveting, bone chilling and somehow unexpected reveal in the end: the merciless killer. The investigators finally get their answer, but this answer creates all the more questions which often go unanswered, creating ten more mysteries for ever one that is solved.

Murder in Little Shendon brings together the disturbed mind of Christie and the evocative descriptions of Proust to create an entirely new style of mystery, at the same time quick to form, slow to progress and difficult to resolve. This is a highly recommended story that rethinks what makes a murder mystery a murder mystery, no longer putting gruesome action first but instead reevaluating how it is described, rendering language and style more competent than story itself.

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)

Review: Girl in Pieces | Portrait of a Sad Girl

Title: Girl in Pieces

Author: Kathleen Glasgow

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publication Date: August 30, 2016

Genre: Young Adult, Mental Illness

Rating: 4 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

This is a morbid story from the first page. Everything that happens is bad and rawly portrayed. There is no romanticization or good here. I was initially intrigued by the synopsis but was by no means prepared for what I read. This book was just so much to digest and take in, I had to put it down multiple times just to process the overwhelming darkness blanketing each page. Mental illness, suicide, self-harm, rape, love, abuse are all ever so evocatively described. Literally everything that happens in this book is a trigger for an even greater disaster than the one that preceded it. This book shows what happens when too much happens too quickly. Life becomes difficult to bear and an entrapping nightmare that blurs one’s perceptions of reality and the reality of their minds.  Continue reading “Review: Girl in Pieces | Portrait of a Sad Girl”

ARC Review: Alone | Bizarrely, Dreadfully Illusive

Title: Alone

Author: Cyn Balog

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense

Rating: 4 Stars

I received an ARC copy of Alone in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley as well as Sourcebooks Fire Books for this advanced copy which was recently released on November 7, 2017. Also, my apologies to NetGalley, the publisher and the author, Cyn Balog for the late posting of my review.

Dear fellow Babblers,

Alone by Cyn Balog is altogether thrilling, curious and strangely beautiful. Balog goes beyond authors to create a story that leaves readers puzzled, relieved, frightened, traumatized. The plot is unheard of. The writing style is quick paced and slow to climax; a paradox yes, a mistake no. The characters are disastrous and unknowingly on their way to their fate. The feelings provoked are doubt, sympathy hatred for things unseen. This chilling tale starts with the disturbing infatuation of a mother who inherits and old mansion, affecting her children’s contact with the outside world, especially her teenage daughter, Seda. Through Seda’s eyes we are trapped within the creaking rooms and dusty exterior of this place she fears she must now call home. All is sad, but quaintly uneventful until a group of friends lose their direction on their way to a winter resort. When these teens enter the mansion seeking safety, it is without pause that they enter a faraway, yet so close universe where fun is mixed with fear, and life becomes death.  Continue reading “ARC Review: Alone | Bizarrely, Dreadfully Illusive”

Review: A Blindfellows Chronicle | There Goes Another Amazing Read

Title: A Blindfellows Chronicle

Author: Auriel Roe

Publisher: Unbound

Publication Date: July 20, 2017

Genre: General Adult Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

I was recently sent A Blindfellows Chronicle by the author, Auriel Roe in exchange for an honest review.

Dear fellow Babblers,

This is a novel, collection of short stories, sensual expression of intimate thoughts. I was left feeling satisfied and ready for more from the author. It’s not a book I would ever generally pick up, but upon meeting the author and chatting with her I became intrigued. What could such a quirky and kind person write? Despite the somewhat dense and scattered events and writing style of A Blindfellows Chronicle this book is the kind that takes you into the author’s imagination and confuses your perception between fiction and reality. In a narrative period of thirty years Roe visits many characters, personalities, and worlds, all which seem incongruent but naturally seem to fuse together with a twist of heartfelt emotion by the last page. Continue reading “Review: A Blindfellows Chronicle | There Goes Another Amazing Read”

Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean | I Hate Goodbyes

Title: Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Trilogy

Rating: 4 Stars


Dear fellow Babblers,

The trilogy, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a very unnecessary, extremely typically romance about boy meets girl – long story short: boy and girl fall in love – happily ever after So whats up with Delphine’s high rating? Umm… no one who has not read any of the books of the series will understand.

This trilogy is everything a girl, guy, teenager, fangirl/boy, bibliophile could ever ask for in a coming-of-age romance! Humor, drama, romance carry the reader through Lara Jean’s most transformative years of high school. Jenny Hann brings a delicately light end to the series, leaving smiles, heartaches, and ooos and ahhs just as she did in the two that preceded this one.  Continue reading “Review: Always and Forever, Lara Jean | I Hate Goodbyes”

Review: Appearances | When Words Discover

Title: Appearances

Author: Michael Collins

Publisher: Saddle Road Press

Expected Publication Date: November 1, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Poetry

Rating: 4 Stars

Esse in Anima

We are each ourselves at the harbor:
Runners run, readers read, children play,

I wander within myself within
the world, nothing is even wrong

with the distant cars in their straight lines,
driving from lot to lot as people

walk between ducks who simply sit
in the sun – I have given my eyes

to deeply to the breeze this morning;
I nearly stepped on one of them

From how it looked, he would have let me.

Dear fellow Babblers,

I was recently sent Appearances by the author, Michael Collins in exchange for an honest review. This is a spiritually uplifting collection of poetry – not a genre I typically will review for, but I am so pleased with this small, yet harmonic book that I feel compelled to share it with my readers. The only sort of contemporary poetry I read is Lang Leav, so I was thrilled to discover Collins’ work. Where Leav’s appeal to nostalgia is directed to love and heartbreak, Collins’ brings nostalgia a step further in coalescing the heart with nature. Typically a Young Adult and Contemporary Fiction reviewer I was initially a bit skeptical going into contemporary poetry. *One day later*…. I’ve read and reread each poem over and over. These poems have touched my heart and have shown me the beauty and sadness that underlies time and it’s passing.

This collection is separated into five parts, compromising a total of 49 exquisite verses. I will not attempt an analysis into the nitty gritty of his work, but lets ust call his writing style a Romantic mixture of Wordsworth and Keats. Each poem brings together the human body to its surroundings, be it fog, the sea shore, or the forests as a means to appeal to man’s dependence on nature, its static position, as well as its changing with time and seasons.

It would seem that the narrator is on a path to self discovery and with each verse, seems to come closer to his purpose as he becomes increasingly aware of the world in which he exists. The poems grow increasingly intimate and sensual as Collins traverses a variety of human emotions by means of his contact with nature. The speaker goes below the artificial surface of appearances in what seems like and intervention, or shall we say, interaction with his mind, heart, spirit, memory – all elements of his very persona – as a means of seeking solace and bliss through the promising, ephemeral moments granted by the world which envelops him.

I was very impressed by the style and use of language in each of the poems. They were powerful, evocative and had an altogether cacophonous tone which made them at once thought provoking and mind blowing. Collins uses vivid imagery such as “fleshy snowflakes,” “orange framed in a tangerine haze,” and “sun dancing snow,” reflective of his observations and musings on the past. All distinct, what renders these descriptions similar is their non permanence. Snow does not last, horizons do not remain orange, snowflakes get carried away come spring. Time changes the world and what unites humanity to this world is the mere fact that time affects all, nothing beautiful is permanent, and nothing young remains young; all must decay, change, and undergo transformation, therefore uniting nature and man into a singular, solid world.

Collins tests and plays a lot with form. Some appear to follow similar to an Alexandrian or Shakespearean sonnet while others are more inventive and seem to be free verse. I believe I read each poem just about a dozen times, all in different tones, including different pauses as a means to differentiate its sound and how the reading process would affect my connection and emotional reaction to the poem. There were subtle changes with each reread and I’m planning to read it again soon; this collection really is, that beautiful, not good, but beautiful. The intricacies and fleeting moments which we give little to no regard to in our everyday life is delicately placed on the forefront of Collins’ vision. He scrutinizes and beautifully recreates the world which we know, but in more translucent color. These poems are heartfelt and give one a sense of awe and delicate bliss, something that seems to fade, change, and intensify with time.

I would encourage all readers, no matter one’s genre preference to read Appearances. I’m more of a Young Adult and Contemporary reader so believe me when I say that this collection has that sparking enchantment that every reader looks for. It’s crisp, fresh, and evokes the sensibilities in a way that could transform one’s perceptions of themselves, who they were, and who they will be. With several references alluding to the soul and multiple reminiscent standalone verses which turn the eye away from the self and towards the horizon Appearances is a stunning read. I’m extremely pleased and honored to have been given this copy from the author and will be looking for more of his writing in the nearby future – more to come!

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Saddle Road Press)