Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Book Reviews - Captivating Characters

Oh, hey. So, the title of these reviews should really be called - Half captivating characters and half "meh" reads. You should be able to tell what's what because you do get honest reviews from me. So, here's what's what!

A Burning by Megha Majumdar is the story of three people with choices that intersect and impact one another. It was such a captivating read that I literally devoured it in one sitting as I needed to know how it all ended, and I was emotionally invested in so many ways. The story focuses on Jivan. Jivan is a Muslim girl who is accused of a terrorist attack based on a Facebook comment she made. With her thrust into the spotlight, PT Sir sees an opportunity. PT is her former teacher, and he aspires to be recognized within the right-wing political party. He feels he can his connection to Jivan to further his own agenda and status. Then, there is Lovely. Lovely is an aspiring actress. She is Jivan's alibi as Jivan was on her way to tutor her in English to help her get more acting jobs. However, to sympathize with Jivan could ruin her career, so she must decide if she wants to speak up. This was one about all the dilemmas through the eyes of each character. At times, it was frustrating because as the reader I knew what Jivan did and didn't do, but the drama was built by the twists of Jivan AND Lovely AND PT's stories. It also is a brilliant exploration of right versus wrong and the allegiances we choose. This one guaranteed to get you thinking and processing as there's just so much to explore!

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella was a read I have mixed feelings about. The story begins at a writer's retreat. As part of the retreat, the attendees don't reveal their true identities and instead take on aliases. At the retreat "Aria" (Ava) and "Dutch" (Matt) form an electric connection. With this, they know very little about who the other person really is, and they like it that way focusing instead on their chemistry. As the retreat ends, they realize they both live in London. They decide to keep seeing each other outside of the retreat, and that's where things get quite complicated. The complexities are honestly where I struggled as a reader. I think when you read a rom-com-esque book, there's something that you find yourself rooting for. Honestly, y'all, I knew what I was supposed to be rooting for, and I just couldn't get there. I anticipated where things were going to end, and I found myself seriously questioning if that was what was best. Independent of all the issues before, the ending was cute. However, because of all the mess before then, I didn't end this reading with that "Awww" feeling of a love story. I have loved so many of Sophie Kinsella's stories, and I'll definitely be back for more, but this round just didn't land for me. Thanks to NetGalley for an early look at this October 2020 release.

The Woods by Harlan Coben was a book I picked up because I was craving a good thriller in my life. Coben is generally an author I can turn to in this genre to get that fix. This round of Cohen focused on a prosecutor's past (and present). Twenty years ago, his sister and other teens were murdered in the woods. Her body was never recovered. In the present, Paul is approached by detectives about a murder victim. This victim appears to be one of the other teens whose body was never recovered. Could it be possible that what was thought to be true in those woods back when wasn't? Paul then begins to re-explore this event and finds out the woods have more secrets than he realized. This kept me reading as I did want to know what the truth was - I know, I know, that's what thrillers are meant to do. I will say the twists came late in this one - almost too late. And y'all, they were some big twists. I actually found they were so big I wanted more of that and less of the other stuff that'd come before!

Front Desk by Kelly Yang was just a delight of a middle-grade read. The story focuses on Mia. Mia and her immigrant parents are managing the front desk at a local motel. Mia hides this information from her classmates as she worries she will be judged. Mia's family keep additional secrets from the owner of the motel as they are helping other immigrants by giving them shelter at the motel. The story focuses on Mia's experiences working at the front desk. Some of this means she is faced with some really intense situations that most kids shouldn't have to go through. However, this also means the readers gets to see these real-life scenarios through Mia's eyes. I loved that this book was one that brought honesty to the story in this way. This story is also about Mia becoming comfortable with who she is. Being an immigrant, she struggles, especially with how she learns English. It shows the work she puts in to becoming more comfortable with the language and how this connects to her passion for writing. I love, love, LOVED this one y'all. It had so much heart and was full of feels along the way. I'm thrilled the story of Mia and her family is going to continue because I just adored their journey.

Onto the next ones!