#TheWriteReads #BlogTour Review: Malibu Burns by Mark Richardson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A book that leaves you feeling confused, yet strangely satisfied

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and Mark Richardson for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

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#BBNYA Semi-Finalist Spotlight: The Naseby Horses by Dominic Brownlow

This year, the Book Bloggers’ Novel of the Year Award (BBNYA) is celebrating the 50 books that made it into Round Two with a mini spotlight blitz tour for each title. BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors, ending with 10 finalists and one overall winner.

If you want some more information about BBNYA, check out the BBNYA website, https://www.bbnya.com/, or take a peek over on Twitter @BBNYA_Official. BBNYA is brought to you in association with the @Foliosociety (if you love beautiful books, you NEED to check out their website!) and the book blogger support group @The_WriteReads.

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Book Review: The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A powerful and well-written book.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Young Kofi lives and dreams on the banks of the river Offin. He loves these things above all else: his family, the fireside tales of his father’s father, a girl named Ama, and, of course, swimming. It is in the river that he feels invincible and where he thinks he can finally prove himself in a race against his schoolyard rival. But the river also holds dark secrets that Kofi will soon discover. Told never to venture there after nightfall but never told why, Kofi seeks his own answers.
 
One night is all it takes to transform a life. As his world turns upside down, Kofi ends up on a harrowing journey that steals him away from everything he loves.
 
In The Door of No Return, master storyteller Kwame Alexander spins an epic and unforgettable tale of adventure, family, betrayal and bravery

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

Review (No Spoilers)

The Door of No Return is a novel-in-verse that is classified as a middle grade, but I honestly think that it reads as more of an adult novel. It’s extremely well-written, and presents the reader with many things to reflect upon once they flip past that last page. As I was reading this book, I kept thinking about how it felt like a book that should be read in classrooms, particularly to inform students about the history of the slave trade and the lives that it disrupted.

That being said, the book deals with a lot of difficult themes. They don’t go into graphic detail (after all, it is an MG), but there are implications and mentions of things like bullying, murder, kidnapping, slavery, and rape. This is something I think people, especially parents and children, should be aware of before picking up this book. There is, in fact, a very good chance that you’ll get emotional as you follow Kofi through the timeline of his life.

Before I end this review, I do want to explain that I actually think this is a 5-star book. As with most novel-in-verse books that I read, the writing was immersive and flowed beautifully. The only reason I rated it 4 stars is because I like to incorporate my engagement level in my ratings. While I felt the writing was 5-star worthy, I found myself a bit bored at the very beginning and it took me a while before my interest picked back up. This tends to happen to me with most historical fiction novels, though, so it’s definitely a personal problem and likely not something that you’re guaranteed to experience as well.

If you are a parent, teacher, or facilitator of a book club, I think this book would be great for prompting ideas and discussion. The ending is pretty open, so it should provide decent fuel for students and communities to explore different interpretations.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

#TheWriteReads #BlogTour Review: Clean Sweep by E. B. Lee

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Heartbreaking while being thought provoking and uplifting

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and E.B. Lee for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

E. B. Lee was raised in Weston, CT and enjoyed the best of a then-rural town and easy access to the high-energy world of New York City. She brings together elements of both in her debut work of literary fiction, Clean Sweep, a heartfelt story of human connection, tough choices, and compassion. Prior to writing, Ms. Lee was a flower farmer and worked in the environmental field. She earned a Masters Degree from Yale School of the Environment and undergraduate degree from Yale. E.B. Lee now writes in North Carolina and Connecticut.

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Carli Morris is looking forward to a quiet retirement. Earning billions from the sale of her Madison Avenue ad agency, she dreams of spending her golden years painting and giving back to society. But the heartbreaking discovery of a homeless woman poisoned to death on the streets of Manhattan reopens the wounds of Carli’s own tragic loss.

Realizing her busy career turned her away from the vulnerable, she throws herself on a mission to get the defenseless off the streets. But as she sacrifices her own needs to support others, her new colleague’s mental illness and Carli’s unresolved grief collide in a staggering sequence of events that will alter her life forever.

Can Carli dig deep and make a powerful, personal impact?

Clean Sweep is a dynamic literary novel. If you like moving revelations, gut-wrenching decisions, and life-affirming transformations, then you’ll love E. B. Lee’s enlightening tale.

Review (No Spoilers)

Hi everyone! I signed up for a bunch of tours back-to-back (oops!). Today’s book is an adult literary fiction novel that gives readers a sort of inner look into what it’s like to be homeless. The main character of this novel, Carli, is a volunteer for a place that helps provide for and look after several homeless people in the area. They not only have frequent soup kitchens, but they also do almost daily check-ups and provide medical care when necessary.

The thing I enjoyed most about this book was the fact that it highly emphasized both empathy and respect in regards to those who are less fortunate. Instead of judging homeless people or people with mental illness for their actions or how they look, Carli and her team work to get to know them as human beings while respecting their personal autonomy. They try to get them to find shelters, accept medical help, and overcome addiction, but they never push too hard if the person is not ready or willing to take that step.

On top of the plot about taking care of each of the homeless charges that Carli has, there are also plots revolving around Carli’s missing brother and a possible criminal harming people on the streets. For a book that had a lot of plots going, I felt like it took a while to pick up. I found myself bored for a good portion of the beginning, but once the story finally picked up, it kept my attention much more. I’m not much of a literary fiction reader so this wasn’t really for me, but definitely check this out if you are!


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

#TheWriteReads #BlogTour Review: The Dark Matter of Natasha by Matthew R. Davis

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dark, Unique, Thought-Provoking

Thank you so much to The Write Reads and Grey Matter Press for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Matthew R. Davis is an author and musician based in Adelaide, South Australia.

His work has been shortlisted for, and sometimes won, the Shirley Jackson Awards, Aurealis Awards, Australian Shadows Awards, and the WSFA Small Press Award.

He plays bass and sings in heavy rock/metal bands such as icecocoon and Blood Red Renaissance, dabbles with poetry, video editing, and visual art, and works on projects with his photographer partner.

He is the author of Supermassive Black Mass (novelette, Demain Publishing, 2019), If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (horror stories, Things in the Well, 2020) and Midnight in the Chapel of Love (novel, JournalStone, 2021).

He loves all kinds of metal from Mötley Crüe to Pig Destroyer and his favorite Slayer album is Seasons in the Abyss.

Find out more at www.matthewrdavisfiction.wordpress.com

Review

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Natasha stalks the quiet streets of dead-end Lunar Bay like doom in a denim jacket. She’s a grim reminder that some teenagers can never escape the ever-tightening noose of their lives. Burned out and benumbed by a traumatic past, dogged by scurrilous small-town gossip, she finds solace in drugs, sex and Slayer. What horrors have her flat eyes witnessed? And how far will she go in pursuit of the one tiny spark of hope that still flickers in her haunted heart?

When a naïve transplant crosses her path, he’s drawn into shadow and doubt. With his girlfriend ghosting him, Natasha’s fresh introduction to her half-lit world is darkly appealing. Now faced with confusing quandaries—connection or convenience, relationship or exploitation—can he help any of the women in his life?  Or is he just helping himself? The untold tragedies of Natasha’s lonely life may be more than he can handle. And in a town whose history is littered with dead girls, there may be no happy ending for anyone. A tar-black coming of age story, this gritty psychological thriller from Shirley Jackson Award-nominated author Matthew R. Davis, eloquently chronicles the crushing gravity of small-town hopelessness, the double-edged catharsis of sex, drugs, and heavy metal, and the brutal weight of youth’s first lessons in accountability.

Review (No Spoilers)

I don’t even know where to begin with this review! The Dark Matter of Natasha is a work of art. Described as as a psychological thriller, I’m more inclined to label it as a thought-provoking piece of genre-defying literary fiction. In fact, I don’t even know what age category this book would fall under. I’m going to go with adult strictly because of the unapologetically dark themes. Despite being a novella, the book manages to cover topics ranging from child sexual abuse, rape, suicide ideation, suicide, murder, drug abuse, and more.

The story follows a completely nameless main character as he recollects the experiences of his life as a teenager meeting a deeply-troubled, yet extremely intriguing, classmate named Natasha. Struggling to figure out who he is and what he wants, Natasha is the perfect distraction for him to focus on. As readers we discover just how much one persons traumatic past can affect so many people around them. Due to the short nature of the book and its captivating story, it is extremely easy to read in one sitting. Included in my copy was also a preview of another one of Grey Matter Press’ books (and a book I read and reviewed previously), Resembling Lepus, which was a nice little gift. If these two book are any indication of the types of stories Grey Matter Press produces, friends, they are definitely a publishing company to keep your eye on!

The Dark Matter of Natasha is as weird as it is beautiful. I have no doubt that it will leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

Blog Tour Review: Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Unlike anything I’ve read before

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and Adi Alsaid for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

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#TheWriteReads #BlogTour: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

An adult literary alternative history novel perfect for fans of commedia dell’arte

Thank you so much to The Write Reads, Rebellion Publishing, and Tom Beckerlegge for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary ARC and media kit!

Purchase this book (affiliate link): Amazon

About the Author

Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.

Review (First Impressions)

Book CWs

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

Premise

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

Initial Thoughts (No Spoilers)

Welcome back to my blog! Today I’m doing something a bit different and posting some initial thoughts/impressions for a tour book rather than a full review because I’m around 60% through this novel and think that I’ll actually restart it from the beginning now that I have a better idea of how to read it.

Depending on where you look up information about The Carnival of Ash, you’ll get different impressions of what the novel is exactly. Goodreads and several blurbs available online (such as via Amazon and Simon and Schuster) have this tagged as an adult fantasy novel, but in reality it’s more of a literary historical fiction book with some fantasy elements. As many of my fellow reviewers have pointed out, the genre that best encapsulates what The Carnival of Ash is would probably be commedia dell’arte. It reminded me a lot of The City Beautiful by Aden Polydoros.

The writing of this book is beautiful, and the overall plot is one that could be read as several short stories that intertwine with each other, rather than one singular plot. As you make your way through the novel, you’ll get to meet several characters, all with different (often over-the-top) personalities and dramatized story arcs. Depending on how good you are with keeping up with people’s names, I might suggest that you keep a handy character/plot guide next to you as you read for easy reference. I’m extremely bad at remembering which character is who so it’s always useful for me to have something like that, especially for 600 page novels like this one.

The tour has over a week left! If you’d like to follow along with the rest you can find the tour schedule here.


Disclaimer: Most posts made on this blog will include affiliate links, identified by the phrase (affiliate link). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This comes at no additional cost to you.

#Blogmas Day 21: Book Review – Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I know you probably hate me for saying this, but I wasn’t a huge fan of this book.

Book CWs: For a list of content/trigger warnings, tropes, and representation found in this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com!

Premise (from Goodreads)

Every weekend, in basements and parking lots across the country, young men with good white-collar jobs and absent fathers take off their shoes and shirts and fight each other barehanded for as long as they have to. Then they go back to those jobs with blackened eyes and loosened teeth and the sense that they can handle anything.

Fight Club is the invention of Tyler Durden, projectionist, waiter and dark, anarchic genius. And it’s only the beginning of his plans for revenge on a world where cancer support groups have the corner on human warmth. 

Purchase this book: Amazon (affiliate link)

Review (No Spoilers)

Over two years ago, Rob and I created a list of movies to watch. This consisted of movies that either he liked and I had never seen, or that I liked and he had never seen. Fight Club was on that list from pretty much the beginning. Though Fight Club was a popular movie back in the day, I only really knew three things about it:

  • Brad Pitt was in it
  • It somehow revolved around a bunch of dudes who would get together and beat each other up
  • The twist ending

I didn’t even know it was based off of a book until Rob and I moved in together and he brought his books over.

I read Fight Club one, because Rob wanted me to, and two, because Readathin had a prompt to read a book and then watch its adaptation. Unfortunately for Rob, I didn’t particularly like either one.

I’m not a big fan of books that make a point of being confusing, and I felt like that’s what Fight Club was trying to do from the get go. Relying heavily on the unreliable narrator trope, it’s written in a way that’s hard to understand and when Rob would ask me what has happened so far in the book, I would tell him what I remembered followed by, “and then there’s a bunch of stuff I don’t understand”. A part of me wonders if I would have enjoyed this novel more if I went in knowing nothing about it. I fear that I created an unrealistic idea of what it was supposed to be rather than what it was and couldn’t assimilate the two.

Something I definitely can’t deny, though, was that this book managed to take one small concept (of a fight club) and turn it into so much more. While I knew the big twist long before discovering the existence of this book, I had no idea that the plot wasn’t solely about the creation of a fight club. The intensity and absurdity about what was happening to these characters was what kept me flipping page after page, despite the confusion I was feeling.