TBR | November 2020

November is right around the corner and I’m very excited to switch up my TBR! This time I decided not to use my TBR jar to pick the next books for a special reason. The first round of the Goodreads Choice Awards is here and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to catch up with this year’s releases. Some of them I’ve been wanting to read for a while but never got to it, and others I just found out and got curious. With the exception of three books – The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Red Hood and The Game -, all of the picks are nominees for the award. So these are the books I picked for my November TBR:

  1. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  2. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
  3. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  4. All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace
  5. Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
  6. Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold
  7. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
  8. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
  9. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  10. Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  11. The Game by Linsey Miller
  12. Fable (#1) by Adrienne Young

The only book that was not published this year was The Girl Who Drank the Moon, unlike all the other picks. As you can see, there is a lot of variety with genres. We have romance, thriller/horror, fantasy, contemporary, adult, young adult and middle grade. This is great because this way I have different options if I’m in the mood to read a specific genre.

Like I said – unlike what I did this month – I usually pick my books with the help of my trusted TBR jar. If you are curious about what is currently on my tbr categories, click on the tab “TBR” above to find out.

xoxo, Neide

Review | This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay

“So I told them the truth: the hours are terrible, the pay is terrible, the conditions are terrible; you’re underappreciated, unsupported, disrespected and frequently physically endangered. But there’s no better job in the world.” 3.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: hospital wards, placentas, cocoons, surgeries, baby deliveries, crocs, bodily fluids, scrubs, sleepless nights, and life and deaths decisions.

This is Going to Hurt is a nonfiction book about the daily life of the at-the-time doctor, Adam Kay – who is also the author of the book. It is written in small diary entries which makes it very easy to read, and I can honestly tell you it was an absolute rollercoaster. I think it’s the first time I experienced so many strong, different feelings while reading a book. I was laughing out loud in one entry and then I was absolutely disgusted in the next one, and then I was balling my eyes out in the next one after that!

What makes this book so great is that it gives you a good insight of what is like to be a doctor and what they go through daily. I don’t work in the health area, so it was a great way for me to understand what healthcare professionals go through on a daily basis. And don’t worry, even though there are some medical terms here and there that are not common, he explains them all so you can keep up with the stories. 

I loved Adam’s sense of humour and I really appreciate his honesty in this book. As an obstetrician/gynecologist, he dealt a lot with child births and people who shoved objects up in their vaginas, and it was hysterical. He also shared in the book a few moments where he was talking to his colleagues… and I lost it when I read the “cocoon” entry! And unfortunately, he also experienced a few deaths which he talks about in the book as well. Like he says, even though he was overworked, constantly tired and underpaid, he still describes it as the best job in the world. He talks about a high you feel after helping someone and seeing that all the efforts are paid off, and can understand what he means.

But even though the book talks about the doctor’s daily lives, it has a bigger message behind it. This book is a plea to the british government to not take doctors for granted, to not disrespect them and to take in consideration what they go through. Not only do they sacrifice their time, money, relationships and energy, but according to Adam they don’t even get psychological support if they need to. They go through a lot of losses and difficult situations that could really mess up their mental health, and they have to go to work the next day like nothing ever happened. They still do it, not for the money but because they want to help others. I’m not saying all doctors are like this, but I can see this being a reality for a lot of them. And I know this book is focused only on doctors, but there are so many other professionals in the health area that go through similar situations like the long shifts, the low income and stress. I have SO much respect for these people and what they do everyday to help others.I think the book is very well accomplished in showing the good, the bad and the ugly of the job.

I think it’s a must read for anyone who wants to become a doctor/nurse, because you’ll get a good idea of what awaits you. But even if you’re not, I still think it’s an important read.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Hood by Jenny Elder Moke

“Be braver than you feel. 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: Lincoln green clothes, fires, archery trials, apples, silver coins, the Merry Man, mercenaries and disguises.

This was my first reading a Robin Hood retelling and I absolutely loved it. I never knew a lot about the original story of Robin Hood – only the Disney version -, so I was more than happy to pick this up. This retelling follows a girl named Isabelle of Kirklees, who is the daughter of Lady Marien and the famous Robin Hood. 

It took me some time to get used to the language used, but eventually it became easier to understand. It’s not necessarily a difficult book to read, but it’s written in a way that is reminiscent of the medieval times and that’s something I’m not used to.

How to describe Isabelle? She is an amazing, strong character and in this book she discovers her true identity and her place in the world. I just loved to see her development throughout the book and how she overcame her fears.

Speaking of characters, there was not a single character I didn’t like. I could easily say every character had its own charm and contribution to the story. Robin’s banter was very entertaining, the Merry Men were loyal friends who stood up for each other, and Lady Marien was even stronger – and badass – than I thought! 

Fortunately the romance was not the main thing about this book – which I really appreciate -, but it was cute and I really liked the chemistry between Isabelle and Adam. Yes, the story’s timeline is only a few days, but I would still consider it a slow burn romance. They took their time gaining each other’s trust and getting to know each other, which made a great addition to the story.

The only thing I can’t wrap my head around was the ending. I think the sad event that happened in the end was unnecessary to be honest. I understand how it would be “necessary” to have an excuse for the ending the author wanted, but I wasn’t a fan of that choice. That’s the main reason for me not giving this five stars.

Other than that, I loved pretty much everything about this book. I loved the characters, the romance, the story, the pacing… it was very entertaining. I’m starting to realize that I’m really into retellings. Give it a try and you may enjoy it too.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Meet Me at Midnight by Jessica Pennington

How much do you hate me right now? 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: pranks, grocery shopping, constellations, chocolate chip pancakes, lipstick notes, college letters, garden statues, cherry kool-aid, mashed potatoes, rotten fish parts, painted rocks, unicorn chairs, morning swims and midnight meetings.

Cute book! For the last six years, Sydney and Asher have spent their summers together. Not that they want to because they are mortal enemies, but their parents became friends a long time ago and they spend their summer in two side by side lake houses. Since the kids don’t like each other, they usually spend the entire time planning and doing pranks on each other. As you can probably guess, a romantic relationship blossoms between them and it’s lovely to see.

I don’t know about you, but I love enemies to lovers romances. In this case it’s a softer kind of hate, because they spend a lot of time together and they don’t really hate each other, they just keep their distance and don’t get very personal. 

I really liked the chemistry between the two main leads. Sydney was an okay character – not my favorite ever, but she was okay -, but what I really didn’t like about her was how she kept saying Asher was tricking her and it was all a big prank. It happened so many times that it got old very fast. I felt bad for him because he was optimistic and actually made an effort to be with her. He was a great character and one of the main reasons why I liked the book so much. His easy going, fun personality shone all through the book!

The story is okay and I was entertained. There are some uncommon elements inserted into the book, like how Sydney painted rocks and was obsessed with garden statues, that kind of made the book more interesting. I would describe this as a cute, easy book to read in summertime.

xoxo, Neide

🎃 5 Books to read on Halloween to get your spook on

Hello everyone!

Halloween is right around the corner and, of course, I’m feeling very inspired! So what are you too old for trick-or-treating? You are never too old to read a good story. And can you seriously think of a better time in the entire year to read thrillers and horror books than on Halloween?

Halloween parties are not a thing right now because of the coronavirus, so why not surrender yourself to a scary story? Think about it, you can light up some candles, grab a blanket and hot tea… doesn’t that sound amazing? 

I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you five creepy books that I think are great for this time of year! I tried to mix things up and I came up with a few different options, so in this list we have modern and classic books, fantasy and contemporaries, middle grade and adult stories… so you can probably pick at least one book from the list.

  1. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
    Of course, a Stephen King book is here. Well, to be completely fair, I think any of Stephen King’s psychological thrillers are a great option to read on Halloween, but this book is special. The author himself describes this book as the scariest book he has ever written – interesting, huh? Pet Sematary is a horror novel published in 1983 and it wins the prize for most disturbing book in this list. It’s about a family who moves to a new city and everything is perfect. Their lives, their jobs, their family… until death happens. Not enough of a synopsis? I get it, but I strongly encourage you to go into the book without knowing too much. But I’ll tell you this: if you want a very atmosferic, disturbing book, this is your winner.
  2. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Coraline is not a classic book, but I would definitely consider it a staple. This book is about Coraline, a girl who is full of life but she is bored by her daily life. Her parents are boring, the food is boring, her daily life is boring and she just wants to explore and feel excited about something for a change. One day, she opens a magical passage to another house that looks just like hers and has parents very similar to hers… but with their eyes sewed with buttons. They want her to stay with them forever, and something about them feels off…
    Please don’t judge a book by it’s cover, because Coraline may be a middle-grade book, but I promise you it will give you the chills. And that’s exactly what makes it so perfect for Halloween. If you want to read something on the lighter side but with a good story, you should definitely check it out.
  3. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
    I wouldn’t consider this a horror book, but more of a creepy book. This story is about a boy uncovering the secrets of an abandoned orphanage situated on a very mysterious island. The cool thing is it is a visual book because it has some old photographs and illustrations that will help you get into the mood of the book.
    I think it’s important for me to say that this book has a lot of mixed reviews. Some seem to love it and others hate it, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I still decided to talk about it here because I think it’s a great match to Halloween either you love it or hate it. If you are more sensitive to horror, I promise you that you can read this and still go to the bathroom at night.
  4. Thornhill by Pam Smy
    If you want to get into a spooky mood but you don’t have a lot of time, I would definitely recommend Thornhill. This is a great option if you want something easy and fast to read! This book follows Ella, who just moved into a new house, in a new town. From her room she has a great view to what once was the Thornhill Institute for Children, which is now abandoned. One day she sees a mysterious girl in the gardens of Thornhill from her window, and she is determined to befriend her. Ella goes after her and she starts to uncover the mysteries and secrets of Thornhill.
    This book is told in both diary entries and black and white art, which makes the book even more interesting. It is also a great creepy option and you can read it in a few hours!
  5. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
    This was a recent read for me and I really loved it. This story is about a journalist who can’t deal with the way her sister died twenty years ago. She was supposedly killed by her boyfriend and her body was disposed of in the grounds of a haunted boarding school for troubled girls. With her investigations, a very shocking thing is discovered near the place her sister was found that may be important for her to know. Not only that, but she finds out a lot about some interesting and mysterious things that happened in that school in the 1950’s.
    This is the most “normal” book you’ll find here. There are so many great elements in it, but what I loved the most about it is that I couldn’t put it down. The chapters are small and there is always something shocking happening at the end of each chapter. If you want something addictive, this is it!

Books are a great opportunity to let your mind wander, so why not do it with a spooky theme? I hope you liked these Halloween recommendations and if there are any books you think would be perfect to read in this season, let me know 🙂

Happy Halloween!

xoxo, Neide

Review | My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

“Girls in those stories are always victims, and I am not. And it doesn’t have anything to do with what Strane did or didn’t do to me when I was younger. I’m not a victim because I never wanted to be, and If I didn’t want to be, then I’m not. That’s how it works. The difference between rape and sex is state of mind. You can’t rape the willing, right?” 4.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: maple leaves, accusations, red hair, poems, polaroids, the book Lolita, cigarettes, fires, strawberry pajamas, hotel lobbies, kisses in the dark, cute kittens and a lot of secrets.

Well… this was disturbing. But I definitely took a lot from this book and I know I will never forget it. After finishing the book I didn’t know how to feel because even though I was very interested in it, I felt disgusted and uncomfortable at the same time. So I really needed time to collect my thoughts and feelings first so I could write this review. 

This book is about a teenage girl who has a secret relationship with her English teacher. Oh, and did I mention they have a THIRTY year age gap? You would think this is a very obvious problem, but it’s not a straightforward and simple book to understand. The goal of the book is exactly that: to be confusing and to make you question things, and maybe encourage you to start a conversation about it. While reading this book you will often wonder “is this abuse?” and “where is the line that defines what is okay and what is not?”, and that’s exactly what makes this book a great book. At first things start out very slowly and the advances made on Vanessa are very subtle, and even when things start to get serious it feels like a normal romance story. He always asks her “is this okay?” and “can I do this?”, which seems like he is asking for her consent and he was respecting her wishes. But I think my wake up call was when Vanessa and Strain had sex for the first time. During the act, Vanessa said:

“For everything he does, he asks permission. “Can I?” before pulling the pajama top all the way over my head. “Is this ok?” before pushing my underwear over (…). After a while he starts asking permission after he’s already done the thing he’s asking about. “Can I?” he asks, meaning can he tug the pajama shorts down, but they’re already off. “Is this ok?” meaning is it ok for him to kneel between my legs, but he’s already there (…)”

This small paragraph brought me to life again and from this moment on, my vision of Strain changed completely. At first, Strain looks very innocent and it looks like he was just unlucky to fall in love with a student, but you really start to understand how manipulative and abusive he really is and how Vanessa is a victim of all his manipulation. Vanessa was often confused about her feelings, and she defended Strain and her relationship to others saying there was nothing wrong about it, but you can tell she knew something was wrong about her relationship.

But even though I felt for her, Vanessa was not a likeable character for me. I know she was manipulated into this relationship with Strain and that I understand, but I just didn’t like her personality and I wasn’t a fan of her attitude in general. She was annoying and bratty, and very arrogant to others. Her attitude and the ending – which felt incomplete to me – were the main causes for me not giving this book five stars.

With that said, I’m very impressed that this is a debut novel. I listened to an interview with the author after reading the book and I was very impressed with her saying that she started to write this book when she was also a teenager like Vanessa. The author made a great job portraying what a girl would feel if they were in Vanessa’s shoes and I applaud her for it.

It’s not a perfect book and I didn’t like some of the aspects about it, but it’s one of those books that stays with you forever. I’m not going to lie, it’s a very uncomfortable, difficult book to read and you should keep that in mind if you decide to pick this up. But I honestly think it’s worth it and I highly recommend it.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

“Books were her salvation. As a child, she’d had a shelf of childhood favorites that she loved enough to read over and over again. But after, during the hospital stay and the long voyage and the cold days in Idlewild’s dreary hallways, books became more than mere stories. They were her lifeline, the pages as essential to her as breathing.” 4.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: gifted radios, archive boxes, black veils, writings in book margins, whispers, newspapers, beautiful notebooks, concentration camps, police stations, dead bodies and a lot of mystery.

What a great book. For me this was very close to being a perfect thriller/horror book.

This story is told in two parallel timelines, one in 1950 and another one in 2014. In 1950, we are given the daily life of four friends that lived in a boarding school for “troubled girls” named Idlewild. There were rumours that the school was haunted by a ghost named Mary Hand, who knows all about the girls’ worst fears. The four girls share a room and they become close friends after sharing their fears with each other… until one of them disappears. Nobody knows what happened to the girl and the mystery was never solved… until 2014. In the present, a journalist named Fiona can’t let go of her sister’s murder. Her sister’s body was found twenty years ago in the famous boarding school grounds, but she never found peace about what really happened that night. She keeps investigating her sister’s case with her police officer boyfriend, but when an investor buys the property and starts the renovations, everything changes. A dead body is found and with that, a lot of secrets are also brought to life.

I really liked how the book made me wonder so much. While I was reading this I kept thinking about how the entire story would fit and where all the elements and facts would collide. Another thing I kept thinking was “is this a ghost story or are there really murderers”… well, you get the answer to that.

I loved the story, I was entertained the entire time, and I couldn’t put the book down because I was so invested in everything. Not only that, but the book was so creepy that after I put the book down I kept looking at the corners of my house afraid I might see something scary! It was an amazing experience that both intrigued me and made me anxious. The only “problems” I had with this book were the explanations given for the two deaths that happened in 1994 and 1950, and also the way the “Mary Hand” story is connected to the main plot. Don’t get me wrong, the story is really well done and some crazy elements were added that will make you say “WHAT!”, but I still felt the lack of surprises and shocks regarding the main events. And yes, some things come full circle which I liked, but some of them do not.  Basically there were some things that I wish were done differently but… oh well, what can you do?

If you are worried about not knowing about what really happened in the end, I would say that I didn’t consider this to be a book with an open ending. With that said, there are “small” things that are never explained. I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but let’s just say that if you are a naturally skeptical person, you probably won’t like some of these “small loose ends” – if you can even call it that.

I really liked it. Dark, full of mystery, very atmospheric, super creepy and Halloween perfect! Like I said it’s not a perfect book but, to be honest, it was a really close call.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

“Don’t you see? A pretty girl must please the world. But an ugly girl? She’s free to please herself.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: life maps, pearl necklaces, burnt bread, monkeys with pistols, amber eyes, cut out toes, swordplay, equations, black stallions, fires, gold coins, wooden soldiers, thrown eggs, cabbages, smelly cheeses, queens, theatre plays, forgiveness and pieces of a girl’s heart.

By far one of the best books I’ve read this year! Where do I begin with this book? I have to admit I had a difficult time writing this review and that’s the reason why I took so much time doing it. The truth is that there is so much going on with this book that I don’t think I could write a review that would express fully my thoughts and feelings. But one thing at a time! 

This book is a dark Cinderella retelling, but it’s not about Cinderella. Here we follow the story of her “ugly” stepsister, Isabelle. The book starts where the famous Cinderella story ends, with her sisters cutting their toes to fit the glass slipper. After Cinderella tries the shoe on and goes to live happily ever after with her prince, her sisters keep living in their home with their mother. So everything was like it should be, right? The ugly sisters live their ugly lives, while the beautiful girls live their deserved best life. But fortunately, Isabelle is given a chance to change her future and escape her destiny. To become whole and herself again, the only thing she needs to do is to find the three pieces of her broken heart.

What surprise me the most about this book is that it’s a feminist book. Isabelle was an amazing, strong, inspiring main character. Her entire life was molded by what her mother and people in her village made of her, and of course she started to believe what they said and thought about her. I know she is known for being an ugly, mean girl, but she was so much more than that. It was really easy for me to connect to her because I saw her potential and how good she really was. The world was cruel to her, and that broke her heart and made her bitter. She made an effort and she turned her destiny around, by remembering who she really was – a brave, happy girl who loved horseback riding and swordplay. She freed herself from the other people’s opinions, and after healing her heart, she finally was happy and she was okay with who she really was. I honestly loved her character growth so much because of how inspiring it was. It was definitely one of my favorite things about this book.

I also fell in love with so many quotes, it’s insane. I am going to leave a few of my favorites below, because I know I will regret it later if I don’t.

Call a girl pretty once, and all she wants, forevermore, is to hear it again.

““They cut away pieces of me,” she whispered in the darkness. “But I handed them the knife.””

History books say that kings and dukes and generals start wars. Don’t believe it. We start them, you and I. Every time we turn away, keep quiet, stay out of it, behave ourselves.

Here are the things girls die of: hunger, disease, accidents, childbirth, and violence. It takes more than heartache to kill a girl. Girls are tough as rocks.

Should you ever decide, in those small dark hours, to hang yourself, well, that is your choice. But don’t hunt for the rope until morning. By then you’ll find a much better use for it.

I fell in love with this book. Great characters, great pacing, strong story, beautiful lessons… what more could you want? This is a book about accepting yourself regardless of what other people may think about you, and knowing that there is always beauty in yourself – not necessarily in looks. I know it’s a book I will take with me for a very long time, and I would talk about it forever if I could. 

If you like retellings, fantasy books or books with strong female characters, you should definitely pick it up. But seriously, even if it looks like it’s not your cup of tea, pick it up anyway. it’s a very underrated book and I highly recommend it!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

Attention! This book contains: rotten potatoes, politics, new friendships, jam, thieves, rules, goodnight kisses, hunger, fear, courage and a lot of diary entries.

How do you rate a teenage diary? I don’t think you can analyze and rate something that wasn’t meant to be published in the first place. I’m not sure if Anne would want to share her private diary with the world, but I’m glad it was because it helped me understand what it was like to be a jew during the war.

It breaks my heart to know that to this day, people are judged by their religion. The Holocaust was brutal and there was so much cruelty back then… and for what? They were punishing innocent people just because of what they believed in. But I digress. 

Anne was a very smart girl. At first I wasn’t her biggest fan because of how bratty she sounded and the way she talked about other people when she started her diary. But in a short amount of time you see how much she developed as a person and how she always tried to do better. I guess that’s what happens when you are forced to grow up quickly and you start to understand what’s really important and what really matters. At the end of the day she was still a teenage girl who had no choice but to hide with her family to survive all the cruelty that was going on. She lost her home, she starved, she couldn’t make noise, she couldn’t go outside, she had nothing to do and she had to share her new home with another family… for two years! I don’t think I would be strong enough to keep myself sane like she did. She went through very difficult times, and I respect her and her family very much for it.

The outcome was really sad and my heart broke when her diary finished abruptly, but I believe Anne accomplished one of her biggest dreams: becoming a writer. Her book was already read by millions of people and that is somewhat comforting to me.

I think I picked this book for the first time when I was about ten years old, but I’m glad I read it again as an adult because now I fully understand it. There is a lot that you can learn with Anne Frank, and her entries should be shared with the world. If you are thinking about picking it up, I would say to keep in mind that this is not necessarily a book to enjoy, but a book to learn from. Not a should read, but a must read.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Odessa by Jonathan Hill

Odessa | Book by Jonathan Hill | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

“The world ended, right? But it didn’t. We’re still here. Things never end. They just change.” 2/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: earthquakes, explosions, boat trips, talking bottles, trades, bears, jynx roots and gangs.

Odessa takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where three siblings try to find their mother, who abandoned them and their father after the earthquakes started. This journey starts when Ginny, the older sister, receives a birthday present from her mother. She wonders where she is and why she left her family behind eight years ago, so she decides to go look for her and try to get some answers back. Without her knowing, her brothers followed her and now they team up to try and find her.

To be honest I was not the biggest fan of the story. The art and color scheme were cool and very appropriate for the post-apocalyptic world, but the story is very slow-paced and nothing interesting happens. The characters were okay, but I feel like I would appreciate the book more if there was more character development.

To be completely fair, I didn’t think the book itself wasn’t bad, it was just not that interesting for me. I probably won’t be continuing this series.

***A big thank you to NetGalley and Oni Press for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review***

xoxo, Neide