Review | The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman

“So, if you’re asking me if it’s possible for you to make errors in judgement, the answer is yes. You make errors all the time… as does every other human being who has ever lived. Error is an intrinsic part of the human condition – and it is something I deeply love about humankind.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: mass gleanings, vaults, revivals, midnight cravings, broadcasts, islands, blind spots, bunkers, diamonds, automatic cars, earpieces, ex nimbo agents, rockets, deleted iterations and sweet reencounters.

Neal Shusterman sure knows how to end a series… wow, what a ride! I honestly can’t believe no one made a movie out of this series yet! Seriously, why is everyone sleeping on this?

Looking back and comparing the first book to last book, this one is very different. In the first book you are introduced to the two main characters and even though it’s a dystopia, the entire book still has a very normal/human vibe – sorry, I don’t know how else to describe it -, and in this one the science-fiction aspect is very strong and there are a lot of technologic and A.I. elements to it. I honestly would have never guessed how this series would develop because the story was always changing direction and was overall very unpredictable. For me that was a good thing because it kept me interested and wondering on what would happen next.

I confess I was really curious to know how the author would follow up the second book’s cliffhanger – because boy on boy… that ending was intense to say the least – and I was not disappointed with the outcome. The story progressed in a different direction that I expected and the two main characters were kind of left in the background for this one, but I didn’t mind that.

In contrast with the first book and second book where there were passages from the scythes diaries and thoughts from the thunderhead respectively, in this one we get passages from thunderhead’s iterations – can’t talk too much about that too because I don’t want to spoil anything! But it was an amazing and genius addition to the book.

And that ending… wow. For those who read the book will understand when I say: I can’t believe he waited all that time… the ending was beautiful.

The funniest thing for me is that I’m not a science-fiction fan, but I can say without a doubt that this was one of the best series I’ve read not only this year, but ever. Highly recommend it if you never picked it up, it’s completely worth it!

xoxo, Neide

Review | You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

“If I had to choose my favorite, you’d be mine.” 4.25/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: amusement parks, tiger plushies, small bikinis, revenge lyrics, fiddles, gems, ball caps, red carpets, award ceremonies, good looking jeans and barefoot dances.

It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes I turn on my Spotify, I play my favorite country playlist and I sing like I was born in Tennessee. It’s not something that I do on a regular basis, but I really enjoy country music whenever I listen to it. And since the only thing I knew about this book is that it was about two young country singers – I didn’t know too much about what the story was about, as usual -, I was automatically interested.

This story is about a very talented, young country singer named Annie Mathers, who is the daughter of two of the most famous country singers ever – and unfortunately they died when she was younger.  She is part of a band with her two best friends – a fiddler and a drummer – and she shares her gift of singing like an angel with small audiences. They have a few fans of their own but most people know Annie for her parents’ legacy. One day, something very unexpected happens. She gets an invitation to be the opening act for the tour concerts of the country superstar Clay Coolidge. He has a bad reputation because of his bad behaviour, and his label company is threatening to drop him if he doesn’t convince her to be part of the tour to make him look better. The band accepts to be part of Clay’s shows, but not everything runs smoothly. There is some tension between the groups, especially between the two singers! So everyone has a very interesting tour across the country…

What I liked so much about this book is the atmosphere created. To me, a good book makes you travel to another place and makes you feel the characters’ experiences and emotions. And I felt like I got that with this book. I felt like I was part of the concerts and it made me feel like I traveled with country singers and saw their lives on a personal level. I have to say that some things were realistic, others not so much, but I was very happy with the end result. All the characters were very likeable and I loved how both groups hung out together and got to know each other. I also really liked the banter between the singers and all the bickering! That made the story even more interesting to me – also, I love enemies-to-lovers stories, so it was a no-brainer for why I liked the romance.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. It has the right amount of depth and fun. It’s definitely not a “hollow” book. I wish more people read this because I feel like it’s underrated! If you like country music and YA books, you are in for a treat.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

break your glass slippers : Amanda Lovelace : 9781524851897

“Fairy godmother says you are limitless. 
you can have the lipstick. 
you can have the sword.”
5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: self-love, self-worth, self-respect, fairy godmother’s advice and broken glass slippers.

It’s official: I found a favorite poetry book.

I am no expert in poetry – obviously – but I think poetry can be very subjective and people can have different interpretations of what they read. And this book for me was like looking at myself in a mirror. It’s amazing how much I identified myself to so many of the poems in this book. I swear I had to stop a few times and think ‘this is crazy, it looks like this was written about me’. 

I had a hard time figuring out what main quote/poem I would choose to put above – like I always do on my reviews – because I had so many perfect options to choose from. I didn’t want to choose only one quote, so below are two of some of my favorite.

“Fairy godmother says i don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but: 
their lack of love for you does not make you any less loveable.”

“Fairy godmother says keep standing up for yourself. 
don’t let them get used to the idea that their opinions should rule you.  
you, my dear, rule yourself. 
you wear the crown. 
you sit on the throne. 
you—not them. 
make sure they never forget that.”

I’ve read her previous poetry series ‘Women Are Some Kind of Magic’ and I thought overall it was an okay collection, but this one won my heart. I also loved the subtle illustrations that were added to some pages!

In my opinion, this is one of those books you should keep forever. I’m going to treasure my copy because I know I’m going back and reread it a lot. Beautiful words, beautiful work.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

“George Orwell was wrong, she thinks. In the future, it won’t be the state that keeps tabs on everyone by extensive use of surveillance; it will be the people. They’ll do the state’s work for it by constantly uploading their locations, interests, food preferences, restaurant choices, political ideas, and hobbies to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media sites. We are our own secret police.” 4/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: prepaid phones, princess tents, plushies, heroin, guns, breast cancer, new girlfriends, secret notes and very clear instructions.

This was pretty good, I’m impressed!
So if you don’t know what this book is about, it’s about an unbreakable chain of child kidnappings. So when a child is kidnapped, his/her parents are contacted through a prepaid phone and they are given a series of instructions from ‘The Chain’ that they need to accomplish if they want their child to live. After doing the ‘easy’ part, the last step comes: they need to kidnap someone else’s child. This means that the ones who kidnapped the first child are other parents that have their own kid kidnapped by another family. It’s a chain, a never ending cycle where parents are involved in kidnapping another kid to keep theirs alive.
I have to say that the concept was really good and interesting, and probably the main reason why I picked this book up – okay, okay, and the cover too. What shocked me was the fact that this story is actually based on true events. According to the author in the acknowledgements section of the book, the story was inspired by a kidnap chain that happened in Mexico where other family members could give their spot to rescue the family member kidnapped. Not only that, but the concept of threatening chain messages was also applied in this book.
One of the things I really liked about the book was that the story started immediately. You are given no context or backstory, the book starts with the kidnapping of the main character’s daughter. And from there – like I was expecting – it was difficult to put the book down.
All the characters were good and some of them had very interesting backgrounds. The main character Rachel is such a strong female lead! Even though she is suffering with breast cancer, she puts the pain and the appointments aside to do everything she is told to rescue her daughter. I also liked to see how Rachel and her ex husband were so close to each other and were actual friends – maybe I haven’t read enough, but I think this is a rare thing to happen!
Another thing I also appreciate is that the story has an actual conclusion. I thought this would be a book where the ending would be very ambiguous, but it was not the case. So if you don’t like stories without conclusions, you don’t have to worry about this book!
Overall, this was pretty interesting. The story is creative and well told. A very solid four star rating from me!

xoxo, Neide

Review | Depersonalise by MSJ

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I was never
tall enough to reach
the top shelves,
that’s where you
all the good things
seemed to be.
4/5 stars!

Damn I loved that quote I put above.
This is a beautiful collection of poems. There were some poems here that really hit home and I remember feeling some of the things the author is describing when I was younger. The poems regarding how sometimes we feel alone and not good enough for someone are the ones I related to the most. I swear I felt it on my skin when I read them.
I thought the idea of having different artists to make the illustrations was genius and the result was absolutely beautiful. The illustrations gave life to each poem and were a great addition to the collection. I appreciated this very much!
Now, to be completely honest, even though I liked it a lot, I wish the collection wasn’t so short. I would love to see a 100 page work just because it would help me understand the author better.
I think eventually the author will write bigger collections – because she is obviously talented – but for a debut collection of poems, it was pretty good. This one’s for all of those who appreciate and collect beautiful words and beautiful art.

***A big thank you to the author MSJ for the free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review***

xoxo, Neide

Review | Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) by Neal Shusterman

“To deny humanity the lesson of consequences would be a mistake.
And I do not make mistakes.”
5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: black robes, explosives, old maps, unsavories, floods, decapitated bodies, system failures, diamonds, tonists, blind spots, revivals and of course, the Thunderhead.

OMG this was so good! This is definitely one of the best series I’ve ever read.

Maybe it’s just my opinion but I feel like in most cases sequels don’t have the same quality as the first books. I get that there is a lot of pressure for authors to maintain the quality for the rest of the series and keep the readers interested, especially if the first book was a hit. And unfortunately sometimes sequels are not as good as the first book, but I have to say that this was not a case like that. This book was just as good as the first one!

In this book, we still follow Rowan and Citra and now they face all the consequences of how the first book ended. Rowan becomes Scythe Lucifer, condemning scythes that take pleasure in gleaning and/or abuse their power as scythes. While this happens, Citra defends a different way of gleaning in which she gives people some time to say goodbye to their loved ones. Because of this she became the talk of the scythedom and a lot of scythes don’t agree with her way of gleaning, so now she and Scythe Curie are no longer safe. Not only that happens, but a new storyline is presented with a new character named Grayson. The Thunderhead is very present in this book and we get a better insight of what is like to be the amazing Thunderhead. Of course a lot of things happen after, and the story develops beautifully and with a great pace. There are also a lot of plot twists and crazy stuff happening so I was never bored.

One thing I found very interesting was how in this book we didn’t get the scythes’ journal entries between chapters like we did in the first book, but now we got “thoughts” and the perspective from the Thunderhead about humans, life and scythes. That was a really interesting shift!

Now… I didn’t know if I should talk about this because it’s really not relevant, but I just want to because it actually made me laugh out loud. I can’t even tell you how hard I laughed when I read that there was a junior scythe named Scythe Beyoncé. I could only imagine Tiffany Pollard (a.k.a. New York) saying ‘Scythe Beyoncé? Scythe Beyoncé? SCYTHE BEYONCÉ? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR F****** MIND?!’

I don’t know why I laughed so hard at that because I know it’s not even funny. It just caught me by surprise I guess ahah!

And that ending… oh my God, I don’t have words for that ending. It broke my heart but it was a great transition for the next book, which I’m currently reading. It’s a big cliffhanger – but a very good one. I’m just grateful I started the series after all of the books were released because I don’t know what I would do if I needed to wait for the release of the last book!

I don’t even know what else to say other than this series is amazing. If you didn’t pick it up already, I’m telling you: you’re missing out on some good stuff! I’m really enjoying this series, I recommend this to everyone.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

“Principles are nice things. If you can afford them. I like to think I am a principled man, but then, most men do. The fact is, we all have a price, we all have buttons that can press to make us do things that are not entirely honorable. Principles do not pay the mortgage or clear our debts. A principled man is generally a man who has everything he wants or absolutely nothing to lose.” 4.75/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: old friends, school teachers, body parts, roommates, stick figures, secret signs, dry leafs, abortions, carousels, murders, car accidents, bycicles, stolen rings, angel wings and a lot of chalk.

I really enjoyed this book! I was thinking about whether I should rate this as a four or a five star book, but I finally decided that I’m rounding up my review up to five stars just because the story was so interesting and it was very difficult to put the book down. With that said, I felt like there were some loose ends in the story that made me consider giving it 4 stars – but I’ll talk about that later.

This story is about a group of friends in 1989 that used drawings made of chalk to leave each other messages. So for example, if one of them wanted to meet in the park, he would draw a specific drawing that meant ‘meet me in the park’ with chalk in places the others would see, and then they would bike to the park and meet him there. It was like a secret that only they would understand and know what it meant. They all used different colours of chalk to know who left the message, but no one drew in white. At one point, some terrible things started to happen and mysterious white chalk stick figure drawings started to appear during these events. No one knew who made those drawings. The story is told in two different timelines, one in the present and another one in 1986. In the present the entire group – now adults – receives a mysterious letter with a chalk stick figure and all the things that were buried in the past come to life again. And that’s all I’m going to say because I truly believe that if you decide to go into this book, you shouldn’t know much about it.

I honestly can’t believe this is a debut novel! It is so well written, the pace is great and there is a very gradual building of the unfolding of the mystery. This book kept me interested the entire time. I was never bored and I was always looking forward to knowing more about what was going on! There were a lot of secrets to unfold and in each chapter you discover something new.

I really liked the group of friends and how different they all were from each other. I never read IT by Stephen King, but I saw the movie and it reminded me a lot of that group. It is also a group of boys and a single girl that are always biking around and spending time together. I liked how mysterious some of the characters were and that also contributed to my interest.

The only down point for me – if I can call it that – was how there were some loose ends that I wish the author would address. I’m not going into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the book for those who didn’t read it yet, but there were a couple of moments that didn’t get an explanation. I personally didn’t get the drawing of the dog and the ones at the church. The second one I think I can imagine what happened, but the first one got me confused… If you already read the book, you know exactly what I mean, and if you understood how that happened, please let me know!

Overall I have to say that I really enjoyed this book and it was really difficult to put it down. It took me a longer time to finish it because I had a very busy week, but if I could, I would have started and finished the book on the same day. Like I said before, I would definitely recommend you to not know much about the book before going into it! 

I recommend this if you like creepy stories or if you are a Stephen King fan.

xoxo, Neide

Review | The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps” 3/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: perfect couples, abandoned clothes, tombstones, fake jobs, helpful roommates, drinking problems, blackouts and train rides.

I have to admit I’m kind of disappointed. I honestly didn’t think it was a bad book, but this book was so hyped and everyone under the sun has already read it, so I wanted to read it too. Not only that, but I found the synopsis very interesting!

At first I was excited with the book format. The first few chapters are from the perspective of the “girl on the train” and it is divided in two sections – morning and afternoon – which is the time she was on the train to go to London and then later to come back. During these trips she talks about the perfect couple she has been watching every time the train stops at the red light. She even gave them names and imagined what they did for a living and what they thought – kind of creepy to be honest. Until the day she saw something that was not supposed to happen.

I was super into the book until the perspectives started to change and the train rides were no longer that important. I think if the story was solely told in her perspective during the train rides, it would be a really different, cool book.

Unfortunately I don’t understand the hype. The book itself is not bad and the writing is good, but the plot was predictable and there was nothing special about it. From an early stage I predicted the main “mystery” and I really hoped I was wrong because I wanted to be amazed. With that said, I had a difficult time putting the book down because I really wanted to know what happened next.

Also, I’m noticing a pattern of main female characters with destroyed lives with drinking problems in some thrillers and dramas. Is this a thing?

This was on the top of my to-be-read pile and I really wanted to love this and be amazed, but it was just okay.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

“My greatest wish for humanity is not for peace or comfort or joy. It is that we all still die a little inside every time we witness the death of another. For only the pain of empathy will keep us human. There’s no version of God that can help us if we ever lose that.” 5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: rings, gleanings, home cooked meals, scythes, corruption, colorful robes, journal passages, immunity and deadly weapons.

I fell in love with this book. I’m already a huge fan of dystopias as it is, but I’m surprised with how much I liked this! Well, I know I’m about five years late to this party, but the third book in the trilogy came out last year and I still see reviewers raving about this series. I know it is not recent but I still want to share my review nonetheless, just because I feel like this book deserves to be discussed and shared with the world.

This book is placed in a dystopian world where society finally reached the greatest achievement in human history: immortality. This means that nobody dies of natural causes or diseases, and therefore the population keeps growing and the resources available will eventually end. To correct this issue, there are designated people named scythes that are responsible for killing people – or like they prefer to call it, gleaning – in order to control the population number. Thanks to the nature of their work, scythes are very respected – and of course, feared – within the society. Fortunately – in theory -, future scythes are chosen by their character. If you hate the idea of killing other people and you have a very high moral, you are perfect for the job. Scythes should never take pleasure in killing other people, and they are expected to always do it in a respectful way, not only for the gleaned person but also for their families.

This story starts with scythe Faraday who decides to take a girl and boy – Citra and Rowan – as his apprentices. Since scythes rule almost everything, the teenagers didn’t have a choice and couldn’t refuse the apprenticeship. So this story is about them being horrified with the idea of gleaning and their journey in the apprenticeship to become scythes.

I didn’t think I would like the story, just because it’s not the usual type of book I usually reach for, but the truth is that there were so many elements that made me love this book.

Let’s talk about the story itself first. Can I get an amen for a true, original story? The concept is so original and inspiring, I don’t even remember reading a book similar to this. Not only that, but the writing is beautiful. Neal Shusterman sure knows how to write a great book. I found so many discrete quotes and lessons that I loved, and that are very accurate metaphors of our real life. Another thing I really enjoyed was the journal passages. Showing what scythes wrote in their journals – about how they felt about what they did and their thoughts in general – added so much to the story and to character development. The story is complex, has depth and is very well structured to the point that all the different elements go together smoothly. There is always something going on and the story progresses with a great pace. There are many crazy, tense moments and some plot twists in between, so you will not be bored!

I really like the format that he chose for the book. The book is told in both Citra and Ron’s perspectives. It was very cool to see how they bonded and how they had each other’s back during the apprenticeship. I not only liked the apprentices, but I liked every single character presented in the book – even the evil ones. Each scythe and each apprentice has its own personality and characteristics that make them special.

I always appreciate small details in books and one of my favorites from this book are the scythes’ names. I like how they get to choose their own name, based on important figures of history – Faraday and Curie were definitely my favorite. Another detail I loved was how they keep referencing events that are happening in our time and are considered history to them. Those passages acted like a bridge from our real/present life to that society in the future, and I found that very interesting.

Books like these remind me why I love reading so much. It has a very unique concept for a dystopia. I recommend this to everyone! Even if you think this is not your style, please give it a chance and you won’t regret it. I honestly would love to see this in a movie adaptation. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

xoxo, Neide

Review | Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

“Actions have consequences.” 2.5/5 stars!

Attention! This book contains: anonymous text messages, train rides, secret cameras, too many drinks, trolleys, broken frames and blood oranges.

Let me start by saying the two main reasons I decided to buy this book: the cover and the title. I know it’s a shallow reason, but just take a second look at that cover. Slices of orange with blood drips? It is absolutely stunning. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame and I knew for sure that I had to read this book. Not only that but the title made me very curious about how an orange can be the main title of a thriller book. In my mind, this was going to be epic!

Oh, but I was wrong. I don’t even know where to start with this review. The book is about a woman named Alison. She is a lawyer and she lives with her 6-year-old daughter and her husband. The thing is that she has a drinking problem, most of the time she is not there for her daughter and to top it all, she is cheating on her husband with a co-worker. There is a parallel plot where Alison is the lawyer responsible for defending a woman accused of killing her husband with a knife. Supposably there should be some mystery around this as well. And well… that’s the story.

I know it sounds like there would be more to the story, but there really isn’t. The writing itself is good, but I found the pacing very slow and the character’s narrative was very repetitive. I can’t even tell how many times she did and told the same things: how she wanted to be a better mother and how she wanted her affair to finish, and yet she continued to drink until blacking out and she kept meeting the other guy. I kept reading the book and I kept wondering when anything interesting and different would happen.

I thought there would be more pages and information about the case that she was working on. But the “big” mystery around it was actually very simple and predictable.

Regarding the characters I wasn’t impressed as well. There was not a single likeable character in this book! And of course, as you can probably tell by now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Alison. She is not a likeable character and she kept telling herself she was going to do better but she never actually made an effort like she thought. I just couldn’t feel sorry for her – and I really tried.

Then the end comes and there is the shocking part of the entire book. I admit I was disturbed and I didn’t see that coming, but it still wasn’t enough to make me like the book. 

I wouldn’t even describe this as a thriller. There is some mystery around the murder that she is investigating and the end is disturbing. Other than that, I didn’t find anything special from this book. But maybe I had high expectations.

But the part that disappointed me the most was the blood orange thing. I mean, c’mon! The book is literally named Blood Orange! I’m not going into much detail on this to not spoil the story, but I’m really disappointed.

I really wanted to love this, but it just wasn’t for me.

xoxo, Neide