Monday, February 27, 2017

Early Review: 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac

Title: 10 Things I Can See from Here 
Author: Carrie Mac 
Publisher: Knopf, Random House 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Think positive.
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.

Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.

Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?

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10 Things I Can See from Here offers a realistic look into the life of a young girl suffering from anxiety. It's raw and real and heartbreaking, but it's beautiful. The pacing was different from what I'm used to; it almost felt like I was living the story, because it was very true to life – no big drama or problem to solve, no build-up or climax. This wasn't that kind of story; but once I got used to that, I really enjoyed it. This book is an account of a certain time in the MC Maeve's life and what she's going through and overcoming at this time. Reading it felt like I was actually looking into someone's life, watching for a bit, and then stepping back out. Of course there was some excitement and drama; but it all felt very natural and realistic, almost as if I were reading a memoir. It was definitely a change of pace from what I usually read, and I loved it. 

I confess, I had read some early reviews of this book before beginning it myself; and I noticed some readers mainly took issue with two things: the portrayal of Maeve’s anxiety and what they perceived as insta-love between her and her girlfriend Salix. Everyone is entitled to what they think of a book, but I have to disagree with the popular opinion on this one. First, the focus on anxiety; not everyone's experience is the same, but this really shines a light on some of the things those with anxiety deal with daily and puts things into perspective. It's so important to spread awareness about mental health, and literature is one of the best platforms for that because it enables you to see things through someone else's eyes and become more familiar with what it's like to live with something like this. Some reviewers didn't enjoy the details of Maeve's anxiety and some of the results of it (ie: the statistics of how many people died a certain way, obituaries of real people and the ones she formulated on her own throughout the story, the way she thought through all the things that could go wrong in a certain situation, etc.); but I commend the author for not holding back, for showing the raw truth behind anxiety. Anxiety differs for everyone, just like any mental illness; but there are several aspects that remain the same, and I think it's incredibly important that we talk about these things and understand them rather than avoid them because they make us uncomfortable to read about. I appreciated the reality of this story. 

Secondly, the “insta-love.” That's something I'm turned off by in books, too – but I really don’t believe I would call this insta-love. Yes, there was an instant attraction; but Maeve and Salix took their time going on dates and getting to know each other before things turned more serious. Maeve lives her life preparing for the worst, and that includes the worst in her relationships with others. Her family is far from perfect, she's already suffered heartbreak at the young age of 16, and due to her extreme anxiety she feels incredibly isolated from the rest of the world. But then she meets Salix, and things start to make sense. Things are easier with Salix around, and Maeve is relieved to finally have a person in her life that doesn't make her feel like such an outsider. When you've spent so long trying to fit into a certain mold and be what others deem normal, and then you meet someone that shows you that it's okay to be who you are... it's inevitable that you're going to be drawn to that person, romantically or otherwise. Plus factor in the fact that they're teenagers, and it really isn't too far-fetched. I loved Maeve and Salix's relationship, and it made my heart happy to see someone be what Maeve needed. 

It was also refreshing to have a stepmother character that wasn't unnecessarily hostile toward her stepdaughter; Claire was kind and loving and every bit a second mother to Maeve, and I adored her. Aside from Salix and Claire, I also loved Dan (although I would love to have gotten more scenes with him), Owen and Corbin, and Mr. Hidleman. This book offered several characters to love, and I loved getting to know each one. 

I really enjoyed 10 Things I Can See from Here; the author's writing style was unique and captivating, and the story moved at an easy but enjoyable pace. I look forward to reading more of this author's work in the future. 

Note: Some things to be aware of in this story are language, anxiety triggers, and drug abuse; it's probably a book best suited for teens 16 and up. 

A huge thank-you to the publisher for sending a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 
  
© at A Belle's Tales

  

Friday, February 24, 2017

On My Shelf: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye


On My Shelf is an awesome feature hosted by Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives that anyone can join. The idea is to spotlight a book from your TBR shelf; it's a fun way to discuss books with fellow bloggers and, with their help, decide which books are must-reads... and which ones can wait a while longer.


I grabbed this book based on pure cover lust. I think it's so gorgeous with its deceitfully charming cover that, upon closer inspection, is actually kind of nefarious. Inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane EyreJane Steele is the tale of a heroic serial killer. It sounds amazing, and I need to know what you know about this book!

Have you read Jane Steele? What are your thoughts? 
Do I drop everything and start reading -- or put it back on my shelf?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you next week! 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

100 Words and a Quote


100 Words and a Quote is a feature in which I review books in exactly 100 words and share my favorite quote from each book. It’s fun, but it can also be challenging to make what I have to say fit that count. Well, I do love a good challenge. I do this for books when I can’t give much detail for fear of spoiling, for series finales, when I need to clean up my TBR, for novellas, and for those rare times when I just don’t have much to say about a book whether I loved it or not. Hope you enjoy my take on the (extra mini) mini-review. 


Title: Room 
Author: Emma Donoghue  
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Co. 
Published: September 13th, 2010
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Summary: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.



Devastatingly beautiful. An entire story told from the perspective of a five-year-old little boy, born in captivity, whose entire world is one room. One room that he shares with his mother, a young woman abducted and forced to endure visits from “Old Nick” while Jack sleeps. Ma does the very best for her little boy that she possibly can. Thought provoking, haunting, and at one point incredibly intense, this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Heartbreaking, yes; but thanks to Jack, there was also laughter. This bright little hope-filled boy captured my heart. He’ll do the same to yours.


“Scared is what you're feeling... but brave is what you're doing.” 




Author: Laurie Halse Anderson  
Publisher: Viking Books 
Published: January 7th, 2014
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Summary: For the past five years, Hayley Kincain and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own.

Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over? The Impossible Knife of Memory is Laurie Halse Anderson at her finest: compelling, surprising, and impossible to put down.  





Seventeen-year-old Hayley is back in school, attempting an ordinary life after years on the road with her father following his return from Iraq. Hayley meets Finn and finally feels like a normal teen, but will her dad’s demons once again force them from the life Hayley longs to have? I’ve read books dealing with PTSD, but this is the first I’ve read with a POV from the child of a parent with PTSD.  It was extremely eye-opening. I love Finn and Hayley’s friendship as well as the growth of their characters.  A raw and engaging story from a must-read author.


“People who have to announce that they are trustworthy deserve to be lied to.” 




Author: Amy Harmon  
Publisher: Createspace
Published: May 11th, 2016
Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Summary: Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.

The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?



This was my first Amy Harmon book, and I found her writing to be lovely and lyrical. The last words Lark’s mother spoke were a spell, and Lark hasn’t spoken a word since. Forced to reside in the king’s castle, she plots escape and yearns for freedom. I didn’t love all the characters (Tiras = asscrown), but I could still appreciate other aspects of the story. Not my favorite fantasy I’ve read; but the concept, setting, and stunning writing make me very glad I read it. The spells are my favorite part, and I’m a sucker for a gorgeous epilogue.


He considered me broken and I was incredibly grateful for all my jagged pieces that kept him away.” 


© at A Belle's Tales

  


                   

Monday, February 20, 2017

It's Monday! What are you reading?


It's Monday! What are you reading? is a great weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It's where we share what we're currently reading. 

What we'll be reading this week: 



We have two mother-daughter buddy-reads this week that we're pretty excited about. Last year, we did a mother-daughter review of Future Shock, and we can hardly wait to dive into the sequel, Future Threat! Next up will be The Bone Witch, which has us intrigued, though we've been seeing some mixed reviews. 

Previous posts: 


What are you reading this week?
We hope you have a happy Monday!

 © at A Belle's Tales

  

Friday, February 17, 2017

On My Shelf: Dream a Little Dream by Kerstin Gier


On My Shelf is an awesome feature hosted by Teresa at Readers Live A Thousand Lives that anyone can join. The idea is to spotlight a book from your TBR shelf; it's a fun way to discuss books with fellow bloggers and, with their help, decide which books are must-reads... and which ones can wait a while longer.


Dream a Little Dream is another BookOutlet find. Weird dreams that may not be dreams, boys conducting magic rituals, and a move to a new school in London make this book sound like one intriguing read. I love the cover; and when I look at the title, I can't help but sing, "But in your dreams, whatever they be... dream a little dream of me."

Have you read Dream a Little Dream? What are your thoughts? 
Do I drop everything and start reading -- or put it back on my shelf?

Hope everyone has a great weekend! See you next week! 

© at A Belle's Tales

  

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Early Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh

Title: I See You 
Author: Clare Mackintosh 
Publisher: Berkley 
Source: Publisher 
Expected Publication Date: February 21st, 2017 
Pre-order: Amazon | B&N 

Summary: Every morning and evening, Zoe Walker takes the same route to the train station, waits at a certain place on the platform, finds her favorite spot in the car, never suspecting that someone is watching her...

It all starts with a classified ad. During her commute home one night, while glancing through her local paper, Zoe sees her own face staring back at her; a grainy photo along with a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com. 

Other women begin appearing in the same ad, a different one every day, and Zoe realizes they’ve become the victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder. With the help of a determined cop, she uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose...A discovery that turns her paranoia into full-blown panic. Zoe is sure that someone close to her has set her up as the next target. 

And now that man on the train—the one smiling at Zoe from across the car—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move…

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“Routine is comforting to you. It’s familiar, reassuring. Routine makes you feel safe. 
Routine will kill you.” 

Last year, I devoured and loved Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go. I was thrilled to start I See You; and though it was not the emotional read that I Let You Go was, it was just as thrilling and perhaps even more nail-biting, and I enjoyed every page.

This story is told through two distinctive and central POVs, one being from Zoe Walker, a woman who sees her own face in an ad and comes to the unsettling realization that she, along with countless other women, is being stalked – and the other voice belonging to PC Kelly Swift, who is determined to find the predator and stop them, even as she battles her own inner demons. But my favorite and the most unsettling is the addition of an unknown POV huddled in wait between the chapters that instills fear and provides insight into just how dangerous a situation these women are in.

I See You is a staggering reminder of the negative consequences that living a life on social media brings. The fallout of having an undeviating routine and the misfortune that can ensue when you become so absorbed in your day-to-day, concentrating solely on what comes next, that you fail to realize that someone out there is watching. Someone who knows exactly what you’ll do next. I believe it’s the realism in this story that makes it so frightening. It’s one of those stories that you know has happened, still happens, and could happen to you.

This is a smart thriller that is electrifying and entirely relevant. At times, the pacing was a bit slower as the story built, but I didn’t find it bothersome in the least as I was too absorbed in pointing fingers and attempting to narrow down my own list of suspects. I felt like I was eavesdropping on someone else’s life and even invading the main character’s privacy, but there was no way I was looking away for a second. This is my second book by Clare Mackintosh, and she’s proved that she’s a must-read author for this mystery lover.

“How many of you are being followed? Would you even know?” 

A huge thank-you to Berkley for sending a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Quotes above are taken from an ARC and are subject to change in the final copy. 
  
© at A Belle's Tales