Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Books Lately: April '17

I've been extremely busy lately with work and haven't had much time to do anything else but read after a long day, so April has been a pretty good book month for me.  Here's what I read:

The Shadow Land, by Elizabeth Kostova
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"THE SHADOW LAND blends history and the present in a suspenseful journey that spans three generations and reveals the dark secrets of a family’s—and a nation’s—history.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi — and realises too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she gradually uncovers the secrets of a talented musician shattered by oppression —and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova’s tale of immense scope delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss."

The beginning of this book was very slow for me and it took me a while to get into the story because so much time was focused on Alexandra's back story.  Once the story picked up, it was easy for me to get lost in the book because it had a lot of my favorite elements:  history, tragedy, mystery, corruption, and strong ties of friendship.  I especially loved Stoyan Lazarov's story of being sent to work camps and the fact that he suffered it all in silence.  I also really appreciated that the author didn't give away too many hints about the bad guy, which kept me guessing until the very end.

A Spiritual Look at the 12 Signs, an Introduction to Spiritual Astrology, by Joseph Polansky
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from NetGalley:
"A spiritual perspective on the 12 signs of the zodiac, the horoscope, healing and spirituality. People's quirks and idiosyncrasies have deep spiritual roots. The horoscope shows us what they are. What are seen as flaws are really strengths deeply disguised or not used properly. Every sign is in essence a spiritual force and function and denotes a person's deepest urges. This book explains these urges. It also contains meditations for each of the signs, and the herbs, colors, gems and reflexology points that will most benefit each sign. There are chapters on the unique spiritual path for each sign and the healing modalities that are best for each - and much more."

I used to be into Astrology, tarot cards, palm reading, etc. back in high school (who wasn't, right?) so this book really took me back and allowed me to tap into my spiritual side and get a new perspective on the different areas of my life as well as the lives of others.  Some parts of the book were repetitive, but at the same time, I can see how the author needed to reiterate certain things because some people tend to pick up books like these and only read the parts about their specific zodiac sign.  I really loved the insight I got from reading through this and am looking forward to learning more.

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Description from Amazon:
"The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community."

I'd read this book in elementary school and it was one of those stories that really stuck with me throughout my life.  Finally getting the chance to reread it made me realize just how great of a story it is that it stuck with me for so long.  I've also purchased the follow-up book to it (there are actually 4 books now I think ) and can't wait to dig into that one as soon as I finish reading all the other books I have on my TBR list.

Extracted, by R.R. Haywood
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"In 2061, a young scientist invents a time machine to fix a tragedy in his past. But his good intentions turn catastrophic when an early test reveals something unexpected: the end of the world.

A desperate plan is formed. Recruit three heroes, ordinary humans capable of extraordinary things, and change the future.

Safa Patel is an elite police officer, on duty when Downing Street comes under terrorist attack. As armed men storm through the breach, she dispatches them all.

'Mad' Harry Madden is a legend of the Second World War. Not only did he complete an impossible mission—to plant charges on a heavily defended submarine base—but he also escaped with his life.

Ben Ryder is just an insurance investigator. But as a young man he witnessed a gang assaulting a woman and her child. He went to their rescue, and killed all five.

Can these three heroes, extracted from their timelines at the point of death, save the world?"
Oh, this one was good!  I've never been much of a sci-fi fan, but this one really drew me in.  It's basically a story about time travel and the apocalypse and three people are "extracted" from their place in time to save the world before it happens.  I loved getting to know the characters and their backstories but the cliffhanger ending frustrated the hell out of me!  I need to know what happens next!!  I cannot wait until the release of the second book in this trilogy!

The Man In the Lighthouse, by Erik Valeur
**A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"All his life, Viggo Larssen has been haunted by the same troubling dream, which he calls the Omen—a vision of a woman beckoning to him from the surface of a churning sea. Now, as he broods over his shipwrecked existence in a remote lighthouse off the outermost coast of Denmark, he is about to be borne backward by the current to a past he thought he had escaped forever.

On the Danish mainland, the widowed mother of the nation’s prime minister mysteriously vanishes from her prestigious nursing home. As the police search for clues, evidence mounts that her disappearance is tied to an unsolved crime from Viggo’s childhood. Told through the eyes of multiple characters from Viggo’s old neighborhood, Erik Valeur’s dark, serpentine mystery is a profound meditation on the persistence of memory, the power of dreams, and the secrets we hide from one another—and ourselves."
I enjoy stories that are creepy and mysterious but in a subtle, not too over-the-top sort of way and this book was it.  So many characters with different personalities yet each has so many secrets to hide.  The mystery behind the Widow drove me crazy because there were so many suspects it was hard to pin down who was really behind her disappearance and death but I loved it.  I also really loved the Death Omen theory and how the author tied it into this story full of tragedy.  Such a good book that left me wanting to read more about the other characters and their stories.

Whiskey, Words & a Shovel I, by R.H. Sin **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel, Vol. 1, is about reclaiming your power on the path to a healthy relationship. It is a testament to choosing to love yourself, even if it means heartbreak.

Originally released in 2015, this re-rerelease packs the same punch as the first version, but makes an even greater connection with the soul of the reader. Each piece has been re-seen and revamped to reflect the author’s continuing journey with his partner, Samantha King, without whom this book would not exist. Samantha is the muse, the “she” the writer speaks of; she is every woman who has felt like she wasn’t good enough, and every woman who struggles to find love."

I had been itching to read this book for months after hearing and seeing so many good things about it.  Being that the first version of this book was listed for at least $100 on Amazon, I was so excited when I found a digital copy of the revised edition on NetGalley.  I enjoyed most of the poems in this book, and though they were quite short and easy to read through, they still stirred emotion in me - which I believe is what poetry should do.  I've been reading a lot more poetry lately, which in turn motivates me to write more so I'm trying to make it a point to read at least one book of poetry each month.

Girl in Snow, by Danya Kukafka
 **A copy of this book has been generously provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Description from Amazon:
"When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both. In crystalline prose, Danya Kukafka offers a brilliant exploration of identity and of the razor-sharp line between love and obsession, between watching and seeing, between truth and memory."
Another great mystery book that kept me on the edge until the very end!  Basically, a teenage girl (blonde, popular, perfect in every way) named Lucinda is found dead on the playground of a small town and nobody knows who killed her.  The story is told from the points of view of three different people:  Cameron (main suspect, peeping Tom, weird kid that has serious issues, aka Lucinda's stalker), Jade (complete opposite of Lucinda, tried to use magic to wish Lucinda would disappear), and Russ (police officer, used to be partners with Cameron's dad).  I loved getting to know all three of the main characters and their roles in the mystery and the ending was such a great twist!  I NEVER would have guessed who the killer was!  Cannot wait to read more from this new author!


  1. You are making me want to go back and read The Giver again!

  2. Ooh Extracted sounds so interesting! Added it to my TBR :) Ahh you got so much reading done this month! April was a hellish month in college as the semester was wrapping up, so I didn't have very much time to read, but I'm leaving for summer break in a day, and I can't wait to get my reading grind back on! My favourite book this past month has been The Reminders by Val Emmich :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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