In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

A wonderful tale of a woman’s sexual awakening. It’s equal parts raunchy, funny, and genuine.

DESCRIPTION:

A fresh, funny, audacious debut novel about a Bridget Jones–like twenty-something who discovers that she may have simply been looking for love — and, ahem, pleasure — in all the wrong places (aka: from men)

Julia hasn’t had sex in three years. Her roommate has a boyfriend—and their sex noises are audible through the walls, maybe even throughout the neighborhood. Not to mention, she’s treading water in a dead-end job, her know-it-all therapist gives her advice she doesn’t ask for, and the men she is surrounded by are, to be polite, subpar. Enough is enough.

So when Julia gets invited to a warehouse party in a part of town where “trendy people who have lots of sex might go on a Friday night”—she readily accepts. Whom she meets there, however, is surprising: a conceptual artist, also a woman.

Julia’s sexual awakening begins; her new lesbian life, as she coins it, is exhilarating. She finds her tribe at queer swing dancing classes, and guided by her new lover Sam, she soon discovers London’s gay bars and BDSM clubs, and . . . the complexities of polyamory. Soon it becomes clear that Sam needs to call the shots, and Julia’s newfound liberation comes to bear a suspicious resemblance to entrapment . . . 

In at the Deep End is an unforgettably frank, funny, and racy odyssey through the pitfalls and seductions we encounter on the treacherous—and more often, absurd—path to love and self.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Women’s Fiction, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Expected Publication Date: June.4.2019

*Thank you Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW: 

Julia, the protagonist, embraces her new lesbian identity and never looks back. She is very quickly introduced to BDSM and polyamory and tries to determine whether either is for her. She falls head over heels for her new girlfriend Sam, an artist. 

I absolutely loved this book. The writing is full of quips and humor. And at first glance, you get the impression everything is happy/go-lucky. But Davies subtly brings in real relationship issues and does a superb job of handling it. 

Julia is an interesting character. She is smart, anxious, and open. Watching her character develop was a journey. One I would gladly go on again. 

RATING: 4/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES! Just keep in mind it’s sexually graphic haha 😉

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

A heartbreaking dual-narrative story set in WWII Shanghai and modern-day Australia about survival, family, and love.

DESCRIPTION:

Kirsty Manning makes her US debut with this gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.


1939:
Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.


2016:
Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself. 


The Song of the Jade Lily
is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

     – Goodreads


Genre(s):
Historical Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow

Expected Publication Date: May.14.2019

*Thank you William Morrow for providing an ARC through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

REVIEW:

I absolutely loved this book. Books that teach me something new, stick with me for quite a long time. And this one, taught me a lot. 

So what exactly did this book teach me? History! The focus of this book is on Jewish refugees in Shanghai. Those who escaped Hitler’s regime during WWII. It’s incredibly eye-opening. An aspect of the war I had never considered was revealed to me.

The story itself is told through two timelines. There is the WWII narrative where we see one young girl (Romy) and her family scraping a life together in Shanghai after experiencing such horror in Europe. Then there is the modern-day narrative (set in 2016), where we learn what happened to the young girl and her family. 

It’s a tearjerker, this book. It’s one bad thing after another. But there are instances of love and so much strength and resilience. Which is what made me fall for this book. That through it all, people were still fighting, and resisting. Empowering. 

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

RECOMMEND: YES!! Most definitely! It’s not your typical WWII novel, in that it doesn’t focus on the European theater.

Parkland: Birth of a Movement by Dave Cullen

An in-depth look at the group of teenagers who sparked a movement after the February 14th, 2018 shooting at their high school. 

DESCRIPTION:

The New York Times bestselling author of Columbine offers a deeply moving account of the extraordinary teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting who pushed back against the NRA and Congressional leaders and launched the singular grassroots March for Our Lives movement.

Emma Gonzalez called BS. David Hogg called out Adult America. The uprising had begun. Cameron Kasky immediately recruited a colorful band of theatre kids and rising activists and brought them together in his living room to map out a movement. Four days after escaping Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, two dozen extraordinary kids announced the audacious March for Our Lives. A month later, it was the fourth largest protest in American history.

Dave Cullen, who has been reporting on the epidemic of school shootings for two decades, takes us along on the students’ nine-month odyssey to the midterms and beyond. With unrivaled access to their friends and families, meetings and homes, he pulls back the curtain to reveal intimate portraits of the quirky, playful organizers that have taken the nation by storm. 

Cullen brings us onto the bus for the Road to Change tour showing us how these kids seized an opportunity. They hit the highway to organize the young activist groups mushrooming across America in their image. Rattled but undeterred, they pressed on in gun country even as adversaries armed with assault weapons tailed them across Texas and Utah trying to scare them off. 

The Parkland students are genuinely candid about their experiences. We see them cope with shattered friendships and PTSD, along with the normal day-to-day struggles of school, including AP exams and college acceptances. Yet, with the idealism of youth they are mostly bubbling with fresh ideas. As victims refusing victimhood, they continue to devise clever new tactics to stir their generation to action while building a powerhouse network to match the NRA’s. 

This spell-binding book is a testament to change and a perceptive examination of a pivotal moment in American culture. After two decades of adult hand-wringing, the MFOL kids are mapping a way out. They see a long road ahead, a generational struggle to save every kid of every color from the ravages of gun violence in America. Parkland is a story of staggering empowerment and hope, told through the wildly creative and wickedly funny voices of a group of remarkable kids.
     – Goodreads

Genre(s): Nonfiction, Crime, History, Politics

Publisher: Harper

Expected Publication Date: February.12.2019

*Thank you to the author and publisher for providing an ARC of this book via a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book provided*

REVIEW:
So it’s taken me a while to gather my thoughts in regards to this book. From the first few pages, this book had me sobbing. And I couldn’t figure out why. Why  was this book affecting me so much? Then one day it clicked. After Sandy Hook I was disillusioned. Because if dead babies don’t thaw your cold, greedy, gun-loving heart, then nothing will. And yet here are these teens, refusing to be further victimized and changing the narrative. These kids are doing what the generations before them should have done a long time ago. They are standing up, demanding action be taken, and filling people like me with hope.

Dave Cullen spent a lot of time observing, and speaking to these young activists. His personal experiences covering these massacres over the years and following the MFOL movement from city to city, brings unparalleled insight into this incredible work of journalism.

Now, this book, isn’t like Columbine. Rather, its focus is on the survivors. Their resilience. The way they refused to let the Valentine’s Day massacre at their high school be just another one-second blip in the media. How this group of grieving and traumatized kids decided to take action. 

As a millenial adult I remember Columbine. I also remember that after that massacre, active shooter drills/lockdown drills were implemented. For my Gen Z brother, he has never known life without them. Those drills have been a part of his entire school life. Right along with earthquake and fire drills. I feel like my generation just kind of accepted it. There’s nothing we can do about it, let’s move on. But the next generation sees it differently. 

Getting an insider look at the kids behind the March for Our Lives movement, you realize how incredibly fed up they are. How frustrated they are. How tough, and incredibly intelligent they are. They realize they don’t have all the answers. THEY DON’T WANT TO TAKE YOUR GUNS AWAY. But they demand some kind of action be taken to prevent another mass shooting from happening again. 

I believe these kids can get it done. Because if growing up on Harry Potter movies has taught me anything, it is that a group of teenagers can handle themselves well enough to take down their foe. Voldemort, who?
  
RATING: 5/5 stars

Recommend? Yes!! Read Columbine and Parkland back-to-back and you’ll quickly realize why this is an important, and timely book!

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel: A Story of Sleepy Hollow by Alyssa Palombo


This book pays homage to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow while still managing to flesh out a somewhat new story. It adds touches of magic, of love, of friendship. It goes beyond a mere ghost story. Ah, I loved this book.

* Thank you to Alyssa Palombo and St. Martin’s Press for providing an ARC of this book through a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own *



Published By: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: October.2.2018

Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Retellings

The mysterious and haunted world of Sleepy Hollow is palpable in this book. You can feel the hazy fog surrounding you, as you read Katrina’s version of events. 

In Wasington Irving’s original story, Katrina Van Tassel is described as a somewhat shallow coquette. But as this book is told by Katrina herself, we get another side to the infamous legend. And if you’re familiar with the original tale, then you’ll recognize many of the characters and elements that appear. 

At its core, the story is about love. Katrina and Ichabod are passionately in love with one another (providing the reader with a slew of steamy scenes). But he is a schoolteacher, dependent on the generosity of his pupil’s families. Katrina, is sole heiress to the successful Van Tassel farm. On All Hallows Eve, Ichabod asks for Katrina’s hand in marriage but is denied by her father. That night, Ichabod disappears and is presumed by the townspeople to have been taken by the headless horseman.

The story is also about magic and female friendship. Katrina’s best friend is Charlotte, a healer and witch. Because of Brom Van Brunts accusations of witchcraft, Charlotte is looked upon with fear. But Katrina defends her, and sticks by her. And through her, discovers her own gift of Sight. 

This is also a story of loss. When Ichabod disappears, Katrina is heartbroken. She spends a couple of years trying to figure out whether he abandoned her or if something more sinister befell him. If you assume it’s the latter, you’d be right. This is Sleepy Hollow, after all.  

This is an incredibly entertaining story. Katrina is a young, modern woman, stuck in post-Revolutionary War America. She is an avid reader, has her own political ideas, and a truly independent spirit. A part of me feels a lot of sympathy for this girl though. My heart broke when she finally discovered Ichabod Crane’s fate.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I hadn’t read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in so long that after I finished this read, I went and listened to the audiobook version. And wow. The original is good. But I was surprised by how faithful The Spellbook was to it. From Ichabod’s physical description, to Gunpowder veering off the main road by the church. I am truly awed by what Alyssa Palombo accomplished.