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Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder

April 30, 2018
The Pisces, Melissa Broder, InToriLex
Published By: Hogarth Press on May 1, 2018
Format Read: ARC Edition (272 pages)
Genre: Contemporary/ Fantasy/ Romance
Series: Stand Alone
Source: Giveaway Win
Rating: TWO STARS
The Pisces
~Amazon~ 
Lucy has been writing her dissertation about Sappho for thirteen years when she and Jamie break up. After she hits rock bottom in Phoenix, her Los Angeles-based sister insists Lucy housesit for the summer—her only tasks caring for a beloved diabetic dog and trying to learn to care for herself. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube atop Venice Beach, but Lucy can find no peace from her misery and anxiety—not in her love addiction group therapy meetings, not in frequent Tinder meetups, not in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection, not in ruminating on the ancient Greeks. Yet everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer one night while sitting alone on the beach rocks.

Whip-smart, neurotically funny, sexy, and above all, fearless, The Pisces is built on a premise both sirenic and incredibly real—what happens when you think love will save you but are afraid it might also kill you.

VERDICT:

Content Warning: Animal Abuse, Graphic Sex 

REVIEW:

The unlikable protagonist in this book made me want to reach in and shake her. The people who have liked this tale of Lucy finding herself on Venice beach and making increasingly selfish and self destructive choices have emphasized that it's funny. The humor didn't work for me because my tolerance for  people complaining about things most people would be happy to have is very low. I was entertained by the authors inclusion of side characters and absurd circumstances. But the merman Lucy falls had more sense and logic then she ever managed to muster through a summer of self reflection.
"Yes it certainly seemed like the human instinct to get high on someone else, an external entity who could make life more exciting and relieve you of your own self, your own life, even just for a moment."
When Lucy was not pondering on her inability to stop searching for a man's love she is engaged in casual sex. However the sex scenes were often gross and uncomfortable. Despite this I wanted to cheer for Lucy while she struggles to love herself, I understood it was incredibly hard. She does learn that her decisions and point of view is flawed but she never takes responsibility for the circumstances she finds herself in. The fantasy elements of this book only added to my impression that Lucy needs more psychological help than her group therapy sessions could offer. Lucy was a frustrating character because she was entranced by her delusions,  pitying others approach to life, as if hers was glamorous.
"If they had tasted the nausea of not knowing why we are here or who we are, or if they had not, now they were willfully and successfully ignoring it. Or maybe they were just stupid. Oh, the sweet gift of stupidity. I envied them. "

The fantasy elements included failed to make Lucy's story more interesting. I finished the book disappointed because this is not what I was expecting. While this is marketed as romance, it read much more like women's fiction. The absurdness of it may resonate with readers in a way the story missed the make for me. This was a snapshot into a woman's life who relished in the dysfunction she created. Lucy was content to exist in the fantasy of her life, the ending didn't leave me with hope she leaves her fantasises. Amika, Lucy's rich half-sister, is sympathetic and generous to Lucy. Her kindess hints that Lucy had some redeeming qualities, but I never found them in the book.

Recommended for Readers who
-can like a book without liking the protagonist
-enjoy existential pondering
-regularly enjoy women's fiction/ Chick lit

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Broder is the author of four poetry collections, including LAST SEXT (Tin House, 2016), and the essay collection SO SAD TODAY (Grand Central, 2016). Her first novel, is  THE PISCES.
Broder writes the So Sad Today column for VICE, the horoscopes for Lenny Letter, and the Beauty and Death column at Elle.com.

Broder received her BA from Tufts University and her MFA from City College of New York. She lives in Los Angeles.
Website

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Sunday Post #3 April 29, 2018

April 29, 2018
InToriLex, Sunday Post, Book Blog Meme
 Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next.

LAST WEEK

COMING SOON

Review: The Pisces by Melissa Broder

Review: Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope

Review: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

Review: Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

Audio Book Review: An Unkindness of Ghost by Rivers Solomon

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE





BOOKS HAULED
All Purchased From Book Outlet

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Godsgrave (The Nevernight Chronicle #2) by Jay Kristoff

 I  have not been able to post to my blog as much as I wanted. But I did get a good amount of reading done. I tried to participate in the 24 hr Dewey #Readathon, however I had too much going on and only was able to read a few hours. I just started reading the The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
and listening to Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal both are highly recommended. I'm hoping to get four reviews up this week and more organized with my reading schedule this month.

What are your reading plans?


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Book Scoop April 20- April 27, 2018

April 27, 2018
Book Scoop, Book News, Weekly Feature, InToriLex
Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After, Clemantine Wamariya, InToriLex
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
  Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were "thunder." In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety--perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.

When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey--to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality.

Raw, urgent, and bracingly original, The Girl Who Smiled Beads captures the true costs and aftershocks of war: what is forever destroyed; what can be repaired; the fragility of memory; the disorientation that comes of other people seeing you only as broken--thinking you need, and want, to be saved. But it is about more than the brutality of war. It is about owning your experiences, about the life we create: intricately detailed, painful, beautiful, a work in progress.
 
Shattered Mirror (Eve Duncan #23), Iris Johansen, InToriLexShattered Mirror (Eve Duncan #23) by Iris Johansen 
Shattered Mirror (Eve Duncan, #23)
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a new explosive thriller featuring forensic sculptor Eve Duncan.

Iris Johansen returns with a thrilling novel of action and danger where fan favorite Eve Duncan is thrown once more into a deadly game of intrigue. It begins when Eve receives a package containing a skull—and instructions for Eve to do her work reconstructing it. When she does, a beautiful woman’s face emerges. But when Eve is introduced to the dead woman’s mirror image, a game is on where her twin’s life hangs in the balance.
 
Property: Stories Between Two Novellas by Lionel Shriver
Property: Stories Between Two Novellas, Lionel Shriver, Book Cover
Property: Stories Between Two Novellas
A striking new collection of ten short stories and two novellas that explores the idea of property in every meaning of the word, from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for That and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Intermingling settings in America and Britain, Lionel Shriver’s first collection explores property in both senses of the word: real estate and stuff. These pieces illustrate how our possessions act as proxies for ourselves, and how tussles over ownership articulate the power dynamics of our relationships. In Lionel Shriver’s world, we may possess people and objects and places, but in turn they possess us.

In the stunning novella "The Standing Chandelier," a woman with a history of attracting other women’s antagonism creates a deeply personal wedding present for her best friend and his fiancée—only to discover that the jealous fiancée wants to cut her out of their lives. In "Domestic Terrorism," a thirty-something son refuses to leave home, resulting in a standoff that renders him a millennial cause célèbre. In "The ChapStick," a middle-aged man subjugated by service to his elderly father discovers that the last place you should finally assert yourself is airport security. In "Vermin," an artistic Brooklyn couple’s purchase of a ramshackle house destroys their once-passionate relationship. In "The Subletter," two women, both foreign conflict junkies, fight over a claim to a territory that doesn’t belong to either.

Exhibiting a satisfying thematic unity unusual for a collection, this masterful work showcases the biting insight that has made Shriver one of the most acclaimed writers of our time.
Ash Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1), Laura Sebastian, InToriLexAsh Princess (Ash Princess Trilogy #1) by Laura Sebastian
Ash Princess
Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess--a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield.

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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Review: Dread Nation (Dread Nation #1) by Justina Ireland

April 24, 2018
Dread Nation, (Dread Nation #1), Justina Ireland, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Balzar + Bray on April 3, 2018
Format Read: Hardcover  Edition (464 pages)
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Horror/ Young Adult
Series: Book One of Dread Nation
Source: Purchased
Rating: FOUR STARS
Dread Nation
~Amazon~
Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.

But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems. 

VERDICT:

 Content Warning: Racism, Sexism, Violence, Gore

REVIEW:

This alternate history tale involving zombies had  more humor and heart than I could have hoped for. Jane sets out to learn what she can to protect herself from the undead at Ms. Preston's school of combat. She encounters formidable enemies and racist beliefs, but never backs down.  The combat schools in this book were inspired by the Native American Boarding Schools established in the 18th & 19th centuries. These schools forced Native American children from their home where they were forced to remove their cultural identifiers and subject to sexual, physical, and mental abuse in hopes that they would assimilate to Euro-American culture. The Preston combat school is not as abusive but does hope to assimilate the girls to protect and serve the wealthy who can hire them.
"There's nothing white folks hate more than realizing they accidentally treated a Negro like a person."
There are two political parties that vie for control. Survivalists believe the undead are punishment on society for ending slavery, they are hoping to return to that order. Egalitarians believe people should be treated equal and black people should be given their appropriate rights.While Jane was not mistreated at Ms. Preston's school her curious and rebellious nature leads her into trouble where she has to navigate politically driven danger. I was struck by how formidable and clever Jane has to become in order to navigate a society which see's her as an object they can mistreat. The world building was phenomenal, the danger of the undead was taken seriously but Jane's wit made it fun.
"Don't be afraid to be something you aren't, Jane. Sometimes a little subterfuge and chicanery is in order and the quickest way to achieve one's goal."
I appreciated the use of Jane's letter to her Mom and chapter titles that clued you into what was next. The characters were memorable and the small victories they achieved helped to balance out the dire situations they found themselves in. The plot twists were not predictable and the action was well described. There was little romance described and non-heterosexual representation which I appreciated. It's important for young readers to know that sexuality is a spectrum. It's important to know the real history of the harsh lives Native and African American's were subjected to after slavery. This shed light on those issues in a compelling and well written way. I felt there was some back story missing which kept this from being a five star read for me. But it was still great and I cannot wait to continue on with the series.

Recommended for readers who
-enjoy historical young adult fiction
-appreciate diverse representation written by own voice authors
-want to get a lost in a world with bad ass women standing up for themselves



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows.
Website
Twitter
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Review: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

April 23, 2018
The City of Brass, (The Daevabad Trilogy #1), S.A. Chakraborty, Book Review, InToriLex
Published By: Harper Audio on November 14, 2017
Format Read: Audiobook (Timestamp 19:36 mins)
Genre: Fantasy/ Historical Fiction/ Young Adult
Series: Book One of The Daevabad Trilogy
Source: Hoopla
Rating: FIVE STARS
The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)
~Amazon~ 
Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. A young prince dreams of rebellion. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .
 

VERDICT:

 Content Warning: Descriptive Violence, Torture, Gore

REVIEW:

Epic story telling full of intrigue, magic, twists and humor. This was the first audio book I've listened to in years. I've discovered that unlike other more adept listeners I'm only able to get into Audio Books at normal speed. This was a big book, but the writing and action made me want to keep going the whole way through. Nahri is a wonderful protagonist who is struggling to figure out who she is and who she could be. At the beginning of Nahri's journey she is surviving in 18th century Cairo by using her magical abilities, cleverness and sleight of hand to make a living. She accidentally conjures a djinn named Dara. He slowly who reveals where she comes from and gives her clues to who she is, and serves as her protector.
Nahri sets off with Dara after efrit (demons) attack them and to the magical city of Daevabad. In this city we are introduced to Prince Alizayed who is  the second son of the King. The book alternates between his and Nahri's point of views. Ali is torn between helping the shafit (people who are human and djinn) who suffer under poverty and mistreatment at the hands of the pure blooded. Daevabad is full of alliances, betrayals and secrets. Ali has to learn to navigate the politics of the city. Nahri has to adjust to new responsibilities and hard choices she has to make once she arrives. She quickly learns that she has to create her own alliances and trust no one in the process.

The world building in this book is phenomenal.  The Daevabad tribes and forms of magic that exist in led to engaging action and twists I didn't see coming. There are different species besides djinn and human, they follow different rules and exist in different lands. The religion described in the book has heavy Muslim influences, and the history described was well researched. The romance included was not insta-love but instead multifaceted and well thought out. There is a lot to digest but  I was never overwhelmed by the plot points and characters that are introduced. The ending was a cliff hanger, so I can't wait to continue the series. This was a fantastic start to a wonderful world full of characters you will root for and despise.

Recommended for readers who
-enjoy middle eastern influenced historical fiction
-relish in fantastic world building
-appreciate humor mixed in with serious topics and atmospheres

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, THE CITY OF BRASS, is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy set in the 18th century Middle East and will be published in November 2017 by Harper Voyager. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, S. A. enjoys hiking, knitting, and cooking unnecessarily complicated meals for her family.
Website
Twitter 
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Sunday Post #2 April 22, 2018

April 22, 2018
Sunday Post, InToriLex
 Sunday Post is a Book Blog Meme hosted at the Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a post used to summarize what has happened on your blog for the past week, and preview what's next.

LAST WEEK

Review: The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein 

Review: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Book Scoop April 13- April 20, 2018

 COMING SOON 

Review: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Audio Book Review: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Review: The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff

Review: Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

Audio Book Review: An Unkindness of Ghost by Rivers Solomon

AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE 

Jazmen Started A Wonderful new blog: Literally Black

Avery Discusses Non #OwnVoice Reviews

Shealea list 9 reasons reading Secondhand Origin Stories (by Lee Blauersouth) should be on your priorities  

Bogi Compiles A Hugo Award Packet

BOOKS HAULED

Whiskey & Ribbons, Leesa Cross-Smith, InToriLex 
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith ( Hub City Press ebook) 

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Vol. 1, (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters #1), Emil Ferris
 My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Vol. 1 (My Favorite Thing Is Monsters #1) by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics Books Purchased)


How to Love A Jamaican, Alexis Arthurs, InToriLex

How to Love A Jamaican by Alexis Arthurs (Ballantine Books OUT JULY 24th Won) 


Brightly Burning, Alexa Donne, InToriLex

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne (HMH Books for Young Readers OUT MAY 1st Won) 


Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir, Jean Guerrero, InToriLexCrux: A Cross-Border Memoir by Jean Guerrero (One World OUT JULY 17th Won)

I've been really busy with work this week, so it was hard for me to post. I'm hoping this week will go better. I'm currently reading Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope
and listening to The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater Audio Book. I'm happy I've been able to read as much as I have despite my busy schedule. I've been on a role lately with winning books, which has helped me say no to buying books. 

How did your reading go this week?
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Book Scoop April 13- April 20, 2018

April 20, 2018

Book Industry News, Links & New Book Releases

HEADLINES

In Her Skin by Kim Savage
In Her Skin, Kim Savage, InToriLex
In Her Skin
Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest scam of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.
Blackfish City by Sam J. Miller
Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller, InToriLex
Blackfish City
~Amazon~
After the climate wars, a floating city is constructed in the Arctic Circle, a remarkable feat of mechanical and social engineering, complete with geothermal heating and sustainable energy. The city’s denizens have become accustomed to a roughshod new way of living, however, the city is starting to fray along the edges—crime and corruption have set in, the contradictions of incredible wealth alongside direst poverty are spawning unrest, and a new disease called “the breaks” is ravaging the population.

When a strange new visitor arrives—a woman riding an orca, with a polar bear at her side—the city is entranced. The “orcamancer,” as she’s known, very subtly brings together four people—each living on the periphery—to stage unprecedented acts of resistance. By banding together to save their city before it crumbles under the weight of its own decay, they will learn shocking truths about themselves.

Blackfish City is a remarkably urgent—and ultimately very hopeful—novel about political corruption, organized crime, technology run amok, the consequences of climate change, gender identity, and the unifying power of human connection.
The Elizas by Sara Shephard
The Elizas, Sara Shephard, InToriLex
The Elizas
~Amazon~
When debut novelist Eliza Fontaine is found at the bottom of a hotel pool, her family at first assumes that it’s just another failed suicide attempt. But Eliza swears she was pushed, and her rescuer is the only witness.

Desperate to find out who attacked her, Eliza takes it upon herself to investigate. But as the publication date for her novel draws closer, Eliza finds more questions than answers. Like why are her editor, agent, and family mixing up events from her novel with events from her life? Her novel is completely fictional, isn’t it?

The deeper Eliza goes into her investigation while struggling with memory loss, the closer her life starts to resemble her novel until the line between reality and fiction starts to blur and she can no longer tell where her protagonist’s life ends and hers begins.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Ghost Boys
~Amazon~
Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death.
Did I miss anything in the book world? Let me know in the comments below
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