ARC Review | The Age of Light

Title: The Age of Light

Author: Whitney Scharer

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Expected Publication Date: February 05, 2019

Genre: Historical Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

I was recently sent an ARC of The Age of Light by the publicists at Little, Brown and Company in exchange for an honest review. This work of historical fiction by Whitney Scharer is expected to be published on February 05, 2019.

The Age of Light is a captivating and exhilarating narrative that keeps readers emotionally invested up to the very last page. Masquerading as historical fiction, the novel recounts the life of Vogue model turned photographer, Lee Miller and her relationship with Man Ray, one of the most influential figures of the Dada and Surrealists movements ensuing Paris in the 1930s.  Continue reading “ARC Review | The Age of Light”

Review: Men Without Women

Title: Men Without Women

Author: Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Bond Street Books

Publication Date: May 9, 2017

Genre: Short Story, Adult Contemporary

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

Another masterpiece from the artful clever Haruki Murakami. Before reading Men Without Women I read Norwegian Wood (my review can be found here). I had just come back from a long non-blogging hiatus and I was frightfully anxious to begin writing reviews again. However, having not written in a while, I felt that I lost much of my imagination and inspiration for writing. I mean, book reviews doesn’t take the strenuous amount of creativity and strength that novel or short story writing requires but there’s still a lot of thought that goes into the process. With this in mind, I really wanted to ease my way back in with an author I already knew and have never felt let down by. Murakami is that author for me. Norwegian Wood carried me away and made me feel as though all the thoughts, troubles, feelings that I had in the past few months were basic nothingness. Like all feelings of euphoria, I wanted to feel this way again. I initially told myself that after writing my review for Norwegian Wood I would get serious and start on my list of author requests and ARCs but here I am writing this long beat-around-the-bush explanation just to say I did no such thing. I picked up more Murakami. This time I’m here with an eccentric collection of contemporary short stories, Men Without WomenContinue reading “Review: Men Without Women”

Review: History is All You Left Me

Title: History Is All You Left Me

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: SOHO Tean

Publication Date: January 17, 2017

Genre: YA, LGBTQ, Mental Illness

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

“You’re still in alternate universes,Theo, but I live in the real world, where this morning you’re having an open-casket funeral”.

Continue reading “Review: History is All You Left Me”

Review: More Happy Than Not

Title: More Happy Than Not

Author: Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Publication Date: June 2, 2015

Genre: YA, LGBTQ, Mental Illness, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

More Happy Than Not is a whirlwind of tragedy, misfortune, self-discovery, and an utmost pursuit of happiness in a reality where happiness is taken for granted and lost more easily than it is gained. This is a book of struggles between race, sexuality as well as oneself. It’s everything that I could ever hope for in a modern YA. This is a page turner that goes back in time recreating the demons of a teenager’s past and his determination to erase it all, even if it means losing more of himself than just his past.  Continue reading “Review: More Happy Than Not”

Review: Everything I Never Told You | Nothing Lydia Ever Forgot to Forget

Title: Everything I Never Told You

Author: Celeste Ng

Publisher: Penguin Press

Publication Date: June 26, 2014

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Diversity

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

Everything I Never Told You is the debut novel of Celeste Ng. It is gripping and broke my heart from the first page. The more I read the harder I found it to continue. The pain and wrenching knots that gathered in my heart are the reason I am giving this book five stars.

Reading is about feeling and becoming part of the world of the characters and finding oneself part of the events of the story as they are unfolding. I felt as though I existed and that my tears actually mattered in this book. Heartbreak, trauma and broken love, home and trust bring this murder mystery together, to which I found myself a bound soul and outcast all at the same time.

I was drifting between each of the characters minds and went back and forth between narrative time, myself coming closer and closer to solving the mystery that turns over and results in a collapsing, yet already fractured mixed-raced family: who, if anyone, is responsible for Lydia’s death… ?  Continue reading “Review: Everything I Never Told You | Nothing Lydia Ever Forgot to Forget”

Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower | The Perks of This Wallflower

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephan Chbosky

Publisher: MTV Books and Pocket Books

Publication Date: February 1, 1999

Genre: Coming-of-Age, Mental Illness

Rating: 5 Stars

Dear fellow Babblers,

It’s very rare that I go about writing a review on a classic, or a book that was published over ten years ago. Such books don’t really need the marketing or to be written about on blogs, nor do readers really go about scouring the internet for pointless nonsense on books already sitting and collecting dust in bookstores. Also, I don’t often read the same book from front to back over and over and over again. I’ve always believed that there is so many wonderful characters and worlds out there to discover that lingering more than necessary over one means to sacrifice all the others. That was all before I fell into Charlie’s backwards world in Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I was roaming around the shops during my vacation in Milan back in October when I came across an English bookshop tucked away in one of those tiny shops that are impossible ever to find again. Nothing really drew me to the book I just saw it sitting on a crowded table along with all our other American authors – Steinbeck, Sinclair, Twain, the list goes on and on.

So here I am over a month later on my way to writing a review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. No, it did not take me that long to finish the book. The thing is, I read and reread the book from start to finish three times since. This is no exaggeration. The book and its characters has really touched me heart during a time in my life that I feel myself slipping away and unfamiliar with the soul taking over.  Continue reading “Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower | The Perks of This Wallflower”

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters | Eliza’s Monsters or Our’s?

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters

Author: Francesca Zappia

Publisher: HarperCollins

Publication Date: May 30, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Mental Illness

Rating: 5 Stars

 

“There is a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt. The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster though, is smart. It’s always watching, and when I am completely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and it lets it run wild. Even when I know it’s coming, I can’t stop it.”

Dear fellow Babblers,

Eliza Mirk is caught between two worlds. In the real world she is an introvert attending high school in a small town. No real life friends. No real life wishes. No real life expectations. In Eliza’s world, or the one she creates for herself in the online space, she is LadyConstellation, the infamous character behind the webcomic, Monstrous Sea. In this new digital universe where physical contact and speaking face-to-face is no longer of vital importance, Eliza has fans, is popular, and chats, or IM’s all the time. She has two best friends here, neither of whom she can give a face to. There’s Emma from California who is a feisty 14-year-old who’s brains earned her a spot in college early, but not without a few mocking remarks from professor. And then there’s Matt, a 22-year-old living in Canada whose typical day consists of video chatting with his “model” girlfriend. Emma and Matt are not just Eliza’s buddies; they’re also her psychics. They keep Eliza’s identity safe from discovery: LadyConstellation cannot be connected to Eliza; that’s the sole objective.

Goodreads Review:

Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Babble: 

Online. This is where Eliza feels most herself, the most comfortable. Away from the sun and chirping voices outside, inside her room with internet connection and her sketchpad Eliza is free and unafraid. She been working on Monstrous Sea all through high school. It has become one of the most popular trends worldwide to the point there are forums, fan clubs, and even merchandise for fans to invest in, giving Eliza enough money to pay her way through college without her family’s support.

Up to this point everything seems to be going just as it should. Eliza does the bare minimum academically, sits by herself at lunch with rounds of greasy French fries and her sketchpad, comes home and talks as little as possible to her perky parents and scrawny brothers. She chooses to spends hours up in her room with the door closed, phone and laptop in front of her, and an array of drawing materials spread around her. It is her escape from the world she is unsatisfied with and feels out of place within. Here, she can create and bring to life the monsters that live in her mind. People care about Eliza, or more, LadyConstellation here – her thoughts, opinions, ideas. Fans wait in anticipation for her arrival on the forums, and the slightest change of schedule throws their online worlds topsy turvy.

One day, Eliza’s homeroom teacher asks assigns Eliza to sit with the new boy, Wallace and make him feel welcome. From this day forward, Eliza’s steady routine from here on out is no longer. Despite her teacher’s request that Eliza make Wallace feel welcome, she keeps her distance and does not mutter a word. The incident she finds herself in only a few days later changes all this and weaves Wallace and Eliza’s life together.

Wallace, as big and intimidating as he is, is found sitting on the steps in front of school one day, probably waiting for his ride. He is intently writing in a notebook when two high school jocks come along and decide they want to read what Wallace is writing, hustling Wallace’s notebook from his firm grasp. Eliza sees what is happening and bundles up the courage to stride straight up to the scene and demand the bullies to give Wallace his pages back. It’s already unexpected and rather surprising that Eliza would get involved to begin with but now the boys, who basically tease Eliza on a daily basis go after her. They snatch her sketchbook from her which has numerous sketches she’s working on for the next few pages of Monstrous Sea. They can’t know she is LadyConstellation. They just can’t. The boys see and, impressed, toss it back and forth between one another. Finally Wallace helps her get her sketchbook back, but not without giving some of her sketches a look as well.

Wallace writes Eliza a note asking her if she’s a fan artist of Monstrous Sea. She immediately nods in the affirmative. Likewise, Wallace, Eliza quickly finds out, is a fan writer of it. This is how their relationship takes off.

Wallace and Eliza begin exchanging more notes in class, sit together silently at lunch, bonding over the mere fact they are both “fans” of the popular webcomic. Wallace rarely speaks but when he does, his voice is low and musky, which suits Eliza well. As their friendship grows it becomes increasingly difficult to keep her “fan” exterior. To make things even more complicated Wallace is the writer behind the most popular fan writing on the forum, Rainmaker. Why is this surprising and leads one to entertain the possibility of fate? LadyConstellation and Rainmaker have been “flirting” lately. You know. The winky faces. Clever remarks. Double-meaning sentences. Eliza is rightly surprised when she finds out and this becomes even more difficult for her, but Emma and Mike are always there to secure her disguise. So what’s to worry about, right?

Wrong.

This book is extremely complex in the fact that there’s a lot going on. Not plot-wise, but more in terms of characters. It’s not apparent at first that Eliza has a mental illness. To me, she just seemed like an awkward introvert who has more fun alone than with people, no harm in that. However, as the story progresses, there are multiple instances where Eliza’s thoughts and internal conflicts become increasingly disturbing. One example is the days following her identity being revealed in the town newspaper and Wallace’s reluctance to forgive her. She is so close to ending her life and everything in her world just stops. She fights back and forth with the monsters in her mind, unsure of what would be best, or at least, easier and less painful in the long run for those around her. All of her thoughts are laid out and rawly illustrated. I felt like I was there, experiencing all this heartbreak right there with Eliza, as Eliza herself.

I liked Wallace, well at least I could tolerate him. But then his response to Eliza after the newspaper article? H quickly made his way to my list of YA Characters I Detest. His reaction and treatment of Eliza, like she was the holder of his future was just cold and so iresponsible. He knows Eliza. It’s obvious by now that she has a mental illness. And what does he do? Put himself and Monstrous Sea first. If Eliza does not suck it up and finish the comic, his hope for securing a book contract is finished. Eliza struggles. She struggles a lot so it’s really understandable why she would eventually run into writers, or artists block. But of course Wallace doesn’t care. That just got me so upset, it was hard for me to even keep reading after that (I did continue though, of course). I wanted so badly just to walk right through the pages and help Eliza out of her mind and those around her who completely lack enough sensitivity to truly understand her, including her go-go parents.

In terms of writing style I could not ask for more. Zapia’s words are affecting and dense. There was not a moment while reading that I did not feel something. My heart jolted, felt wrenched, thumped, slowed down, broke. She gives one of the most realistic, non romanticized panoramas of suicidal depression and anxiety in a way that most readers can, in one way or another, find themselves relating to Eliza. I feel as though we all have a little Eliza in us, especially with the spurt of technology and digital media nowadays. Sometimes its just easier and less stressful to converse through a phone than in person. There’s no chance for an introvert to be seen as an introvert in the computer space. A reader cannot detect depression or anxiety just by reading a comic, unless its mentioned, of course. We all know what it’s like and have had our own experiences with technology, that’s why it’s become such a huge “thing” and the older generation who grew up without it simply shake their heads in disbelief, struggling to understand. The internet and one’s home is a place of escape, mental release, protection from harm. This is Eliza, but this is also us, at least I know it’s me in a way.

As I already mentioned, I read this book over a week ago, and here I am writing this post and thinking of Eliza’s life. This book has had a powerful hold on me and I know I will continue to hold it’s magnificence in my heart for a long time coming. There were sobs, laughs, groaning coming from me as I read and though I turned the last page, closed the book, and returned it to my shelf, will continue to guard it’s words and messages in my conscious. Eliza and Her Monsters is not a YA on love and teenage struggle – it is so much more. Project the story onto yourself and watch how your life and just your world will become shaken, dismantled, and reformed.

Yours Truly,

(Book image credits go to Goodreads)

ARC Review: Rosie Colored Glasses | A Crippling Tale of Love. Wait. What is Love?

Title: Rosie Colored Glasses

Author: Brianna Wolfson

Publisher: Harlequin (Mira) Books

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

Genre: Literary Fiction, Mental Illness

Rating: 5 Stars

I received an ARC copy of Rosie Colored Glasses in exchange for an honest review. Thanks goes to NetGalley as well as Harlequin Books for this advanced copy which is expected to be released February 20, 2018.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Rosie Colored Glasses | A Crippling Tale of Love. Wait. What is Love?”