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Book Review: The Girl before

Title: The Girl Before

Author: J.P. Delaney

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A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant.

The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season. (Source: Goodreads)


The book The Girl on the Train paved the way for mysteries, where the main role is an unreliable woman. And The Girl before follows this trend. In the flood of similar mysteries, this book is one of those who tries to combine the themes of different successful books.

The story switches between two personal stories. Personally, I really like reading books with multiple perspectives, even if it’s hard to separate from them at the beginning. I always struggle with who is who. In this book, I did not have a problem with the separation between the two women, even that their stories are very similar. Some things even repeats but one perspective is written in past and another is told in present.

The house is the main theme connecting personal stories, which I found interesting, but at the same a little bit bizarre. I mean, I loved the idea but at the same time I had difficulties to imagine a house or why should anyone wanted to live there.

The main characters are Emma and Jane. We are following Emma’s story in the past, while Jane’s is told from the present time. And the only thing that connects them is a particular house.

Both had personal tragedies, they are mentally at the bottom … Since the synopsis promised similar story as Gone Girl or Girl on a train, a reader knows that they are unreliable as a character and that we can expect a certain turnaround. At first, Emma and Jane seem different, as if they have nothing in common, except the house, but it turns out that it is not. Like most crime-like creatures, we did not like Emma, neither did Jane. I simply can not identify with such a type of woman.

 I did not expect much from this book. I read it very quickly because the chapters are short and it’s truly a quick read. Somewhere in the middle of the book, I thought that the book was actually very predictable, but then it began to get complicated on the next few pages. After that, the author began to exaggerate. With each new chapter came to a new twist and after a while, I didn’t know anymore who is lying and who is talking the truth or what was really happening.
I would recommend this as a summer read. It’s perfect for readers who like mysteries but still want to enjoy somewhere on the beach and not think too much about the story itself. It was fun and tense enough that I enjoy it.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it?

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Book Review: How to be Parisian Wherever you are

Title: How to be Parisian Wherever you are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits

Authors: Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas

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Four French women wrote a book with hints on how to be a Parisian, even if you were not born in Paris. Because as we know, French women, especially Parisians, are famous for their beauty, for which they don’t have to bother at all, for their fashionable style, the whole world imitates, and so on. The book thus touches on various areas of everyday life, where the authors provide us with (concrete) directions how to behave, act, what to do or even what to say in various situations.


I read a translated version of this book, and I borrowed it from the library because it was a hit on my Instagram feed.

I read it in one day because it was fun and honestly, there was not much text. The text is also enriched by beautiful photos and illustrations, so reading is really a pleasure – at least from an aesthetic point of view.

And although I was entertained while reading, I quickly realized that I don’t really know how to interpret this book. Should I take it seriously? Is it actually a well-written book with a lot of sarcasm, which the reader must recognize and then can really enjoy reading? And the fact, that there is no clear indication of whether the book should be taken seriously or not, is spoiling the pleasure of reading.

Because, if this book should be taken seriously, it’s very disturbing. Instructions on how to cheat a man or how to be something more than everyone else, are not something I would like to read about. On the other hand, I imagine someone who takes this book literally and thinks it’s a modern Bible that will change (her) life. Do we really want to be so dumb?

Yes, the book is a quick read and it’s fun at moments. But I would still describe it as “that” IG profiles (we all know which one we are talking about, do we?). Profiles, where we admire a fancy everyday life, so easy and carefree and wish our lives could also be as fancy and beautiful as the ones on photos. But at the same time, we know that reality is completely different. And so it is with this book … the reality is totally different, no matter how hard we try that our everyday life would be like a movie version filmed in Paris.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? What did you think about it? I would love to hear your thoughts in comments!

 

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Book Review: Auggie & Me

Title: Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

Author: R.J. Palacio

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In book Wonder, we read about a boy named Auggie, who was born with a facial deformity and starts attending a new school.

This book consists of three different chapters – Julian chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling. Julian chapter is told from a perspective of Julian, who bullied Auggie in book Wonder. Pluto chapter is told from a perspective of Christopher, Auggie’s best friend since early childhood. And the last chapter, Shingaling, is told from a perspective of Charlotte, who is now Auggie’s classmate.


This book is not a sequel to Wonder, it’s a companion novel with three different points of views on Auggie from Wonder. Each view has its own chapter within the book and can be read completely separately from other two.

First, it’s Julian chapter. Julian is a spoiled kid and he couldn’t accept Auggie and soon it’s clear why. He simply repeats the behavior patterns of his mother, who also had troubles accepting Auggie. She’s scared of Auggie and with her behavior, she’s encouraging her son to behave likewise. Julian (as his mother) always justifies his behavior, defending himself he’s only joking and that people shouldn’t felt so offended by his jokes. It was hard for me to read this story because Julian was mean and I didn’t like him at all. Not to mention his mother who was supporting, encouraging and justification Julian’s unacceptable behavior.

Next one is Pluto chapter, where we met Christopher, who is/was Auggie’s best friend from early childhood. They drifted away because of his moving to some other place. This story, more or less, represents Christopher’s memories of Auggie and how friendship with him affected his life. I felt that during growing up, Christopher started feeling ashamed of Auggie’s look. This aspect is the only thing that I found interesting in this chapter. It’s a reflection, how are we accepting social prejudices and how we submit to the opinion of others while growing up.

The story Shingaling, Charlotte’s chapter, is the longest but while reading it, I was surprised, there was almost no Auggie in it. Basically, it’s a story about growing up girl, her daily life, and problems in school. Maybe there was some secret connection of her story with Auggie’s but I couldn’t find it.

I enjoyed reading this book but it was far from what we got in Wonder. It seemed to me, that author just wanted to extend the success of it. At first, I was truly curious to read what other has to say about Auggie and how he affected their lives, but I think it was simply not best managed. Of all three stories, I enjoyed reading Julian’s chapter the most, even though I found characters unbearable. Because the other two stories are mainly just a description of the lives of two people, with occasional references to Auggie.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read this book? If so, what are your thought about it? And what about the book Wonder?

 

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Book Review: The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Title: The Taxidermist’s Daughter

Author: Kate Mosse

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1921, Sussex. Connie lives with her father, who used to be a successful taxidermist with his own museum of stuffed animals. He had to close the museum after Connie’s accident when she was twelve years old. Connie doesn’t remember what happened at the night of the accident but since then, her father was not the same. They sold the museum and moved to Fishbourne Marshes.

Since then, her father seeks consolation in alcohol and Connie is the one who’s trying to continue the family business. However, taxidermy is no longer popular as it used to be and they’re having a hard time. Besides that, her father’s behavior is stranger every day and Connie is not sure anymore if it’s only alcohol to blame. Besides, she’s having a hard time also, getting into a strange condition where she remembers fragments of her accident which she can’t connect. Things get even worse when they find a body of a murdered woman near the house and her father goes missing.


Oh, Kate Mosse. How I used to love her books. I was obsessed with Languedoc Trilogy! She really can conjure the gothic obscure atmosphere in her books. She didn’t disappointed with this book either because she has chosen a truly perfect place for a mysterious storyline of this book – the misty marshes of England. Kate Mosse truly knows how to invoke a horror of the place, so reader can easily imagine being there.

This book was full of charming details, including the details of taxidermy. There were many descriptions of animals, particularly birds. Honestly, maybe this book would impress me even more if I would understand everything completely. But because I read this book in English, I was too lazy to check every word in a dictionary (there were too many unknown words).

The story itself was interesting. It was tense, despite the fact that I have soon found out, what’s going on and what’s behind the disappearance of men’s. Notwithstanding this, I still enjoyed reading. There are actually two stories in one plot, the one from present days and the one from the past. Which of course, connects at the end.

The characters were unremarkable. Connie is a nice young lady who takes care of her father and has found her solace in taxidermy. She was helpful and nice to everyone. But that was pretty much everything. There were many other characters – too many sometimes because I was often confused about all the names. Moreover, one of them were named after birds (ugh!).

Certainly, I expected more, especially more refined plotline. The writing style is superb and I could read Mosse’s writing every day. Descriptions of the landscape, the weather, all the details exceeded my expectations. But sometimes this just ain’t enough.

Rating: 3/5 stars

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Book Review: Gemina

Title: Gemina

Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff29236299

A sequel to Illuminae offers new characters and a new story. In the foreground, there’s a story about space station Heimdall, whose people are not aware of what happened on Kerenza and on other space shifts.

Hanna is station captain’s daughter, dating a nice guy who’s working for her father. She also likes to draw, she loves her dad but yet, she’s often bored because there’s not much going on on a space station. Sometimes she hangs out with Nik, who is a member of a crime family. When the elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik join forces against them and their evil plan. They just want to survive and save the people on the station.


In some way, this book is a continuation of the first book, despite the fact, that there are new characters and a different place with a new story. I really liked the first book. I gave it 5 stars and I couldn’t wait for a sequel. The story was interesting but especially attractive was a format of the book – documents, e-mail correspondence, … That really was some different and interesting look, but above all, completely unique reading experience. Therefore, I was eagerly waiting for Gemina to be published.

I liked that there were new characters in this book. It seemed exciting and daring move. I liked Nik, his sense of humor and how he kept his cheerful nature even in difficult situations. I enjoyed his jokes and really thought he was funny. I couldn’t say same for Hanna. I didn’t like her at first. I thought she is spoiled daddy’s girl who always gets what she wants. Still, I think her character improved through the story and she showed her toughness by the end of the book which was great. But still, she was that kind of character that I don’t care much about. Most of all, I liked Ella, Nik’s little cousin. Smart, funny, realistic and sarcastic – I loved her! There were not many other characters, except the bad guys. Overall, I was not impressed by characters at all.

The story itself was ok. I did have problems at moments where I was confused about what’s going on and it was hard for me to follow the story line. Not to mention, that I was also bored between reading. I still can’t figure out why because there’s a lot of going on, there were many plot twists and everything.

Nevertheless, the format makes this book entertaining, just like in the first book. But it’s much more “narrative” as the first book was. So it was easier to read it but I still missed it. It’s so much more fun to read documents, files, and other stuff than just an ordinary texts. After all, this is what makes this books so special. And I was disappointed about that.

Yes, the story is full of action, unexpected twists, some were better, some worse. I really missed old AIDAN *sigh*. And that other, unexpected enemies that appear in the middle of the book…. really?

Yes, the book was ok. It was an interesting read and also funny and sad. But I really think that Illuminae was the book where every single page was well thought and developed to the last detail. But Gemina doesn’t have this. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to the third book, where I hope, all together will join forces in the battle against BeiTech.

Rating: 3/5 stars

You can also check my Illuminae review here.

What do you think about Illuminae Files? Did you like Gemina? What are your thoughts about this book? 

 

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Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire

Title: City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6)

Author: Cassandra Clare8755785

Sebastian Morgenstern is still a threat to Shadowhunters, now even more because he’s spreading his dark army and attacking Institutes and others. He’s turning Shadowhunters against Shadowhunters and turning them into creatures, with a power of Infernal Cup.

Survivors flee to Indris but now there is no one to protect the world against the demons. They’re attacking and killing innocent.

Soon, Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Simon, and Alec discover, how Sebastian betrayed them and they go searching for him. They need to go to the dark world where they’re trying to prevent Sebastian’s evil plan.


Finally, I finished the last book in the series! If I really enjoyed reading the first three, I must admit that I read the next three just to finish it. I won’t say they were not interesting but I still think that there are many better books out there to read.

First, something about the plot. Of course, because this is the last book, I expected that things would reveal and that story would have a logical conclusion. Therefore, I might have expected something more, something that would blow my mind, something that would end this story in a truly special way. At least, maybe some epic battle between Shadowhunters and Sebastian’s army. The battle has been but it was far from epic.

Still, the story pulled me in more than in previous books. It was interesting and there was not so much describing of unimportant things – yes, I’m thinking about all the problems couples had. I still think the book could be shorter but this time actually wasn’t so bad. There was more action and more was going on.

But still, there was no progress on a plot. Things were really predictable and we have seen it all. The parents and other older people still didn’t trust the younger ones. Their communication still didn’t improve like they haven’t learned anything from previous events.

Characters haven’t developed at all. If people say that we learn from our mistakes, it isn’t true here.

What bothered me the most, was the extreme happy ending. We all like books with happy endings and it was also expected here, that things would work out well for everyone. However, the ending here was forced, all events turned out in a way that at the end, nobody was affected and everyone got their happy ending. Which for me, was very disappointing.

***SPOILERS***

Usually, I don’t include spoilers, but here, some things just got on my nerves so bad, that I have to write them down and maybe discuss it with some of you, who have already read the book. Here we go:

Jordan Kyle and Maia were so in love and happy together and even when they had problems, they were trying to solve them (although I don’t know why because their relationship was pretty strange). But when he dies, Maia figured, that it wasn’t love she was feeling and she wanted to break up with him ages ago. Really? How convenient.

It was same with Sebastian. When he was dying he realized how wicked he was and how he hurt people around him. In his last minutes, he becomes almost a good guy, he apologized for his actions and repented. Again… seriously? I just don’t believe that people who are evil their whole life can just change in last minutes, let alone people forgive them. Which Clary and her mother did. Whatever.

And the last thing… which was the most shocking for me and really pissed me off, was Simon’s transformation. It really seemed awesome when Simon became normal again and lost his entire memory about a particular period of his life as a vampire. And what happens? Others find a way to return (almost) all the memories. Bullshit (sorry not sorry).

***END OF SPOILERS***

The book was nothing special but still, it was a decent read. Again, I can easily say that I’m happy I finished with series and that I won’t have to read about Clary and Jace again, haha.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Did you read and finished The Mortal Instruments series? What did you think about this book and others? 

 

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Book Review: A Letter to Queen of England

Title: A Letter to the Queen of England

Author: Vicenc Pages Jorda30068112

 

Joan Ferrer is blacksmith’s son and he creates a sword, which is so great that devil wants it. Devil offers Joan a deal – three wishes for a sword. Joan wishes for immortality and inexhaustible wealth.

Centuries go by and Joan notices that the world is changing rapidly and that immortality and wealth are not bringing only benefits.


Book A Letter to Queen of England has only 108 pages which mean it’s extremely short. It’s written in a form of a letter, addressed to Queen of England. Joan is in jail and needs her help and this letter is actually an explanation of his immortal life.

Because of book’s length, this was really quick read. I could not say, I was bored, but I did expect something more.

To me, writing was impersonal, almost passive and very dull. You can also imagine, how quickly the plot unfolds if the book has something more than 100 pages and it still covers the period from 11th-20th Century. Events are taking place quickly but described are just the ones which were “important” to Joan. I’m aware that this is not a historical book, yet I felt like some important events were just briefly mentioned.

There’s nothing much to say about Joan and his character. Because of his impersonal writing and lack of emotions, a reader can’t learn much about him.

He thought that fulfilled wishes would make him happy, but soon he finds, he was wrong. Wealth and immortality didn’t bring him joy and happiness, which is obvious – he must hide both from the world, can’t settle down anywhere and can’t have friends or family. It’s just not possible without revealing his secrets. He is bored, has experienced everything, but found nothing that would impress him. He’s miserable and nothing can please him.

Like I already mentioned, the story unfolds through ten centuries and it’s quick and effortless display of history. And I liked an idea about that. It was interesting and fun to read about the changes that have occurred over the centuries of time and space, through the perspective of a man who has seen it all and had to adjust to all the crazy changes. But I would love to read more about it and know more about how did they affect Joan.

There are many real characters, who actually lived, and quickly appear but also quickly disappear during the story. (Except Greta Garbo who has important role in the plot but I still can’t figure why…)

Mainly, I liked this book because of the questions it raises: about death and transience of life, immortality, about wealth and human happiness. When I finished this book, I was actually thinking about all these things for a while and about my wishes. What would I choose, if I would have the same option? Would I choose the same as Joan did? Would I make a better use of them?

Rating: 3/5 stars