[ARC] How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne

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4stars

‘You can be difficult, and yet someone will find it so easy to love you.’

Title: How Do You Like Me Now?
Author: Holly Bourne
Expected publication: June 14th 2018
Number of pages: 368 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: It’s a great representation of being a woman in her 30s.
Bad things about this book: The kindle version of this ARC had some issues but they won’t be present on the final product so that’s okay.
Do I recommend it? Yes, worth a read.
Rate: 4/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

ARC given to me by NetGalley

I requested this ARC because I love Holly Bourne and how she writes. She usually strikes a nerve with every single book I read and this wasn’t the exception. I am 32 years old like Tori and I don’t know exactly what it is that I want to do with my life. And I’m afraid, just like her, that it may be too late and that I have to settle with whatever or whoever stumbles upon my way because then I’ll be an old lady and nobody will want me anymore.

I, too, worry about new little wrinkles on my forehead and under my eyes. I, too, worry that my body is getting old to have children and the pressure I feel seeing people younger than me or my age already with big families and so very much in love, is barely tolerable. I, too, am a strong woman with principles like I defend with whatever I can but I have weaknesses and insecurities that more often than not make me question my whole existence.

Tori is a very relatable character. She lies to herself and to the world to maintain an image she wants to portrait and that it’s not the person she is. It takes millions of selfies for her to get the right one to share in which she looks naturally beautiful but that it needed the right light, angle, filter and natural make up to achieve. She has written a self-help book about what a mess it is being in your 20s and now that she is in her 30s, the mess is still there, only mutated. But Tori can’t afford to disappoint her fans telling them that she isn’t happy in her long term relationship, that she starves herself to look the right kind of thin, that she doesn’t have any idea about her next book, that she sees her friends getting married and having children and that she secretly wants it for herself even if, at first, she wasn’t so sure.

It’s not fair to set people tests and then get annoyed when they fail them.

I may not agree with Tori’s decisions or how she acts but I can see why she did what she did. But being 32 is not decrepit old, like Tori seems to think. We are not falling apart, we are not nearly expired. There’s no schedule. No deadline. No pressure. Even if the world seems to expect so much from us and it’s overwhelming. Don’t get me started on panic attacks. Freaking out is part of the process, I suppose. Tori could be selfish, very insecure and egocentric. Always pursuing the idea of happiness she had in her mind. Tori made lots of mistakes and I often wanted to slap her (with love) to wake her up from the fantasy she was living. She could be pretty annoying but we all are, right? That’s not her flaw; it’s one of our many endearing qualities. Right?

I am a fan of YA book even if I’m very much not a young adult anymore. I do feel still pretty young, though. But I’m also always happy to read books about characters my age, someone I can really relate to. Life is hard and after 30 it doesn’t magically fix itself and let you live the life you’ve always dreamt. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that and it takes you by surprise with twists and tons of obstacles be them money, love, anxiety, or the sweet sweet fear of not being able to achieve what we were hoping to achieve before we were too old. One day you’ll wake up and think, yes, I’m old, and no, I’m not doing what I thought I’d be doing. And your brain will short-circuit for a bit. Again, this is part of the process of surpassing your 30s.

Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops and everyone just fucking marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.

Long story short, this is a great book for everyone, not only for women in their 30s like myself. I think it can help giving you an insight of the future if you are younger, or giving you memories, bad or good, about your past if you are older. It’s for you either if you are living the dream or if you are struggling. It may help you understand more about what you do every day unconsciously and it may help you see things through a different light. I know it helped me. It gave me hope. I’m not late for anything; I’m just getting wherever I’m getting at my own pace and I don’t have to feel ashamed for not doing what everyone else thinks you’re supposed to be doing at my age. I will let myself be me. With love. With strength. With a big smile on my face.

I hope you’ll give it a chance and read it as soon as it comes out in June because it’s worth the little time it actually takes to read it once you start it and realize you can’t put it down. Trust me.

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Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

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5stars

He didn’t have a plan. He thought love and anger would be enough.

Title: Black Light Express
Author: Philip Reeve
Series: Railhead #2
Number of pages: 303 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: It’s the perfect sequel of Railhead with everything you didn’t think you needed.
Bad things about this book: The twists!!! How many can my heart take? (Not really a bad thing, I just like things being easy even when they never are)
Do I recommend it? Yes, it’s a great sci-fi book and it’s worth a chance.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I’m glad I waited this much to read the second book of the Railhead series because maybe now I won’t have to wait long for the third and last book. It’s already the end. It’s never easy.

Zen and Nova took the new gate to an unexplored part of the galaxy and will meet quite a few interest characters. Their love is pure and adorable, never too much, never forced, just right for the kind of book we’re reading. There’s nothing wrong about two people loving each other even if the rest of the world may think it’s unconventional, with Nova being a machine and all. Their adventures in the Web of Worlds was fantastic and there’s so much they found out, so much that can change everything and maybe by changing everything, they will have to make sacrifices. I’m never ready for sacrifices.

Threnody Noon, new Empress of the Great Network, along with newly unfrozen criminal Chandni Hansa, will be forced to escape the Network to save their lives and their journey will intersect with the one of Zen and Nova. There’s only a tiny detail: Threnody was deceived by Zen in Railhead; he’s at fault for the death of her uncle, the previous emperor. She doesn’t like him and she wants him to pay for what he’s done.

While they are escaping, they found themselves in Desdemor, where the new gate is, and they go through it with a new character, one that will be my favorite from the time they met him, until the end of the book: the interface of Mordaunt 90. This guardian in the form of a magnificent golden man stole my heart. I was torn because guardians aren’t really trustful but there was something in him that gave me hope.

This book didn’t lack twists; right from the beginning things started to go wrong, everything seemed to fall apart very easily and I was scared because, if that certain thing happened, nothing could stop other bad things to also happen, right? I was on edge all the time.

I was scared for the humans, for the other beings, for the golden guardian, for the motorik, and for the trains! This is my first time being scared for trains but in this book they’re as important as all the other characters. They have personalities; they are smart and essential to the success of the various missions. The Damask Rose is as caring and witty as ever and there’s also a new entry: the Ghost Wolf. A black wartrain with fire in its engine! Not real fire, it’s only very enthusiastic. The trains are great and they also have villain counterparts in this book and you can’t help being afraid. You care for them as much as you care for the main characters. I just hope they’ll have a happily ever after!

This series is amazing and this book is even better than the first. I loved it. A lot of wth moments, lots of gasps, lots of “now what?”. Can’t wait to see how it all ends!

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Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

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3stars

Title: Lincoln in the Bardo
Author: George Saunders
Number of pages: 353 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s a very interesting and peculiar written book.
Bad things about this book: The peculiarity of the narration is a bit confusing at times.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Rate: 3/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

Trap. Horrible trap. At one’s birth it is sprung. Some last day must arrive. When you will need to get out of this body.

I chose this book because I liked the title. There was something in it that made me interested in seeing what this book was about. The two different covers I saw were just as interesting and, after some thoughts, I decided to give it a try. This decision was mainly made because it was going to be a book I could get for free so if I didn’t like it I was not going to feel bad about having spent money on it. Luckily it didn’t happen.

It was weird and a little confusing at times but I liked the idea and enjoyed this crazy night with these crazy and conflicted characters. It sure makes you think. And, even if I don’t think I’ll be reading more about Lincoln, maybe I’ll watch the movie to understand him better. I don’t remember studying anything about him because I went to school in Italy and there’s so much history here and in Europe that they mainly teach you what happened here and in neighboring countries. I only knew what I’ve seen in movies or heard in American TV shows; so only the usual, that he was shot and that he was a vampire slayer. That movie was weird.

He was not perfect; he was, remember, a little boy. Could be wild, naughty, overwrought. He was a boy. However – it must be said – he was quite a good boy.

The chapters about Willie’s death were tremendously sad. They were written in this form I have never seen before, yet it didn’t take anything from the deepness of the situation. The emotions it made me feel were real and the sadness and tears were so profound, they brought me back to the many events in my life that, just like Lincoln, have brought me to the verge of losing myself to grief.

How sad it is life that gives you love to give but then can take it away without notice. Sad, yet full of happy little moments.

As much as I enjoyed the whole graveyard events, there were some parts that were more confusing than others. Some chapters I thought were about Lincoln, I found out much later that instead were about someone in the graveyard. At first I didn’t realize and after so many chapters it was a realization I thought had to be clearer from the beginning. Maybe it was just me getting used to this type of narration. Maybe I wasn’t really into it at first and it took me a little to see things as they were.

I don’t regret having read Lincoln in the Bardo, on the contrary I was glad I satisfied my curiosity and gave this book a chance. It was a peculiar read and I will recommend it to someone looking just for that.

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The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

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3stars

We Earth Men have a talent for ruining big, beautiful things.

Title: The Martian Chronicles
Author: Ray Bradbury
Number of pages: 241 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: It’s easy to read and it’s short and has lots of interesting elements.
Bad things about this book: All the stereotypes and obvious flaws because of them.
Do I recommend it? Yes, give it a shot.
Rate: 3/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I don’t think I really liked this book. Yes, it’s very well written, it has many elements beyond its time, nice ideas for a dystopian sci-fi story, but it has flaws I can’t seem to tolerate. I think the fact that it’s so old, with its use of such antiquate views of the world, made the whole reading experience barely tolerable for me. It’s a book about a second America, built by Americans with typical American methods and American point of views, on Mars. They literary built cities and called them New New York, etc. Really, a clone country on a different planet with zero regret for what happened to the Martians. Sounds familiar, right?

It’s a book written in 1950, and it shows. A lot of themes were typical of America during those years and the futuristic elements were different from the ones I’m used to with more modern books. There’s the oxygen situation that’s not really an issue and that’s not really explained, and the fantasy parts like the rain that makes seeds from Earth grow to their maximum capacity in just one night. There are lots of interesting elements that fit well into the sci-fi narration but some others that were quite improbable. I know how the sci-fi genre plays a lot on the imagination just like the fantasy genre, but usually the elements are so well integrated and explained in the story that they do seem plausible; it doesn’t matter how crazy a thing is, if you give me a good explanation I can believe in anything.

While I did enjoy some chapters, there were a lot that were so hard to read I was tempted to skip them completely. Take the chapter with Walter, the allegedly last man on Mars; it was one of the creepiest chapters I’ve ever read. I was furious and disgusted and I couldn’t wait for it to be over, but guess what? It was one of the longest. Also the chapter with the man with the hot dog stand; oh my, how much I didn’t like that one. People do stupid things when they’re afraid, I can understand that, but this was on a whole new level of stupidity. Again, furious. That state of mind was a constant during my reading of this book and I don’t think that’s really how I was supposed to feel.

A while ago I read “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin and I fell in love with the characters and with the story. That is also a sci-fi written a lot of years ago and it also had tons of stereotypes typical of the time. While the Le Guin book didn’t get ruined but that flaw, this one lost lots of appeal to me because of them. I think this is mainly because there really aren’t recurring characters. There are different stories, from different characters, that take place during a long period of time. Not being able to connect with a character resulted in me seeing all the flaws that, with at least one strong character, would’ve been bearable.

Long story short, The Martian Chronicles had all the potential to be a sci-fi book I would’ve loved but then, in my opinion, it didn’t live up to its fame. That’s a pity, though; I truly wanted to love it.

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Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

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5stars

I know all that is possible to know, and it’s increasingly unbearable.
Because I know next to nothing.

Title: Thunderhead
Author: Neal Shusterman
Series: Arc of Scythe #2

Number of pages: 504 (hardcover edition)
Good things about this book: It’s intriguing and it keeps you glued to the pages.
Bad things about this book: It’s not the last so we keep on suffering.
Do I recommend it? Yes, this series is becoming one of my favourites.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I knew it was going to be great but, did I know it was going to make my heart beat so fast because of anxiety? No. No, I didn’t. My poor heart is still beating like crazy and my brain is trying to come up with a lot of explanations and ways this story is going to end. So far I do not like any of the theories it has come up with. Please, let it be all flowers (artificially grown) and rainbows (created by the Thunderhead, of course). Nonetheless I loved it so much I will not stop recommending this series to everyone who will pay attention!

Each time I witness a cruel act by a corrupt scythe, I seed the clouds somewhere in the world, and bring a lamentation of rain. Because rain is the closest thing I have to tears.

Scythe ended with Citra becoming Scythe Anastasia and Rowan going rogue with the intention of ending all the corrupted scythes. Thunderhead starts with Rowan, as self-appointed Scythe Lucifer, punishing one of those scythes. Little did I know that, from that day on, things were going to get much more complicated than what my little brain could imagine. Anastasia and Marie are in danger; there’s a new character so important to the world that the Thunderhead makes complicated decisions to put him in the line of action; and Rowan finds himself in a weird and frustrating position. What is the fate of scythedom, and of the world, is something humans cannot predict, and maybe neither can the Thunderhead.

This book was one WTH after the other. Things that were already complicated seemed to get more so in just a few pages. I wanted to proceed but was afraid of reading and finding out I was not going to like what was written. I am heartbroken and that’s a fact, and now I’m curious to see how all the things that have started a chain of reaction will unravel in the third and last book. There’s just so much that can still go wrong and so much that maybe can put a stop to what has been angering the omnipresent Thunderhead. Humans just can’t behave and it’s infuriating.

How frustrating it is to have so much power, yet be so impotent to wield it when it counts.

It has come with no surprise whatsoever that the Thunderhead is, in the end, my favorite character. I don’t really know why I always find myself on the side of the artificial intelligent, be it good or bad. I just can’t help it. The intra-chapter bits of the Thunderhead were the parts I couldn’t wait to read because there was so much true in them and I loved the way it voiced its flawlessness and its choices. It sees it all but it can’t change human nature; it has done everything to ensure humans could live as immortals in a world made of commodities and everything they needed. Still, humans always find a way to ruin everything. It’s the sad truth.

The last book will be anxiously waited by yours truly and it will be read with my heart in my hand and a few tissues next to me, just in case. I’m sure I’ll need them.

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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5stars

“You can’t just go round murdering people. There are rules, Nimona.”

Title: Nimona
Author: Noelle Stevenson
Number of pages: 272 (paperback edition)
Good things about this book: The illustrations, the story, everything.
Bad things about this book: That there’s no more of it.
Do I recommend it? Yes, of course.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

I don’t own this graphic novel. My younger sister bought it centuries ago because she saw online that it was worth reading. She read it and I didn’t, at the time. I don’t know why, it’s not like it takes hours to finish it so I still don’t understand why it took me so long to read it. One day I was pointing out how messy my sister’s room was and I noticed Nimona there on her bookshelf; I told myself, it’s time, and I borrowed it, treated it kindly, devoured it in no time, and I’m so happy I did because I loved it.

Supervillain, and cinnamon roll, Ballister Blackheart is forever fighting the so-called hero, and ex friend, Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. That is the eternal fight, the same one every single time; no one gets killed, only temporarily arrested, then it’s the same all over again. Then along comes Nimona, a shapeshifter with a mysterious past and a lot of anger for the Institution. Nimona and Blackheart want to make the whole world see that the heroes aren’t really the good guys in the story.

After falling in love with the illustrations on the cover, I fell in love with the whole graphic novel from the adorable story to the characters. It looks quite simple but it has a little bit of everything and it doesn’t fail to make you think. You know I love books that make me think but at the same time don’t depress me too much. Don’t get me wrong, I also love books that are so sad I cry from beginning to end, but I do prefer meaning without too many feelings.

Blakheart is the villain you find yourself loving. He is a science geek; when he talks about science everything about him glows and you can’t help but smiling. He’s really adorable. Goldenloin is the hero you want to hate but you know he will redeem himself because love has the habit of always finding a way back where it belongs. And last, Nimona, she is a force of nature, ever changing, a firecracker, and she is both the personification of pure energy and sadness. You can see both and it’s heartbreaking; you only want happiness for her and you hope that’s what she’s going to get. Nimona is one of a kind, really!

Nimona is funny, the story is great, the illustrations are perfect and the epilogue made me so happy I wanted to re-read the whole thing all over again. It was that captivating. I say you read it and then tell me how much you loved it, okay? It’s a deal!

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Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

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5stars

“We’re gonna be awesome, Simeon. For real.”
“How do you know?”
“Because . . .” I squeezed him in a bear hug. “Something that feels this good can’t go wrong.”

Title: Down by Contact
Author: Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #2

Number of pages: 220 (kindle edition)
Good things about this book: Once it’s there, it’s a cheese fest and I loved it.
Bad things about this book: Nothing of importance.
Do I recommend it? Yes, the two books of this series are great.
Rate: 5/5

Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here

It’s so hard to put down a Santino book; I know this even if I’ve only read Illegal Contact and the first super long book of the In the Company of Shadows series. It was so hard to put down even when my eyes were so blurry I couldn’t see much. I did find the strength to do it at midnight the day before finishing it but the day after, with all the interruptions of my little niece who wanted to play, I managed to finish it. And I loved it like I knew I would have. So cheesy and sexy. Denial and frustration galore. Stubborn boys built like mountains. There was little not to love.

Simeon and Adrián are not friends; their hate started after Simeon left the Predators to go play with the Barons and has been on fire for years. Now they have to work together for a punishment and they need to tolerate each other. Being so close will make them question their eternal hate and understand exactly why they behave the way they do. There is so much more hidden beneath the muscles and the boys must dig in and show each other who they really are and what do they want.

As usual, I didn’t understand anything about football. For me it was pointless to understand how the matches, if they are called that, worked. I wanted to see these beautiful creatures far from their natural habitat and see why the hell Adrián was being homophobic and hurtful for no apparent reasons and why Simeon was trying his best to flirt with him to mess with his mind, and body.

The results were both anger and delight. Both of them were stubborn so it took a while for Adrián to question his homophobic behavior. From what we knew at the beginning, no spoilers here, Adrián was allegedly straight, but he seems to have strong feelings for Simeon. Everything seemed to fall into the bisexual bubble and I was overjoyed but then something felt wrong. There are so many ways to identify oneself and if Adrián felt that bisexual fit then it’s 100% perfect, but maybe I wanted this to be looked into a bit more. Maybe another shoe would’ve fit better, I don’t know. If not, welcome aboard Adrián!

That little issue aside, I found the book perfect and it delivered exactly what it promised. I wasn’t disappointed. I wonder if there’s going to be another book. I’ll stalk the socials for clues!

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