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A Book To Read

Title: Struck(Struck #1)

Author: Jennifer Bosworth

Pages:373

Synopsis: Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

Goodreads: Here

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FRAGILE LONGING

Cora Reilly

PUBLICATION DETAILS

Published September 28th, 2020

Kindle Edtion, 296 pages

SYNOPSIS

Sofia knows how it feels to be the consolation prize.
Too young.
Not blond.
And definitely not an ice princess.
Her sister is—was all those things. Perfection. Until she wasn’t. Until she ran off to be with the enemy and left her fiancé behind.
Now Sofia is given to Danilo in her sister’s stead, knowing she’ll never be more than second best. Yet, she can’t stop longing for the love of the man she’s been crushing on even when he was still her sister’s.

Danilo is a man who’s used to getting what he wants.
Power.
Respect.
The sought-after ice princess.
Until another man steals his bride-to-be. Danilo knows that for a man in his position losing his woman can lead to a loss of face.
Wounded pride.
Thirst for revenge.
A dangerous combination—one Danilo can’t leave behind, not even when a girl just as precious takes her sister’s place to placate him. Yet, she’s got one flaw: she’s not her sister.
Unable to forget what he’s lost, Danilo might lose what he’s been given.

RATING

2.5/5

REVIEW

Fragile Longing is one my most anticipated books because:

  1. Characters from the Chicago Outfit. Yes, the Outfit is my favorite and I love it when Cora Reilly writes new books about it.
  2. Age-gap, arranged-marriage, Mafia Romance. I’m living for these tropes. Especially mafia romance novels.
  3. Danilo and Sofia. I’m curious, y’all.

It’s probably me, not the book. I probably expected a lot because I’m disappointed. Alright, let’s talk about it. Fragile Longing is all about Sofia Mione (Dante Cavallaro’s niece) and Danilo Mancini (The Underboss in Indianapolis).

Sofia is an amazing woman. Though she’s not as fierce as the other characters in the series, she’s strong in her own ways. I still admire her for being such a sweetheart. She’s caring and understanding. I can’t honestly blame her for her insecurities since she was forced to grow up after she’s been promised to marry her sister’s ex-fiancé. I like Sofi, what I hate is her situation where she thinks she’s the consolation prize and she can’t be more that what Serafina is.

Danilo on the other hand is an asshole. Sorry not sorry. He’s one of the reasons why I didn’t like this book. Though he was able to redeem himself in the later part of the book, still it’s not enough. I hated how Danilo still fucks around despite being engaged to Sofia. Why not get that opportunity to get to know your fiance more (I didn’t mean it in a sexual way, of course) than fucking blondes all over your territory? Ok, enough of his negative traits. Danilo is a good brother and a good son. He cares a lot for Emma and his family.

Cora Reilly’s writing style improved, I observed it when I read Twisted Pride, Sweet Temptation and Bound by the Past. However, I didn’t like how this book was written. Rereading Serafina’s kidnapping and betrayal in different POVs is annoying and redundant. I know it plays a vital role in the story but I’ve read it in Twisted Pride, then in Bound in the Past, I don’t need to read it again in Fragile Longing. Now I’m expecting to read it again in Samuel and Emma’s book.

There should be a lot of opportunities in building and developing Sofia and Danilo’s character and their relationship as a couple if the first part of the book isn’t about Serafina’s kidnapping and betrayal, the aftermath of it, Danilo’s anger towards Remo Falcone and Sofia trying really hard to be her sister.

Anyway, they were able to redeem themselves in the later part of the book but it was… I dunno, rushed? The epilogue was cute tho.

I enjoyed reading the last few parts of the book, though. I loved how Danilo made up for all the times he treated Sofia badly. I liked The Koi fish named Takeda, the dog named Poof and the tabby cat. LOL!

I also love Anna Cavallaro’s character. She’s Valentina and Dante’s child through and through. She’s Sofia’s exact opposite and I love their friendship. Also curious about her relationship with Santino. I honestly want her to end up with Santino but the idea of her being with a politician is also good since we still don’t know what kind of man Clifford Clark is. Also curious about Leonas Cavallaro’s story. I wonder if he’ll end up with an outsider or someone from other Familias or from the Outfit? Ugh! I’m excited to read books about Dante and Valentina’s children. Can we have their book right freaking noooooow? Kidding! But not really. They are the only characters I’m looking forward to in the 2nd gen. And yes, Nevio and Greta’s respective stories, too.

I also love Emma. I love her relationship with her brother and the friendship she, Anna and Sofia have. Emma deserves the best and Samuel MUST give her the love she deserves.

So that’s Fragile Longing. Still looking forward to the rest of the books that Cora will write about her mafia world.

Happy Reading!

JL

PS.

I recommend that you read Bound by Duty, Twisted Pride and Bound by the Past first before you read Fragile Longing. That is if you want to see what went down between the Camorra and the Outfit.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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One particular draw I’ve always felt towards speculative fiction is its ability to unsettle. To disquiet. How it’s capable of disturbing the imagination and prickling the senses to the point where I, too, am trapped in the rippling current of possibility it presents. Where I, too, am caught in its subjugated web of strife and despair, of yearning and struggle, with characters who live in a world which is both alien and familiar to me in striking degrees.

Books in this genre can forcibly pitch me forward into a state of baited, this-could-happen, ‘oh fuck, what if this really could happen' suspense that leaves me dangling and clutching at a tightrope with sweaty fingers as reality blurs with conjecture, and as conjecture becomes a plausible nightmare. What’s more, I find they’re usually able to accomplish this because of a slight conflagration of one or more previously simple (seemingly innocuous) practices or ideologies that have been pushed to the extreme.

All it takes is a spark. All such a book needs is for one flame of believability to take root, to catch the wick. Then it can incinerate the flimsy wall that’s erected between what is and what could be with ease, so that all I’m fit to do is puzzle, wonder, think–ruminating over all that I know or thought I believed.

The Handmaid’s Tale does all this and more. It takes speculative fiction to a new level. I say this because of the delicacy with which it’s handled, because of the minced subtlety Atwood wields to construct a dystopia where women are objectified, oppressed, categorized, and silenced under the thumbs of male dominion.

Her worldbuilding may be called scant at first glance, gradual. It’s without preamble or bombast, so there’s not much expanse on the political how’s, the why’s. However, don’t let this fool you because it’s that quality in addition to Offred’s measured, meditative, passive, internally-crying-and-screaming narration that allows you to understand that women in this society have been violated in body, stripped of their individualism, and shed free of their voices in every awful, conceivable way.

Self-expression, personal freedom–those things do not exist here. Not really. They have been siphoned away, placed high up on a shelf in a locked cupboard, just out of reach, where Justification after Justification have decreed them to be Out Of Use for all women. For all handmaids like Offred.

This is a horrific chilling tale, no doubt about it. Yet, what makes it so strangely dismaying for me has less to do with the reminiscent/recognizable aspects of present society (though the misogyny parallels are stark and glaring) and more to do with how this book’s themes, its realities, slowly dig themselves beneath your skin. You cannot escape their clutches. They swat and scratch and scrape until you can do nothing else but trace their markings: paying them heed with your own thoughts, tears; your own blood.

With every turn of the page, you’re reminded a little more of freedom’s precious fragility. With each end to a chapter, you drift further into rational shock and chaotic sensibility. With every nurturing relationship, with each memory where happiness may have once reigned for the main character, you feel as if you’re thrown into a hall of mirrors where things are distorted, askew, and angled in uncomfortable positions that you can hardly bear to process. The unbearableness of it all is what buries itself inside of you, slowly, until the echo of what could be is there to stay.

If you don’t come away from this book half wanting, half perceiving, then you’re a liar. This is not a story you forget. It stokes, it haunts. It whispers your name in the dark whenever you think you’re done listening.

You simply cannot clap your hands over your ears, shut your eyes, or command yourself to believe that you will be no different after reading it. Because you will be.

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

4.5/5 stars

*You can follow me on Goodreads

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You Should Read This If You’re Looking For: Ownvoices POC stories for children that deal with tradition, culture, migration to foreign countries, refugee stories, etc. in a wholesome setting with beautiful illustrations. 

Reading “The Most Beautiful Thing” by Kao Kalia Yang is a mesmerizing experience. It’s a heartwarming short story of a young girl finding beauty in an unexpected place. Drawing from Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this is a story of a family making their home in a foreign country, getting by with very little money and a lot of heart: the little things that are commonplace for children of displaced families. 

I found pieces of myself and my home in this story. As an expat living in Kuwait, my family too had to move to a foreign country when I was very young. I found myself in the little details around the living room when they sit down to eat, the way they take care of the elders in the family, the traces of tradition that immigrated with them, the stories grandma tells the little children. Growing up in middle class poverty, I know what it feels like to be disappointed in your circumstances and wish for more, while also finding hope, and beauty in the love of family and tradition. 

Grandma is obviously my favourite character in the story. The way she holds the family together, weaving her stories and magic, making the most mundane things feel special. I can see my own nana in her laugh lines, the cracked, calloused feet, and her beautiful toothy smile. 

Yang weaves a beautiful tapestry, blending tradition with modernity brought to life by the breathtaking artwork by Khao Le. The beautiful illustration with their bright, vibrant colours, and rich details really elevate the story into something magical. 

My only complaint is that I wish we could have had a few more of grandma’s stories. She lived such a long, eventful life and I wish I could have spent more time on that. The ending also felt a little abrupt. But all in all, this book feels very much like home and I’m so glad its out in the world for more children to read and feel a part of! 4 stars.


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You Should Read This If You’re Looking For: easy to digest contemporary poetry dealing with depression, anxiety, mental health, suicide, survivor’s guilt, the aftermath of messy breakups, and trauma, etc. 

Designed, as the cover suggests, as a mixtape with Side A and Side B. Favourite poems include: tracks 3,4, 6,7,19,25,26,29,32,73,86.  

Format, Side A: contains a collection of 92 poems with titles as track numbers. 

Each poem also has a song inspiration at the end, with the song title and name of the artist that makes for a fun extracurricular activity if you want to put together a playlist for these poems. 

Alicia Cook’s poetry deals with some really heavy themes such as anxiety, depression, suicide, survivor’s guilt, love, messy breakups, trauma, etc. The poems are written in an easy, digestible format that would appeal to readers of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey collection. As I’m not a fan of this type of writing, however, this held little interest. 

The poems in this collection are mostly literal, with a few scattered easy-to-pick metaphors that have little depth beyond surface level. There is no profound meaning to unearth, unravel, or divine at. 

Yet, Cook’s poetry is relatable to the struggles we face in a 21st century social landscape. Especially in light of the pandemic, feelings of isolation, alienation, uncertainty, inability to commit to relationships, and social pressures are all reflected back with comfortable familiarity. I was especially drawn to the hint of depth in poems that deal with grief, depression and suicide; there’s a rawness to these poems that I wish was explored more in depth. 

Side B: “Remixes” contained blacked out versions of some of the poems from Side A that I found utterly pointless and pretty banal.  

My favourite part of this collection might be the mixtape concept this book is presented as, particularly the cover art and title that feel hopeful, funky, relatable, and original: the potential is there, peaking through in certain poems. I just wish it was more. 3 stars.

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Monday 26th of October | Internship as a high school teacher is going way better than I thought (as in, I actually enjoy it and get excellent feedback from my supervisor) but it just turned out a bit more rock'n'roll with schools more or less closing again in Belgium due to covid.

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