Book Review: Understanding the Alacran by Jonathan LaPoma

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Synopsis:

-Silver Medal Winner of the 2017 FAPA President’s Awards (Contemporary/Literary category)

Trying to escape the oppression leading him to drinking, drugs, and despair, 22-year-old William James rejects a teaching position offer at a prestigious Buffalo high school and moves to Mexico to find freedom in its beaches, mountains, and culture.

But soon, this freedom becomes oppressive as well as William finds himself unable to avoid the pull of the wild party scene in the small town of Lila where he lives. He continues a downward spiral until he meets a complex and compassionate Mexican woman whose love inspires him to face the question he’s been avoiding: Is this trip a desperate search for life or a slow death?

A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, UNDERSTANDING THE ALACRÁN explores many of the questions that haunt young people searching for love and their place in this world, and offers a poetic look at the raw beauty and healing power of Mexico.

My Review:

Will moves from Buffalo to Mexico to try to find some freedom while living with his friend Sal in a place called Lila. In Lila, besides the locals, he meets some people that like him are just looking for an escape and to explore Mexico.

Things are not easy for Will, yes there’s a lot of partying, drinking and meeting women but the cultural differences and the language barrier proves to be a struggle, especially at the beginning.

This book and Will’s experience while in Mexico shows how living on a budget in a different country can be a hardship, how prejudices can go both ways and the real weight of dealing with insecurities and society expectations.

The descriptions of the places Will visited during his stay in Mexico are good and it was a nice surprise to find out that I’d been to some of the cities mentioned in the book and, reading, made me go back to the times I visited some of them (like San Cristobal de las Casas, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Vallarta, Guanajuato and Puebla).

The writing is engaging, with the right flow and a dose of dark humor to make it an enjoyable read that I would recommend.

I found myself highlighting many parts of this book and next are some of my favorite quotes:

“And it was that very face that drew me – a beauty that could cut through any chaos without losing a hint of resolution”.

“It’s ok, Will. Keep writing. Maybe someday you’ll realize your ‘nothing’ is really something beautiful”

“The darkness had made its way back in full force. It was crippling and consumed me whole. I’d gotten away for a short time, but when it caught up again, it hit me with an extra viciousness – perhaps to punish me for running. Nobody truly gets away”.

“It was soft, and organic, and visceral. I felt alive in the darkness – alive and not alone. This was the Mexico I’d fled to see. The Mexico I’d invited to  sweep me away”.

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

* I received a free copy from the author through a Goodreads Group.

Book Review: Poets, Artists, Lovers by Mira Tudor.

Poets, artists, lovers

 

Book Synopsis:

PAL is a fast-paced yet poignant character-driven novel riding waves of romance, drama, and wit in a manner reminiscent of David Nicholls’s books (One Day)—and set in the exciting world of several vibrant Romanian artists and musicians.

Henriette, an accomplished sculptor, seems to find more joy in her feminist-inspired work and her piano playing than in the people who care about her. Ela, a piano teacher turned book reviewer, hopes to discover the key to happiness and a more meaningful life through studying the workings of the mind and crafting poems about emotions she trusts will lead her to a better place. Joining them in beauty and blindness is Pamfil, a violinist who dabbles as a singer and lives mostly for the moment and his monthly parties. As they follow their passions, they find themselves on treacherous journeys to love and happiness, and are slow to figure out how to best tackle their predicaments. Fortunately, their lovers and friends are there to help . . . but then a newcomer complicates things.

 

Book Review:

When Mira Tudor contacted me through this Blog to see if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book I accepted because I enjoy reading books from different genres (even if YA books are my favorites), also because I was intrigued about the way she described me the book “Contemporary women’s lit, looking for a balance somewhere between commercial and literary” and because I have an appreciation for Arts in its different expressions.

The story follows the lives of a group of Romanian artists and jumps between present and past in a way were you can learn about how the different characters met.

The writing style itself is good and I liked the references to different arts expressions (music, poetry, sculpture) and to some artists and writers that you can find through the book.

I highlighted many quotes while reading this book, among them the following by a character named Anca:

“ De gustibus”, Anca said: “We sometimes need sadness in order to tease away sadness”. 

In this book some of the characters struggle with the realities of adult life, intricate relationships and finding a balance and at times they seem to be experiencing some kind of existential crisis (also they seem to enjoy having a lot of intellectual and kind of philosophical discussions).

I finished the book, but I feel like I didn’t really “connect” with the main characters, also there is one male character whose appeal I just “didn’t get” and I would have liked to have a little more background story of characters like George and Haralambie.
Maybe this book could appeal more to people interested in Literary Fiction or as an exercise in analysis behind the motivations and psychology of the characters.

 

“I received from the author a gift card to purchase the ebook via Amazon in exchange for an honest review”.

Book Review: Enginerds by Jarrett Lerner.

Book Review:

Ever since I saw the cover of this book I knew I needed to read it and when I won a personalized signed copy in a Twitter Giveaway organized by the author I was really excited.

Not being someone to limit myself to the “adults” genres, I enjoy reading all kind of books (from Children’s books, to YA, Fiction, New Adult, Fantasy, etc.) and this one proved to be really a great choice.

Greeeg is a robot that Kennedy (a kid part of a school group called Enginerds) receives in a box that someone left in his doorstep, Greeeg eats everything (except radishes for some reason) and he has an “interesting” way to dispose of food.

love learning and tech and I guess that’s one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much and why I could relate easily to the wonderful characters created by Jarrett Lerner.

Nerdy and with geeky heart is a way to describe the members of Enginerds, kids that pursue knowledge, learning science and tech while having fun.

Every character has something interesting, but for some reason I liked John Henry the most, with his predilection for “scientifically sound” statements (even if Kennedy is not a fan of him).

Robots, science, tech, friendship, action and teamwork, this book has a lot of elements that

Definitely make it worth to read, share with someone, gift to kids and add to a library collection.

Surprises and twists are present in this fun book that will keep you really entertained and hopefully by the end, also excited about the sequel (the author told me it will be release next year).

Book Review: Making Buttons by Amelia Arbek.

Making Buttons

Book Synopsis

High school sweethearts Charlie and Jo Marie are in love. But when Charlie walks away from Jo Marie, seemingly inexplicably, she struggles to understand how things could have changed so quickly. She holds out hope that he will come to his senses and return, but when he doesn’t, she moves on, albeit reluctantly.

Years pass, and Jo finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage and faced with a decision that challenges her values to the very core. Feeling lonely and afraid, she makes the only choice she knows she can live with, which isn’t accepted by everyone in her life- namely, her husband, with whom she can’t seem to find any common ground.

Angered by her decision, her husband gives her an ultimatum. Jo knows in her heart she can’t do the only thing that would make him happy, so she tries to “fix” the situation as best she can. She fabricates a story and posts her lie on her social media page. Unbeknownst to Jo, this sets off a firestorm of challenges, and the first one is a doozy….

She has to figure out how to explain to a recently returned Charlie Anderson why she named him as the father of her baby.

Making Buttons is a full-length, stand-alone novel, filled with all the angst, laughs, frustration, and satisfaction you expect from a heartfelt contemporary romance.

***Warning: This book is recommended for readers over the age of 18***
It contains strong language and sexual content.

 

Book Review

Making Buttons is a Contemporary Romance about love, family and second chances.

Jo Marie and Charlie are high school sweethearts but one day he decides to leave town and Jo ends up alone and heartbroken.

As times passes and Jo Marie realizes Charlie is not coming back, she reluctantly decides to move on, eventually meets someone else and gets married, but something happens that makes her reevaluate his relationship and go back to her hometown and her family.

Amelia Arbek’s gives us good characters (some of them like Luca are easy to love) and is interesting to learn about the the dynamic of the traditional italian family Jo is part of.

Jo Marie has an older brother (Guy), a younger sister (Giulia) and a younger brother (Luca). Her relationship with each one of them is really different but I found myself drawn to the parts of the story that showed interactions between Jo Marie and Luca, she’s protective of his younger brother and I found him mature for his age (there’s a reason for this but I won’t give anything away to avoid spoilers).

My perception of Charlie changed throughout the book and I ended up loving this character; yes, he makes mistakes but he also loves intensely, knows what he wants and is really persistent.

While I was reading this book I thought the story was going in a direction and then suddenly there were some twists that I definitely didn’t see coming but were interesting to read.

This story shows how true love can last, in life heartbreak sometimes happens, you can experience some regrets but at the end fighting for what you want is worth it.

I liked this book and if on the future Amelia Arbek writes a short story or a one-shot about Luca and Grace I would absolutely love to read it (Luca and Charlie were my favorite characters).

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Book Review: Lucas. A Preston Brothers Novel by Jay McLean.

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Book Description:

In a sprint, every millisecond counts.
When you’re waiting for love, those milliseconds can feel like eons.

High school senior Lucas Preston has it all: star of the track team, a scholarship waiting for him, an apartment to himself and a revolving door of girlfriends. He also has an older sister, five younger brothers and a father who relies on him to make sure those brothers don’t kill each other.
His saving grace? Lois “Laney” Sanders, a girl he started to fall in like with when he was just eleven.
A girl who became his best friend, his confidant, his courage.

It took only sixteen clicks and eight seconds for Lucas to realize that his like for Laney had turned into love.
Eight life-changing seconds.
It’s also the exact length of time it took to lose her.

 

Book Review:

 

I opened this book one night around 11:00 PM just to look at it quickly and see how it began but after reading the first pages I felt instantly drawn to the story and I just knew that if I didn’t stop reading at that moment I wouldn’t be able to stop until I finished it… it was with difficulty that I put my Kindle aside and decided that it would be better if I read the book another day when I was able to do it without interruptions and well…. it prove to be the best decision because when I picked up the book again I just couldn’t put it down.

Lucas (Luke) and Lois (Laney) met when they’re eleven and there seems to be an instant connection between them, they become best friends and are inseparable.

The book shifts between Luke’s and Lois’s POV, and past and present time easily which helps to get a better context and make the reading more engaging.

This book has wonderful characters and it’s really hard for me to choose only one among them, but I can say with certainty that Luke became my favorite male character from all the books I’ve read (he’s far from perfect, he makes mistakes but I think that was the reason I liked him even more). Another character I loved was Lachlan, who is Luke’s younger brother and the cutest kid ever (he deserves his own book).

The Logan (another member of the Preston Family) references of “He’s so Logan”  made me curious about this character and I was happy to find out that there is a book about him, so I’m definitely going to read it.

There are many beautiful, awkwardly cute, heartwarming, funny but also heartbreaking moments in this book; reading was an emotional roller coaster but I loved every moment of it (and yes there moments when I cried a lot).

I really recommend this book and I look forward to reading more about the Preston Family in other books from Jay McLean.

 

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Book Review: US by Curtis Wiklund.

 

Review:

Curtis Wiklund is a wedding photographer whose work I follow in Instagram, where he started posting some of the drawings that ended up forming part of his book “The Daily Drawings Of US”. I love his drawings and that’s why after I had a gift card towards an ebook I opted for getting this book instead of a YA Novel as I usually do.

This was the first book in my 2018 Reading List and it was a great way to start the year.

In “US” Curtis Wiklund shares some glimpses of his day to day life with drawings (particularly about his relationship with his wife). As I went through the pages I could relate to some of the situations (some of them are cute and funny, some of them are heartwarming) and it’s fairly easy see how much he loves his wife.

I found this book touching and enjoyable, a good addition to a family library and a great option as an anniversary’s or wedding gift.

I hope to be able to buy a printed copy of this book soon in the future because this is the kind of book that I would love to have next to my bed to occasionally open it in a random page and just enjoy.

Rating:  ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

 

 

Books: Review of Fábulas de Nuestra Tierra para contar en un Día de Muertos.


Written by the Mexican author Nora Girón-Dolce and divided into 6 short stories, this book is full of magic that takes you on a wonderful journey through Mexican customs and traditions that revolve around the Day of the Dead.

Reading this book was like sitting in front of the fire, drinking coffee and eating bread while someone told old legends in such a detailed way that it was as if I was there looking at the fields and the altars, smelling the rich food, listening to the wise words of a woman who enjoyed helping others and even understanding the incredible relationship between a dog and its owner.

The author has a style that allows you to easily connect with the characters, lose yourself between the pages and ultimately find you satisfied with the experience.

With a total of 56 pages the book is a quick read that is worthwhile and I highly recommend.

* The book reviews written on this Blog reflect my personal opinion and I do not perceive any kind of compensation for them.