zaterdag 26 maart 2016

Luckiest girl alive - Jessica Knoll

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Published: May 2015

ISBN: 9781476789637

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.
There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.
The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My review 
If you see the black rose on the cover, you can already guess that the luckiest girl alive maybe isn't so very lucky after all. On the first page we meet TifAni FaNelli and you can hear her thinking if she can use the Shun (knife) she is holding to plunge it into the belly of her fiance. Well, definitely not a very lucky girl...
In the first part of the book, the author gives you an insight of the current life of Ani (this is how TifAni calls herself lately) and her fiance Luke. The story alternates between the current life and the years of TifAni at the Bradley School. These flashes forward and backward are a bit confusing. Mainly because the author uses a lot of examples to subsribe how Ani is feeling about people and circumstances. It gets a bit confusing now and then and it's hard to keep on reading. It is clear that TifAni had a very rough time at school. The author shows you the desperate teenager, who will do practically anything to be accepted by her classmates and to ensure she doesn't get excluded. You can see how boundaries are crossed and how teenagers are crushed under group pressure and therefore end up doing very stupid things. It makes you wonder if your own teenager, currently sitting on your couch, is not doing something stupid like that.
The second part of the story is more easy to read. The story has more depth and action. You read about all the things that happened at Bradley and just as you think you understand TifAni and what caused her actions, the story just twists again. So up untill the last page, the story keeps unfolding and you finally realize the burdens TifAni is carrying. So, instead of the spoiled girl you give her for in the first part of the story, you realize she has a lot of moral issues to deal with and that she is actually very considerate towards some other people of her past. So, definitely worth reading, although you have to get through the first part. The story will be turned into a film by Reese Witherspoon. If they see a way to speed up the first part, without all the confusion, this will probably become a very nice film. I received an ARC from in exchange of an honest review.

woensdag 16 maart 2016

All Better Now - Emily Wing Smith

Publisher: Dutton Books

Published: March 2016

ISBN: 9780525426240

An honest and captivating memoir of the author’s childhood struggles as a result of a brain tumor, only discovered following a near-fatal car accident.

All her life, Emily has felt different from other kids. Between therapist visits, sudden uncontrollable bursts of anger, and unexplained episodes of dizziness and loss of coordination, things have always felt not right. For years, her only escape was through the stories she’d craft about herself and the world around her. But it isn’t until a near-fatal accident when she’s twelve years old that Emily and her family discover the truth: a grapefruit sized benign brain tumor at the base of her skull.
In turns candid, angry, and beautiful, Emily Wing Smith’s riveting memoir chronicles her struggles with both mental and physical disabilities during her childhood, the devastating accident that may have saved her life, and the means by which she coped with it all: writing.

My review

 I usually don't read memoirs or biographies, because I'm not very interested in other peoples lives. I prefer the fantasy world and science fiction stories. However, when I read the synopsis of All Better Now, I got really intrigued by the fact that Emily has had the 'luck' of being hit by a car, to be saved from her benign brain tumor.

The book started out somewhat confusing, because it is written from the point of view of Emily at a young age. She keeps having tantrums and she is often angry, but she doesn't understand why. You can see that it's very frustrating for a young girl to be the outsider at school, to be mocked at and (very heartbreaking), getting taken advantage of by 'so called' friends. I admired that Emily could distinguish between real interest from people and the fake interest.

When the imaginary friend starts to write letters, it gets a little strange. Especially when some of the stories seem so real, you start to doubt if the friend is still imaginary or that he is somehow real. The second part of the book was even better to read. Probably due to the fact that the tumor was removed and Emily had a little better perspective of the world. I couldn't help but marvel about Emily's endurance during all of what she went through. With self mockery: I'm the lucky-girl-because-I -got-hit-by-a-car and perseverance, she builds up her life. Dealing with the lack of use of her hand and the Whoo-head and just keep going.

So, my utmost respect for Emily Wing Smith and four stars for this book (I received an ARC from FirstToRead).

zondag 13 maart 2016

The Promiss of Forgiveness - Marin Thomas

Publisher: NAL

Published: March 2016

ISBN: 9780451476296

A novel of love, forgiveness, and the unbreakable bonds of family from award-nominated author Marin Thomas . . .
When it comes to family, Ruby Baxter hasn’t had much luck. The important men in her early life abandoned her, and any time a decent boyfriend came along, she ran away. But now Ruby is thirty-one and convinced she is failing her teenage daughter. Mia is the one good thing in her life, and Ruby hopes a move to Kansas will fix what’s broken between them.
 But the road to redemption takes a detour. Hank McArthur, the biological father Ruby never knew existed, would like her to claim her inheritance: a dusty oil ranch just outside of Unforgiven, Oklahoma.

As far as first impressions go, the gruff, emotionally distant rancher isn’t what Ruby has hoped for in a father. Yet Hank seems to have a gift for rehabilitating abused horses—and for reaching Mia. And if Ruby wants to entertain the possibility of a relationship with Joe Dawson, the ranch foreman, she must find a way to open her heart to the very first man who left her behind.

My review

The blurb of The Promise of Forgiveness was enough to get me curious. At first, the story of Ruby and Mia was getting of at a slow pace, so I was wondering if I should read on, or that the blurb just gave the total story away. However, halfway through the book I got hooked on Joe and the curious incidents happening at the range. The strain in the relationship between Ruby and Mia is perfectly shown and having a near teenager myself, I got a little prevision of what my life will look like in a few years with a stubborn teenager... So totally recognizable. Hank was the grumpy old man character, with a hidden golden heart. Of course he has done wrong by abandoning Ruby, but if you read all he has been through, you start to feel sympathy for the man, just like Ruby. And Joe, what a lovely character. I just wanted to hug him for all the sorrow he must feel. I actually think that in real life, he is much too nice for Ruby, because she can be a little closed off and just... mean. But after all the events and incidents at the range, maybe Ruby will settle and become a better version of herself. The underlying story of the sheriff and the women in Unforgiven was a little confusing at some points, but it was certainly entertaining. Let's just say: never get caught with your pants down... Hilarious. So in all an easy read, which kept you wondering about several things, including the motives of Ruby's mother to leave Hank and her whereabouts in the last twenty years. There wasn't a very satisfying answer to this, so when I was done with the book I still had a little nagging feeling about this. However, it was a good read. So three out of five stars for The Promise of Forgiveness. I received an ARC from FirstToRead in exchange of an honest review.