Make space by Regina Wong

A necessary manifesto for a simpler and more fulfilling life, without clutter and going against consumerism! I have been trying and slowly succeeding to declutter, it is difficult and overwhelming. The good news is that it is possible. This little book introduces the basics of minimalism with inspiring quotes that reawoke in myself the desire to simplify more, hence to live more.

“When we crave simplicity, we are not after an easier life. We are after life”. —Dave Bruno

I recommend this for those who are toying with the idea of finding a way to simplify their lives, this books is a great start!

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Buddwing by Evan Hunter

This book was constantly toying with my patience and trust that the main character Sam Buddwing would find sooner than later some tangible clues as per his identity. I was really drawn into this book from the very beginning, only to be repeatedly disappointed by the style of writing, by the author refusing to give in a few pertinent clues in the first quarter of the book.

Don’t get me wrong, Evan Hunter has a marvelous writing style. In this book, however, th plot is thus constructed as if to baffle and frustrate the reader. At least this is how I felt for a whole week, while refusing to read anything else but this book, only to become (let’s put it bluntly) bored out of my wits, which does not happen .. if ever. My mood might have had a lot to do with it too.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book, in exchange for an honest review. I will give another chance to Evan Hunter though and read one more book by him.

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A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena

A deliciously twisted thriller, maybe one of the best I’ve read this year. I found it even better than The Couple Next Door and I cannot recommend Shari Lapena enough now. Her books are perfect summer reads too if you are looking for great compelling thrillers.

The writing style is more polished in this novel, making it addictive, simply unputdownable. I had trouble focusing on the daily chores with a toddler while reading this one. Luckily it is also a quick read and with the ending somewhat gratifying in the end.

Some of the characters are so multi-faceted that it spins the mind. Sure, I expected Karen to have secrets, just not as deep as it turns out in the end. Hence the deliciousness of the book so to say. Mind-twisting plans that were realised in favor of this powerful woman, leading at the same time to moral questions of all kind. So if she were really a battered woman it would all have made so much sense morally. Yet, there is a wow factor in her real secret that boggles the mind. It made me wonder how people and situations can surprise and trick others.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. I am so glad I have asked for this one on Netgalley. Watch out for the publication date, coming up soon in July.

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The Gypsy Moth Summer by Julia Fierro

First thing that comes to my mind is a wild thickness of detail, themes and plot I have rarely met in coming of age novels. This completely makes sense, due to the period of time portrayed and the hippy characters, their naive behavior and need for attention.

I was overwhelmed by this book and had trouble going past the first 50 pages. I believe one really needs the mood and patience to delve into the amalgam of it, I will definitely give it another go, because I felt its potential and its beauty among all the complex phrases and hidden meanings.

I definitely recommend this, it might be your next favorite book if you are up to the challenge of sailing through the depths of its happenings and ideas. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Are you a boy or are you a girl by Sarah Savage

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This little book is a great tool for assisting parents and educators about gender equality and differences. It will certainly spark some great discussions among bigger children, I expect it is best for kindergarten age. The illustrations are a bit sketchy, though it could be due to my ARC copy. Nevertheless, the drawings are able to highlight and show the essence of the book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The scent of rain by Anne Montgomery

This must be the year of depressing reads! The Scent of Rain will chill and shake you to the core, as the book is portraying life in the Mormon Fundamentalist cult, where kids are abused in the name of religion and the Leader is a maniac pedophile!

Anne Montgomery’s writing style is soothing and real. I especially liked that the story is told from multiple POVs, with heart warming surprises here and there. The author managed to weave beautifully both horror and love, and the faith in human beings who care ultimately for the moral right.

I missed more of Adan’s background, though I understood that the central character is Rose. Her story is the main trigger of disturbia, having an eye opening effect for the normal people living alongside the cult, who’ve been ignoring the horrors for long years.

I say this is a must read! The book is utterly captivating and mature, managing to bring the reader close to the happenings in a sort of magical way, though honestly I would never consider going there in person.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My name is Caillou by Christine l’Heureux

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This little book is so adorable, the reader falls in love immediately with Caillou, through his stories and the cute illustrations.
The only suggestion, probably the wording should be more creative. I imagine that in French it sounds more natural.
I plan to check out the other Caillou books fo my son, preferably in hard copy. I am curious of they were published in more languages.
All in all, we loved this delightful book with my son. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing Date: May 16th, 2017

The absence of Evelyn by Jackie Townsend

A book for the soul, with candid references to loneliness, love above all in unusual ways, relationship struggles and longing for identity. I enjoyed this one slowly, with endless cups of tea and crumble cakes.

Evelyn’s absence itself is a character in its own right, a strong presence paradoxically. I was especially imoressed by Townsend’s skill to bring such strong connections together through the memory of someone dear.

All characters are beautifully portrayed, each in his own right, with weaknesses and so many hopes. Somehow it seemed to me that the novel is a lot about hope. For Olivia hoping to find her identity by pursuing her dream. For Carlotta hoping to find her dad and the meaning of her own family relationships. For Rhonda is hoping to get some closure about the lies and truths throughout her life. For Marco is probably hoping he doesn’t ruin anyone else’s life like he mentioned it; though I believe his secret hope is to find himself again and accept the importance of relationship with his daughters.

This novel is deep and thoughtful like a cup of green tea at sunrise, with specs of wishful thinking and candid realisations. In a book club it could spark so many discussions. I recommend it to everyone who enjoys this type of writing, as describe throughout my review.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

House of Names by Colm Tóibín

IMG_20170416_185424_088House of names by Colm Tóibín is a heartbreaking retelling of the story of Clytemnestra and her children. A novel full of vengeance, strong-willed characters, all plotting each other’s fate.

In my opinion, the strongest is Electra, who learned from the most powerful villains how to organise, calculate and rule the fates of others. Tóibín’s style is objective, each character tells its own version of what happened, adding their own feelings.

In the beginning I thought I completely understood Clytemnestra up to the final act. Then, Aegisthus’ actions also seemed well-meaning and calculated, yet proved as vengeful and personal as befitting a villain. Then I started to put my hopes into Orestes, only to realise that his friend Leander had the reins of what would happen next. And still, Electra proves it all in the end. What a captivating read, I honestly wouldn’t have thought I could enjoy it so much, it being based on an old classic I was not too fond of.
The novel will be published on May the 9th 2017 and if you like retellings of old classics you should definitely give it a try. It’s sublime ! Colm Tóibín proved to me yet again how talented he is.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Scribner for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

The Bloom Girls by Emily Maine Cavanagh

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This book is an addictive gem which could have been even more, had the style been just a little more subtle. I would have liked a bit more suspense, though clearly this is more psychological at family/relationship level.

The characters each have a complex baggage and get to know each other throughout the book, even though they are family. This just stands to prove how important communication between family members is.

There is a continuous emotional struggle at individual level, juggling between memories before the father’s death and after. Cal, Suzy and Violet are the Bloom girls and they couldn’t have been more different from one another. They each mourn their dad in their own way, finally coming to terms and getting to know him better after he was no longer there.

I recommend this quick read to anyone, can be a very good summer/holidays book too. There are lots of issues and points thatcan be discussed also in a book club. Very curious to read others’ thoughts on it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.