Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

download (38)Title: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Publisher: Speak

Pub. Date: 04/03/12

4 STARS

From Goodreads:

It’s 1941 and fifteen-year-old artist Lina Vilkas is on Stalin’s extermination list. Deported to a prison camp in Siberia, Lina fights for her life, fearless, risking everything to save her family. It’s a long and harrowing journey and it is only their incredible strength, love, and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?


I wish I had been more prepared mentally before starting this book. I mean, I thought I was because I have already read it’s sister book, Salt to the Sea. However for some reason, I was still taken aback at how intensely tragic this book is from the start. There is no moment of relief until the absolute last paragraph. There is also no easing into it; the story starts off with Lina and her family being taken from their home. From there, they start their awful journey with hundreds of other people in less than sanitary conditions. I kept waiting for some bright light amidst the darkness. I thought surely there will be some positivity along the way, it’s a YA book! NOPE, there was no sugar coating happening here. I guess you could argue that the positivity was the character’s strength, hope and relationships during such a dark time. But when THAT is the glimmer of light, you know you are in for a tearjerker. In all honesty, I had a hard time getting through it. I kept telling myself “okay, if it doesn’t get better by page 100 then I’m putting it down.” Page 100 turned into page 150, 175, and so on. I ended up having to finish it because if I didn’t I would be worried about the characters forever.

When reading Between Shades of Gray, your heart aches for all of these people. I was worried and stressed for them the whole time. You can’t help but put yourself in this situation and thank your lucky stars that you are nowhere near. I love that fact that Sepetys’ books bring parts of history that no one talks about to attention, I had no idea this story was in Lithuania’s past. Just like I had no idea about the sinking of a giant boat with thousands of people on it in Salt to the Sea. How do we not know? And what else don’t we know about? After I finished these books I found myself doing further research because I wanted to know more. I also love that her books are in the YA section, a place historical fiction is not typically found.

I have a great appreciation for books that make me feel as much as Ruta Sepetys’ books do. As far as I am concerned, if you can make me that emotional (I cried twice), then you are a good writer. I am supportive about how dark this book is, because it gives you a small glimpse of what life was like at this time and place, and I know that is what the author is trying to do. I recommend this to anyone because it bring so much awareness to a story in history that we most likely were not taught in school. As for me, I am going to go try to get my hands on Ruta’s other book, Out of the Easy.

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January Wrap-Up

Did anyone else feel like January was the longest month ever? Maybe because it is right after winter break so the next thing you are waiting for is spring break and that’s just too far away to start a count down so it feels like we are in a weird limbo part of life? Who knows. I’m not complaining, life is good right now. But still, I am sick of January and I am welcoming February with heart eyes and a huge TBR pile.

This month, I read 5 books:

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The Night CircusThis book was a magical masterpiece. It was one of those rare books that I read as slowly as possible to make it last longer. I could not get enough. After it sat on my shelves for the better part of a year, I finally decided to pick it up. Needless to say, it quickly made its way up to one of my favorite books of all time. I have nothing negative to say about it.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: I tried really hard not to, but I started HP again. The reason I tried really hard not to is because I knew it would once again take over my life. And it has. I am obsessed like always. Although it is a 5 star read, Chamber of Secrets is actually one of my least favorite books out of the seven. Not sure why. I really hate spiders though so that may be a contributing factor.

Sing, Unburied, SingThis was another good one. The author’s writing style was so poetic and the story was beautiful and haunting. Although it is such a powerful story, I am worried that I will forget it in the future. Something about it just didn’t pull me in like I wanted it too. I still recommend it to anyone. I gave it 4 stars.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanThis is my favorite HP book out of the seven. It is where the story starts to get darker and more mature and it is really where you start to get some good background information. I also love how everything fits together with that time turner.

Throne of GlassI FINALLY read a book by Sarah J. Maas. I have been wanting to read this series for ever and I am glad I finally started it. Throne of Glass was a good introduction. There were some things I thought could have been better but I hear things really pick up in book two. I can’t wait to read more. I gave this one 3 stars.

That’s a wrap for January! Happy reading!

-Mackenzie

 

 

 

New Year Book Tag

I was not tagged in this, and I am not sure where it started but I saw it on Bionic Book Worm and it looked like a good way to get into blogging again. Truthfully, after only a few months of blogging I started to feel so uninspired that my blog has been neglected for months. I was getting too into the “stats” and the pressures of having to read certain books that I just let it go. However, I would like to get back into it because it still looks fun! I am determined to keep it’s status in my life as a fun hobby, and not let it pressure me. I will start with this fun new years tag!

How many books are you planning to read in 2018?

I set my goal on Goodreads to a reasonable 30 books. I kept it the same as last year, even though I know I will read more than that. I don’t want to overwhelm myself with setting a goal of over 50 books and then be disappointed if I don’t meet my goal.

Name 5 books you didn’t get to read in 2017 but you want to make a priority in 2018

I want to read books by Sarah J. Maas. I have yet to read ANY by her and they all look like something I can fan girl over. I also want to read the Six of Crows duology and a few classics. I know that’s more than 5, sue me.

Name a genre you want to read more of

I used to read a lot of classics and I have strayed away from that. Bring me back to that life. The publicity and temptation of all these YA books have taken over!

What’s a book that you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

Up until last week, this would have been The Night Circus, which by the way is a new favorite of mine. It was a magical masterpiece. Now that I have read The Night Circus, however, I think it would be The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

One word that you’re hoping 2018 will be?

I am going to choose the word “content”. I know that usually, people look for excitement in life but 2017 had so much excitement in it, I think I am ready to just be content for a while. Last year, I got a new job, a new house, and a new husband. Naturally, being an introvert who hates change and gets overstimulated easily, this was just a lot to take in. I am ready to just live in my cute house with my cute husband and my cute dogs and live life with no extreme changes in it. That isn’t to say that I am not super excited for the future though, because I am. 🙂

December Wrap-Up

I am currently sitting on the couch watching Netflix and mentally preparing myself to go back to work tomorrow after two incredibly short weeks off. I am starting to feel the post-holiday depression setting in as well as the pressures of maintaining my New Year’s resolutions for longer than 3 days. The one goal I have been able to keep up with, however, is my reading goal! In 2017, I surpassed my goal of 30 books by reading 43. Today, I set a goal for another 30 books. I really want to focus on books that I want to read and not ones I feel pressured to read because of this blog. I also want to focus on quality over quantity.

I read three books in December. Between the longest two weeks of the school year and the various holiday activities, I’m impressed to have had time to read one.

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The Break Down had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I FINALLY finished the Series of Unfortunate Events after about 10 years, and I finally broke and decided to reread Harry Potter. I don’t have to explain why. It was a good month and I am looking forward to January! Hope everyone had a happy new year!

-Mackenzie

Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

download (33).jpgTitle: The Breakdown

Author: B.A. Paris

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pub. Date: 7/18/17

3 STARS

I was one of those people who were blown away by Paris’s first book, Behind Closed Doors. Naturally, I compared The Breakdown to that experience, and I wish I hadn’t. Not that The Breakdown wasn’t good, because it was. It was that the emotions I felt while reading it were just not comparable. The scare tactic wasn’t there and I spent most of the time annoyed by the endless cycle of: phone call, forgot something, mind playing tricks, phone call, forgot something, mind playing tricks, phone call, forgot something, etc. The only thing that kept me reading till the end was the thought that the ending might have a mind blowing twist and whoever was behind this was someone so unexpected. Although my predictions were not 100% accurate, they were too close for my liking. I typically like to be completely blown away, and I was not.

Don’t get me wrong, this was still a good book. I have read reviews for this book that were just not good and I know some people were disappointed, but something about this book was totally enough for me. I know that seems hypocritical after the above paragraph, but I can’t put my finger on it. I just liked it. Even though it was repetitive and unsurprising, I was still intrigued. Maybe it’s the way the author writes. Maybe it’s the way everything always works out in the end. Maybe I relate to the craziness of the characters and am secretly taking notes on the planned demise of loved ones around me. The world will never know. I will continue to read more books by B.A. Paris, I heard there is a third in the works.

Blog Blast: Crossing the Line by Kerry Wilkinson

Crossing-the-Line-Kindle

Title: CROSSING THE LINE 

Author: Kerry Wilkinson 

Amazon Links:  🇺🇸 http://amzn.to/2xAIGuH 

Description:

A serial killer with a past. A detective with a secret…

Twenty-five years ago, the Stretford Slasher murdered eight women and was locked behind bars for life. But after the notorious serial killer dies in prison, there is a new series of attacks bearing all the hallmarks of the originals. Victims are being targeted in broad daylight and people are scared to go out…

Recently promoted Detective Inspector Jessica Daniel is heading up the investigation. To unmask the culprit, Jessica must first unravel the truth behind decades of secrets. With so many leads, she enlists the help of Detective Superintendent Niall Hambleton – the man who arrested the Stretford Slasher.

Will Jessica be able to connect the crimes before someone else gets hurt? And how far will she go to solve the case?
Fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza and Rachel Abbott will be hooked by this pacey, addictive crime thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages until the unforgettable ending.

IMG_1861Author Bio:

Kerry Wilkinson has had No.1 bestsellers in the UK, Canada, South Africa and Singapore, as well as top-five books in Australia. He has also written two top-20 thrillers in the United States.

As well as his million-selling Jessica Daniel series, Kerry has written the Silver Blackthorn trilogy – a fantasy-adventure serial for young adults – a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter, plus numerous standalone novels. He has been published around the world in more than a dozen languages.

Originally from the county of Somerset, Kerry has spent far too long living in the north of England, picking up words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’.

When he’s short of ideas, he rides his bike or bakes cakes. When he’s not, he writes it all down.

Upcoming US releases:
Behind Closed Doors (Jessica Daniel 7): Out now
Two Sisters (standalone): Out now
The Girl Who Came Back (standalone): Out now
Crossing The Line (Jessica Daniel 8): December 2017
Scarred For Life (Jessica Daniel 9): late-2017
One Cloudy Night (standalone): Spring 2018
The Death And Life Of Eleanor Parker (standalone): June 2018
For Richer, For Poorer (Jessica Daniel 10): 2018
Nothing But Trouble (Jessica Daniel 11): 2018 

Author Social Media Links:

http://kerrywilkinson.com or http://facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks


Review: 3 STARS

I have never read a Kerry Wilkinson book before, and I was worried that this would be hard to keep up with as it is the 8th book in the Jessica Daniels series. I was pleased, however, to find that the author does a very good job of not making you feel that there is constantly this joke that you are being left out of. He gives enough of the background information that you need to keep up with the story. That being said, I also feel like there was just enough information given that now I want more background story, which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

The beginning of this book was a little slow for my liking. It took me a while to get into and I wasn’t too excited about reading for the first 30 – 40%. Then, all the details start fitting together and it really picked up during the last half. I wanted to keep reading to see how all the pieces were going to somehow fall into place.  I liked the main character and I liked that there was some humor as well, as her sarcasm and wit game were strong throughout the whole book.

Overall, I liked this book. I am interested in reading more of this series. Normally, I am so against reading books out of order, so I might need to make myself feel better and read the first seven.

Thank you Bookouture for providing me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Crossing the Line - Blog Tour.jpg

 

 

November Wrap-Up

November 2017 was alright. It went by at lightning speed, and it was filled with those days that are good, but that I probably won’t remember 10 years down the road. I ate lots of food and gained back all the weight I lost for my wedding a month before. I have become thankful that I chose an October wedding because it came before all the holidays where if you don’t gain at least ten pounds you’re not doing it right.
As far as books go, I set a goal for myself in my October wrap-up of 5 books and I am happy to say that I achieved my goal. I read 6 books this month. This is a major feat as it is more books than the last 2 months put together. Here they are:
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IT by Stephen King
The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket
Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
It was the best reading month I have had since July before school started, so I am pleased. Now, I am ready for all things Christmas. The tree is already up and I am starting a diet of Christmas cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows ASAP. Hopefully as I do this I will also keep up my reading streak. Happy December!
Mackenzie