Book Review: Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Title: Allegedly
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Date: January 24th, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: ebook
Source: Purchased

 

Synopsis (from Amazon):

Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

Review:

Only few books can shake me. Allegedly is one of them.

After I finished this compelling novel, I needed some time to process everything that was going on in the book, as well as calm myself so I could understand my feelings.

Reading this, you probably think I’m exaggerating.
If I was you, I’d probably think the same.
But I am telling the truth. Sometimes we don’t know how we’re going to react to a certain book, and sometimes our reactions can surprise us.

Going into this story, I knew it would be difficult for me. I was even aware how disturbing it was.
You probably hear about Allegedly, as one of novels written in own voices, one that was praised in “reading diversity” movement (if that’s a movement, I’m not 100% sure), the book that is important to read.

First of all, I agree with the statement how it is important for this book to be read, and for author’s voice to be heard.
This is one hugely important, disturbing book that represents not only people of color, but minority that we don’t get to read often about – teenagers in group home.

Honestly, I am afraid how I’m going to sound when I say this, but I will say it anyway: this novel reminded me how happy my life is. When I reflect and compare it to lives like ones I read about in this novel, to teenagers who yes, committed crimes during their lives, but are still alive and have to live with invisible “Scarlet letter” that follows them every where they go, without support of their families, in poverty and with someone else deciding about everything in their life, I understand how privileged I actually am.
And once again, I used the word I am really not a fan of, but there is no other word to say it better.

The story is told in first person, following Mary’s POV.
Beside Mary’s narration (and I have to state that Mary is one of the best narrators I had a pleasure to read about), there are bunch of newspaper articles, police interviews, excerpts from doctor’s papers and other similar stuff.

Reading Allegedly was thought provoking and emotional experience.
It definitely wasn’t easy.
Some scenes were violent and disturbing, some were harder to understand, some were extremely sad, but what hit me the most was how everyone underestimated Mary all the time.

I rooted for her, even though she never stated if she did it, if she killed the baby. She said she did, allegedly.
But yet, you as a reader don’t believe she would do such a thing. She does not seem like that kind of person.

The writing style is amazing, and I simply can not believe this is a debut novel.

One more thing I’d like to emphasize is the role of the State (here I mean criminal justice system and state foster care).
Mary’s (and other girls’) destiny depended so much on those two, that it feels like the State has it’s own personality.

There is one more thing we need to discuss: the last chapter.
I tried and tried to decide whether I like how this story ended.
At fist I was shocked, but resolved that I liked it.
Now, after some thinking, I wish the story ended differently.
Why?
Because, even though I understand why the writer chose to end the story the way she did, I can’t help but feel that some messages delivered through the story were (partly) erased with that conclusion.

Fun fact: When doing my research, I found out that this book was inspired by true event that happened in 2012, when 10 years old girl was charged with manslaughter of a three month old baby.

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Book Review: White Lies and Wishes by Cathy Bramley

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Title: White Lies and Wishes
Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Punguin Random House UK, Corgi
Date: January 26th, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Physical ARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): What happens when what you wish for is only half the story…?

Flirtatious, straight-talking Jo Gold says she’s got no time for love; she’s determined to save her family’s failing footwear business.

New mother Sarah Hudson has cut short her maternity leave to return to work. She says she’ll do whatever it takes to make partner at the accountancy firm.

Bored, over-eating housewife Carrie Radley says she just wants to shift the pounds – she’d love to finally wear a bikini in public.

The unlikely trio meet by chance one winter’s day, and in a moment of ‘Carpe Diem’ madness, embark on a mission to make their wishes come true by September.

Easy. At least it would be, if they hadn’t been just the teensiest bit stingy with the truth…

With hidden issues, hidden talents, and hidden demons to overcome, new friends Jo, Carrie and Sarah must admit to what they really, really want, if they are ever to get their happy endings.

A feel-good romantic comedy that’s guaranteed to make you smile – perfect for fans of Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde.

 

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Review:

Cathy Bramley is the author I found out about because of blogging community.
Her book Wickham Hall was so well received, and I couldn’t help but added it to my ever-growing tbr list.
Unfortunately, I still haven’t got a chance to read it, but when I saw there was an opportunity to read and review Bramley’s newest novel, I had to grab it.

White Lies & Wishes is a story about three women, very different at the first glance, but with one thing in common: all of them have wishes they want to make happen’, all of them want more from life.

These three women, Jo, Sarah and Carrie, meet at the funeral. It’s not a happy event, but it makes them realize that life is short, and they have to make the best out of it while it lasts.
They promise to help each other reach their goals – every one of them makes a wish, and with common support, they will do their best for their wishes to become reality.

Out of all the three characters, I honestly can not say that I have a favorite.
They were all somewhere in the middle, when it comes to likeability.
Each of them had some flaws, as well as good features, and that is why, in my opinion, they felt real to me.

I enjoyed reading all of the stories, but I have to admit that the one about Jo was predictable.
It also took me longest to like Sarah, because I just couldn’t understand her. In my eyes, she was too selfish, chasing her career and not appreciating her husband enough.

The story is written in third person.
It reads really easily, but for the better reading experience, I decided to take my time with it.

White Lies and Wishes not only made me think about my life and how it is still not too late to do something more from it, but it also reminded me that it is never too late to make new, true friendships.

I would recommend this novel to women’s fiction lovers out there.

3,75

Movie Monday: Split

Movie Monday is a weekly feature here on my blog, in which I’m rambling about movies I’ve watched lately.

This week I watched an amazing thriller that scared the shit out of me (excuse my french).

 

Split

split Split is one of those movies which, after watching it’s trailer, you can’t ignore.
You think about it all the time and simply can’t wait to watch it.
At least that is how it was in my case. I was so obsessed with Split, even before I watched it, that I even had a nightmare in which that Denis guy abducted me. I don’t think I have to stress out how creepy it was.
If you dare, you can see the trailer here.

The movie follows the story of a schizophrenic guy with 23 different personalities, living in one body.
He abducted 3 girls with only one purpose: to give them to “the beast”.

I watched this movie with 4 friends, and I was the one who liked it the best.
My friends said it was really good, but to me, it was amazing.

James McAvoy is such a good actor. One of the best ones out there. The way he potrayed those different pesonalities is beyond me. He managed to transform his face in a way that we could guess just from his expressions who was in the light at the moment (read, who is in charge of the body).

The story itself was creepy enough, but the subplot is what’s even more scary (Casey’s story).

I knew everyone talks about the end even before I’ve seen the movie (but I managed to avoid the discussion so I wouldn’t spoil myself).
However, I have to admit that, once I saw it, I didn’t understand it (famous actor cameo). Thanks to the online community, now I know what was so special about the ending and, even though I don’t remember I watched the movie Split was linked to, I still appreciate how the director connected two movies.

If you’re not scared too easily, please go watch this movie. It was so good, it’s no surprise everyone talks about it at the moment.

 

IMPORTANT

Quick note: After posting my movie review, I was told (and researched it afterwards) that DID is NOT schizophrenia.
I didn’t want to offend anyone and thanks to the community, I now know so much more about DID.
I also found out how people with DID are offended with this movie, because it portraited them in a wrong way, as violent persons.

I want to state that Split is piece of fiction, and most people do know how to separate fiction from reality, but there will always be people who take everything they see as facts.
I feel sorry for people with DID to feel that way, but I also, once again, want to stress out that this movie is piece of fiction and I take it as it is.

 

Note: Picture in this post is not my property but taken from IMDb site and is property of UniversalPictures.

Book Review: The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even by Anna Bell

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Title: The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even
Author: Anna Bell
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Date: January 26th, 2017
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): ‘Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella’. Another hilarious and heart-warming romantic comedy from bestselling author Anna Bell

When Lexi’s sport-mad boyfriend Will skips her friend’s wedding to watch football – after pretending to have food poisoning – it might just be the final whistle for their relationship.

But fed up of just getting mad, Lexi decides to even the score. And, when a couple of lost tickets and an ‘accidentally’ broken television lead to them spending extra time together, she’s delighted to realise that revenge might be the best thing that’s happened to their relationship.

And if her clever acts of sabotage prove to be a popular subject for her blog, what harm can that do? It’s not as if he’ll ever find out . . .

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Review:

Anna Bell is an author who has been on my tbr list for a very, very long time.
Ever since I found out about her book The Bucket List to Mend a Broken Heart and heard so many amazing things about her work, I wanted to give her a chance.
After putting it off for the longest time, I was lucky enough and got a chance to read her newest novel, The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even.

I am so glad I read this funny novel with the longest title ever, because I fell in love with Bell’s writing style, and with the positive atmosphere she created, that was present through the whole story.

This book follows the story of Lexi, a 29 old woman who’s boyfriend (Will) is obsessed with sports.
Dating him and watching all the games is not always easy for Lexi, but she found her way to deal with that (like reading books on her e-reader when her boyfriend watches a game she is not interested in), but when Will fakes stomach flu so he wouldn’t go to Lexi’s best friend’s wedding, and goes to the game instead, Lexi decides it is time for her to get even.

First of all, let me just say that egocentric in me enjoyed reading this book and my approach to this story is 100% subjective.
You see, I could relate to Lexi so much, because her Will reminded me of my boyfriend. I mean it, they are so alike, it’s like the author based Will’s character on him.
Even their whole relationship situation was almost the same as ours, and when I was talking to my man about this book, he was sure I was making it up, just to entertain him.
“No”, I said “but Anna Bell wrote the story I should have written (because sometimes I like to think I was destined to write a good book one day), because it’s like reading my life on those pages. I KNOW what she’s talking about, to the core!”

The writing style was really, really good!
The story itself was great, but the way the author told us the story is even better. It reminded me of Sophie Kinsella’s style in a way.

I laughed so many times while reading, was entertained the whole time.

I was also curious (and because of subjective reason a bit worried how the story’s going to conclude) because, even though to some readers this story was predictable, I really had no idea in which direction it was going.

The things I think could have been better in this story are:
– I wish we got more romantic/cute scenes with Will and Lexi.
– I wish there was stronger character development. We said goodbye to the same Lexi and Will we met at the very beginning of the story.
– I don’t think Will’s reason to miss the wedding was strong enough.

I am so glad I read The Good Girlfriend’s Guide to Getting Even, and I am looking forward to read more of Bell’s work.

If you’re a chick lit lover, this book is the one you don’t want to miss.

4,5

Book Review: My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon

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Title: My Sweet Revenge
Author: Jane Fallon
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Date: January 12th, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: from Publisher for review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): I want to make my husband fall back in love with me.

Let me explain. This isn’t an exercise in 1950s wifeydom. I haven’t been reading articles in old women’s magazines. ‘Twenty ways to keep your man’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

I want him to fall back in love with me so that when I tell him to get the hell out of my life he’ll care. He won’t just think, ‘Oh good’.

I want it to hurt.

Paula has had Robert’s back since they got together as drama students. She gave up her dreams so he could make it. Now he’s one of the nation’s most popular actors. And Paula’s just discovered he’s having an affair.

She’s going to remind Robert just what he’s sacrificing. And then she’s going to break his heart like he broke hers. It will be her greatest acting role ever.

Revenge is sweet. Isn’t it?

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Review:

It has been two weeks since I finished My Sweet Revenge, and I still don’t know how to write my review without possibly offending some people.
Not reviewing it would easy and, in a way, right decision, but after a while I decided to do it anyway.
My opinions are my own, and I do apologise to everyone who might be offended by them.

My Sweet Revenge follows the story of Paula, who found out her husband was cheating on her for a while. Instead of confronting him, she decides to keep a secret that she knows what he’s doing, and to make him fall in love with her all over again. Once he’d realize he doesn’t want to lose her, she’ll leave him.

The reason why this story was on my most anticipated books in 2017 list is because I was so curious how Paula is going to make her husband fall in love again with her.
I also didn’t know where the story is going to go, and I was eager to find out.

The one thing I should emphasise is the novel’s unpredictability. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not imagine what was going to happened next, and I wanted to read as fast as I could to find out.

Paula was a character so much different from me, with many different opinions, making decisions I would never make.
Because of that, I wanted to follow her story, trying to understand her decisions with an open mind.
However, it was so hard for me to connect with her or like her in general.

Paula’s husband was cheating on her, and it is a terrible thing to happen’ to anyone.
She felt betrayed (as she should have), blaming her husband for everything, stating over and over how self centered he was, but not once did she ask herself what made him do it.
You see, Paula gained a lot of weight (which SHOULDN’T be a reason to be cheated on, but sometimes it is) while her husband was working out every single day, making sure he looks right.
She also can’t remember when was the last time they slept together, and one time in the story when he wanted some action, she refused.
People have needs, and having sex is one of them. If a person does not get it from his/her spouse, it’s natural that with time he/she will want to find someone else to get it from.
It’s like being thirsty and not getting a glass of water from the one person you’re sharing your life with.

So yeah, I don’t justify cheating, but in this case, I understand why Robert did what he did.

Also one more thing I didn’t like is how Paula (and one more character in the book) stated more then few times how young girls dating older men is gross.
I get why some women think that way, but young girls dated (or married) older men always, in the past and today, and it is not gross, it is natural. To each their own!

The book is written in first person, following Paula’s and Robert’s mistress POVs.
I really liked Part 2 because the story became more interesting from there.

There were some laugh out loud moments, some “OmG moments”, and then, there were some dull moments.

The writing style is good. The book reads pretty easily.

I was happy with the end. It all concluded very well and I am glad how every character got an ending that was the best for him/her, even though not all of them were aware of that.

All in all, I am glad I read this book because it showed me perspectives different from my own.

4

The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake Book Review (Blog Tour)

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I am so happy to be today’s host in The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake Blog Tour.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I am excited to share my review.
I’d like to thank Janne Moller from Black & White Publishing, for giving me this opportunity.

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About the book:

Daisy Delaney’s life is pancake-flat. A talented baker and passionate lingerie specialist, she has wound up with no one to bake for and a career that hasn’t proved successful. But when she starts a delicious relationship with famous French author-chef, Michel Amiel, everything begins to look a bit more exciting.

That is until Michel’s bestselling cookbook is knocked off the top spot by newcomer ‘Lucy Lovecake’. His outdated recipes slide down the charts, while the popularity of Lucy Lovecake’s new dating cookbook is rising like the perfect sponge.

As Daisy teeters on the brink of love, how can she ever tell Michel that she is the mysterious Lucy Lovecake? Could he ever forgive her for finishing off his career? And more importantly, does Daisy even want to be with a difficult, egotistical, down-on-his-luck Frenchman just as her career is beginning to take off? Especially when she has some other very interesting offers…

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My Review

They say “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, but when it comes to The Secret of Lucy Lovecake, you should.
Why?
Because the story of this novel is exactly like the cover – girly and cute.

However, when it comes to synopsis, in this particular case, the story does not follow it in a way one would expect. Everything that’s being said is true, but there’s also a big part of the story that hasn’t been mentioned.
This is a story that talks about love interest and Daisy keeping secret from her lover, but it also talks about aspiring author on her way to become a published one, and her life after having a best-seller.

I really appreciated that aspect of the story, because it showed what publishing a book looks like, and in a way it made me learn something I didn’t know before.
I think mentioning it in synopsis wouldn’t hurt.

The story is written in first person, following Daisy’s POV.
Daisy’s voice is quirky and is really easy to read.
With really short chapters (84 in total) the book reads pretty quickly, and it is very likely that faster readers will finish it in one sitting.

On a quick note, I think the story would have been better without first four chapters (in those chapters we got to see Daisy’s life now when her book is bestseller, and then we go back into the past and follow the story from the beginning).

I liked characters in this story.
The one that stands out the most was Michel Amiel, who is also Daisy’s love interest.
I know it is stated that he is her boyfriend, but I wouldn’t use that word to define him.
He’s very complex and there is so much more then meets the eye when it comes to him. He suffers from depression, self medicates it with alcohol, he is very self centred, grumpy and overall one bitter man.
On the other hand, he can be fun and sweet.

Since this story is told from Daisy perspective, I wish the author (or should I say Daisy) gave us a chance to fall in love with him, or just like him better.
I mean, Daisy likes him, but we don’t see what she likes about him. Almost everytime she talked about him or described scenes with him, there was something problematic about him.
I wish we got to see why she fell for him.
Honestly, I feel like there was more connection between Daisy and Michel’s mother then between the two of them.

The end was very sweet and cute.
I can’t say I was 100% satisfied with the way the story was wrapped up, because it felt like the author decided to turn a blind eye on Michel’s depression (or maybe that is something that will get more attention in the next book).

Overall The Secret Life of Lucy Lovecake is a fun novel that I would highly recommend to chick-lit lovers.

3,75

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About Pippa James:

Pippa James is a full-time writer with a love for food, fashion and all things French. She is best known as Janey Louise Jones, author of the fantastically successful Princess Poppy series, with sales of over 4 million copies to date. Before Princess Poppy took over her life, Pippa James had always intended to write contemporary fiction and this debut novel is the start of a brand new series, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Sophie Kinsella.

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Follow the tour:

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Book Review: The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

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Title: The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas
Series: Chocolate Lovers’ Club (#3)
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: Sphere
Date: October 22nd, 2015
Pages: 496
Format: Paperback
Source: purchased

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

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Review:

If you’re into chick lit, you’re probably familiar with an author Carole Matthews.
She’s one of the most known writers of women’s fiction, with (I think) 30 novels written.
Also, her stories always come within the most adorable covers, so it’s hard not to pay attention to her work.

Being devoted reader of women’s fiction, I wanted to read her work for the longest time.
After few years of putting it off, I decided it was about time to finally grab one of those gorgeous paperbacks and start reading (plus TBD bargain section helped me to decide which one to choose).

The Chocolate Lovers’ Club is the third book in the series but it can be read as standalone.
However, if you want to read this book, I encourage you to read previous books first.
The reason why is because so many things happened in the first two books and, although an author mentioned them through the story and tried her best to keep new readers on track, I think that if I’d read the series in order, I would understand the characters better.

The story follows four women who are best friends whose love for chocolate connected them.
As the author herself said it in her letter to readers at the end of the book, the reason why she wrote this series is to show how women can be there for each other without judging one another.

I understand where she was coming from and I can say she solidly succeeded in her goal, but yet these women were so much different from where I come from, that even though I tried to go with an open mind into this story, at times it was really hard for me to understand them.
There is no girl code (one woman was one’s guy mistress and now her friend is dating him), with questionable morals (cheating and not knowing who your baby’s father is) and easy to fogive approach (becoming fast friend with your husband’s ex mistress who has his child (who’s by the way the same age as yours)).
If you’re a type of reader who avoids all of the above in their books, maybe this book is not for you.

The writing style is really, really good. I’d say it is the best part of this piece. Carole Matthews uses her words in a way that makes you fly through the story. That only is enough reason for me to want to read more of her work.

However, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how this book was concepted.
It follows four POVs, one of them (Lucy’s) written in first person and others all written in third person.
To be honest, I still don’t understand why Matthews chose to write her book that way.
For a really short period it gave me that Sex and the City vibe, in which Carrie tells the story, but then I realized that in those chapters that were written in third person when Lucy was mentioned, she was being Lucy, and not the person who tells the story, so that’s what confused me.

And while we’re talking about Sex and the City, I can say The Chocolate Lover’s Christmas is like a lighter version of it, only set in London and without parties.
Even some scenes reminded me of ones from that show. They would be amazing, if only they were original.

Overall, The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas is a quick read perfect to put you into the festive mood, but if you don’t like not-so-smart protagonists nor promiscuity, you probably won’t like this novel either.

3