November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Ebook, 307 pages
Romance, Contemporary, New Adult
Trigger Warning: Abuse, Fire Accident

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Now, before we start, a warning, this is less of a book review and more of a rant post. So, if you are faint of heart or loved this book (I would like to say “no judgement” but honestly…?), I suggest you don’t read further. It will not be pretty.

Now, am I a salty person? The Dead Sea would look at me and say, “Damn, that’s salty“. Do I hate wasting time on useless, pointless plots? Yes. And that, my child, is how this rant review was born.

Hear me when I say the rage I felt when I finished this book was unimaginable. There are some books that I keep reading despite blaring red flags (much like most of Ben and Fallon’s relationship), because I hate leaving books in between. I am a hopeful soul and hold firm that maybe, it could get better towards the end. Short answer: it did not. Long answer: Keep reading.

Now, the plot of the story is that Ben and Fallon meet in a diner on November 9th. Fallon is about to fly across the country to NYC the very next day. So, they make a pact to meet every year. This plot, on paper, was right up my alley. A little romance akin to One Day, told over years? A story of passion, romance, friendship and finally realizing that they were meant to be? Sign me up!

Turns out, it was a souffle that just didn’t rise. This story was better when I read the synopsis than when I finished the book. An equivalent to when the trailer was better than the movie. But worse. So much worse.

I have learned from this book that characters can make or break a book. And well, meet Ben, the man who broke this book single-handedly. Ben is what you would called a pseudo perfect boyfriend. He has all the qualities of a perfect boyfriend and that would work fine, if he wasn’t such a infuriating piece of shit (Pardon, my French). The man practically forces his way into Fallon’s conversation with her father aka “rescues her”, sits there undressing her with his mind (And no, I am in no way mistaken about this because there is a huge paragraph dedicated to him wondering about what colour her underwear is- three seconds after they meet) and not to mention how controlling he is. Exhibit A:

I shove the dress back at him. “I don’t want to wear that, I want to wear this.”

“No,” he says. “I’m paying for dinner, so I get to choose what to stare at while we eat.”

If a guy says this to me, he will be limping how after I knee him in the family jewels. But poor Fallon, in her ‘damsel in distress’ with zero confidence and absolutely no self esteem falls for his “I shall wave my magical wand and deliver a few big speeches about how I want to do you and you shall find yourself a confident, sexy woman” ploy. Honestly, there was a point where he asks her, all romantic, about if she knew what he was thinking about when he first saw her, and I admit, the die hard, sappy romantic in me, for a second, did indeed believe he was going to tell her in some touching fashion about how gorgeous he found her and beauty was really about what was on the inside and not how many scars you have on the outside, but no, it was about how enamored by her ass and wondering if she was wearing underwear. Romance is truly dead.

There were so many such exhibits. And omg, if this is what the New Adults of the world are being exposed to, nowadays, I worry for the future generations. Just to clear things up, no, virginity is not a “gift” to the guy and you do not “lose a bit of yourself” and making it seem that way, just made me want to vomit all over this book. And also, if a man ever puts his hand over your mouth, to prevent you from speaking, bite him.

Moving on the Fallon, aka the cause for my rising blood pressure- Part 2. In short, I found her extremely annoying and totally melodramatic. But she was tolerable even though she found the fact that her “boyfriend” keeps objectifying her as romantic and not disturbing. I found it sad how complying she was, even when she was uncomfortable. This book really took objectifying women to a whole new level. Not to start on the gas lighting.

“It took four years for me to fall in love with him. It only took four pages to stop.”

So, as you can imagine by the time, the actual plot twist came around, I was done with this book. And honestly, the plot twist didn’t improve things. It just cemented my already deteriorating views about this book. I was right to hate it. I was right to trust my instincts. And this book was truly terrible.

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Ebook, 352 pages
Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling, Young Adult, Bad-ass Ladies
Rating: 4/5

First thing you should know about me, is that I am a sucker for a good retelling- Where the beast was actually the villain, where Cinderella was actually a cyborg, where the villains weren’t villains, not really anyway, their stories had just been told differently- reel me in, hook line and sinker. So, naturally when a book casts perhaps one of the most hated fairy tale villains as heroines in their own right, I just had to read it.

“Don’t you see? A pretty girl must please the world. But an ugly girl? She’s free to please herself.”

This book started off strong. A 5 star beginning if I ever saw one. It was dark, eerie fairy tale vibes taken straight out of Grimm’s fairy tales. I mean, it does start off with the stepsisters chopping off parts of their foot to fit into a very tiny and fragile glass slipper. Doesn’t get much grimmer than that, am I right?

And of course, that scene is where Ella and Prince Charming get their own very happy ending. “And they lived happily ever after. The end.” As we were told since we were kids. However, this is the beginning of the tale of the two sisters. Cinderella’s evil, wicked, cunning, cruel stepsisters.

Isabella and Octavia (“Tavi”) are left behind with their greedy overbearing mother, who is losing her grip on sanity at a very alarming speed as each day passes. Isabella is consumed with jealousy at the misfortune dealt to her while her stepsister goes frolicking into a good life of marital bliss. She is angry at the world for deeming her unworthy because she is not pretty. She hates the world that over looks her’s and Tavi’s merits and reduces them to a single word- “ugly”.

“They cut away pieces of me,” she whispered in the darkness. “But I handed them the knife.”

On a whole different world, perhaps one so well hidden from Isabella’s reality, a battle between Chance and the Fates commences and the final chess piece, behest to Isabella, is her own life. The path she can forge for herself vs the one that was forged for her.

“The wolves in the woods have sharp teeth and long claws, but it’s the wolf inside who will tear you apart.”

A nice story about finding who you are while the world and everyone around you believes you are something else entirely. A story that is very intimately familiar yet distant and fresh as new spins are put on on a old fairy tale. A tale as old as time yet just as relevant now as ever.

“Every war is different, yet each battle is the same. The enemy is only a distraction. The thing you are fighting against, always, is yourself.”

“The feeling that you want to own someone body and soul, spirit them away from everyone else, have them all to yourself forever and ever and ever,” Hugo said dreamily. “It’s called love.”
“No, it’s called kidnapping,” said Tavi.”

(Had to add this quote. It was just so damn funny.)

Book Review (Quarantine Special)- Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

Ebook, 327 pages
Fiction, Holiday, Contemporary, LGBTQ
Rating: 3.5/5

One thing you all must be wondering: Mia, was it really wise to pick up a book about quarantine during quarantine?

Possibly not. But the prose was so tempting, I just couldn’t resist.

So, yes, I did pick up this book because of the self-quarantine aspect. Especially, since I and many others in the world are in lock down and quarantining ourselves with our loved ones. And I, for one, can tell you in all honesty, it has not been a blast. Quite the contrary actually.

Seven days of Us reads like a melodramatic sitcom. We are introduced to the Birch family. An affluent upper middle class family, who has decided to self-quarantine themselves for seven days (from Christmas to New Year’s) in their family mansion, upon the return of their eldest daughter, Olivia Birch, from treating a deadly disease called Haag. (Because what could possibly go wrong with shutting themselves in with a person who is completely exhausted from treating sick and dying people in a third world country?)

Told from multiple POV’s, this story gives a glimpse into the intriguing dynamics of the Birch family. From Olivia to Phoebe, from Emma to Andrew and last of all, to the new comer, Jesse, we see that what makes any relationship work is more than just smiles and fairy dust, its communication and hard work.

Being engaging and warm whilst remaining utterly realistic, is a hard feat to achieve, but this book manages to shake its soap opera-like roots to tell a very captivating, witty and thought provoking story.

The Birch’s are introduced pretty early in the book and the dysfunctional relationship with their eldest daughter is pretty evident early on. Which the matriarch has taken it upon herself to see that its fixed over the next seven days. (Mothers, they do try, don’t they?)

Secrets, secrets and more secrets are unveiled as the quarantine begins as each of the Birch’s finds themselves a recipient of (some expected and very unexpected) news:

The youngest daughter, Phoebe, just found herself to engaged to the man of her dreams (or is he?).

The patriarch of the family, a former war correspondent turned food critic (think Ego from Ratatouille and you have him down to a T), just received word from an old flame. (And he does not like it one bit.)

On the other hand, the cheery, self-sufficient matriarch has news of her own. While the news is quite devastating and equally heart breaking, she will be damned if she let spoil her perfect vacation.

Olivia, on the other hand, cannot wait for this week to be over (AMEN TO THAT). She had never connected to her family and cannot think of a reason to now. And the only thing worse than being in quarantine with her exorbitant family, might be Haag itself. 

With secrets everywhere, the Birch enter their week long quarantine (Pfft. Amateurs). Will they make it out alive? Or at least with their feelings intact? Will all the skeletons remain in the closet or will they all come tumbling out in an avalanche? To find out and more, stay tuned for next week’s episode of…Oh wait…

With a few surprises along the way, the book wraps up the same way it began, nicely, like a well wrapped Christmas gift. And anyway, who doesn’t love the theatrics of dysfunctional family? Right?