Book Review | BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

Greetings, readers!

I’m back today to share my thoughts and opinions on Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, my first ever historical fiction and definitely not the last.


Title: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Pages: 352 pages

Publications: April 3rd 2012 by Speak (first published March 22nd 2011)

Genre: Historical Fiction, World war 2, YA


“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

Set in World War 2, across Russia and to the North Pole, during the course of 12 years of imprisonment, we follow a sixteen-year-old Lithuanian girl, Lina, who was hauled from her house with her mother and brother and thrown into a cattle car en route to Siberia. Separated from her father, Lina secretly passes along clues in the form of drawings, hoping they will reach his prison camp.

It was a tragically and deeply moving true story, pointless wars that only results in innocent people suffering.

“We’d been trying to touch the sky from the bottom of the ocean.”

I honestly have no clue as to how I would write a review that could convince you to read this amazingly written book.

The characters, Lina, her family, the people on the car she was with, the people at camp were all so real to me. I loved them, I hate them at times, they are flawed, they are selfish, they are caring, they are scared, they are humans.

“Andrius, I’m…scared.”

He stopped and turned to me. “No. Don’t be scared. Don’t give them anything Lina, not even your fear.”

The plot was heart- wrenching and, of course, well-researched. The Baltic States of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia lost more than a third of their population during the Soviet annihilation, and not many people know about it. Lina and the other passengers on the car were imprisoned in the North Pole, freezing for 11 years, and before that a year of traveling, being separated from loved ones. I mean, me? I wouldn’t even survive a month. It was a beautiful story about love and survival. Lina is a very strong and beautiful protagonist- a heroine- and I will remember this story-her story- forever.

“Sometimes kindness can be delivered in a clumsy way.”

The writing was beautiful, I wanted more, I couldn’t put it down, it was just engrossing.

I had absolutely no problem with this book, yes, it was flawless.

5 to infinity stars.

I want everyone to read this book.

I’ll definitely be picking more by Ruta Sepetys, and more historical fictions, it’s a genre I would love to be invested in!

“What was life asking of me? How could I respond when I didn’t know the question?”


Thank you for reading! Please go read the book if you haven’t already. If you have, what did you think of it?

Until next time,

Kimsiang @ Stories + Brushes

Book Review | SIMON VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Hello, bibliophiles!

I have a book review here today of, as the title suggest, Simon VS. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, one of my favorite contemporary romances this year.


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Title: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli
Pages: 303
Publication: April 7th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Genre: YA, Contemporary romance, LGBTQ+


“White shouldn’t be the default any more than straight should be the default. There shouldn’t even be a default.”
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier was being blackmailed when he forgot to log out out of his email on his school library’s computer. Simon is not so afraid about everyone knowing he’s gay but what worries him most is what that would cause to his connection with the mysteriously cute boy he’s been emailing with: Blue.
“He talked about the ocean between people. And how the whole point of everything is to find a shore worth swimming to.”
I loved this book. I loved Simon. First of all, I immediately connected with Simon and clicked with the writing style. Becky writes like how I think and talk, really. It made it so easy for me to relate to Simon. Moreover, Simon’s personality was just so similar to my best friend and that made Simon very real to me, it was like my best friend was telling me his story. The writing style was funny and witty, I loved the casual writing style of Becky that made the book so easy to read and I flew through it in a day! A plus for the writing style.
The characters were all so cute. We had Simon and his group of friends, their silliness and their drama. We went through the roller coaster, ups and downs of their friendship, I felt like I was also in their squad. Honestly, it was like this book was written about me or someone close to me, as Simon and I are the same age, I could relate to a lot of the things that he went through. Also, Simon’s family was so cute and quirky at times. There are of course times that are prolematic. But, overall, they were very supportive and just awesome!
“It feels like we’re the last survivors of a zombie apocalypse. Wonder Woman and a gay dementor. It doesn’t bode well for the survival of the species.”
And then, of course, Blue, who Simon had been emailing secretly with for a while. Blue and Simon go to the same school but they don’t know each other’s real identity yet. Again, relatable. Said best friend at the top and I are pen pal for a long while before we got to meet too!
“The closest thing I’ve ever had to a journal is probably you.”
However, the only problem I have with the book was that I wasn’t exactly convinced of Simon and Blue’s deep connection via emailing. It actually came as a surprise when the emails got more and more flirtatious but it was still good as it caused all the jittery butterflies exploded inside me.
On top of all that, there was the quest of guessing who Blue was. I didn’t guess he was who he was at all! Though I am glad it was him, they were perfect together. I mean the revealing part got me rolling all over my bed for minutes to calm myself down. I just can’tttttttt. They are so cute together omg.
Overall, I gave this book a 4.5/5 star.
It was honestly the cutest LGBTQ book I’ve ever read yet. I can’t find a reason why anyone wouldn’t love Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Would I recommend it? Heck yes!
“People really are like house with vast rooms and tiny windows. And maybe it’s a good thing, the way we never stop surprising each other.”

Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of this book? Did you love it? I would love to know your feelings and thoughts!

Happy Reading (Signing off),
Kimsiang @ Stories + Brushes

[Book Review] MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover

“Sometimes in life, we need a few bad days in order to keep the good ones in perspective.”

Guys, I finished Maybe Someday on my phone.

Yes, I just finished an ebook. Like, this is only the 5th ebook I actually finished in Kimsiang’s history of ebooks. Reading through the electronic screen has just been very hard for me. The main reason is that my eyesight is not that healthy and I’m severely short-sighted, therefore my eyes get tired easily and just can’t focus on the texts for hours on end, anyways, that’s not the point. Let’s get to what I think about this book!

Maybe Someday was the few exceptions that I just couldn’t help but kept scrolling because it was a very entertaining read.

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Title: Maybe Someday

Author: Colleen Hoover

Pages: 385 

Publication: March 18th 2014 by Atria Books

Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary

|GoodReads|


Maybe Someday was about Sydney whom her boyfriend was cheating on with her best friend, resulting her with swollen hands because she punched them both and nowhere to stay for the night. Her deaf guitarist neighbor, Ridge, was kind enough to let her be his roommate as long as she helps him with his writer’s block.

“We try so hard to hide everything we’re really feeling from those who probably need to know our true feelings the most.”

 

First off, the characters are amazing. They are so realistic and down-to-earth yet very witty with their sarcasm, sass and the right on point humor. Plus, I love that Colleen Hoover writes about characters with disabilities, it’s very eye opening.

However, the characters are way too emotional, in my opinion, especially Sydney, she basically cries whenever her heart races a little more quickly than usual. One more thing, I didn’t like Ridge towards the end of the book, it was almost like he changed into another person ,and I don’t think I liked that ‘growth’. Also, I don’t feel like I know the characters all that much, yes, we were given background stories but it wasn’t enough, though that didn’t lessen how entertaining this book was.

Don’t even talk about the chemistry between the characters and the romance, I couldn’t take my eyes of the words. [Spoilers or maybe not, but read at your own risk]- [I still don’t quiet get how you can love someone and then fall hopelessly in love with another and are still sure you love the first person. Maybe because I haven’t experienced that sort of romance, but I don’t know, to me, I can’t even think of myself with anyone else other than the person I’m with.]

“There isn’t a doubt in my mind that we could be perfect for each others life, Sydney. It’s our lives that aren’t perfect for us.”

As for the writing style, it didn’t click with me at first, I don’t know why. It grew on me later and I flew through this book in a day nonetheless. I like her recent release, November 9 much more, writing style-wise.

The ending was amazing, just swoooooon.

Anddddd, the fact that this book focuses a lot on making music and stuffs, and that they actually recorded soundtracks for it is just nandhaiuwheija life and everything.

Maybe Someday – Griffin Peterson

“I failed miserably at trying not to fall in love with you.

I failed first.”

Overall, I gave this book a 4/5 stars. It was a quick romantic read and I definitely recommend it!

Signing off,

Kimsiang @ Stories + Brushes

“A life of mediocrity is a waste of a life.”

Book Review | A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah.J.Maas

Bonjour, compadres! 

(Okay, I don’t know French.)

If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m a hardcore Throne of Glass fan (did I just say hardcore? K.), I really like the series, it’s one of my favorites of all time, and Sarah.J.Maas is also one of favorite authors. So now you’re wondering why I’m just reading ACOTAR right now? Becauseeee financial crisis and then I kept putting it off and off, until recently I got hold of the book and read it! In a few words, I loved it, though I had a few issues and I still prefer the Throne of Glass series.

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Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah.J.Maas

Pages: 416

Publication: May 5th 2015 by Bloomsbury Children’s

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Magic, (NA, I’m not sure ://)


When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a Fae in the woods, the Fae’s friend arrives at her house to demand retribution for it and dragged her to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it… or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

“I was as unburdened as a piece of dandelion fluff, and he was the wind that stirred me about the world.”

Characters

Feyre: I really like Feyre as a character and reading from her perspective was fun. I like that she has her own mind, that she is strong and passionate (and she paints! I paint too. Okay, that was awkward.) But Feyre is hot-headed woman and she tried multiple times to get herself killed (not intentionally, just too passionate). Feyre is kinda the quirky, kept to herself characters, the kind that has a lot in her mind but only says so much, in other words, she is so like me that’s why I love her so much.

“You look . . . better than before.”
Was that a compliment? I could have sworn Lucien gave Tamlin an encouraging nod.
“And you hair is . . . clean.”

Tamlin: As for our male protagonist, the supposed hot sexy swoon-worthy high fae. I love Tamlin, don’t get me wrong, I love that he cares, he tries, and he’s just so good and perfect. Tamlin, whom I expected to be a cold-hearted High-Fae turned out to be very kind and deary. Did I mention I’m a sucker for romantic hot guys? Tho I feel like I don’t know much about Tamlin’s personality, and his relationship with Feyre was not enough, I don’t know I just want them to have more time together, do more things together, more closure because for now I am not aboard the ship because i can’t see them together yet!

Lucien: who is also a Fae and he resides with Tamlin too. I really like Lucien. I feel like he’s a mysterious character even though we were given a lot of back stories about him, I just feel like I can’t predict him yet. Sometimes he’s cool, sometimes he actually cares. Sometimes I think he’s hot and young, other times he sounds like my dad.

Rhysand: I love Rhysand. (I’m climbing the stairs to board the ship. I also sensed a love triangle. Is it Feysand? I’m completely on board.) I was never a fan of bad boys, but this time….. I don’t know why I like Rhysand so much even when he showed up only in the end. I hate the thing he did to Feyre, you know, when they went to the parties, but I love him when he’s like behind-the-scene Rhysand. Anyway, Rhysand is a High-Fae too, he came from another court, the night court, while Tamlin and Lucien were from the spring court.

“Rhysand stared at me for long enough that I faced him.
“Be glad of your human heart, Feyre. Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”

Amarantha, the villian. I love to hate her! I mean she’s evil and her evilness makes sense so I love to hate her LOLOL. Amarantha basically controls the whole Fae kingdom, and she’s obviously not a good ruler therefore there’s war.

Then we have the world building, I loved it. I loved the magical creatures Sarah created, they were new and fascinating. I loved the world, that they are divided into courts, the Faeries. The world is unique and rich and big and just there’s a lot more to explore. I can’t wait.

The writing style is of course, perfection and captivating. Sarah’s writing is always very entertaining yet poetic, like very sentimental but easy to read at the same time. ❤ and sometimes she’s just giving you life lessons, your mom’s style.

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing what brings you joy.”

As for the plot as a whole, I loved it too. I felt it was slow at times, Feyre was always in the house, but because of the fascinating world, there was always fascinating things that caught me in the story. I also really liked the twist at the end, I didn’t at all expect the story to go in that direction, and it was a very interesting direction of course. I only had a problem with the main relationship, Feyre and Tamlin, I feel like it wasn’t so exciting and they need to be together more. Other than that, it was amazing.

“Because I wouldn’t want to die alone, I said,and my voice wobbled as I looked at Tamlin again,forcing myself to meet his stare.Because I’d want someone to hold my hand until the end, and awhile after that.That’s something everyone deserves, human or faerie.”

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah. J.Maas is a retelling of the classic fairytale, Beauty and the Beast, with a twist with Faes. The story and the world were rich and you’ll be fascinated from the first page to the last to the characters and you’ll love the steamy romances!

“I threw myself into that fire, threw myself into it, into him, and let myself burn.”

Overall, I gave ACOTAR 4.5/5 stars.

I honestly have no idea what the sequel is going to be about, I just know that I can’t wait!


 

Happy Reading,

Kimsiang @ STORIES&PAINTBRUSHES

 

Book Review | Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Greetings, friends!

Like everybody else, I know about Sophie Kinsella and the shopaholic series, tho I’ve never read them but I heard they are amazing and hilarious. (Okay, I don’t know why I said that, I was just trying to prove that I’m not from a cave.) I’ve also heard amazing reviews about this one, so I was very excited to pick it up and it didn’t disappoint! 🙂

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Title: Finding Audrey

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Pages: 286 pages

Publication: June 9th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Genre: YA, Contemporary


Finding Audrey follows Audrey, a 14-year-old teenager, who has a severe case of anxiety after being bullied that she can’t even go out or have a social life and she needs to wear sunglasses even in her house to avoid eye contacts.

“It won’t be forever. You’ll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you’ll come out.

As she is only 14, Audrey’s voice did sound a bit young tho it wasn’t much of a problem for me.

The story focused a lot on Audrey’s family as Audrey was always home. Her mom and dad were the stereotyped mom that was obsessed and believed everything the daily mail said and did whatever it takes for her son to stop playing video games. Her dad was the type that always agree with the mom even when he didn’t know what it was. I mean it was pretty cliche but it was very entertaining. And Audrey’s brother, Frank, a video game addict who wanted to play video as a career. Frank had his video game friends home often to practice for a video game contest which you could win a lot of money. One of Frank’s friends, Linus, caught Audrey’s attention. And a relationship was developed but there was Audrey’s anxiety issue in the way and blah blah.

“Although, as Leonardo da Vinci said: “Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge,”

Like I mentioned I really liked the family relationship in here, even though it wasn’t that realistic, I liked that it made me laugh. As for the romantic relationship between Audrey and Linus, I think it was very cute and all, with the note-passing and Linus being so sweet and just understood Audrey. However, it was a bit of an insta-lovey which I didn’t really like. I mean one moment Audrey was still struggling with anxiety then she kinda liked Linus then they were a couple.

“No!” Linus sounds really shocked. Shocked, embarrassed, discomfited. Kind of mortified. Like he can’t believe I would say that. (I’m getting all this from one syllable, you understand.)”

Another issue I had with the book was that we weren’t given a background story of Audrey’s anxiety. I want to know what happened to Audrey in the first place, what triggered her social anxiety and more.

“Sometimes I hope I’m building up a stockpile of missing laughs, and when I’ve recovered, they’ll all come exploding out in one gigantic fit that lasts twenty-four hours.”

In Finding Audrey, Sophie Kinsella dealed with social anxiety in a light funny way but with respect. I find myself relate a lot to Audrey’s issue especially the eye contact one as I’m pretty shy lol.

Overall, I gave this book a 4/5 stars.

I would recommend this book to you if you’re looking for a light fluffy comedy read. I have a friend who refuses to read anything related to depression or anxiety or just anything that is very emotional because, she said, she feels kinda suffocating with all those stuffs. So if you’re like my friend, I definitely recommend this book, because it gives you glimpses about what it’s like to suffer from anxiety too. 

Book Review | THE NEXT TOGETHER by Lauren James

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Title: The Next Together

Author: Lauren James

Pages: 356

Publication: September 3rd 2015 by Walker

Genre: Young Adult, Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary


I won this book from a giveaway hosted by NerdyTalksBookBlog over on Instagram. Ever since I heard of this book and read the synopsis, I was so sure I’m going to love this, like this is exactly my cup of tea.

How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different…

I thought it was going to be a cheesy romantic emotional read, turned out it’s more of a sci-fi mysterious read and that’s not exactly my cup of tea, not to mention a bit boring.

The Next Together follows Katy and Mathew and their love story in four different timelines as mentioned above. We have 1700s when Katy is Lady Kady and Mathew is her servant, this one the most boring for me. Then we have 1800s when Katy disguised herself as a boy and worked for Matt, there weren’t much written about this timeline but I still skipped some. In 2019, they were already married and in this timeline we get to see how they communicated via notes and emails which were meant to be funny but it made me roll my eyes because it’s sometimes overdone. The last one is 2039 which was my favorite until the instal love happened. 

This book was told from third person, and it wasn’t all texts as I mentioned. There were files, notes, maps, emails and such attached too. At the end of each timelines, before we get to the other ones, there were these error code things that intrigued me the most in this whole book. It’s like someone is behind all this, someone who arranged for them to meet. As I mentioned, the scifi thing is not my type but I do like this concept, though in my opinion I really prefer it to be like fate or STH, like they ARE destined to be together.

Anyways, I really like that this book was a combination of all genres that exist except erotica maybe. There were mystery, romance, sci-fi, dystopia, war and more. I mean it could have gone so much worse.

I did find it a bit boring still and also just tired with all the tropes such as insta-love, overdone comedy scenes, and such which is so annoying. To be honest, I skipped a few scenes even because this book kinda slowed me down and I just wanted it to end so…-.-

And the ending! I didn’t get it. Questions not answered and just, i don’t get it at all. 

I heard this is going to be a series or duology which I don’t think I’m going to pick up, I’m not that interested :////

I wouldn’t say I recommend this book, it was not bad, just not that good I guess. But if you are intrigued and want to give it a try, tell me what you think when you finished it. I hope you like it better than I did. 😀

I gave this book three stars.

And that’s it for today! I hope you enjoy reading this! Thanks for reading 😀

Happy Reading,

Kimsiang @TheSpinesBreaker

Book Review | NOVEMBER 9 by Colleen Hoover

Hello, bibliophiles!

A long while ago, I read Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover and it was good, but not so good (in my opinion). November 9 is only the second book by Colleen Hoover that I’ve read. All I knew before picking the book up was that the main characters get to meet each other only once a year and that is on November 9. I think that is all you should know too before reading it! 😀

Title: November 9

Author: Colleen Hoover

Pages: 310

Publication: November 10th 2015 by Atria Books

Genre: NA, Romance, Contemporary, Must-read 😉

All I can say is, I love this book. From the first page till the last, from the poems (especially the poems) to every words, from the characters to the plots, and everything really.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

I really like this synopsis here, I think it doesn’t give much away and I hope it makes you want to pick this book up :

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in LA together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

November 9 is a funny, romantic, quiet emotional and a must-read. I blushed, swooned, almost cried, shouted at the characters, ‘awwww’ed when there is a romantic scenes, laughed and laughed. I really don’t have any words except I love this story and I recommend you read it! 😀

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Oh this though, I’m quiet sensitive to erotic scenes in books, I’m not exactly comfortable reading those scenes, so if you’re like me, underage (or not) and don’t like to read NA books because of those scenes, but you still want the romantic funny and emotional thing I mentioned, please pick this book up. This book wasn’t graphic and detailed when it comes to sex scenes at all, everything just feels so romantic. I also really like their book-flirting because Fallon is a bookworm and I lurrrrrvvvvv their jokes about that, the best really.

“If we’re going to kiss, it has to be book-worthy.”

November 9 by Colleen Hoover

I know this is a very vague review but I am afraid I would give something away that I think you should read from the book firsthand!

Again, I recommend it!

A million stars for this one 😀

Though, if you loved November 9 too, can you recommend me sth like it? XD I need moreeeee 😀

Thank you for reading and Happy Reading!

-Kimsiang @ TheSpinesBreaker