Book Review: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife by Ashley Winstead

Date of Publishing: August 3rd, 2021

Author: Ashley Winstead

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Genre: Mystery Thriller

This story follows a college reunion where our main character Jessica Miller is all set to blow the crowd apart and show everyone that she had become someone of importance since graduating college. However, when old secrets dig themselves out of the past, Jessica and her six friends have to figure out who is behind the death of their former friend Heather. And when secrets come to light, Jessica’s own truth threatens to burst forth and tell the whole world that she’s not as perfect as she claimed to be. 

Let’s just get the obvious out of the way and say that I absolutely loved this story. This story was a roller coaster ride which started and ended with perfection. I have no idea how the author managed to pull this off but she did and for that I applaud Ashley Winstead, and I really need to learn a thing or two or ten from her about writing. 

From the start to the end I was hooked. There was not a single instant or moment where I felt the story dragging or found myself losing interest, I was glued till the end. I loved how the author brought everybody’s secret to light one by one and how they were all connected to Heather’s murder in one way or another, which just goes to show how actions cause a ripple effect which leads to the end result and often times as humans we do not understand the importance and implications of our actions and how they can impact another human being. 

Every aspect of the story was executed well. I loved the flawed and selfish characters, including our main character. I was super glad to read she was as messed up as the rest of them. I was glad the author didn’t make her perfect just because she’s the main character. 

Moreover, I loved how beautifully everything was orchestrated. The author did a fantastic job with the pacing and the setting. It really made me miss my college days and just how fun and carefree everything was. I loved the timelines shifts which took place between the day of the reunion and when they were in college. 

The events were messy. They drove me mad. But they were perfect in their imperfections. I enjoyed how the author gave us a glimpse of the dark side of college life. Yes, everyone is young and carefree and we’re all trying to fit in and find our group of friends, but the extent people go to in order to fit in and find that perfect group of friends can be really jarring and I just loved that this book gave us that. 

Furthermore, the climax really put the cherry on top. The plot twist and how as a reader I was forced to look at things from a different perspective really makes me want to applaud the author. She did a fantastic job building up the suspense and did not disappoint with the execution of the climax. It was jolting, it was shocking, it was absolutely amazing! 

The ending also did not disappoint. I thought the climax was the final unwrapping of this gift of a story but that last secret that Jessica finally reveals really made me question my sanity, and for some strange reason it made me love Jessica all the more. I wish I could say that she’s just a character in a book—because that’s exactly what she is—but all that she does in the story it actually made her appear so much more real. 

And let’s not forget our actual villain. I would say I kind of suspected who it was but it still shocked me when the identity of the villain came to light. Also, the reasons as to why the villain became the villain were sick and demented and so so relatable. Like, I could understand why he did what he did even if it made me sick to think about it. But yes, humans do insane things for insane reasons and you can’t even fault them for it because you understand it so well. 

I think with all my rambling above you guys can understand just how much I love this book and I wish I can find more books which are as amazing as this one. This is the first book I’ve read by Ashley Winstead but I shall be looking for more of her books and giving them a read. 

So if you guys haven’t read this book, then don’t let another minute pass by and purchase this book and read it immediately because you’re going to regret it if you don’t. I highly recommend everyone to read this book because this book deserves all the love it gets and more. 

Book Review: Killing November by Adriana Mather

Date of Publishing: March 26th, 2019

Author: Adriana Mather

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is book 1 in the series by the same name and follows November who’s father enrolls her in a school known as Academy Absconditi, a boarding school full of secrets and hidden agendas. For a girl who’s lived a normal life, Academy Absconditi is a completely new world and something she has a hard time navigating. But when your very existence is threatened and you realize that your entire life has been a lie, November has no choice but to fight for her survival and show the other students that she’s no underdog. 

I don’t have words for this book. This book blew my mind away. It kept me hooked from the first word till the last. The pacing, the storyline, the characters, and the climax everything was just perfectly executed. 

Academy Absconditi is a school I wished existed in real life. An academy that educates you in knife throwing and espionage is my kind of a school and I would love to be a student there. Learning the ways of the Strategia and following complicated bloodlines, this book is colored with intrigue. I actually wish I was a character in this book. 

Dark academia is a genre I’ve been wanting to get into for some time now and I’m so glad that I started with this book because now I’m now even more excited to dive deeper into this genre and get a better understanding of it so I can finally work on writing my own dark academia novel. 

The characters in this book were fleshed out to perfection. I loved each and everyone, with their complicated flaws and thirst for power, it really gives you an idea of just how crazy people can be. I loved Ash and Laila and how despite wanting to stay away they still help November battle through the onslaught of allegations and murder attempts. And in a place like Academy Absconditi one needs allies. However, what I liked about these characters is how morally gray they were. I love gray characters and Adriana Mather has done a stunning job of fleshing them out as such. These students do questionable things for the right reasons—at least they’re right according to them and that’s what makes them so exciting to read about. 

Moreover, the importance given to family and your lineage is an intriguing element in this series. The school might be for a particular age group, but your bloodline really spans generations and really has an impact on a student’s position in the school. So I like how the author has included this flavor, which is the perfect way to induce rivalry and enmity among the students. 

The climax was brutal and packed a punch. I kind of had a hunch who the villain was but wasn’t entirely sure, however, when the culprit did come to light I was excited and blown away at the same time; especially when his reasons for doing what he did were revealed, it just made me want to go back and read the book all over again. And the climax made way for the perfect ending with November wanting to go to her father and find out the truth about the events of her past and the past of the Strategia. 

Adriana Mather really knows how to portray relationships and with Ash and November, the relationship really is a challenge as they have to navigate through the history of their respective bloodlines and figure out if they really should be together. Loyalty is hard to come by when your own family can be out to kill you, so reading about their relationship was a roller coaster in itself. 

I am really excited to read the second book in the series. The only thing I’m sad about is that there are only two books in this series instead of seven or eight. I feel like no matter how much I read about this world of the Strategia I’ll never get enough, so it’s sad that I’d have to say goodbye to these character and this exciting world in the next book. I wish the author writes more books like this and I hope I can write as well as she does. And of course I would be reading the rest of the books written by Adriana Mather in the future. 

As for recommending this book to people, I literally want everybody to go and pick this book up. Everybody should read this book at least once in their life if not again and again. So pick up your copy of Killing November if you haven’t already and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did. 

Book Review: Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

Date of Publishing: October 7th, 2014

Author: Kerstin Gier

Publisher: Square Fish

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction 

This is the last book in The Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier and considering how amazing this entire series is, I’m not surprised that this trilogy has been translated in multiple languages. The story follows Gideon and Gwen as they try to figure out their complicated family trees while navigating time sensitive events that can potentially get them killed. Not to mention the two time travelers that have been on the run since a long time and just happen to be related to Gwen in the most unexpected of ways, I must say I did not see the plot twist coming. 

The humor used throughout the series and especially in this book had me cracking up and really helped with my mood. I especially loved Xemerius. I think he’s my favorite character of the trilogy and I wish I had a ghost pet like him. Why isn’t there such a thing as ghost pets in real life? I’m pretty sure my Mom would’ve allowed me to keep one as a child. I LOVE YOU, XEMERIUS! 

My juvenile obsessions aside, another thing I absolutely loved in this trilogy was how the writer worked with the concept of time travel. I’m not usually a fan of science fiction but this author combined it with historical fiction, a genre which I love, and the next I know I’m reading a masterpiece with a trope that was not my favorite but now has become one. 

Not to mention the impeccable writing style through which the author has crafted the story. Kerstin Gier’s writing style is really easy to follow and the storyline is, despite the time jumps, has a smooth flow that takes you on a crazy ride. 

And I love Gideon, I mean what’s not to love, he’s perfect. And his relationship dynamics with Gwen is the perfect blend of romance and comedy. I loved how sweet and caring he is towards Gwen, at the same time he’s good at hiding his feelings as well as we see in the initial chapters. 

I also enjoyed the family dynamics, especially when it came to Gwen and Charlotte. Things do take a turn for the crazy for Gwen but her love for her family never wavers, which is something that endeared me to Gwen all the more. 

Furthermore, the fact that Gwen is not portrayed as perfect is something that I appreciated a lot. I hate how the main characters are often portrayed as perfect in every aspect i.e. being the strongest, the smartest, the prettiest and the luckiest just grates on my nerves, so a character that makes mistakes every now and then and has flaws just like all of us is just so satisfying to read about. 

Despite the story having high stakes and danger, the overall atmosphere of the book was light. If I had to give it a color, I’d give it silver, which is my favorite, hence the reason for me loving this book and this entire series. The plot twists were some of the most amazing I’ve encountered as I wasn’t expecting them, so hats off to the author for that. Maybe somebody else would’ve seen the plot twists coming but not me. 

Though I’ve already talked about him, I can’t help but mention him once again because he made the story so much more enjoyable and that’s our ghost pet, Xemerius. He was just downright perfect. With all his crazy jokes and insults, he had me cracking up and hungry for more of him. Not to mention how he sticks up for Gwen and insults her at the same time, I wish I had a Xemerius in my life. 

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book and the series as a whole. If you haven’t read this series yet, then I’m telling you to go to a bookstore or Amazon, wherever you buy your books from, and purchase this series immediately because it’s fantastic and you will not be disappointed. I highly recommend these books and though I’m late as always on getting to this series, I’m glad I did and can’t wait to read the other books by this author. 

Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Date of Publishing: August 1st, 2006

Author: Nora Ephron

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Genre: Humor, Non-fiction

Non-fiction is not a genre I consider to be funny but my views have changed recently and this book is one that helped shift my perspective. This book is a beautiful and funny slice-of-life novel that gives us a glimpse into Nora’s life. And to say it’s hilarious would be an understatement. Not to mention relatable. This book talks about events that we all go through in our lives in one way or another and this was my favorite part of the book. Especially when it comes to growing up and reaching an age where we are suffering from aches and wrinkles all the while trying to manage life and it’s various ups and downs. 

The thing I loved most about this book is how raw and real it was. I could relate to almost every situation on a personal level even though I haven’t experienced most of the situations she described in her book, but I knew other people have gone through similar experiences because that’s just how life was. Moreover, she has thrown humor into the mix which just serves to make this an amazing read because you can’t help laughing at the character and situation she goes through. 

There’s a lot to say about this book, but I feel like no matter what I say or how much I praise this book, I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. You just have to read this book in order to enjoy it. The pacing, the light, humorous stories and Nora herself really make this book worth your time. 

Do give this book a shot. I’m telling you, you will not regret it. This is a rather short review but I feel like one can really get the true feel of this book when you actually read it. If you ever feel like reading a light-hearted non-fiction then pick this book up, as I feel like this book can really help lift your mood while at the same time it gives you food for thought. 

Nora’s experiences and stories are extremely relatable and even while I was reading I felt I could relate to her. On some occasions I definitely thought that if I were in her position I’d feel or do the same. 

So here’s my review of I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this book or if you plan on reading it. And if you have read this book, then do let me know your thoughts on it. 

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Date of Publishing: May 30th, 2017

Author: Francesca Zappia

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult

After finding out the release date of this book I realize I’m kind of late to the party. But, don’t fret, that’s the norm for me. I’ve properly got back into reading since a couple of years ago, so I’m like the backlist queen because I’m reading books that have been published ages ago and gushing about them as if they’re new releases. 

However, despite being late to the party, I’m still going to gush about this book because it was one of the cutest books I’ve ever read in quite a while. Not to mention this made me wish I was an artist so I could draw my own comic strip. And fan fiction is not a genre I write, but after reading this story, it made me want to give it a try, though I doubt I ever would, but it’s nice to think about it. 

The story follows Eliza Mirk who is your typical definition of an outcast. She doesn’t have any friends and most of the people would consider her unpopular and weird, but she has a secret. A secret she likes to keep to herself as it protects her from the rest of the world. But she’s incredibly popular online because of her comic strip, Monstrous Sea and goes by the name Lady Constellation. Everybody loves her comic, but no one knows who she really is and that’s how she likes it. Then comes in Wallace Warland who happens to be a fan of Eliza’s comic just like everybody else and writes fan fiction based on the comic. 

When Eliza comes in contact with Wallace, which signals the inception of their friendship, things start looking up for Eliza’s social life, even though deep down she’s afraid of Wallace finding out her true identity despite the fact that she wants to tell him herself. But things kind of fall of the rails for Eliza when her secret comes out in a way she never expected—in a way I never expected either—her world falls of its axis and the next she knows, she has to face the world and especially the boy who she’s started falling for. 

I found this book to be adorable… and sweet. You can’t help but smile when you read this book which was what I did the entire time I was reading. Francesca Zappia not only nailed the family dynamics in this story but the way Eliza feels the need to hide her true identity from the world as she continues to do the thing that she loves the most is something I can relate to on a personal level. I felt seen by this book. Not to mention the fact that Wallace is one adorable character, who has his own secrets, but is a genuine person nonetheless and that’s all we’re looking for in this world—a bit of honesty.

Moreover, the writing style is easy and the pace is steady. You keep turning page after page and it doesn’t feel as if you’re experiencing bumps across this journey of the two characters who’re trying to show and hide at the same time. This was my first book by this author, but since I enjoyed her writing style, I definitely want to read other stories by her and hopefully I’ll enjoy those as well. 

The plot wasn’t something unique, but it did bring with it its own unique flavor. I’ve never read a book involving a comic artist, so I found that pretty interesting. And I could relate to Eliza in a lot of ways, maybe that’s why I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Even when I was telling my friend about this book she also said that I’m like the real/human version of Eliza and maybe she’s right. Not only are the characters fleshed out really well, there’s something about each of them that make you feel something on a personal level and for me that character was Eliza, so thank you Francesca for writing this story and creating this character. 

And the way Eliza’s secret comes out, I must say that was creative and something I did not see coming. I love it when authors catch me by surprise and this was one hell of a climax. I really need to learn a thing or two by Francesca Zappia about writing the climax as I always screw that part up. I’m a terrible writer. Pity party aside, the climax was amazingly executed and the ending was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending and if you wish to know how this book ends, then go pick yourself a copy. I highly recommend this book and the next time somebody asks me for a recommendation, I’m definitely naming this book as my first pick.  

So there we go, my thoughts on Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. If you read this book, then do let me know in the comments what you thought of it and whether or not you agree with my opinions. If not, then do let me know if you intend to read it, because I know you won’t regret it.