Monday, April 22, 2019

ARC Review: Waisted

About The Book:

  Title:  Waisted 
  Author: Randy Susan Meyers 
  Pub. Date: May 21st, 2019 
  Publisher: Atria Books 
  Pages: 288 
  Genre: Fiction, Women's Fiction 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 

Synopsis :

In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

Alice and Daphne, both successful and accomplished working mothers, harbor the same secret: obsession with their weight overshadows concerns about their children, husbands, work—and everything else of importance in their lives. Scales terrify them.

Daphne, plump in a family of model-thin women, learned only slimness earns admiration at her mother’s knee. Alice, break-up skinny when she met her husband, risks losing her marriage if she keeps gaining weight.

The two women meet at Waisted. Located in a remote Vermont mansion, the program promises fast, dramatic weight loss, and Alice, Daphne, and five other women are desperate enough to leave behind their families for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The catch? They must agree to always be on camera; afterward, the world will see Waisted: The Documentary.

The women soon discover that the filmmakers have trapped them in a cruel experiment. With each pound lost, they edge deeper into obsession and instability...until they decide to take matters into their own hands.


The initial description of Waisted reminded me of Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty which came out last November. If you haven't read that yet, it was basically about nine individuals who decide to go to a 'health and wellness retreat' for separate personal reasons. So, like the description said, Alice and Daphne decide to go to a 'health and wellness retreat' (more or less) for the sake of weight loss, but unlike Nine Perfect Strangers, the women in Waisted who were attending the retreat had to agree to be filmed. Pretty soon, the ladies realize that the retreat, 'Privation', isn't what they thought it was going to be and they start to look for ways out. 

The description of this book is was really drew me in. The health and wellness retreat in Nine Perfect Strangers was really interesting, so I thought I would also be interested in the retreat called 'Privation' in Waisted. Turns out, most of the focus of this book was not with the retreat, but with the lives of the women and what they were dealing with. Alice, with her supportive family but (excuse my language) jackass of a husband and Daphne, with her unsupportive and judgmental family and gem of husband are the main focal points of this novel. 

I would have liked to see more about what really pushed Daphne and Alice to make the decision to leave their families and go to this month-long camp. We get a little bit of a backstory regarding their struggles with weight, but not enough to convince me that these women had no other choices than to go to this camp and leave their lives behind.  As someone who has been struggling with weight since the birth of my son, I really related to Alice's thoughts of "what if my husband doesn't find me attractive anymore". This book really squashed those fears from looking from the outside in. I realize "wow her husband is a jerk" after she gave him the precious gift of a daughter . 

For the first half of the novel, everyone was calling these two ladies variations of fat. At Privation, when they revealed their height and weight, they honestly weren't what I was expecting. How they were being described for the first half of the novel would make anyone think they were pushing maybe 300 pounds. However, in reality, one of the women wasn't even close to 200. Also, at Privation, they make them exercise a crazy, crazy amount that nobody could sustain. Let alone starving and not taking any vitamins, those ladies' bodies would start to shut down (there is no way they could last for like 4 weeks).

Waisted really resonated with me due to the fact that the subject matter hit close to home. I loved that it gave a voice to a lot of things people think about themselves but are just too afraid to say (like being consumed by the weight on the scale day after day). Unfortunately, I feel like the short length of the book really prevented in-depth characters and a thorough plot from coming through. That's why I'd rate this novel a 3/5. What do you think about this topic? Do you think this novel would interest you or are you going to pass on this one? 

Thank you to Atria for providing this book
in exchange for my honest review

- Jocelyn

Monday, March 18, 2019

Book Review: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1)

About The Book:

  Title:  King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) 
  Author: Leigh Bardugo 
  Pub. Date: January 29th, 2019 
  Publisher: Imprint 
  Pages: 527 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy 
  Rate: 4/5 stars 

Synopsis :

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.


"They would build a new world together. But first they had to burn the old one down.

King of Scars is the first book in the new 'Nikolai Duology' by Leigh Bardugo.  King of Scars picks up pretty much right after the ending of Crooked Kingdom. With that being said, while this is being marketed as new duology, I feel that if you read this without reading the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows duology, you will be supremely lost. Which I feel is different from the Six of Crows duology, which you could most certainly read without reading the Grisha Trilogy first. Ok so anyway, King of Scars is basically just a continuation of the Grisha world we love. We get perspectives from Zoya and Nikolai, as well as from our favorite dreg, Nina Zenik! 

Getting to read these characters again was comforting in a familiar type of way. I enjoyed seeing their development. I once hated Zoya and now came to love her (which was probably what Bardugo was intending). We not only get to see her strength and determination, but her vulnerability as well. As for Nikolai, he was just as likable as he was throughout the Grisha trilogy but we do get to see another side of him, namely a more modest side. I didn't care much for the new characters in the book, I was mostly focused on Nina/Nikolai/Zoya and when that fourth perspective was added, I routinely found myself bored with that character. 

"Who would speak for Liliyana, for Genya and Alina and Baghra if she did not?
Who will speak for me?" 

As far as the story goes, I like that it entwined plots from both Ruin and Rising and Crooked Kingdom. Nina is trying to track down some Grisha parem victims in Fjerda while Nikolai is struggling to maintain control of Ravka and the beast within himself. The pacing really varied in this book and some of the plots did seem a little messy and directionless to me. So, the characters were definitely the highlight of this for me, which really surprised me because plot typically shines for Bardugo.  

All in all, I'm a huge fan of Leigh Bardugo and all that is Grisha. I wouldn't say that King of Scars is my favorite book from the Grisha world, but I loved it all the same. It was great seeing some of our favorite originals we haven't seen since Ruin and Rising. I will definitely be pre-ordering the next book in the duology because I am so invested in the characters and can't wait to see what happens next! 

- Jocelyn

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Book Review: Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4)

About The Book:

  Title:  Superman: Dawnbreaker (DC Icons, #4) 
  Author: Matt de la Pena 
  Pub. Date: March 5th, 2019 
  Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers  
  Pages: 336 
  Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Comics, Retellings 
  Rate: 3/5 stars 

Synopsis :

When the dawn breaks, a hero rises.

His power is beyond imagining.

Clark Kent has always been faster, stronger--better--than everyone around him. But he wasn't raised to show off, and drawing attention to himself could be dangerous. Plus, it's not like he's earned his powers . . . yet.

But power comes with a price.

Lately it's difficult to hold back and keep his heroics in the shadows. When Clark follows the sound of a girl crying, he comes across Gloria Alvarez and discovers a dark secret lurking in Smallville. Turns out, Clark's not the only one hiding something. Teaming up with his best friend, Lana Lang, he throws himself into the pursuit of the truth. What evil lies below the surface of his small town? And what will it cost Clark to learn about his past as he steps into the light to become the future Man of Steel? Because before he can save the world, he must save Smallville.


"You have found refuge on Earth, where you will love and protect. 
But you must never forget where you came from. And who you were meant to be." 

Superman: Dawnbreaker is the (to my knowledge) final book in the DC Icons series. I was looking forward to teenage Clark Kent more than I was for Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne, and Diana Prince mostly because I couldn't wait to get in his quiet, good-natured head. We know Selina and Bruce dabble in some illegal extracurricular activities, but all extraterrestrialness aside, Clark can be described as the boy next door! 

In Superman: Dawnbreaker, the town of Smallville is all getting riled up when residents start to go missing, particularly those of Hispanic descent. When some questionable businesses also move into town during the same time, Clark and Lana start to explore the possibility that they are linked together. The plot had very good pacing and I was never bored while reading. 

As far as characters go, this is where I would have liked to see more. Clark's perspective was great, but I was hoping that de la Pena would make it more of a teenage Clark as opposed to calm, cool, and collected adult Clark. A teenage superhero without angst? I mean... most teenagers have angst! I wanted an angst-y Clark! I loved the name drop of Lois Lane towards the end of the novel. I thought it was really remarkable but still subtle enough (unlike Luthor). 

Lex Luthor played a minor role in this novel, which was definitely fitting seeing as how this is more of a Superman origin. Everything portrayed from his character was very characteristic of him, but I felt as though he was just there for show (oh look, here's Clark's arch nemesis  Lex Luthor). He really didn't sway the storyline and honestly his appearance made no difference. His name could have been exchanged with anyone elses or his character deleted entirely and it wouldn't have changed the outcome or the story that much. With a character of that caliber, I would have liked to see him do something other than be a placeholder. The secondary characters were ok - but let's be honest, we all really loved hearing from the famous DC characters we are already familiar with. 

Overall, I would have liked to see a more unique spin on Clark Kent. Everything in this novel was what I could have already assumed of Clark. I wanted a more personal take on school, family, and friends. I am sad that this is the last DC Icons novel because I really was a fan of the series as a whole. While this one didn't necessarily jump out at me, I wish there would be more of these books because I truly did enjoy reading about these classic DC characters. Have you read any of the DC Icons series? Which has been your favorite? 

- Jocelyn

Monday, January 21, 2019

Top Books of 2018

Is it 2019 already? You know what that means - yearly favorites! While my goal was initially to read 100 books in 2018, I subtracted 10 from my Goodreads goal because 90 was a little more attainable for me. So here it is, my favorite books of 2018! Did any of these make your list as well? What were your favorite books? Leave a comment below! 

Jocelyn's Favorite Books of 2018 

8) The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White 

I must say, this was one creepy retelling of Frankenstein! Kiersten really knows how to spin a dark story. This was my first book by Ms. White and was not my last (I read Slayer shortly after ). She definitely has a new fan of her stories after 2018! 

7) Any Man by Amber Tamblyn 

While this was a short read, it was anything but easy. It was frightening, emotional, and literally unlike anything I've ever read before. This was an allegory for gender roles and assumptions and it just has to be read. Trust me on this one. 

6) The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke 

Another retelling is in my favorites for this year - this time a gender-bent Beowulf retelling. The relationships in this book were so wonderful - some romantic, some platonic, all amazing! I'm a big Tucholke fan. I really can't wait to see what she comes out with next. 

5) The Tatooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris 

Marketed as a historical fiction based off the dialogue liberties taken by the author, this true story about the holocaust was deeply disturbing yet extremely informative about how politics played out in the camp. This book will be very traumatic for some people, so just a warning! However, I feel like this book tells an important story of hope during a very dark time period. 

4) The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black

Holly Black - Queen of Faerie is back with a new series. While this book came out super super early in 2018, I still remember how sucked in I was. However, writing this now, all I can think of is how amazing the follow up, The Wicked King (which I read after BEA) is. HOLY CRAP. You need to read this series because The Wicked King literally just came out like last week and needs to be talked about asap. That ending, though?! 

3) An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose, #1) by Charlaine Harris 

I was SO stoked this year that one of my favorite authors released a new fantasy series. An Easy Death is the first in a series of fantasy western novels! This book had such a perfect setting, romance, and mystery, like only Charlaine knows how to do! I highly recommend giving this series a try! 

2) The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James 

So, this book hit me like a ton of bricks! I read this so fast and found myself turning the pages so quickly. A SciFi Thriller YA set in space? This was AMAZING and full of plot twists. I really hope Lauren James has more up her sleeve for 2019! 

1) Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe, #2) by Neal Shusterman 

The second book in a series is never good as the first, is it? I'm not sure if it's because length of the time you went between reading them takes a toll, if the plot drops off, or what ... but this follow-up was not like that at all. It was PHENOMENAL and my all time favorite book of 2018. I'm obsessed with this series and can't stop thinking about wanting the third book in the series to be out NOW. If you haven't started this series, I highly recommend you do so. It is amazing.