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Hannah

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Good, but a few hiccups

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-03-10

*spoilers*

Overall I really enjoyed this book. In typical Nora Robert’s fashion the scene setting and vernacular used to describe the careers, activities, locations etc were thorough and detailed, making me yearn to go diving in the Caribbean myself.

Additionally, like many standalone Robert’s books, you can expect the typical (and looked forward to) system to play out: love interests meet, squabble, danger ensues and relationships deepen, finishing off with a wedding planned. I’m not at all mad at this, it’s what I’ve come to expect from these books and I keep coming back for the easy reading of it with that zest of a low-key thriller/romance novel too.

The part that dropped this from 4 to 3 stars was the strange use of violence in the relationship between Tate (heroine) and Matthew (love interest), honestly it was a little disturbing. Matthew gropes and low-grade assaults Tate to “scare her off” when she’s considered too young for the kind of relationship he wants with her, and because he thinks he’ll ruin her life. When they meet again, Tate has anger there for the lies and poor treatment, but nothing is said about the violation. Then later, when he thinks she’s double crossed him, the violence he threatens and displays at her was concerning, but Tate, though terrified, accepts it quite quickly as fine and they move on. Her reactions felt unnatural to me, and for a fast-paced story with lovely descriptions and romantic intrigue, it left a bit to be desired in the feminism/consent and proper treatment categories for me.

2 people found this helpful

An exceptional, inspiring work of art

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-02-03

I was only moments into beginning Chanel's book and had started to craft a review for it in my mind because I knew I'd want to say something about how her words immediately struck a chord with me and, throughout the entire listening of her audiobook, continued to cement her story and her telling of it as the best written, most powerful story I've read. Ever. And I have a LONG list of favourite books of powerful stories.

It goes without saying that she and her family endured a monumental circumstance, and undoubtedly continue to grapple with it. So to say this book is now my favourite is hard to do because of the raw, horrible root of the story, but it's due to the bravery and method of telling the story that puts this at the top of my "Awe-Inspiring Books" list.

Chanel is an incredible writer. It's in her word choice, her metaphors, her use of punctuation. All those things are outside of the profound realities of her story. They stand on their own as evidence and would and will be incredible no matter the content of her storytelling. I spent the whole duration of her story bookmarking passages that sat with me, I bookmarked A LOT. Passages and metaphors like:

"To watch the sun spill its yoke over the hills" and

"A guy with tiny tally marks of hair on his upper lip let us in" and

"I am not sure exactly what healing is or looks like, what form it comes in or what it should feel like. I do know that when I was four I could not lift a gallon of milk, could not believe how heavy it was, that white, sloshing boulder. I'd pull up a wooden chair to stand over the counter, pouring the milk with shaking arms, wetting the cereal, spilling. Looking back, I don't remember the day I lifted it with ease, all I know is that now I do it without thinking, can do it one handed, on the phone, in a rush. I believe the same rules apply, that one day, I'll be able to tell this story without it shaking my foundation. Each time will not require an entire production, a spilling, a sweating forehead, a mess to clean up, sopping paper towels, it will just be a part of my life, every day lighter to lift."

Her love-saturated words about her sister and her mom and her dad and her boyfriend and her grandparents and her friends and other loved ones are truly heart warming and I connected with them strongly. I deeply appreciated her links between other incidents of violence against women, other stories in the news, other life circumstances that she pulled seamlessly into the immediate story of overcoming her assault and elaborated on them with wisdom and grace.

She draws conclusions on and puts words to things like catcalling and the precarious, double-standard that women have to consciously and subconsciously adhere to to strive for personal safety. I went over those sections again and again, finding solace in her simple comparisons, her calling-out of the cat callers, the audacity that some men have to lay claim to our space, our safety, our confidence, our bodies, our routines, our joy. I think I'd been looking for words like hers for a long time and when I was listening to her read her book, I felt enraged, I felt sorrow, I felt comforted by this terrible, common link between us, between so many women.

Chanel, I'm not sure if you still read comments, but in case you do I want to say thank you.

Thank you for choosing to stand in the sunlight. For sharing your story, for using it to lift up and advocate for women and survivors. You did not have to, but you did. You advocated when I'm sure you had little, if any, energy to spare. Your words have been a balm to me, helping heal wounds I thought I'd moved past. I finished your book and opened a Word document to put to digital paper my own memories, continuing an attempt at writing I'd started years ago after my own experience with assault. Thank you for taking the time to make coherent phrases about the power of women, and the injustice of society, because it helped frame those things in my mind too, what had been half-baked, subconscious feelings of rage, passion and an inability to fully form my raw thoughts into solid points.

I want the men in my life to read this story so that perhaps they can grasp what it's often like to be a woman. I want the women in my life to read this so that they can be buoyed upwards like I was with your constant reminders that it doesn't matter what comes at us because we are powerful, we are capable, we are eternal.

You were incredible before that night in January, and you continue to be, despite everything the universe has thrown at you.

Break-Neck Pace, Packs-A-Punch Guidance

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-27

I was constantly pausing to drop an electronic bookmark on phrases that struck me as particularly profound, either in their uniqueness, or their downright simplicity. And most often it was the simplicity of the ideas that I enjoyed the most.

It’s a super quick read/listen, actually, it clips along at break-neck speed, and it’s full of great little nuggets of info to light a little fire under our asses to create. It’s stuff most of us know, or have heard in passing, but it packs a good punch as a reminder, and sprinkles in some unique points of view.

Here are some quotes that I appreciated:

“You can attend the Iowa Writers Workshop, get a degree in literature from Harvard, hang on your wall a framed MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. You can serve with the Navy Seals in Afghanistan, survive heroin addiction in East St. Louis, you can break you back in hard labour, break your heart in love, break your balls in the school of hard knocks. None of it will do a damn bit of good if you can’t sit down and open a pipeline to your muse. The artists journey is about that, nothing else matters, nothing else counts.”

“The artist mines the same vein over and over, he just digs deeper over time.”

“The struggle between an artist and her work is a duel to the death. One of them is going to surrender. One of them will go belly up.”

“The artist discovers herself by the work she produces. Who are you? Dance and find out. Sing and find out. Write and find out.”

1 person found this helpful

Shadowhunter vibes, but not Clary Fray (thank god)

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-20

Any fans of Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter world will find a lot of familiarities in this one. Like...a lot.

Opinion: you just won’t be constantly frustrated by the uselessness of the heroine *cough* like I was with Clary Fray *cough*

This is some good, steamy, slow burn YA romance and urban fantasy/sci-fi action. It’s funny, charming, and I found it to be unique in its more greyscale stance on the whole Heaven and Hell/Demon and Angel thing, rather than everything being in black and white. Characters exist and act outside of the categories they’re placed in by traditional understandings of good vs. evil. I appreciated that.

1 person found this helpful

Uuugh....

Overall
2 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-04

This book was recommended to me as a simple, fluffy read. Sure, it fits that description but it's also just silly. The main character, Sydney, is very Bella Swan-esque. So essentially useless. She requires being saved and cared for nearly the entire book. She's supposed to be clever yet walks straight into obvious danger consistently. Overall, the trope of sexually inexperienced girl who doesn't recognize her worth and beauty clumsily hopes she'll be loved but when all evidence says that her very sexually experienced male counterpart DOES love her, she's consumed with self-doubt...is overdone.

One of the best books I’ve ever read

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2021-01-04

“There is a defiance in being a dreamer”

I was told by many many many reviews that this book would wound me. That it would most likely make me cry.

Yep.

But in with those promises that came to fruition, there is a gorgeously written, poetic, heart-rending story of an incredible woman, a wonderful protagonist, and how she remains defiant in the most crushing of circumstances.

This book is an epic page turner and made me immensely thoughtful about what it means to be human, what it means to leave a legacy, the importance of the simple act of being remembered, being able to make a space for yourself. The importance of a name, of being complete and seen by those around you.

The reverence for art and artists in this book is fantastic, the characters are bright and dark and flawed and perfect. The words are phenomenal. I was consistently thinking to myself “that was a beautiful sentence”.

What a powerful, beautiful story of a woman learning to stand on the soles of her own feet, no matter what the darkness throws her way.

So much to admire

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-25

I’ve been looking forward to listening to this book for some time. (I got the audiobook version as I felt the narration by the author adds so much to the telling).

Like I thought would be the case, I was thoroughly impressed. The Obama family is a true inspiration, and it was intensely interesting to me to be swept into the more intimate goings on and decision making that took place during the Obama administration and in his pre-presidency years.

There’s just so much to admire in these pages. And there’s so much that’s left wanting when you compare the deliberation, generosity and intentionality behind Obama’s years in the White House, and the hate-spewing, divisive, dumpster fire that’s been the Trump campaign and administration. Yikes. Such an astonishing difference that was clear before but is hugely highlighted here.

This excerpt from the beginning stages of the book delivered exactly on what I was expecting and looking forward to:

“Do we care to match the reality of America to its ideals? If so, do we really believe that our notions of self government and individual freedom, equality of opportunity and equality before the law, apply to everybody? Or are we instead committed, in practice if not in statue, to reserving those things for a privileged few?”

“I recognize that there are those who believe that it’s time to discard the myth. That an examination of America’s past and an even cursory glance at today’s headlines show that the nation’s ideals have always been secondary to conquest and subjugation, a racial caste system and rapacious capitalism and that to pretend otherwise is to be complicit in a game that was rigged from the start. And I confess, that there have been times during the course of writing this book, as I’ve reflected on my presidency and all that’s happened since, when I’ve had to ask myself whether I was too tempered in speaking the truth as I saw it, too cautious in either word or deed, convinced as I was that by appealing to what Lincoln called “the better angels of our nature” I stood a better chance of leading us in the direction of the America we’ve been promised. I don’t know. What I can say for certain is that I’m not yet ready to abandon the possibility of America. Not just for the sake of future generations of Americans, but for all of human kind.”

He’s just so great.

From minutes into the book, I was assured I was in for an entertaining, enlightening read, with compassionate and deep commentaries on the state of America, from its politics to its people, the goodness and absurd cruelty entangled within.

10 people found this helpful

Spicy, intriguing...and what was that ending???

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-20

LOL. That ending caught me off guard. Not in a bad way, but goodness cliff hanger endings sure are a piss off at times!

Stunning, powerful, eloquent and dynamic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-11-11

4.5 stars

This is a truly stunning, beautifully described story of three sisters, gorgeous magic, lovely relationships and, while a fictional tale, it makes a profound statement on the past and present treatment of women, the wrongs and horrors and cruelties we endure. This is a story of resilience, rebellion and restitution. The magic system in this book is unique, dynamic and incredibly interesting. The characters are unique, dynamic and incredibly interesting. I didn’t feel caught up in a story I’d heard before, or reading scenes I’ve read a hundred times in fantasy books on witches and folklore.

I was constantly struck by the simplistic, yet eloquent way scenes were constructed with words. I loved the author’s word choices, many sentences had me pondering them afterwards with their cleverness.

Example:
“She sways on the platform, buffeted and jostled by folk who have plenty of some places to go. Steam hisses and swirls from the engine, curling cat-like around her skirts.”

I highly recommend this book if you want a story of powerful, dynamic women, feminist energy, exciting magic, many great love stories, the sweet bond between sisters and a mothers love for her daughter. Also, if you love action, twisting outcomes, and endings that aren’t unrealistic fairytale happy endings, but still deeply satisfying and complete.

Super well done...and therefore, very disturbing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 2020-08-03

Poison Orchids kept me guessing the entire time, up until the very end when I was left with a lingering feeling of unease. This book seriously creeped me out. Truly.

I enjoyed the constant guessing and plot twists. The ending and storyline were impossible to predict for sure due to the psychological aspects to the story. I found this to be a very well written and disturbing read where I didn’t feel like anything was safe or could be counted on.

If you’re looking for a story that’ll keep you constantly trying to pinpoint the true series of events that have happened, one that feels like you’re reading/listening to a truly strange, thriller episode of Criminal Minds or some CSI episode, I recommend this book!