Book Review: No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli

Title: No Sad Songs
Author: Frank Morelli
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Fish Out of Water Books
Published:  February 20th, 2018
Page Count:  228 pages
Format:  ARC
Source: Author in exchange of an honest opinion

Following a family tragedy, 18-year-old Gabe LoScuda suddenly finds himself thrust into the role of caregiver for his ailing grandfather. Between the shopping trips and the doctor visits with Grandpa, Gabe and his friend John try to salvage their senior year, meet girls, and make the varsity baseball team. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to realize that going to school and looking after a grandfather with Alzheimer’s is more work than he ever imagined. And when long-lost Uncle Nick appears on the scene, Gabe soon finds that living with Nick and Grandpa is like babysitting two grown men. Aside from John, the only person who truly understands Gabe is Sofia, a punk-rocking rebel he meets at the veteran’s hospital. When these three unlikely friends are faced with a serious dilemma, will they do what it takes to save Grandpa? If there’s a chance of preserving the final shreds of Grandpa’s dignity, Gabe may have to make the most gut-wrenching decision of his life—and there’s no way out.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 4/5 stars
The first thing that popped into my mind when I read No Sad Song's synopsis was: this sounds familiar. It's not that I have lived the same experience as the main character, but I found his situation to be relatable to my own with one of my grandparents, which made the read all the more intriguing for me.

The main character of this novel, Gabe LoScuda, finds himself with the difficult task of taking care of his Grandfather with Alzheimer's, after his parents die in a car crash. Trying to keep the promise he made to his Dad, Gabe swears that no matter how difficult things might get, he will never abandon his grandfather to a facility where he would have to carry his last days alone.

First of all, I cannot get over the fact that Gabe is only 18 and already has such a huge responsibility on his shoulders. His grandfather is a war veteran, and while his mind is not as it used to be, his body still remembers his warring days, making it extremely difficult for Gabe to keep up with him. I felt for him, for every punch and tantrum he took on behalf of his grandfather. I admired his willingness to help him and to keep what little of the family he had left together, including the long lost uncle who showed up at his parent's funeral.

However, Gabe is still a young person with too much on his plate, and some of his decisions lead him to more trouble for the sake of keeping his grandfather close. I understand the sentiment, but when you can't control everything, it's okay to reach out for help. At least when it comes to mental health!

Luckily, Gabe has supporting friends, like John and Sofia, who have his back. I liked this pair of friends! They were good allies with sound advice, and that's something I will always appreciate in books. I specially liked Sofia because she's Mexican. :)

Also, in-between chapters we get to read Gabe's journal entries where he describes moments in the past about his parents when they were alive, and when his Grandfather had yet to develop Alzheimer's. They were interesting bits that worked as a small, happy respite from Gabe's current situation, but they would always end with a tint of melancholy. Still, they may have been my favorite parts of the story!

What didn't do it for me:

This was perhaps a mistake from the ARC or lack of research, but Sofia mentions how she has a tattoo of the Virgen of Guadalupe, who is the Mexican Virgin Mary. It is described that she is wearing a purple robe, when in fact, the Virgen of Guadalupe wears green robes. They are NOT interchangeable and, well, it bugs me that she wasn't described like she is. I believe the Virgin described was the Immaculate Conception Virgin Mary.

Final Verdict:

No Sad Songs is a heartbreaking tale about dealing with Alzheimer's Disease in the family and keeping your loved ones close as much as you can. It brings awareness of what it means to be a caregiver to a person with this disease, and it is truly something very much needed. It's a book definitely worth to pass around so others can understand the strugle!

The Week's Entrée #187

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

Aaah posting this a bit late and also sort of bummed that I missed writing this post last week  as well but I somehow ended up hurting my back and had to take a whole week off from the computer! I was super super painful to sit down, so I was constantly alternating between standing up and resting on bed.  Thankfully, my back is so much better and I can get back to blogging and all the fun stuff, yay!

With that said...

Don't miss the next #MTMC18 (Meet the Main Characters of 2018) twitter chat happening this Friday (23rd) at 8pm EST! My friend Becky & I will be featuring the wonderful Dane M. Mele, author of PEOPLE LIKE US! This YA Thriller/Mystery surely gave me chills (ended up reading it at nights?!?) and it was incredibly fast-paced. Cannot wait for you all to meet the main character, Kay Donovan!
New books!
{For review}
From authors, publishers, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.

Thanks to Neil Shusterman for sending me a signed ARC of Thunderhead! It's so pretty! And also super happy to have received an ARC of No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli, review going up tomorrow btw! ;)

Thanks to John Owen Theobald for sending us a beautiful signed copy of A Kingdom Falls! This is the third book in The Ravenmaster Trilogy and my sister, the chef, was quoted on the back cover! How cool is that?!? Also got access to To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo on Netgalley! Looks so awesome ♥

Also finally received our final rep box from Whimsify! This was the December "Ruthless" box and it was freaking epic! :D It included:

🔸A hot cocoa tube from @faithfullycharmed23 ☕
🔸A pretty Warner print from @dasstark ♥️
🔸A Raven Boys bookmark from @littlepapermama 😍
🔸An Umbridge pin from @ohsogeeky ✨
🔸A Lady of Casterly Rock candle that smells AMAZING from @flickeringfandoms 🙌♥️
🔸A Darkling Bubble Bar from @geekandwonder that may be our favorite item 😍
🔸Aaand the book of the month: RENEGADES by @marissameyerauthor! 🙌 This book is so huge & pretty! 

Definitely recommend Whimsify Boxes! They are always perfectly curated and the books featured are super great reads! ♥
To Read This Week:

This week I will attempt to read Scythe by Neil Shusterman! Heard it's amazing and now that I have book 2, it will be fun to binge them both! :D

And that's it for this edition of The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)

Book Review: Rare Blood by Susan Old

Title: Rare Blood
Author: Susan Old
Genre: Adult Paranormal Romance
Published: March 13th 2018
Zairesue Books

Page count: 376 pages
Format: eARC
Source: From the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Book Summary:
“The first time I met Tristan I thought he was a conceited, arrogant, womanizing bastard. Too late, I realized those were his best qualities. It was a warm, May evening in Los Angeles. A book party was held at the Bel Air Hotel to promote my thriller OBSESSION WITH DEATH. Three years of disciplined writing and the luck of signing with a well-connected agent had put me on the brink of success…”

Miranda Ortega was about to find out why a Templar knight, Tarot Cards, a rare blood type, and an extremely seductive billionaire book publisher all played important roles in her life.

She could not believe her luck when a scholarship to UCLA enabled her to leave the cornfields of Illinois and pursue writing. Little did Miranda know that the events in her life were part of a well-orchestrated plan by an ancient being called the Magus.

Her book agent pressures her to meet the demands of Tristan Mordecai, her publisher who has no sense of personal boundaries. She feels control of her life slipping away as she is pulled into a nocturnal world of Lamborghini driving, Chanel wearing, egomaniac assassins with a strict liquid diet.

There, she struggles to make sense of a crazy world where people are often not what they appear to be. Fortunately, she has a really good bullshit detector, with little regard for class distinctions.
*The Chef's Review*
    Actual rating: 3/5 stars
I enjoyed reading Rare Blood. I don't venture into Adult Paranormal books, but I was excited to pick it up because it's sometimes fun to read out of my comfort zone. And it was fun!

What I Liked:

I found the plot of Rare Blood very interesting. I love how the story progressed and also its entertaining beginning. There were bits of humor that made my reading much more enjoyable, like the part where Miranda, the main character, starts to meet all the vampires and realizes that some of them she had already met without realizing their true identity. They had been in disguise in order to check up on her. The conversations that followed were comical and I surely loved those!

The secondary characters were also fun to read about. I will specifically talk about the vampire clan. Each vampire, whether good or bad, where all intriguing. I loved how they bantered or addressed each other. I have to admit that I found myself constantly comparing them to the vampires of the Twilight Saga and even though I found some similarities, they had their own pecularities that definitely made them stand out on their own. I think my favorite from them all was the Magus. He is the oldest and the leader of all vampires, with constant presence inside the story, though I wish I could have seen more and more of him!

What Didn't Do It For Me:

Despite liking most of the secondary characters, I have to say that I had trouble liking Miranda, the main character of Rare Blood. She wasn't a completely bad character, but I was expecting a different reaction from her as the book moved forward. Miranda is placed in a crazy situation when she realizes that she has caught the attention of a vampire society due to her rare blood type mixed with her complicated past. She is then pursued by a very handsome and arrogant vampire that basically weaves his way into her life. Later she realizes that she is someone extremely important for the vampire society. That is all fine, but then Miranda decides to act reckless, superior, and sometimes foolish around such dangerous creatures to the point that I found her lack of self-preservation annoying. 

But I still had fun reading the story and even though I generally disliked her humor, there were times that her comebacks had me laughing out loud.

Final Verdict:

There were some aspects inside the story that prevented me from truly loving this book, however, Rare Blood turned out to be a solid read that managed to keep me entertained until I was done. If you enjoy Adult Paranormal Romance reads, this might be your kind of book!

Happy reading! -- The Chef 

Waiting on Wednesday #52: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
April 11st, 2018, Penguin Teen
YA Contemporary
Pre-order: Book Depository Amazon
A powerful story of empathy and friendship from the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of If I Stay.

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs. 

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and dis­covering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.
NEW GAYLE FORMAN BOOK. Obviously it's an auto-buy book for me. Despite not having read her previous novels, I absolutely adored If I Stay and Where She Went, so I feel compelled to buy her new books from now on. Not exactly sure about the cover, but it might grow on me lol.

What are you waiting on this week? :)

Book Review: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Title: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone
Author: Rachel Lynn Solomon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Published:  January 2nd, 2018
Page Count:  384 pages
Format:  eARC
Source: Publisher

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon. 

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.
*The Reader's Review*
My rating: 5/5 stars
.This review can also be found on YA Books Central.

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone was one of the last books I read in 2017 and I couldn't have chosen a better book to wrap up my year with. It's a powerful yet heartbreaking tale between twin sisters at odds with each other, while they face the life-shattering test of Huntington's disease that has already taken over their mother's life.

This book... I don't even know where to begin! It hits all the right chords and I loved every second, as tough as it may have been to read. I also learned so much from it, that's for sure. I had no idea about Huntington's disease, how it slowly begins to erase a person's ability to take care of themselves, and then have to rely on others until they cease to exist. It's such a terrible condition and it makes me wish there could be a way to fight it off completely. To this date, there's no cure.

Our main characters, Adina and Tovah, have grown up knowing they have the big possibility of inheriting the disease, as they have watched their mother succumb to it. They've been terribly affected, but each one has had their own method of dealing. One diving further into her medical studies and Judaism, while the other passionately improving her Viola-playing skills. However, neither can't stand to be near each other, their differences proving more difficult to surpass and for them to really accept what is happening to their family, and what may happen to one of them if not both.

And as a nightmare, one of the sisters tests positive. Imagine the guilt and relief of not testing positive? Imagine the anger and unfairness of now having this degenerative disease? Of being fated to lose herself like how she has watched her mother fall right before her eyes, unlike her sister? Incredibly tough to deal.

As someone who has a sister who almost feels like a twin, I felt so much for Adina and Tovah, and for the hard road ahead. Despite the differences, it's very apparent how scared and vulnerable they feel, of not knowing what to do or how to act, and how much they need each other to keep moving on.

This book really tugged my heartstrings and I must warn it does have some triggering scenes in regard to suicide, as you might expect, but ultimately it is an inspiring and important read with hard themes that I believe the author handles really well.

With that said, I also enjoyed how You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone gives a wider view of Judaism from practicing and non-practicing perspectives. I loved learning more about the culture from Tovah's point of view, while also respecting Adina's choice of not practicing as the religion expects. Both points are interesting takes, which in the end prove that it's okay whichever way we decide to manage our faith.

Final Verdict:

You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone is so much more than a heartbreaking story, though. It's a book about dealing with the unfair curves that life throws at you, while leaning on those closest to you to push through. Yes, there's a bit of romance and first love, but ultimately, it's more about family bonds, and to me, that's what makes it stand out. ♥

Waiting on Wednesday #51: Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Hi everyone! Welcome to another "Waiting on Wednesday" post (meme hosted by Breaking the Spine!). 

This week I am waiting on:

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody
April 10th, 2018, Harlequin Teen
YA Fantasy
Pre-order: Book Depository Amazon
Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn't have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne's offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi's enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.
Okay, this book explains itself without my help. Just look at its cover! THAT SYNOPSIS. THAT COVER AGAIN. Gah, so freaking gorgeous and dangerous for my soul, I can definitely tell it will be an amazing read! Have you read it? Is it on your TBR? It's a must!!!

What are you waiting on this week? :)

The Week's Entrée #186

Hi everyone! Welcome to another edition of The Week's Entrée!

HAPPY FEBRUARY, the month of love booooooooooks! Have you seen the incredible list of books coming out this month?!?! IT'S EPIC! 

Honestly saving up to perhaps purchase a few, but my heart weeps with the cold reality of not being able to acquire all. But it's okay! Still will be able to admire them from afar. :)

On another note....

Don't miss the next #MTMC18 (Meet the Main Characters of 2018) twitter chat happening this Friday (9th) at 8pm EST! My friend Becky & I will be featuring the wonderful Brenda Rufener, author of Where I Live! My sister & I LOVED this book so much and I'm so excited to chat with the author and the main character, Linden. Hope to see you there!!!
New books!
{For review}
From authors, publishers, Netgalley/Edelweiss, etc.

Super excited about my recent downloads from Netgalley and Edelweiss: Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young and I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman! Such contrasting books, but both sound like fantastic reads. ♥


Also received this wonderful stack last weekend! A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab was from my friend Kate, while How To Be Brave was sent by the lovely author, E. Katherine Kottaras. Cannot wait to read them! ♥
To Read This Week:

I'm still reading American Panda by Gloria Chao! I've been such a slow reader lately but I really hope I can read before release date. Also continuing my read of episode 15 of ReMade!

And that's it for this edition of The Week's Entrée! What are you all reading? :)