The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel

glass hotel

official blurb

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

I was so excited to get my hands on this book. I’ve only read Station Eleven by Mandel, but I loved it. In fact it is probably my most widely recommended books.  However if you’re reading this review and you’re still in the throws of coronavirus- now is not the time to read Station Eleven.  But feel free to still go over and read my review of it! 🙂

Now let’s get started with this review.  I decided to format this one a little bit differently because why the heck not.  Here are some of my notes I wrote down while reading this beautifully written book.  You can decide when you read them, what my rating should be. Because I still haven’t totally decided what this book should be rated.

  • 55 pages in and it’s really confusing. There are seemingly random numbers on the pages throughout the chapters. The chapters are written from multiple characters perspectives. There are a ton of names to keep track of and I can’t remember them all. I keep flipping back and forth to see if it’s a name from a previous section and it rarely is.
  • There’s a girl named Vincent. Who names a girl Vincent? It has taken me at least 50 pages to remember that Vincent is a girl.
  • Over 90 pages in and no real plot yet. They keep alluding to the plot but not much of anything has happened. I’m enjoying the journey though.
  • I don’t know anything about pyramid schemes other than people making jokes about Young Living. Which I think is more MLM but honestly don’t know. After reading this I’m still completely confused about it. I think it needed to be actually explained to the laymen better. Page 205, an actual explanation! Yay! (And I actually even followed the explanation with “newborn mom brain” working against me!)
  • Page 240 before the storyline of “the woman who disappeared off of the boat.” This whole time I thought it was referring to… well to someone else (I don’t want to spoil that) It wasn’t…
  • I think this book should have a different title. Maybe Ghost Stories.  You decide what you think when you finish it and let me know what you think the title should be.  I feel like Ghost Stories is a pretty strong contender.

I would recommend reading this on a Kindle. Like station eleven, only in writing style, there are roughly 7000 names in this book. Okay, you got me, not 7000. I have a flair for the dramatic. But there were a lot of names. And if you have a memory like mine, a Kindle will be your best friend for the X-ray feature.

After finishing this book I have NO idea what to rate it. I didn’t feel fulfilled with the ending and it actually seemed like it was a two different stories written in the same book. That’s not to say that the stories didn’t converge in some sense but… Not enough for it to make sense to me.

I HAVE to mention that there are little easter eggs in this book if you’ve read her other books.  I’ve only read Station Eleven, like I mentioned, but I’ve heard that some characters from her other books made their way into this one as well.  That’s right, keep your eyes peeled and you might see some of your old friends from Station Eleven in this one!  

When I say I really enjoyed the writing style, I mean it!  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

-“Why were the righteous so often irritating?”
-“One of our signature flaws as a species: we will risk almost anything to avoid looking stupid.”
-“It’s always possible to fail to know the people closest to us.”
-“That’s what money gives you: the freedom to stop thinking about money”
-“Very few people who go to the wilderness actually want to experience the wilderness. Almost no one.”

Okay it’s time for me to rate this thing.  I know I won’t be widely recommending it like Station Eleven.  It really had a slow but steady pace… which in fairness I think quite a lot of adult fiction has this pacing.  It seemed like different stories were all jammed into one book.  The characters weren’t very likable (I think this is a trend for Mandel that she writes “realistic” characters.  I put that in quotes because I hope that if you met me in real life I would be likable and I am also a real person.  So with all of that in mind… I think I’m going to officially rate it:

3.75 our of 5

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Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Okay, I know you’ve seen this book everywhere because I have too.  And guess what? I finally actually read it!  I will tell you that this makes my list for REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY AMERICAN.  

Shall we get into the review? Okay let’s do it!  This book is a tough read.  There are a few reasons why it’s so tough.  I’ll start with the obvious- the subject matter is heavy.  There are a LOT of trigger warnings in this book. Abuse, neglect, rape, mental illness, child endangerment, bomb threats.  A lot.  Another reason why this book is tough to read is… well quite frankly, it’s poorly written.  I know, you weren’t expecting that. And how did it make the list for required reading if it’s poorly written?!  Well, that’s because the content is so incredibly important to read!  It just simply must be read.  BUT honestly- some parts were repetitive, the sentences were long and confusing. I would often have to reread a long sentence that had multiple commas and a parenthetical statement included.  I think it’s quite clear that this book was written for the common reader- so I personally think the author and editor did a disservice to the audience by publishing it the way it was written.  Overall though- what everyone says about this book is true.  It’s subject matter is eye opening and shocking.  The stats in it were mind blowing.  I have exactly 97 highlights I made while reading this book! So I’ll end this review with some quotes from the book.  But pick up a copy yourself it will open up your mind to how comfortable we’ve all become to living a life with bias!  It’s REQUIRED!

“For years, we’ve been the only country in the world that condemns children to life imprisonment without parole; nearly three thousand juveniles have been sentenced to die in prison.”


“The State of Idaho banned interracial marriage and sex between white and black people in 1921 even though the state’s population was 99.8 percent nonblack.”


“Even though the restriction couldn’t be enforced under federal law, the state ban on interracial marriage in Alabama continued into the twenty-first century. In 2000, reformers finally had enough votes to get the issue on the statewide ballot, where a majority of voters chose to eliminate the ban, although 41 percent voted to keep it. A 2011 poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 46 percent support a legal ban on interracial marriage, 40 percent oppose such a ban, and 14 percent are undecided.”

“Only a handful of countries permitted the death penalty for children—and the United States was one of them.”

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Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

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official blurb
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.  As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Full disclosure while I was reading this book I was sure it was either written by Emma Mills or Emory Lord… only later did I realize that it was an entirely new to me author!

what i didn't like
Tweet Cute was a really adorable YA read.  It could easily have been five stars but I got stressed out a couple of times while I was reading it.  The relationship between the main character and her mom was pretty realistic as far as strained relationships but the “don’t rock the boat” mentality of a teen I just can’t get behind.  That could be because I’m not a huge people pleaser.

what i liked
What this book did have going for it was a teeny tiny mystery/ twist.  A really cute high school couple that didn’t have huge communication issues!  A You’ve Got Mail vibe.  Overall it was a quick read that almost everyone will enjoy!  There were multiple times reading this book that I got real Chilton vibes from the school (Gilmore Girls reference) so that was fun!  Also, remember Prof Umbridge from Harry Potter?  There’s some total Umbridge parts as well!

Looking for LGBTQ books?  This book has a supporting character that you’ll like!

while reading you should
do: bake!
watch: you’ve got mail
eat/drink: a milkshake!

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Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey

arc review

2.5 out of 5
🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level 

It’s no secret that I love R.S. Grey’s steamy romcoms. In fact a few of her books have made their way on MY required reading list for romance lovers!  This book features the signature wit of Grey that I always love and tropes that I can’t help but get behind.  (Tropes in this book include: confined space, in love with brothers best friend, coworker romance, age gap).  Unfortunately this book didn’t capture me like Grey’s others.  I had some issues with the overall romance in it.  The couple’s relationship seemed a bit unhealthy with passionate scenes occuring after huge fights and poor communication.  Sex scenes featuring tears and anger and avoidance.  I had a hard time moving past that and it made me overall not root for them as a couple.  In the background of this book are two characters that I hope will have a book next because I was really into them! (I’m purposefully not using their names… no spoilers from me!)  So it’s a bummer that I wasn’t the ideal reader for this particular book, but that won’t stop me from picking up all of Grey’s books in the future!

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The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

Remember me screaming about my love for The Friend Zone?  Well this book takes place after that one… it can definitely be read as a standalone book but honestly… why would you ever skip The Friend Zone?

arc review

happy ever after playlist

official blurb
Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back. Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?

my blurb!
An amazing grieving girl falls for a famous world traveling boy…before she realizes she would have to travel all of the time too.

4.5 out of 5

 

🔥🔥🔥🔥 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
I loved this story! I read it really quickly… like in two sittings.  It had me hooked! I loved the love story and meet cute!  Revisiting Josh and Kristen from The Friend Zone added so much to the story!  The best part of this book was easily how in love Sloan and Jason were.  I kept thinking that the whole time I was reading it!  I think a lot of people who may not have bonded with Kristen as much in TFZ will love Sloan.  Jimenez wrote both characters really well and their personalities are so different from one another – I could just see a lot of people being #teamsloan.  I loved the closeness of Jason and his family in this book- that was a big highlight for me.  I hope to even see more glimpses of the family in future books!  (Hey, it’s a three book deal! Maybe book three will be about his family!)

what i didn't like
I think one takeaway from this book could be that the main couple was codependent.  It might be a turn off for some readers.  This was easily my favorite rockstar romance that I’ve ever read- in general that trope really doesn’t hit home for me.  With that being said- there were still moments in this book that I wanted to hurry the rockstar drama along.
There was a bit of mystery (strong word here… more like a plot point that is revealed later on in the story) regarding a character named Lola and I solved that really easily and early on.  It didn’t take away from the storyline per say – but I felt it should be noted.  Overall this book had high drama.  I didn’t love this aspect of it, but I adored the love story so much that it was able to drive the story home for me and still had me adoring this book.

while reading you should
Do: Go through a car wash
Do: Make a new playlist!
Listen to: …well the entire playlist that the author includes at the back of the book. but if you’re too lazy to flip there I’ll include one song… Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard
Eat: A cupcake. And if you’re close to Nadia’s cupcakes – go there! (The author owns that bakery!)

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Christmas On Mistletoe Lane by Annie Rains

arc review

christmas on mistletoe lane

official blurb
Christmas is coming to the North Carolina mountains, and the air is fresh and crisp and filled with promise. After the devastating loss of her job in the big city, the small town of Sweetwater Springs feels like heaven to Kaitlyn Russo. She’s inherited her grandparents’ charming (if a little rundown) bed and breakfast, and it’s just the new lease on life she needs. Only “heaven” comes with a catch – and a handsome and completely infuriating one at that. After what he hopes will be a quick trip, Mitch Hargrove wants nothing more than to put his hometown in the rearview mirror. But his plans get derailed when he learns he’s now half-owner of the Sweetwater B&B. The fact that he’s given only two months to make the inn a success is a huge problem, but it’s his pretty – and incredibly headstrong – partner who’s the real challenge. With the holiday fast approaching and a grand re-opening looming, will Mitch keep running from the ghosts of Christmas past . . . or will he realize the true gift he’s been given?

3.5 stars

🔥🔥 Steam Level 

 

what i liked
This book had total hallmark vibes and I am here for it!  If you’re expecting a hallmark movie including a dog at some point then you’re in luck.  This book ties up things quickly and makes you want to visit a super cute Bed and Breakfast in a small town.  It even had me brainstorming about what couples in love I would name my hypothetical b&b rooms after!  (In case you were wondering I was thinking Joe Fox and Kathleen Kelly!)  This was the first Christmas book that I ever made it through and enjoyed.  I don’t know why those tend to fall short for me even though I LOVE Christmas.  This one was a hit in my book!

what i didn't like
At the height of drama in the book, I felt like our heroine let our hero off the hook really quickly. Also it should be noted that the epilogue was maximum cheese level.

trigger warnings: car accident, sexual harassment/ sexual assault (beginning of chapter 5)

while reading you should
Make: Chocolate chip cookies
Watch: The Hallmark Channel’s trilogy: All of my heart, All of my heart: The Wedding, All of my heart: Inn love.
Watch: I mean while you’re at it you might as well use that Netflix subscription you’re paying for and watch Falling Inn Love

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MY Required Reading: Valentine’s Day Books for Children

Here in no particular order are my favorite Valentine’s kids books: