ARC: Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker

Emma In The Night

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back…

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn’t add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister’s return might just be the beginning of the crime.

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I received Emma In The Night through the website SheSpeaks. This is an honest review.

Let’s start with this, I finished reading Emma In The Night in less than two days. I haven’t been so emotionally invested in a book this year until this one. Emma In The Night is amazing. I went into the book with no expectations. I started the first chapter yesterday and I really found it hard to put down the book. The book was beautifully written and I was captivated.

Emma In The Night is a dark mystery that revolves around two sisters Emma and Cassandra Tanner. Both sisters disappeared three years ago and their case was deemed cold. One day, Cassandra Tanner returns and the search for her sister begins once again. Each chapter had me hooked, I am not going to lie. Cassandra did not reveal her story all at once. I had to keep reading in order to find out what happened in the three years the sisters disappeared. I wanted to know the motive of them disappearing. At first I thought they were kidnapped, and then I was starting to believe that they had ran away. The story became darker as Cass was revealing what really happened to her and Emma.

The whole time I believed Cassandra and her retelling her story of survival. After all she and her sister had been through, I had no doubt about the authenticity of her story. I honestly had no idea that I was going to be deceived by the protagonist. I did not expect an unreliable narrator!  I never saw it coming. There were so many twists and turns when it came to Emma In The Night. My favorite character was Cassandra. Despite being an unreliable narrator, she endured so much. She was emotionally detached coming back after three years and suffered a traumatic childhood. Cassandra wanted to live a normal life with her father and sister. Cassandra was aware of how toxic her mother was growing up. Cassandra knew she was the weaker sibling while Emma was the stronger one. I felt that Cassandra was the stronger sibling in the end. Emma was on the path of self destruction despite being mother’s favorite, while Cassandra did whatever it take to survive abuse and torture.

As for the reveal of this psychological thriller, I could not believe what happened that night the sisters disappeared. I was shocked. I loved that the book made me question what was real and what was not. I thought it was interesting how the book had two perspectives. One being Cassandra’s perspective and the other being Dr. Abby Winters who was part of the investigation team. I liked how both Cassandra and Abby had similar childhood experiences.

As for Abby Winters perspective, I thought it was an interesting choice. Abby Winters tried her best to solve the disappearance of Cassandra and Emma. Abby had to work hard in order to resolve the issue. She never gave up on the case because it hit close to home for her. She was responsible for putting the pieces together while Cassandra came back and told her story of her disappearance to the world. I enjoyed reading Abby’s perspective, she’s the protagonist that you can trust while reading the story.

I don’t want to spoil everything for anyone who wants to read Emma In The Night, but I will end with this: If you want to read a dark psychological thriller for this summer I’d recommend checking out Emma In The Night. The more you read, the darker the book becomes.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi (Erased) Anime Review

MyAnimeList Synopsis: When tragedy is about to strike, Satoru Fujinuma finds himself sent back several minutes before the accident occurs. The detached, 29-year-old manga artist has taken advantage of this powerful yet mysterious phenomenon, which he calls “Revival,” to save many lives.

However, when he is wrongfully accused of murdering someone close to him, Satoru is sent back to the past once again, but this time to 1988, 18 years in the past. Soon, he realizes that the murder may be connected to the abduction and killing of one of his classmates, the solitary and mysterious Kayo Hinazuki, that took place when he was a child. This is his chance to make things right.

Boku dake ga Inai Machi follows Satoru in his mission to uncover what truly transpired 18 years ago and prevent the death of his classmate while protecting those he cares about in the present.

Aired: Jan 8, 2016 to Mar 25, 2016

Commentary:

Normally, I don’t watch psychological anime, but I decided to give Erased a shot. It’s only twelve episodes long, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Also, I haven’t read the manga, so this is my review on the anime only.

Have you ever wished you can go back in time and alter your history? Do you have regrets about your past actions? I know that I do. If so, I highly recommend watching this anime. Why you may ask? The protagonist Satoru has an ability to travel a couple minutes into the past, he calls this phenomenon “Revival”. He goes into a revival to alter a couple things here and there. He has no control over when the revival activates. When Satoru’s world is turned upside down, his revival has taken him back to his childhood days before the murders from his past happens. Even though Satoru is in his child body, he still has the mind of his adult self.

Satoru is cynical and bitter 29 year old when he is first introduced, and is not supposed to be “likable”. I thought his personality was refreshing for me and realistic. His dreams of being a mangaka have been crushed. He works for a small pizza delivery company, and his life has not turned out as he had hoped. He was really relatable to me. When Satoru was younger, his personality was more vibrant and positive. It feels like he is two completely different people. When Satoru realizes that he has to save his classmate Kayo Hinazuki from being murdered, he starts changing his ways. He knows that in order to save her, he needs to become a hero and mature.

As for the other characters, I really liked Kayo and Kenya. As for Kayo, she had a tragic backstory and has the most apperances than any other character. Kayo is an outsider and really shy. She has no friends at school, but everything changes when Satoru starts to befriend her. Satoru promises to never lie to Kayo and becomes her guardian. Satoru’s friends tease him since they believe he likes Kayo in a romantic way. Kenya is the serious observant one from Satoru’s group of friends. He notices the changes in Satoru and helps him in any way he can. Even though Airi was important to Satoru, she was hardly in the anime. I’m certain that Airi plays a larger role in the manga than in the anime.

The storyline is amazing. Each episode had me hooked because it was a murder mystery. I had my suspicions on the murderer as the episodes progressed. The animation was beautifully done! Though I would have liked for a second season of Erased because it did feel rushed at times. I’m sure that the manga goes more into detail. Take for example, I felt that the murderer’s backstory and motives were never explained. Another example that I can think of is why does the revival happen and when did it start for Satoru. The anime never answers it, but I’m sure once reading the manga, I’ll be able to know the answers I am seeking. The friendship in this show was so cute. Friendship plays a big role in this anime. As for the ending, I was satisfied!

I love the OP especially since it is Asian Kungfu Generation:

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.75)

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Book Review

“John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him.”

I am not an English major, I mostly read for fun, and this review won’t be an in depth analysis of the story.

Goodreads Synopsis: “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own beyond the hypnotic pattern of the faded yellow wallpaper–a pattern that has come to symbolize her own imprisonment. Narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision, “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands out not only for the imaginative authenticity with which it depicts one woman’s descent into insanity, but also for the power of its testimony to the importance of freedom and self-empowerment for women.

Commentary: First of all, I want to say that I had no idea that I read a feminist short story. I thought it was story about a woman’s descent into madness, but there is more to this story that you would think. The evidence that indicated this story was a feminist text was how the woman’s husband discouraged from writing. I know that around that time period women had very little rights compared to men. The unnamed protagonist was not taken seriously by her husband.  Her husband called her silly goose and thought she was perfectly healthy. The protagonist was depressed, and her illness became as the story goes on. The husband played a huge part in the deterioration of his wife’s mental health. He was constantly telling her what was best for her and dismissed her cries for help. He was not a supportive husband to her when she needed him, and he treated her like a child. The husband was dominant in the relationship, while the protagonist hardly had any control over her life. The wife had no freedom at all, she was stuck in a room all day long, and she lacked any physical activity. She was like a trapped animal in a cage. The ending of the story is wonderful. I felt that the wallpaper was part of her because it is once she destroys the wallpaper that she truly feels free from her oppressor. I love how the husband faints when he finally comes into the room. The story is easy to read, I was surprised that I didn’t need a dictionary to look up words.  Overall, it is a creepy story and I really don’t recommend reading it at 1:47 in the early morning.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

“An angel sat on one shoulder, a devil on the other. Both of them wore my face.”

It’s been such a long time since I’ve completed a trilogy. Today I finished the last book to the Mara Dyer Series. It’s not my favorite series, but it was an entertaining at some parts and frustrating at other parts. I read all three books on my kindle, but I would not buy the physical books as beautiful as the covers may be. Many of the booktubers I follow loved the series, but I really tried my best and I did find it a tad overrated. I’d like to apologize in advanced, since this review will have spoilers, so you have been warned! Let’s get on with the review!

Goodreads synopsis:

Mara Dyer wants to believe there’s more to the lies she’s been told.

There is.

She doesn’t stop to think about where her quest for the truth might lead.

She should.

She never had to imagine how far she would go for vengeance.

She will now.

Loyalties are betrayed, guilt and innocence tangle, and fate and chance collide in this shocking conclusion to Mara Dyer’s story.

Retribution has arrived.

  • What I liked:

    – This book was gruesome and Mara was like an assassin!!!
    – Mara, Jaime, and Stella breaking out of Horizons together
    – That whole road trip to New York
    – Dr. Kells having the mutation G1821, but she was not an active carrier.
    – Daniel finally believing Mara. It was one of the best moments when Daniel realized that his sister was not crazy the whole time.
    – Finding all that evidence of Dr. Kells experiments. I liked how Jaime, Daniel, Mara, and Stella all teamed up
    – Learning about how many boys Dr. Kells had to kill in order to get results. Jude was the only one to have survived the tests while others died.
    – I thought Jude was dying in the beginning of the book, did not expect him to show up again near the end. He really made the book interesting.
    – Reunion with Noah
    – Chapters with Noah’s perspective
    – Mara and Noah finally being with each other, despite what anyone said
    – I love Jamie and Daniel; they are my favorite characters in the whole series.

    What I disliked:

    – No epic fight between Mara and David Shaw
    – David Shaw just disappeared as quickly as he appeared in the books.
    – The pregnancy test
    – Some parts were slow.
    – Why did Stella have to go? Why?
    – Noah appeared way to late in the book.
    – Dr. Kells died to soon, it would have been cool if she had escaped Horizons and then battled Mara later on in the book.
    – Mara’s “death”, though I like Mara and Noah as a couple, I would have loved the book much more if Mara had died. It was really sad when Mara chose death in order to save the ones she loved. It was such a heartbreaking scene, and I thought that was going to be the end of the story. I feel that she would have died as a hero if she stayed dead, while Noah would have continued to live on.
    – I wish the epilogue took place years later instead of a couple days later

Final Thoughts: I have mixed feelings about the series. I loathed the first book, the second book was the best, and the final book was a bit exciting, but definitely better than the first book. I was more excited to read about her grandma and how the past and present sort of merged together. Mara was much more violent in this book, but she had to do what she had to do. She tried to get rid of her villains, but she did not have to rely on her power. I was not expecting Mara to become physically violent, which was a bit alarming. She was not the same girl from the second book. During the whole journey to New York, I thought Mara was becoming mentally unstable since she was weak and she would listen to her reflection. When Mara decided to cut her stomach, I seriously thought she was ill, but it was revealed that two small drugs were stuck in her stomach thus making her feel weak and stopping her from using her power. For the climax, I thought there was going to be a huge fight near the end of the book when Noah’s father, David Shaw finally made an appearance. It was revealed that David was the one responsible for hiring Dr. Kells and funding her experimentations. I was not that surprised to know he was the one behind everything, I had a feeling since the second book that he had to be the bigger villain. I really did enjoy seeing the flashbacks of Mara’s grandmother. Again, I did have a feeling that Abel Lukumi was the professor and the grandfather of Mara. I do like his power, which I believe is immortality. After the whole Mara “dies” and Noah “dies” scene, I really wanted to finished the book and not in a good way. It took me a while to get to the end of the book, but I finished. I liked the last sentence of the book: “My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something”.

Final Rating: ★★★☆☆ 😶

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: Book Review

“Everyone is a little crazy. The only difference between us and them is that they hide it better.”

Hello readers, I just finished the second book to the Mara Dyer trilogy. I really had low expectations of the book, but I was wrong about this book. I am currently reading the Retribution of Mara Dyer and I will post my review of the last book once I finish reading!

 Cover: Lovely cover!

Goodreads Synposis:

Mara Dyer once believed she could run from her past.
She can’t.

She used to think her problems were all in her head.
They aren’t.

She couldn’t imagine that after everything she’s been through, the boy she loves would still be keeping secrets.
She’s wrong.

In this gripping sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, the truth evolves and choices prove deadly. What will become of Mara Dyer next?

Characters:

Mara: I really like Mara. I felt bad for her in this book. She kept trying to get better and pass off as “normal”, you could really tell that she loves her family. It was heartbreaking to know that she was seen as psychotic and broken, even though it’s revealed to the readers that she’s not. She was stronger in this book than the first book. Though Jude kept torturing her throughout the novel, she managed to overcome many obstacles. It was heartbreaking reading about her struggle to overcome her past demon. I still love Mara’s family. They are really supportive of her and try to do what is best for her, even though they don’t know she’s different from them. I did like how the author had two Maras in the book, one being the protagonist, and the other being her grandma who happened to have the same power as her. I hope more of her grandmother’s past gets revealed in the final book.

Noah: I grew to love Noah in the second book, and he didn’t come out as too over the top for me in this novel. He really loves Mara and tries to help her whatever way he can. I felt really bad for Noah whenever he blamed himself when Mara got hurt. If Noah weren’t there for Mara, I don’t think that she would be strong enough to overcome her guilt and remorse. I did enjoy the moments he and Mara shared; they definitely grew stronger as a couple. In the first book, he really annoyed me and I couldn’t stand his character, but now, this book changed my perspective of Noah. Before reading the second book, I had low expectations for Noah and I was wrong. Lastly, Noah can’t be dead. He just can’t. I just have to wait for the last book to know what happens! This is my favorite Noah Shaw quote (I can’t believe I actually have one): “If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.”

Jude: There is only way I can describe Jude, he’s just insane. He was creepy throughout the novel. He kept trying to make Mara seem insane and kept haunting her. I really did not like Jude. He kept trying to avenge his sister, even though it was impossible. I had a feeling that he had a power like Noah and Mara. He was terrible, but he was a pawn and was being used. I still don’t feel sorry for him, because he made Mara suffer mentally and physically. I didn’t like that he lied and used Phoebe as a pawn in his revenge plan, but then again, I didn’t like Phoebe.

Dr. Kells: I knew something was off about her. I did not see that twist coming at all. I thought she was a bit creepy, but I did not expect her to know that Jude was alive nor aid him in capturing Mara. Secondly, I can’t believe that she lied about the program to Mara and her parents. The twist really threw me off, but it made the second book so much better. I like her as the villain and I can’t wait for the final installment.

Why I liked it: Yes, this book was over the top, but it still had its elements of surprise and creepiness. Mara tried to be normal and things were looking up for her. Her family was starting to not worry as much for her, but the events that took place didn’t allow for that. I did like that part of the book where Mara gets her fortune told and I do believe what the fortune teller told her was true: “You will love him to ruins.” Secondly, I loved the doll and the background story. It made this book super interesting. I wanted to know why Mara’s grandma and Noah’s mother had matching pendants. I hope I could get answers to how those two are connected. Then there’s Abel Lukumi, how did he know what hospital Mara was at? Was he a hallucination? (I doubt it, but I hope he returns in the final book). I had a feeling Stella was going to be unique, but I was surprised when reading that Jamie also carried the same gene as the others. I want to know Jamie and Stella’s power. Lastly, I can’t wait to read the last book.

My final rating is ★★★★☆. 😌

P.S.: I feel this song describes the book perfectly.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

My name is not Mara Dyer, but my lawyer told me I had to choose something. A pseudonym. A nom de plume, for all of us studying for the SATs. I know that having a fake name is strange, but trust me —it’s the most normal thing about my life right now.”

I really expected this book to be thrilling, fantastic, and amazing. Many people have praised The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, but I felt it was overhyped in my opinion. I don’t hate the book, but even though it is the first book, I will continue to read the series just so I can find out more about Mara’s powers and if there are others like her. Hopefully the other two books are better, I’m crossing my fingers that they are. Lastly, I appreciated that there was no love triangle in this book! ^^

The Cover: It has to be one of my favorites.

Goodreads synopsis:
Mara Dyer doesn’t think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can’t remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn’t believe that after everything she’s been through, she can fall in love.
She’s wrong.

The plot really interested me. It was very psychological. I had to reread many chapters over again because at times I couldn’t tell reality from her “hallucinations”.

Characters:
Noah Shaw: He was too perfect, and that’s the problem I had with him. First of all he’s incredibly rich, knows six languages, he’s a heartthrob, and a bad boy, not to mention British…like I said earlier, too perfect. I started to like him near the ending of the book, when he finally revealed to Mara that he has powers to heal.

Mara Dyer: I wish I knew her real name instead of the alias, but oh well. I liked her. I really felt sorry for her and the traumatic events that happened to her. Her life was turned upside down because of her power to kill people. She had no idea that she was the one to cause the accident of her friends and her ex-boyfriend. And I don’t blame her for the accident either, after it was revealed that her ex-boyfriend, Jude, tried to rape her. I am excited to continue to read the series just to find out if she can control her power in the other books. Mara’s family was lovable; they really tried to help her out throughout the book. It was heartbreaking to read that she tried to be “normal” in front of her family and peers.

Jude: I was lost for words when Mara saw him in the police station near the end of the book…he’s alive! And I’m guessing that he has powers like Mara and Noah too.

Why I disliked it: For some reason, this book reminded me of a Spanish telenovela. There were some moments in the book that were too over the top for me. For example, Jamie explaining to Mara the reason why he dislikes Noah is because Noah slept with his sister for revenge just because Jamie was falling for Katie (Noah’s sister). Then Mara asks Noah if what Jamie told her is true, which it is, and then Mara accepts Noah and moves on…ughs. I felt that Mara fell in love with Noah too quickly. I would have liked to see their relationship slowly developed, but that did not happen. I found Noah to be too aggressive and dominant over Mara. Most of the time I was shaking my head when reading this book, and other times, I would stop reading and ask myself “What am I reading?” It was not as fun as I thought it would be, but it’s the first book in the series. It can get better!

My rating is a 2.5 out 5 stars. :/