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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong Tandem Readalong

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I read this book as part of a readalong organised by Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation to take part and be a VIP host, and to HQ for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR

Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?

We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.

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MY REVIEW:

“When the bullets hit him, first his arm, then his stomach, it doesn’t feel like he’d always imagined it would. Because of course as a Black boy growing up in this neighbourhood, he’d imagined it.”

Wow. Just, wow. It’s been a few weeks since I read this phenomenal debut and I’m still thinking about it every day. I also still have no idea how to review it. The topic feels too big, too important to reduce to a review. But I will do my best. 

Lifelong friends Riley and Jen have never cared that one of them is Black and the other white. But after unarmed Black teenager Justin Dwyer is shot by two white police officers they find their friendship tested in ways they never imagined. They are both embroiled in the story and find themselves on opposing sides for the first time in their lives. Can their friendship withstand such a test? 

“At the end of the day, I’m afraid that Jen won’t get it. Maybe I’ve always been afraid.”

The story is narrated by Riley and Jen in alternating chapters, offering the reader an insight into how both women are affected in the aftermath of the shooting. Riley’s job as a news reporter and Jen’s position as the wife of one of the officers involved in the shooting immediately place them on opposing sides immediately. But then race becomes part of the discussion and adds more layers and nuance to this already complex story. 

I felt so conflicted reading this book. So many questions swam through my mind as I read and I found myself full of emotions I never expected. I didn’t know who to root for or where my allegiance should lay. I felt deeply sorry for both Jen and Riley, who are both great characters and saw both sides of their opposing arguments.  A big part of the problem between them is down to assumption and miscommunication, which left me feeling frustrated as so much of the pain they caused each other could have been avoided. I also had some sympathy for Kevin, who is clearly torn apart by what happened, though my ultimate sympathy lay with the young boy he shot and his devastated mother, who I would have liked to see more of in the book. 

“It kills me to think how some people want so badly to believe racism is buried beneath layers and layers of history, “ancient history”, they say. But it’s not. It’s like an umpire brushing the thinnest layer of dirt off the home plate: it’s right there. Only too often the trauma, the toll of it, remains unknown generation after generation. Like how Gigi kept her own awful secret, presumably to protect us from the ugly truth, and I’ve kept my own secrets, haunted by a similar shame.”

As a white woman I am aware I occupy a position of privilege and see the world through the lens of my own experiences. I love reading books like this one as they open my eyes to things that I might not have considered and help me to understand prejudice on a deeper level.  And that is part of the beauty of this book; whatever your race, gender or beliefs, there are things to learn from it. I was fortunate to read this as part of a readalong with other bloggers and during the chats about the book I enjoyed hearing their insights and views on the book as there were things some of them saw that I had missed or never considered. This enabled me to look at things from a perspective I’d otherwise never have had, something which I am grateful for. 

“He wants to tell them his name. If they know his name he’ll be less alone. Worse than the pain or even the fear is that he’s never felt so alone in his life.”

Bold, brave and thought-provoking, this made me feel ALL the feelings. It opens  as it means to go on, with a chapter that is so searing, raw and heartbreaking that I will never forget it. It is an unsettling but important read. A story about humanity, compassion, privilege, race and justice that reminds us not everything is black and white, and that the truth lies in the shades of grey. Exquisitely written with vivid characterisation, you can see the care that has been taken over every word on the page and I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see how the two authors co-wrote the book. 

A powerful, honest and heart-rending debut, We Are Not Like Them is a story that lingers long after closing that final page. A book that demands to be read and discussed. And one that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHORS:

Christine Pride is a writer, editor and 15-year publishing veteran. She has held editorial posts at various imprints, including Doubleday, Broadway, Crown, Hyperion, and, most recently, as a Senior Editor at Simon and Schuster. Christine has edited and published a range of bestselling books, with a special emphasis on inspirational stories and memoirs. We Are Not Like Them, written with Jo Piazza, is her first book. She lives in New York City. 

Jo Piazza is an award-winning reporter and editor who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, New York Magazine, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle and Salon. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Fox News, the BBC and MSNBC. Her novel, The Knockoff, with Lucy Sykes became an instant international bestseller and has been translated into more than seven languages.

Jo received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, a Masters in Religious Studies from NYU and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed If Nuns Ruled the World and Celebrity Inc: How Famous People Make Money.

She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and their giant dog.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

With bits of BuffyGame Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy – Stylist

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

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MY REIVEW:

“Immortality was not a serene youth.
It was fire.”

ACOSF was one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I was thrilled when Tandem Collective UK offered me the chance to take part in a readalong of the book. At over 700 pages it is an intimidating tome, and I admit that I found the first third of the story quite slow and difficult to get into. But once things got going it was addictive, and I flew through the pages quickly; holding on for dear life as Maas took me on a high-octane and emotional thrillride. 

“So Nesta had become a wolf. Armed herself with invisible teeth and claws, and learned to strike faster, deeper, more lethally . Had relished it. But when the time came to put away the wolf, she’d found it had devoured her, too.”

ACOSF stands out from the other books in the series as it shifts from telling Feyre’s story to that of her fiery sister, Nesta. I was initially hesitant about this as I’ve enjoyed Feyre’s story and love her as a character, while Nesta wasn’t someone who lit up the pages and drew me in. But after reading it I can say I’m glad the author gave us the chance to get to know Nesta as there is so much more beneath the feisty and sullen mask. She has a story that needs to be told; one that addresses mental health, trauma and PTSD.  I liked how Maas explored these issues not only through Nesta’s story, but also through the stories of other characters. There is a lot of discussion about the issues throughout the book and it will be hard for some to read. But as someone who lives with these issues, I found it to be sensitively written and liked that Mass highlighted things like the importance of facing your pain, self care, opening up to others, and celebrating the tiny steps that are huge accomplishments in your recovery.

“Perhaps in voicing those truths, they’d given them wings. And sent them soaring into the open sky above.”

Though the familiar faces from Night Court do feature in the book, Nesta spends most of the story away from them and has isolated herself on an emotional level too. This led the way for the introduction of Gwyn and Emerie, two new characters who I loved. They have also been through trauma and through their shared experiences they develop a truly special friendship and camaraderie. Watching as that blossomed and the women slowly began to recognise their inner strength, was probably my favourite part of the book. 

“Your power is a song, and one I’ve waited a very, very long time to hear, Nesta.”

There is no talking about this book without discussing the steam factor. I’ve been shipping Nessian for a while and was hoping for them to finally get together, and we all know there have been some hot scenes between Feyre and Rhys, but I was not prepared for the level of sizzle in this book. It’s so steamy that I would find myself blushing and feeling almost embarrassed to be caught reading it – and I was at home! I did enjoy the hilarious discussions with fellow bookstagrammers that it led to though. Maas has certainly moved away from young readers with the raunchy scenes in this book. So be warned.

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”

Ms. Mass knows just how to keep the reader begging for more, ending the book with a heart-pounding finale that had me on the edge of my seat. It was an electrifying ending to a spectacular book and I can’t wait until the next installment. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Steam Rating:🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

TW: Mental health, sexual assault, trauma 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel,is available now.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*| Google Books | Apple Books| Kobo
*These links are affiliate links

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Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copy of the book and to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2020

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Another month is done and I’m writing another wrap up. These seem to come around quicker each month. Does anyone else think the same?

May has been my best reading month in quite some time. I finished sixteen books and took part in fourteen blog tours. The quality of books has again been high with all books being four stars or above.

Here’s what I read in May:

  1. He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Happy Couple by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. One Mistake by Rona Halsall ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Dear Child by Romy Hausmann ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Bride by Wendy Clarke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Glass House by Eve Chase ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. His & Hers by Alice Feeney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  14. The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Water’s Edge (Detective Megan Carpenter Book 2) by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 You can read the reviews for all the books by clicking on the title except for The Ice Cream Girls and The Majesties. My reviews for those books will be posted in the coming week.

This month there were two books that stood out as favourites for me. They are very different books and I found it impossible to choose one over the over. Therefore, I have two books of the month: What Lies Between Us and Tsarina. What Lies Between Us is an outstanding thriller that was so twisted I can’t stop thinking about it. John Marrs really outdid himself with this book and I’m hoping it is turned into a series or film soon. Tsarina is the epic story of Catherine, Tsarina of All the Russias. Catherine’s story is one so crazy that you couldn’t make it up. The novel is beautifully written and I was utterly immersed in Catherine’s world while reading. I already had a fascination with the fall of the Tsars but this novel brought about a greater interest in the Tsars reign and Catherine and Peter’s stories in particular. I highly recommend both books.

Are any of these in your tbr? What is your favourite book you’ve read this month?

Next month I have a slightly more relaxed schedule of blog tours which I’m looking forward to as maybe I’ll get to do more free reading soon. I’m very excited about my buddy read of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World with Beth as it’s our first buddy read and the book is one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Thank you to all the tagged publishers for my gifted copies of these books.

Hope you are all staying safe and well,
Emma x