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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Lily and the Octopus | Steven Rowley

A heart is judged not by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

Genre: Animal Fiction.
Number of Pages: 307.
Perspective: First.
Location: Los Angeles, California.

This book is about a man's beloved dachshund with a cancerous tumor on his head. The owner, Ted, personifies this tumor as an octopus who is killing his best friend. He will do whatever it takes to fight off the octopus. For a complete summary, you can go here.

At first, my thoughts were: wow, this is a strange book…this guy must be on drugs since he is hallucinating. Then I thought: this book is really sweet and I can understand the deep connection between a person and a dog. Near the end of the book I thought: ok, this guy lost me again…this book got super weird and way over the top. My final thoughts: this book was based on the author’s relationship with his own dog, so I can see how this is cathartic and part of his healing process.

It honestly took me awhile to piece together my feelings about this book. I would say that I really enjoyed about 70% of it. The climax of the novel, which should have been the most interesting, completely lost me. It went way too far with the central metaphor and personification going on the book. I honestly started skimming the rest of the book after that. 

This book made me feel a lot of emotions and hug my fur babies tight. It is a sad topic, but I wouldn’t say that the whole book is sad. As with any book about loss, it can’t really have a “happy” ending, however, it is a story about moving forward. I didn’t know what to expect when starting this novel, so it took me awhile to get over the initial magical realism component. I do recommend it for pet lovers (anyone without a pet will probably just think that this guy is crazy). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“It's natural, as our loved ones age, to start grieving their loss even before we lose them.”

3/5 Stars 

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

All Grown Up | Jami Attenberg

At some point, you just pull off the Band-Aid, and it hurts, but then it's over and you're relieved.”

Genre: Contemporary Fiction.
Number of Pages: 197.
Perspective: First.
Location: New York City.

This book follows Andrea through a series of short stories. As she reaches her forties, it seems like everyone in her life is growing up and moving on. She is focused on partying, art, and being alone. For a complete summary, you can go here.

All I can think to say is: thank goodness this was a short book. It was an incredibly depressing look at adulthood. I really think the author (or at least the narrative she was trying to push) is that life sucks. I seriously hope that teenagers don’t get ahold of this book and let it taint their view on growing up. Sheesh…

I read this book for my book club, and I expected it to be a witty and funny book about growing up. Instead, it was a series of vignettes that provided an incomplete and snarky view of this selfish woman. It was not funny at all, in fact it was rather dark. I blame the misrepresentation on the marketing and cover design. 

The only redeeming quality is that it talks about the negative perception of middle-aged woman who choose to be unmarried and without children. But this lady doesn’t need to be nasty to anyone that does want to get married and have kids. It's like she resented everyone for growing up while she wanted to keep doing drugs and acting like she was twenty. I have no problem with people who don't want to be married or have children. But she shouldn't resent the people who do want those things. OK, rant over.

If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“But a funny thing happens when you tell a man that you don't want to get married: they don't believe you. They think you're lying to yourself or to them or you're trying to trick them in some way and you end up being made to feel worse for just telling the truth.”

2/5 Stars

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Nix | Nathan Hill

“The flip side of being a person who never fails at anything is that you never do anything you could fail at. You never do anything risky. There’s a certain essential lack of courage among people who seem to be good at everything.” 

Genre: Literary/Historical Fiction.
Number of Pages: 628.
Perspective: Alternating Third.
Location: Rural Pennsylvania. 

This book is about a writer who sees his mother on the news for stoning a politician. Since he hasn’t seen her since he was a child and needs a book concept, he decides to write a tell-all and uncover all the secrets of his mother’s past. For a complete summary, you can go here.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It utilized the true definition of character development. Some of the backstories I loved and others felt unnecessary. I  didn't think the video gamer he befriended was necessary to the book. But as a short story, it would have been really interesting and it did provide a great perspective. I kept waiting and waiting for it all to tie together. I wasn't super thrilled with how it all lined up, but it was at least a somewhat satisfying ending. I think some of the backstories and characters could have been cut out to make the book shorter. It was entertaining, but so long. I kept getting distracted by faster reads.

Obviously, the story is called the Nix, which refers to a mythical spirit. I personally didn't like the folklore aspect. I think it took away from the realism of the rest of the story. I do think this book is worth the read, especially if you are a writer and need help learning the proper way to achieve character development. But this is not a book for occasional readers. This is a full-time commitment type of book. You need to read until the end to really see the full picture. If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in our own story that we don’t see how we’re supporting characters in someone else’s”

4/5 Stars  

Friday, September 29, 2017

Wintersong | S. Jae-Jones

“‘A candle unused is nothing but wax and wick,’ I said.’I would rather light the flame, knowing it will go out than sit forever in darkness.’

Genre: New Adult Fantasy.
Number of Pages: 436.
Perspective: First.
Location: 18th Century Bavaria.

This book is about Liesl, a girl whose sister gets kidnapped by the goblin king. She must use what she knows from her grandmother’s old folklore stories to figure out how to get her sister back, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I read this book for my book club, but I may have picked it up on my own because of the beautiful cover and the fantasy element. However, I want to start off by saying that I couldn’t fully appreciate all this book has to offer. By that, I mean that at least half of this book is musical prose that might as well have been a foreign language to me. If you understand classical music, then I would assume that you would have an appreciation for the 50%+ of the book that I skipped over (I was also recovering from major back surgery and on a lot of pain meds while reading this book, so I fell asleep a lot while reading it). The part I did understand was interesting, but familiar. I have no problem with people writing fan fiction or taking an old idea and expanding on it, but this felt like The Labyrinth meets Beauty and the Beast. And any sort of romance between captor—who, not to mention, isn’t even human—and captive gives me the heebie-jeebies. However, There’s no denying that this book has beautiful writing and was difficult to predict (which are two positive factors in any book). 

I haven’t personally read a lot of goblin books, but I do love faerie stories, and this feels similar. So I liked that fantasy aspect. But even a fantasy story should be somewhat realistic. I’m sorry, but if you love someone, why steal their sister instead of stating your true intentions? Just seems like an unnecessary step to the whole story. And the back and forth and abrupt ends to romantic scenes felt really bizarre. 

If you are a fan of fantasy and have a great knowledge of music, then I think you would absolutely love this story and get the full experience. If you are music illiterate like me and still love fantasy novels with a romance element, I’d like to recommend The Scorpio Races or Shiver instead. If you are still interested in buying Wintersong, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“What’s the use of running, if we are on the wrong road.”

2/5 Stars

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 | Ruth Ware

“There’s a reason why we keep thoughts inside our heads for the most part—they’re not safe to be let out in public. ” 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller.
Number of Pages: 340.
Perspective: First.
Location: Yacht in the ocean off of Europe. 

This book is about a travel journalist that gets the opportunity to experience the life of luxury on a fancy yacht to see the Northern Lights. However, the first night she hears a scream and a splash from the outside of the cabin next to hers. No one believes her story since the room was empty, but she is determined to find out the truth. For a complete summary, you can go here.

I’ll shamefully admit that I thought this book was going to take place in the woods. I was thinking of a log cabin, not a cabin in a boat. Water didn't seem as creepy to me as the woods, but now I am realizing how boats are the perfect places for crimes. You are trapped and there is a grey area for arrests in unclaimed water territory. Makes me not want to go on a cruise anytime soon…

This was actually the first book I was able to read after my major back surgery without falling asleep (pain meds = fatigue). This book caught my interest from the beginning and kept me intrigued until the last 50 pages or so. I’ll admit that it started to get boring and dry, so I speed-read through the last bit to just see how it ended. If it wasn’t for the last bit, I would have given it 5 stars. It also felt familiar to me. The unreliable narrator is starting to become somewhat cliche. 

I still thoroughly recommend this book for mystery lovers. It isn’t as dark as Gillian Flynn, so it can still be considered a warmer weather/beach read. I can’t wait to read Ware’s other big hit, In a Dark, Dark Wood (now if that book isn’t in the woods, then my radar is way off). If you are interested in buying the book, you can buy it here. After you have read it, leave a comment and let me know what you think! 

“[W]e all have demons inside us, voices that whisper we’re no good, that if we don’t make this promotion or ace that exam we’ll reveal to the world exactly what kind of worthless sacks of skin and sinew we really are.”

4/5 Stars  
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*