Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Quick Takes: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
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29906980At the very least, you have to give Saunders mad props for his originality–I’ve never seen a book like this before. Weaving in dozens of narrators and dozens of historical sources (some real, some not), readers spend a mystical night at Oak Hill Cemetery with characters in the Bardo. It is a sort of equivalent of purgatory in Tibetan Buddhism, a space between death and rebirth. It is the night after Willie Lincoln’s burial, and the president comes back to visit.

If you like creativity and some mysticism in your reading, you’re bound to enjoy this book. If, however, you tend to roll your eyes at the stuff and suspend zero disbelief, I would pass this on. Even I would pause at times and the wild or crude manifestations of some of the individuals we find in the Bardo. But I for one and still happy to have experienced this delightfully original story, and am interested in checking out more of Saunders’ work!

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Quick Takes: Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
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27161156Let me start by saying that the largest reason for my rating is because, for the most part, I’m just not a fan of memoirs. I wasn’t particularly engaged and thought that topic could be better presented. I think that’s what my problem usually is with memoirs–you’re telling me what happened instead of painting me a picture like novels usually do.

I also slightly resent the fact that his story was used to push certain notions and philosophies upon the reader. Providing research to back up what you experience is one thing, concluding that “therefore, this should happen,” is something else entirely. Trust that you have presented the information well and that I am competent enough to come to my own conclusion because the truth of the matter is, I may see the solution residing somewhere completely different.

I do think it’s an important story, and I think it brings up very important issues that we as a nation need to address. I just wish it would have done so in a different manner.

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Spook-A-Thon 2017!!

I participated in yet another read-a-thon in October, the Spook-A-Thon, which took place from October 16th-22nd. I recognize that we are well past that, but…not only did I want to share my reading experience, but I also thought that this would be a great concise way to share a few of my recent reads.

This was a great read-a-thon and I had a lot of fun with it! 🙂 The read-a-thon consisted of 5 different challenges:
1. A thriller
2. A book with orange on the cover
3. Spooky setting
4. Spooky word in the title
5. A book based on a childhood fear

My TBR for the Spook-A-Thon based on the above challenges was:

  • The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I ended up completing 3 of the 4 books that I had on my original TBR, which I really think was pretty good!! I’ve had a streak of bad reading luck when it has come to read-a-thons this year, so this was a great change of pace! The only book I ended up not completing was “Every Heart a Doorway”, which I ended up completing later in the month.

I’m going to go ahead and get into two mini-reviews for the books that I’ve read! I will not be doing a mini-review of “The Wolves of Winter” by Tyrell Johnson, as it was an ARC so you’ll be getting a full review next month!

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Modern American Epic Mountain Cowboy

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Keseyfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

It’s June. I’m a few days away from my trip to the Pacific Northwest, and I’m looking up books that take place in these gorgeous states. Scrolling past Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray, I land on Sometimes a Great Notion. And there is just nothing about it that should interest me…650 pages detailing a union strike that sweeps across a small logging town? An easy pass, were it not for the rave reviews calling it a masterpiece and one of the Great American Novels™. So, I pick it up.

Four months later, after wrestling to get into it, struggling through 70-page chapters and paragraphs chock-full of points of view that switch mid-sentence(!), I can add my voice and say that anyone who appreciates literature needs to read this book. This, this is the book I needed to read in my Literature classes, because there’s so much going on here, and it does it all so, so well. Because like any poignant novel, what makes it so great is never just about the plot. Continue reading

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Series Review: “Monsters of Verity” Duology

This Savage Song (#1) by Victoria Schwab
four-star-rating-black-hiOur Dark Duet (#2) by Victoria Schwab
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I’m so excited to bring y’all another series review! 😀 Yet again, I marathoned through another series and while it was just a duology, it definitely knocked me completely off my feet! 🙂 I am in a major book hangover and in my mind, that says quite a bit about a book. I just finished the “Monsters of Verity” duology and I absolutely loved it!!! Like, LOVED it!!!

First can we just admire the two covers of these books? Major heart-eye emojis!!! 😀 I love when we get simple, yet eye-catching covers that are just so appealing on my shelves.

I will obviously not be getting into “Our Dark Duet” because SPOILERS but I will share a few of my thoughts on “This Savage Song” here before getting into my more spoiler-y thoughts. The main thing that I loved about this first book (and really, the duology) were our protagonists, Kate and August. Kate is the daughter of a corrupt man who provides protection for humans against the monsters, but for a price. Kate wants nothing more than the approval of her father, which causes her to make rash, violent decisions. August is a monster who wants nothing more to be human and not feared by humans. Both are deeply flawed, yet so endearingly relatable.

I also love the world creation and the concept of the monsters in this book. There are three classes of monsters, each born out of different violent crimes which is just a fascinating concept. In doing my research, I found out that the author wrote this book in response to the mass shootings in our country and I think this is an incredibly profound response to all of the violence in our country today.

The last thing that I truly love about these books and all of Victoria Schwab’s writing is her atmosphere creation. These books are incredibly dark, creepy and they just linger with you. I couldn’t help but think of these books when not reading and when I finished “This Savage Song”, I immediately needed “Our Dark Duet”. And I did go immediately purchase the second book.

All in all, I loved this duology!! 😀 I am going to get into a few more spoiler-y thoughts now! 🙂

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Series Review: Shades of Magic Trilogy

I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to review these books! I finally got around to finishing the third one this summer, so it only seemed right to lump them all into one super-review! And be sure to check out Christina’s review of the first, where she also offers a good summary! Needless to say, the later ones may contain some spoilers 🙂

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab four-star-rating-black-hi

a darker shade of magicThis was my first foray into Victoria Schwab’s writing, and it definitely won’t be the last! From the get go, I was impressed by her storytelling capabilities. She expertly crafted three dimensional characters in a well-built universe. I loved the idea of four different Londons! Especially White London, which feels particularly bleak. (Didn’t Gaiman have a similar idea in Neverwhere? Clearly it’s working.) It was refreshing to dive into something that felt so new.

The best part has to be the characters. Kell and Lila felt new and exciting, both in their behavior and physical descriptions. This isn’t your cookie cutter dynamic duo, particularly since they aren’t swooning over each other every chance they get. The sadistic Dane twins worked incredibly well as the antagonists. Seriously fantastic villains. And for favorite character it may be a tie between Holland and Kell. Both Antari felt like they carried much beneath the surface. Even so, it felt at times that there was too much held below, and it was hard to connect to the characters at points. It also hit some slow points, but they end of the book definitely picked up the pace.

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
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If the first book was on the higher end of four stars, I would place this one slightly on the lower end. This is mainly because it felt like I’ve read this story before, even if they did do a good job of it. Arenas? Tournaments? Isn’t this in like every dystopian novel? This book also seemed to miss that villain piece that the first book nailed.

Even so, it was still a fun read, and the character development continued on. Some complain about Kell, that he’s too moody or sullen or serious, but I kinda like that about him. He and Lila balance each other out. I’m not particularly sold on them as a couple, kinda like the idea of keeping it a friendship, but I don’t hate the pairing either. Lila did grate on me at times, though.

A Conjuring of Light by V. E. Schwab
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29939230I honestly think I would be giving this book a higher rating if I didn’t switch to audiobook while doing my road trip. Seriously, the narration was so. bad. All of a sudden the characters felt annoying (or way more so than before) and I didn’t think the voices fit at all. So, big mistake on my part there.

That being said, I did think it was a good wrap up to the trilogy. Osaron was a formidable opponent, and I think he presented enough of a threat and challenge and leading to enough loss so that readers aren’t left thinking everyone’s safe. I also really enjoyed Holland’s role in this book, especially having the opportunity to learn more about his background. Thankfully, the romance between Kell and Lila played a lot better as well. Overall a satisfying ending to a refreshing trilogy!

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Quick Takes: Finding Audrey

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
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Image result for finding audreyHooray I’m back!

I needed a quick, fun, easy read to get me out of grad school mode, and this book was it! I first cracked it open while I was poolside, and easily got through the first hundred pages. I was on the last page before the end of the weekend.

This was a cute little romance about 14 year old Audrey, who suffers from social anxiety, and the boy who helps motivate her to work through her fears. Don’t worry though, it’s not an I’m gonna change for this boy so he can finally like me kind of story. It’s just a sweet little story. Plus, it’s not just about romantic love, but also familial. I loved the interactions between Audrey’s family. They were wacky and ridiculous without fringing into caricature territory.

I was also impressed by how well social anxiety and mental illness as a whole was treated throughout this book. This wasn’t a romanticized view of it, which some books seem to be guilty of. It was pretty realistic, and could even offer younger readers a better understanding of what social anxiety means. Heck, any readers a little less familiar with the topic of mental illness will probably learn some things.

Although I get a little tired of the pop culture references that will likely date this book in a few years, it’s a cute story that’s worth picking up if you’re in the mood for this sort of read!

 

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