Monday, February 27, 2017

Review: All the Birds in the Sky

Title All the Birds in the Sky
By Charlie Jane Anders
Genre Adult Magic Realism/Dystopian/Fantasy/Science Fiction
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Magic and science meet in this story of a boy and a girl and their strange lives.

First Sentence
When Patricia was six years old, she found a wounded bird.

Another book for The Tournament of Books. Another great book. While I felt a lot of this one sort of went over my head, I really liked it. I'm not crazy. I got the whole story line etc but the deeper meaning and subtle hints at something more flew right over my head, I'm sure.

Still, as far as stories go, I loved this one. I was fascinated with the story and the lives of these strange characters. The book felt like a mash up of Harry Potter and The Magicians with a dystopian/science fiction twist. It wasn't at all what I was expecting and I was pleasantly surprised.

Dang! Sadly, I find myself at a loss for words on this on. Just know that I really liked it and would highly recommend it.

Should you read it
I just said you should. ;)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Review: Landline

Title Landline
By Rainbow Rowell
Genre Adult contemporary
Rating ⭐⭐

Georgie is a successful writer on a TV show. Her marriage is struggling but until she can't go with her husband and kids out of town for Christmas, she thought things would be OK. When her husband takes the kids and leaves without her she's scared her marriage may be unfixable. Discovering a way she can talk to her husband from the past on her mom's old landline, Georgie tries to fix her marriage before it ever started.

First Sentence
Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.

Well, folks, this is my third Rainbow Rowell and I didn't much like it any more than her others. As always I love Rowell's writing. It's very well done and makes things vividly clear. Her stories are always engrossing and draw me in. I can't put them down.

I read this one for book club and it was a great discussion. There's much to talk about in these pages. The idea of (if you could do it all over again, would you make the same choices?) was a wonderful topic for discussion. So writing and plot were great. What's my problem, you ask? The characters. I finally discovered what it is about Rowell's books that I don't like and it's the characters. They have too many issues that don't mesh well with one another.

Obviously there needs to be conflict in a story, and Rowell creates it with these issue-y characters. I don't have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is the way these issues meet. I think she creates toxic relationships. Relationships that will never work out. There's opposites attract and then there's this. Relationships that are...well....toxic. Hopeless.

I thought Neil (Georgie's husband) was a whiny little mope who blamed all his choices and resulting reactions to those choices on Georgie.  Did I think Georgie was perfect? No. But I thought she was who she was and who she'd always been and just because she had goals and a future to work for and Neal didn't, he resented her.

So....yeah. I thought the book was written well and did exactly what it was supposed to do. Make you think and discuss. I just don't like reading about toxic relationships. There's no hope in them.

Should you read it?
I guess you could and you'd probably like it. I however, think you wouldn't miss out on anything if you skipped it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Review: Sweet Lamb of Heaven

Title Sweet Lamb of Heaven
By Lydia Millet
Genre Adult Contemporary
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Leaving her cold and distant husband wasn't hard for Anna and her six year old daughter. Staying apart might not be so easy. Ned is going into politics and wants the picture perfect family. He wants Anna back and will let nothing stop him. Hiding in a small hotel in Maine Anna discovers the other guests have secrets of their own and they all might have more in common then she thought.

First Sentence
When I insisted on keeping the baby, Ned threw his hands into the air palms-forward.

This is another of those Tournament of Books picks I was telling you about. And I LOVED this one. I was immediately drawn into the story and was shocked to discover that, yes, this is a book about a woman on the run from her awful husband but it was so much more than that. I don't want to say too much because I think you just need to read it to see what I'm talking about.

This book gets an interesting idea presented in an entertaining way right. I absolutely loved the "other" part of the story. I loved the idea of people coming together with a deep intelligence and helping each other out. And, yes, I liked the simple story that held the deeper story in its hands too.

Remember how I said I like to read reviews of a book I loved on Goodreads after finishing it? Well I did that very thing after reading this one hoping for intelligent, open minded readers who saw what I saw and was sadly disappointed. I felt like everyone was calling it an interesting story with supernatural elements. NO! It was so much more than that! Sigh!

Sorry. I'm not trying to sound like a snob. I just get frustrated when an idea gets presented and no one sees it.

Should you read it
I think everyone should read this! If you just see an entertaining story, that's OK. Still read it!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: Days of Blood & Starlight

Title Days of Blood & Starlight (DOS&B #2)
By Laini Taylor
Genre YA Fanstasy
Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Reeling from Akiva's betrayal, Karou goes to the only place she feels she can: The monsters. As their new Resurrection she throws herself into her work. But the war is just getting started and the truth that's becoming clearer may change everything.

First Sentence
Prague, early May.

I'm determined to finish this series. I'm enjoying the story mostly but the characters are still driving me nuts.

This one particularly gave me a run for my money with the characters. This book is dark. There's tons of despair and angst and outright anger lingering in the pages and the character's stupidity made me want to gouge my eyes out. I still can't stand Akiva and really wish Ziri was an option for Karou because he's a million times better but, no, she' still hung up predictably on Akiva.

If there was not instalove/we're meant to be together/fate/ bullshit, I think I could get behind these books better. As it is....the story is at least entertaining.

Should you read it
Hey, if you made it through the first one and have any desire to finish the series, sure, give it a go.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Grief Is The Thing With Feathers

Title Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
By Max Porter
Genre Novella/Essay
Rating ⭐⭐

(I'm going to let Goodreads have this one) In this extraordinary debut - part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter's compassion and bravura style combine to dazzling effect. Full of unexpected humour and profound emotional truth.

First Sentence
There's a feather on my pillow.

Oi! I'm reading several of these books as part of the Tournament of Books that the Morning News puts on each year. I'm a newbie and know literally nothing more than there's a list of books and it's kinda like March Madness as one by one they get voted off until there's a winner....I think. Something like that any way. My friend Jessica loves to read all the books nominated and follow the fun. This year I decided to join. I'm not attempting all the books but I'm trying several.

This one was almost like a verse novella/poetry. I'm not a big fan of poetry. I hate symbolism. I like when people say what they mean. Straight forward and clear as day....sometimes. I do like the occasional nuanced symbolism but not when it's this confusing.

And this one was so confusing. At the end of it, and it's not long, you get the general picture. There's a father and his two boys dealing with the loss of the mother. While it had some tiny bits of wisdom, I found it mostly confusing gibberish.

I guess I just don't like books that make you feel stupid in a (I'm going to purposely make this illegible and then mock you if you don't understand it) way.

 I didn't find it clever and profound. I'm not going to stand in the crowd watching the Emperor stride naked down the street and exclaim with wonder that his nonexistent  clothes are beautiful so I don't look stupid.

Should you read it
I see no reason why you can't go happily about your life having never read this one.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: My Name is Lucy Barton

Title My Name is Lucy Barton
By Elizabeth Strout
Genre Adult Contemporary
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In a hospital room, recovering from surgery, a daughter reconnects with her estranged mother. Though they talk lightly of people from their hometown, an underlying story of the daughter's past is hinted at.

First Sentence
There was a time, and it was many years ago now, when I had to stay in a hospital for almost nine weeks.

Well, that was a difficult synopsis to write. I know this book probably won't appeal to most. On the surface,it looks like there's really not much to it. However, this book was a beautiful albeit sad story. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.

At only 160ish pages it's a quick read. Lucy's past, present and future are all equally fascinating. Especially the past. Though most things are only hinted at or glossed over we get the idea that her upbringing was far from good yet she turns out fairly balanced.

With tons of snippets of wisdom and a few close to home, eye opening, moments, I really loved this little book.

Should you read it
As I said before, I'd highly recommend it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

January Wrap Up 2017

Big fat snowy January has come to an end. Seriously! Enough with the snow already! Still, all that snow falling made for good reading weather. I read 7 whole books! I'm so proud! It's been ages since I read 7 book in one month!

The Girl from the Sea by Shalini Boland, The Pact by Jodi Picoult, Ketchup Clouds by Anabel Pitcher, The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout and Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter.

Favorites of the month were Ketchup Clouds, My Name is Lucy Barton and The Nest. Least favorite was The Girl from the Sea.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Title Daughter of Smoke and Bone (DOSAB #1)
By Laini Taylor
Genre YA fantasy
Rating ⭐⭐⭐

Karou is an art student in Prague who's prone to go missing from time to time, has blue hair actually growing from her head that color and strange tattoos on her hands. Who she is, is the question she doesn't even know herself. In a war between monsters and angels everything is chaos.

First Sentence
Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.

I've been waiting and waiting to read this book. Putting it off over and over. Everyone LOVED it and I really wanted to too but I was scared. You guys know me, I never like what everyone else does. I finally decided it was time.

It started out great. Karou was kickass had a fascinating life and was just plain fun to read about and then HE had to come into things. Why?! Why do these stupid boys exist? I hate them. Loathe them! And I'm so sick of their whiny (but I Wuvvv you so that excuses my freakishly annoying actions) attitudes. Suddenly the book took a strange turn.

What started off feeling more like my favorite genre, urban fantasy, turned into a full blown, traditional fantasy with a love at first sight romance and the most annoying male character to grace the pages of a book since Edward effing Cullen.

Needless to say I was left feeling cold. And not just because the ending was one of those stupid non endings. You know, stop the story mid sentence. So annoying!

Still, I liked the writing and because I have all three books (that's how much unfounded faith I had in this series) I'm going to finish them but oi!

Should you read it?
I kind of feel like everyone already has. If you haven', ugh! I guess, just don't look for a decent male character love interest. You won't find him here.