Overall: 3/5 for the book, 4/5 because I love Harper Lee
SRP Goal: 12/20
I finished Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee and it took me over a week (which is a long time for me) and I don’t really know how I feel about it. I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird and in no way did Go Set a Watchman change that- it actually enforced it. I know have a deeper appreciation for TKaM and its underlying narrative, issues, symbolism, and overall feeling. I’ve read TKaM over and over (at least 5 times) and each time I find something new/different to enjoy. GSaW is NOT a sequel, in the truest sense, to TKaM- yes it takes place after TKaM, Scout is grown up and the characters have evolved with the times but it’s a drastically different story. I had a hard time keeping the two separate- I didn’t want to compare them, TKaM is wonderful and I don’t think GSaW could ever truly compete with it. The biggest issue I had with GSaW is the time jumps, the entire book is set within a week (or less) but there are flashbacks to Scout’s childhood. The flashbacks got so confusing- there was no indication of when (in time and in the book that) they were happening- the only indication was Jem's participation. I struggled with how many stars to give this book- 3 or 4? Three because I enjoyed it but I probably won’t read again anytime soon. Four because I love TKaM and Harper Lee. I ultimately settled on four because I love TKaM.
Overall: 3/5 for the book, 4/5 because I love Harper Lee
SRP Goal: 12/20
I finished Disclaimer by Renee Knight and was satisfied with the overall story and ending, though at times the pacing as a tad slow. The concept (a tad Inception-y) of a book within a book was interesting and could've gone either way- really horrible or really well. It landed towards the really well end of the spectrum. The main character, Catherine, finds a copy of a book The Perfect Stranger on her bedside table and picks it up to read, not knowing that it is a re-telling of one of the darkest times in her life 20 years ago. The only other person who knows about this is dead- who wrote the book?!
The entire book is told through multiple points of view- its starts out with just two (Catherine and the Author) and then two more are added about half way through the book (Catherine's son and husband). It got kind of confusing- there wasn't a huge difference between the voices so until you got to a name or place, it was hard distinguishing who was telling that particular aspect. It also time-hopped and that just added another level of confusion because at first it started out as a memory but then it became present tense and towards the end of the flashback it became a memory again but nothing changes textually (though in hindsight, I guess this is how it happens when you're talking about memories- it starts out past tense and then you get into the moment and switch to present tense).
I was very satisfied with the plot twists and the ending- by the end of it I wanted to punch a specific character (I won't say who so I don't give anything away) but lets just say he/she is an ASS.
SRP Goal: 8/20
I finished All the Rage by Courtney Summers last night.
It was an intense read- I had to take a few hours to process. It deals with some tough topics- rape, death, social cliques, and bullying are just a few of the big issues. The book flap summary:
The sheriff's son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything-friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy's only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn't speak up. Nobody believed her the first time-and they certainly won't now-but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.
made the book sound like it would be about the aftermath of Romy Grey’s rape, the disappearance a classmate and the sexual assault of another girl- all related to Kellan Turner, the sheriff’s son. I thought the three crimes would show the town what a monster he really is- the multiple assaults, the disappearance- all would be linked back to him with evidence and witnesses.
If that is what you thought the book is/was going to be, then you’re in for disappointment/shock/frustration because that is not what it was at all. Nope. Not one bit.
Kellan doesn’t even make an appearance in the book- NOT ONCE. He’s mentioned three times by name and hinted at quite a few more times but the reader is never introduced to him outright. He is in no way connected to the disappearance of Romy’s classmate and the second sexual assault is mentioned twice, both in passing. Nothing is ever done about Romy’s rape- she reports it but the town turns against her because Kellan is the golden boy and can do no wrong. Everyone at school hates her because they think Kellan moved away because of her accusation. She is shunned and bullied by the student body- at one point the “popular girls” steal her underwear and put them on the school mascot. They spread rumors around that Romy was “asking for it” because she had a crush at Kellan. NO ONE EVER ASKS TO BE RAPED. EVER. High school was pure hell for Romy because of something that she had no control over. I ended up despising the town, and that was the point of the story, but it also shows how easy it is to jump to a bandwagon based on a single side of the story (not that I’m saying you should EVER be supporting the rapist) but when you can’t comprehend someone's actions- it is easy to just ignore the problem and pretend it didn’t happen.
I felt the book flap was very misleading- even now, having read the novel- I don’t think it describes what happens accurately. 80% of the book focuses on the missing classmate (who used to be Romy’s best friend but turned against her after Romy reported the rape) and what happened to her- though it turns out she died trying to protect Romy from a second rape by a different boy.
If I had been correctly informed of what this book was about, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more but because I was expecting something different- I felt disheartened (and kinda lied to).
Overall: 3/5 - If I got the story I was expecting, I would’ve given it 4/5 - I really enjoyed Summers’ writing style and the issues NEED to be tackled- especially for young adults.
SRP Goal: 5/20
I finished Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight in two days- well technically three but that is only because I had to work. I really enjoyed 99% of it. The last 1% felt rushed and inconsistent with the rest of the story.
I read this book because I really enjoyed Girl on the Train- it was supposed to be a similar style: multiple points of view, semi-unreliable narrator(s), mystery, thriller, psychological aspects, and drama. I loved the mystery, the back story and the multiple formats- the story was told through four women's point of view but through newspaper articles, online comments, journal entries, narration, and therapy transcripts. I thought it added an extra level of dimension- not only did you get to read the multiple POV, but you get the community reaction to the “murder” in the newspaper comments and the blog comments.
Like I said, I enjoyed 99% of this book but the last 1% felt rushed, forced, and too neatly tied up. There were multiple storylines present in the novel and I thought the ending would combine a majority of them- and it did but it shoved a random character into the mess that didn’t need to be there. After the all the hurt, confusion, mystery, and twists/turns- there needed to be some storylines left open and not tied into a neat little bow. Not everything in life works out like that and books shouldn’t either- especially ones that are supposed to reflect everyday life or could be something that happens in your neighborhood. I wish the ending could be re-written to reflect how life really is- messy and incomplete. When reading a book that is supposed to reflect life, the ending should too.
SRP Goal: 4/20
Up next: All the Rage by Courtney Summers
I finished Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan and as much as love John Green, this book wasn't my favorite. Don't get me wrong, it was a good book but I am not a fan of David Levithan's writing style so every time it switched to his chapter I felt like I was being taken out of the story a little bit. I know why they chose to write it that way- each author writing from a different Will Grayson's point-of-view, it just wasn't something I particularly enjoyed. I do like the themes in WG,WG- friendship, identity, inner strength, coming of age, and dealing with everyday high school issues and I really like the way Green and Levithan handled the semi-tough issues (coming out, break-ups, depression, online dating and cat-fishing). I am a huge fan of John Green and will continue to read anything he publishes but having read one and a half (I read Every Day and I consider WG,WG half-his, since he wrote half the chapters) of Levithan's works, I really like the story lines and subject matter but can not get over his writing style. It's just not my cup of tea. I might try again in the future- give it a few months/years and read another of his books to see if my opinion changes.
SRP Goal: 3/20
I haven't decided what to read next so the next title/review will be a surprise I guess! :)
I finished Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson two days ago and I am just now finding the time to sit down and write a review.
Where do I start? This book was recommended to me because I liked Girl on the Train (thanks Amazon!) and the synopsis sounded interesting- a women with severe amnesia wakes up everyday not knowing where she is or what time period it is because of an "accident" that caused severe brain damage and put her in a coma for months. Unreliable narrator (for obvious reasons), suspense and mystery made it seem like a good combination.
It was a good book but at times it felt like it was trying too hard to be something it wasn't. It was trying to add way more suspense or thrills where there shouldn't have been and adding sexual tension where it wasn't necessary. The thing that bugged me the most about this book though was the fact that a majority of it was supposed to be the main characters journal entries- to remind herself of what happens each day to hopefully help her memory return- BUT there was no difference style/voice-wise between the journal and the rest of the novel. I found it very frustrating and difficult to jump between the two when there was no discernible difference between them. The journal entries read like third-person-ominsinciant point-of-view, instead of first person. There were things that Christine mentioned that as a first person narrator, she shouldn't have know about- especially if she had amnesia and couldn't form new memories or remember a majority of her past. The premise of the novel was good, but the execution needed work.
SRP Goal: 2/20
Currently reading: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
When you're laid up in bed for 24hours because of a medical procedure, what do you do to pass the time (besides Netflix).... you read an entire book! I read Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews while I was confined to my bed/couch not able to move much. Review to come later in the post.
I joined an online Summer Reading Program since most libraries don't like when their staff/librarians join their programs (seems a tad mean to me- telling your staff they can't participate. They should be allowed to participate if they want but not eligible for the prizes- but hey, I don't make the rules). I am super excited to join this SRP- especially since a majority of the participants are librarians and fellow book lovers! Its nice to see what other librarians are reading and what they think of the titles. Since I work in an academic library, we don't really have a popular collection (i.e. current fiction) so unless it pops up on my Goodreads or Amazon recommendations, I tend to miss out on some good titles. My goal this summer (May 30-August 29) is 20 books.
Onto my first review for the SRP!
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl reminds me, at first of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (loved this book)- mainly because of the cancer aspect and characters in high-school. That is where the comparison ends. Fault in Our Stars this book is not. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is told from Greg's point of view (the "Me" in the title)- a loner by his own admission, just trying to survive high-school under the radar. Earl is his "co-worker"- they make films together; he is also Greg's only friend but he will never admit that out loud. The Dying Girl is Rachel, diagnosed with leukemia during her (I assume senior year of high-shool, though its never really mentioned). This is FIOS for guys- its not a sappy, romantic, heartbreaking, love story. Its a humorous, realistic depiction of a guy who's semi-friend gets cancer and is forced to deal with it. Greg is self-centered but what high-school senior isn't?
One of my favorite lines/sections came towards the end of the book when Rachel (and I hope I'm not giving anything away as its in the TITLE of the book but if I am SPOILER AHEAD!!!) decides to stop receiving chemo and head home.
Greg is sitting with Rachel in her room and this is his inner monologue:
"You're probably hoping that I was sitting there overflowing with love and tenderness. Maybe you should think about switching to a different book. Even to, like, an owner's manual to a refrigerator or something. That would be more heartwarming than this. Because mostly I was feeling resentful and annoyed. I was resentful at Rachel for deciding to die. How stupid does that sound? There's a decent chance that I'm not even a human being. Anyway, yeah, I was pissed that she was just going to die." (pg 261-262)
I read that paragraph and thought, "that is an honest reaction- how many friends and family members of cancer patients have thought this and felt horrible afterward because its not what "you're supposed to think" or that "they aren't being supportive of the decision"
SRP Goal: 1/20
Up next: Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
It's been awhile since I've posted a review (over a month)- I've been busy and, honestly, I suck at keeping up with a blog. I've never been one to share my reviews for fear of hurting someone's feelings or receiving backlash on my opinion but I'm trying to change that. I want to share my love of books with people (even if no one reads this, I'm at least putting my thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings out there for the internet to see).
So in the past six weeks I've read 8 books- I won't write a full review for all of them but I will summarize my thoughts and overall reaction for each:
The Magicians Lie by Greer MaCallister
I was eagerly anticipating this book- the Amazon blurb “Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician's Lie, a debut novel in which the country's most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder - and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence” made it sound so exciting! It jumped from past to present, in alternating chapters leading up to the night of the murder and what happens immediately after. It was a quick read and I enjoyed the character building- the relationships are at the center of the story and are ultimately what drives the plot forward. I might read this one again. Overall: 3.5/5
99 Days by Katie Coutgno
A teenager has to endure one last summer in her hometown before heading off to college- one last summer as the most hated girl in town. Insert teenage love triangle, subsequent drama, and lack of friends. You get 99 Days. Overall a good story- very predictable. Molly, the main character, was a tad whiny. There were times I wanted to shake her and say “you brought this on yourself” or “grow up and deal with the choices you made” but she is a teenager after all. Typical teen love triangle,angst, drama, friendships, and backstabbing. Overall: 3/5
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
On the day of her wedding, Princess Lia flees from an arranged marriage to a distant village with her best friend and handmaiden. The two handsome men, one a the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill the princess, track the two girls to the village. The entire time I was reading this I couldn’t figure out what the magical “gift” Lia was supposed to have- I spent the entire novel confused about this. Maybe I missed it but even so, the “gift” was a major part of the plot and should have been flushed out more. Also the love triangle was a frustrating and a bit forced between Lia and the two boys- she just seems disinterested the entire time- until she finds out who they really are and then it turns into “love”. Overall: 3/5
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I’ve read all of Rowell’s books- she can do no wrong. They are fun, quick reads and Landline is no exception. The characters are well developed and the intenseness of the marriage falling apart actually leaves you wondering if and how they will ever work through their problems. The premise- a phone that can call into the past- its very cool, I mean who wouldn’t want to call past selves or past loves and try to right wrongs and fix past mistakes to potentially fix the future?! Truth be told, I will probably read all of Rowell’s novels again- especially when I’m looking for something quick and fun. Overall: 3.5/5
Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas
I was (and still am) a huge fan of Veronica Mars: I was heartbroken when they canceled the tv series;I was overjoyed when the movie came out; and ecstatic when I found out the creator was going to use books as a way to continue the story after the movie. I read the first VM book (The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line) and was pleasantly surprised at how similar it was to both the tv series and the movie. The witty dialog was present- it read just like an episode or movie (which could be a bad thing in future books- becoming too cookie-cutter). The second book, Mr. Kiss and Tell, was very similar to the first- it read just like an episode or movie script. It was a quick read with all the witty banter between characters Mars fans have come to love. I will continue to read the series- even if it becomes cookie cutter, they’re quick, fun reads. Overall: 3/5
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I read this book while on vacation- I couldn’t put it down! The twists, the turns, the unreliable narrator, the anticipation, the questions, the conclusion- this book kept you guessing after every chapter. The main narrator, alcoholic Rachel is so unreliable that everything you know and learn has to be taken at face value- not to mention questioned heavily based on what you know and learn from the people she interacts with. This book has been compared to Gone Girl (both have unreliable narrators, females at the center of missing person cases) but I did not like Gone Girl at all- I found the two characters annoying and frustrating. I was weary of Girl on the Train because of this but boy was I wrong- I thoroughly enjoyed it and though I don’t know if I will read it again (the ending and the twists/turns are spoiled now) I did give it a 4/5 because 1) I couldn’t put it down and 2) I was so surprised at the ending! Overall: 4/5
The Heir by Kiera Cass
I read The Selection series last year- I enjoyed the breath of fresh air this series brought to YA. There was no killing (Divergent trilogy, Hunger Games trilogy), the love triangle wasn’t at the forefront of the story (yes, it played a big role but it wasn’t a distraction), the main female character was strong- and could stand on her own two feet- she didn’t need a man to rescue her. I was looking forward to the continuation of the series, America and Maxon’s daughter is now participating in her own selection. Eadlyn is a spitfire- doesn’t take no for an answer and is a strong, independent person (much stronger than her mother)- she actually has a bit of an edge to her- talking back to her father the king, not wanting to put on a show for the kingdom but not understanding why her kingdom actually hates her (she acts like she’s better than everybody else- she is a princess after all). It leaves plenty of room for Eadlyn to grow and mature as a character and for her to come into her own- hopefully there are more than three books in this series, as I feel three books wouldn’t be enough to fully flush out all of her potential. Overall: 3/5
The Eternity Key by Bree Despain
I enjoyed the first book (The Shadow Prince) and was impatiently awaiting the second title- The Eternity Key. I was(n’t) disappointed. I put the (n’t) in parentheses because I could’ve done without Toby’s POV- had that been taken out of the second book, I would’ve given it a 4/5. Toby’s POV added nothing to the story other than a whiny teenage voice who was jealous of Haden and wanted his sister back. The reader learned nothing of importance from his POV alone that we wouldn’t have gotten from other characters- he was only necessary for the last 1/16th of the book. I wish I could’ve skipped his chapters (and I could’ve because, like I said, everything you learned from his POV, you got from other characters as well). BUT HOLY MOLY- that ending! That twist! I was so surprised at the shocking turn- I had to read it over twice. Not to mention the cliffhanger ending- how can an author do that to their readers!? I will definitely read number 3 (and 4 and 5- if Ms. Despain is kind enough to continue the series) Overall: 3/5
Currently Reading: Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
So I finished Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen over the weekend. I went in with high hopes for this title- it sounded new and exciting!
What I got was a mix of the Hunger Games and The Selection Series with a bit of Graceling thrown in. Not to say that that isn't a good combination- it is. Its just that the overall feel of the book seemed very familiar: the arena of the Hunger Games, the romantic triangle and royalty of the Selection series and the magic of Graceling. Good combination in theory but when the author blatantly takes scenarios from each and just changes the characters and place names, it becomes questionable. The over all story is very Cinderella-esq: The main character, Mare, is a servant girl who is destined to become a soldier in war she doesn't believe in. That is until she meets a mysterious guy in a bar who turns out to be the prince in disguise- the prince takes her to the castle to be a servant (thus saving her from the war). Insert love, drama, a second prince, and an evil Queen (who just happens to be the first princes' stepmother). There is also magical powers thrown into the mix. Add an *unexpected* twist and a guy from home who Mare could potentially love, and you have Red Queen. I understand that authors read too and what they read influences what they right but this was obviously a mash-up of Aveyard's favorite YA novels and themes. Had it been done a tad differently (take out the arena- it really does nothing for the plot), the overall book would have been better.
This is the first book in a planned trilogy, I will probably read the next two just to see how it ends but I doubt I will read this again.
Next up: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
I finished All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven over the weekend and I needed a few days to compose myself for a review- all the feels this book caused.
Warning: Potential Spoilers Ahead
So. I started out reading this book thinking there would be a happy ending and the two main characters would be heading off to college like most high school students do. Boy was I wrong- at least partially. I was not prepared for the emotional roller-coaster that this book is. Having read YA for years now, I guess I should have expected the ending, or at least realized what was going to happen as I read the book but nope- me being the optimist thought everything was going to be okay. The two main characters, Theodore Finch "Finch" and Violet Markey meet under unusual circumstances: at the top of the schools bell tower, both contemplating suicide. Finch saves Violet or Violet saves Finch (all depends on who you ask) and the two become friends while working on a school project- discovering their states "natural wonders." During their exploration of the state, Finch and Violet become more than friends, all while helping each other to come out of their self-imposed shells. BUT neither one really knows what the cost of this project will be.
Overall: 3/5 (mainly because I do not want to cry again)
Short and Sweet
I am a Reference Librarian at a community college and an avid reader. These are my thoughts, reviews, ideas, comments, and everyday musings.