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 want to know who decides how to market books because sometimes they are right on the nose and other times they aren’t even in the same universe….
I just finished Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and it is marketed as crime-fiction, thriller, suspense, mystery, “the next Gone Girl or Girl on the Train” and while yes it does have a crime in it and have some horrific moments, a small mystery and a bit of suspense- it’s not exactly the same (at least in my opinion). No two books will be exactly the same, there may (and will) be some similarities and I don’t see very many between Luckiest Girl Alive and GG/GotT. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like Luckiest Girl Alive- I did but I think I would’ve enjoyed it more had I not been expecting something along the lines of Girl on the Train. Luckiest Girl Alive was a coming of age-dealing with your past-accepting yourself for who you are type of story- not a thriller.
Ani (TifAni FaNelli) reinvents herself after a horrible (and I mean horrible) high school experience. She’s engaged to one of New Yorks wealthiest men and is working as a writer/editor for a magazine- a far cry from the “poor” girl of high school. A TV studio approached her about producing a documentary about her high school experience- she says yes, much to the dismay of her fiance. Through flashbacks (the novel is told entirely from Ani’s POV) we find out what exactly happened to her during high school. Her fiance doesn’t support/believe/care/trust/want his “image” damaged by her past so he tries to get her to hide certain aspects of what happen from the producers/public. All of this drama culminates (not a very big climax in terms of plot but more along the lines of personal growth) for Ani and she ultimately has to decide how much of her past deserves to be heard.
At first I found Ani an annoying bitch- she judged people based on looks and how much money she thought they had but after learning/reading about her past, it became obvious to me that that was the only way she knew how to deal with people who were “better” than her. As the novel progressed, she didn’t grow or have an “ah-ha” moment where she realized she shouldn’t judge people for what they look like but she did realize that she should stop punishing herself for things she had no control over and that ultimately is what she’s judging people on- the things they/she can control: looks, money.
After writing this review, I think I will reread this book and, now that I know not to expect GotT, I might actually enjoy it a lot more than I did initially.
SRP Goal: 10/20 (half-way there!)
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 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 find it amusing (and probably no one else does but, hey this is my blog so I’ll share it anyway) that I read Gone Girl and did NOT like it at all but I am reading all these books based on recommendations from the Gone Girl author (Girl on the Train, Where They Found Her, Luckiest Girl Alive, Disclaimer, Method 15/33). I found the characters in GG annoying, angry, backstabbing, heartless, and unrelatable- I know that this was the point of the book but for me personally, I need to care about a character in the book or get attached (even minimally) to someone in the story to really feel like I am apart of the plot. For Gone Girl- I hated the main characters and hated the circumstances they put themselves into and the only character I felt for (SPOILER) was the unborn child of Nick and Amy because of their psychotic-ness and destructive relationship- never a healthy combination to raise a child in. But despite not liking GG (I gave it 3 stars- really a 2.5, but you can’t give half-stars on Goodreads) I am really enjoying the titles I’ve found based on the unreliable narrator, suspense, mystery, drama, etc. recommendations from it.
Take Girl on the Train, for example. I read it in three days- over vacation (much to my husband's dismay) and loved it.
I am currently reading Where They Found Her and can’t put it down- I read 220 pages in twenty-four hours.
I am anxiously awaiting Luckiest Girl Alive, Disclaimer, and Method 15/33 from the library- so I can’t exactly comment on how much I like or dislike those titles but from the blurbs and reviews, they sound good.
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
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
I am currently reading Red Queen by Victoria Averyard. So far so good-I'll let you know my final verdict when I finish.
Anyway. This weekend my husband and I played "musical bookstore" on a mission for one specific book: The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. We went to 4 Barns and Noble stores and 2 Half Price Books in search of this title- I was determined to find this book! I had read a review that recommended The Rook to readers who enjoyed Harry Potter (which I loved- as evidenced by my 4 copies of each book), The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (I adore this book and have read it over and over), and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (though I have yet to finish this book, I've enjoyed it so far). I am very weary about recommendations- especially when they say a title is like Harry Potter or Harry Potter fans should read it- I've been disappointed way too many times (I read The Magicians by Lev Grossman based on a recommendation related to HP and ended up strongly disliking it). BUT I am willing to give The Rook a try- I just won't go in with my expectations too high. Unfortunately I have about 10 books ahead of it on my "To Read" list so it's going to be a few weeks before I get to it. Fingers crossed I like it!
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.