Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Midnight Library: Matt Haig

 This was an interesting take on the "after-life" as some have predicted it to be. It explores the idea that every choice we make leads to an alternate life where we make the opposite decision. Haig explores the possibility of living each life after death to pick the best version. It's a pretty cool concept, and it leads to fun thinking of all the alternate lives we could have.

One review of this book calls it a "feel-good" book that will lift your spirits. I find I completely disagree. Sure, there's the potential for a happy ending (we can't be sure of that fact, based on the history of the main character), but I find the overall story disheartening and a little depressing (how can you not with such a person for a main character?).

The main character is just a sad person. We start the book with basically a list of all that's gone wrong in her life, all the relationships that are broke, all the loved ones who died, all the people who ignore her, the boss who hates her, the dreams she gave up on, etc. And from the first page on (and I mean, until maybe the last paragraph of the novel), nothing is good enough for her. Nothing makes her happy. Nothing gives her joy. Nothing is ever enough. 

That type of character is boring and uninspiring. Nora never changes. There's always only a bleak side. While the course of the book supposedly leads us to believe that she's developing as she "lives" each alternate life, I found that hard to believe. In fact, one of the main points of the book is that Nora remains herself in each life she begins. She's always the same Nora. And that's not entertaining for me. I want a character who grows with the story. Who learns something. Who has motivation. Who develops. Who does something (something other than whine, complain, and moan about her whole life, past, present, and future).

It was also disappointing, then, that the only character was Nora. Sure, there were background characters, but because of the style of book, no character stuck around enough to connect to. All we had was Nora, and Nora was utterly lacking as a character. 

The reason I gave this book four stars, however, is the writing style. It was very well-written and easy to fall into. Each chapter blended together to make the book float by. Haig has a very captivating way of writing. I also give him points for his creativity. The concept of the book and the content he created was very imaginative. I appreciate that greatly. I just wish his character was a little more positive or became a little more positive. 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Behind Closed Doors: B.A. Paris

 Holy smokes this was so good. I definitely could not put it down. 

Jack is such an excellent monster; perfectly perfect until you get behind the doors and then he becomes perfectly terrifying. He is written to be so real which makes him even more terrifying. The whole book is completely believable which leaves me feeling very unsettled. 

Grace is a fantastic protagonist. She doesn't dwell on what-could-have-beens, but focuses on what needs to be. I was rooting for her from the very beginning. 

I enjoyed the back in forth of each chapter between past and present- it really kept me reading because I needed to know more from both the past and present. I wanted more of the ending, which is a good sign. I wasn't ready for it to end. 

Esther is a great throw-in character; I didn't know how to feel about her until the last sentence, and that was another motivation to keep reading. So many reasons to finish the book quickly!

Monday, March 29, 2021

This Tender Land: William Kent Krueger

 Wow. This book was a journey. I was moved in many ways throughout the tale, and I was not ready for the story to end, even with the happy ending. I wanted to keep reading of the ride down the river, of the courage amidst incredible challenges, of the amazing way children think and plan and grow. 

The narration was excellent. Fluid and engaging in every page. Krueger has an excellent writing style, and I think I need to read his other book as well. I didn't want to put the book down, not just because of the story but also because of the beautiful way it was written. 

While this book has similar tastes as Mark Twain, I'm happy to report it isn't what you would expect from a Twain tale. There is much more growth, heartbreak, and excitement than you'd get from any of his stories. Plus, I found these four children to be much more interesting than any Tom Sawyer. 

Grab a box of tissues, prepare for some serious heart grabbing and twisting, and get reading!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Princess Diarist: Carrie Fisher

 I wanted to like this book. I really wanted to like it. But I absolutely could not. 

Fisher was not meant to be a writer. She used this book as a trash can for her emotional vomit. None of it was logical or entertaining. This was purported to be a story of her time on Star Wars, and instead it was a litany of all the awful things she did while on the set of Star Wars (I don't need to go into the details, but Ford was a married man, and apparently that counts for nothing/makes it all the more exciting/gives it all the more reason to be brag-worthy.). 

The insane amount of drinking, drugs, and sex, were all things to brag about. Never once did she express remorse for any of the crap she did. She put it into this book and expected us to be proud of all she did. Sorry, but I'm not at all proud or impressed or empowered. 

Content aside, I wasn't kidding about emotional vomit. This was stream of consciousness in a way that stream of consciousness was never meant to be. This beautiful writing style was just completely ruined in what Fisher did in her book. She used it solely to be seen as "cuter" or "funny" or "witty" or "cool," and all I got from it was how idiotic she sounds when no one tells her to stop talking. Someone needed to cut her off at the end of each thought and teach her how to tie those thoughts together.

I definitely feel pretty bad writing this after her death, but honesty must prevail?

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Five Ways to Fall Out of Love: Emily Martin

 I won this book as an uncorrected ARC in a giveaway. 

I really had fun reading this book! It is similar in themes to To All The Boys I've Loved Before, which I also super enjoyed. It's the classic hate to love story and is lighthearted and easy. The writing style is engaging and simple, making it a quick read. 

I liked each of the characters as well, which doesn't always happen. It took me a long time to decide which guy I was rooting for, so I don't think I could have been disappointed either way (the end was what I was rooting for, so yay!). Aubrey is a typical high-school girl: not in the "in" crowd, but content with where she is. She has her solid best friend who is almost unbelievably perfect; it's nice when she has some flaws pop up. Holland is a fun and carefree "other," and Webster is a great counter to each of those. 

The biggest "struggle" I had was the Bayes' theorem lectures. I didn't understand those sections, didn't enjoy those sections, so skimmed those sections. And I didn't miss much from not paying that part any mind. I understand that that is what fully drives the plot onward, so that's why it's important, but you don't have to understand all that Aubrey does to understand the reaction of her actions. 

I also want to mention that this is marketed as a Young Adult fiction, and I disagreed with that. I think YA generally points to teenagers, high schoolers, mainly, and that makes sense to a certain extent. This is written about high schoolers, but the content is much more mature than a high schooler. This is what bumped the book to a four star rating instead of a five. I enjoyed it enough to give it five stars, but I wouldn't want any high schooler reading this book. There is a lot of underage drinking and sexual behavior, written explicitly. 

I also think Aubrey, as a character, isn't one whom high schoolers should be modeling themselves after. She is very negative and cynical and never truly grows from that. It would have been nice to seem some change, or even building a relationship of sorts with a guidance counselor, especially as she's considering schools and dealing with a messy home life. Because this is directed at teenagers, it's important to show that Aubrey is finding help she needs from mature sources. Never does she get that from a parent, a teacher, or any kind of adult. It's important to show high schoolers who they can turn to when they have relationship issues, family life issues, and any other kind of issues. I wish we would have gotten that from this book. 

I'd love to see Netflix make this a movie! Can't wait for it to be published in March! 

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

The Starless Sea: Erin Morgenstern

This was a phenomenal book. I added it to my list because of how much I enjoyed The Night Circus by Morgenstern, and I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it. When I finished reading, I was not excited to start a new book because I wanted to live in this world for a while. That to me is a huge success.

It's written in very much the same style as The Night Circus; the word that keeps coming to mind is psychedelic, but maybe that's not a good word for books. However, it is the word I will use: it's twisty and confusing and colorful and spinning.

I had to take many pauses to stop and think about what I just read. There were a lot of twisty and confusing details, and I'm sure I missed a lot of those that I'll have to catch on a reread. 

I've heard some people complain that it takes too long to get into the book, but I found that to be untrue. Zachary is a compelling narrator who keeps the story moving even when he isn't doing much. He definitely grabbed me right away. 

I also enjoyed the structure of the book: Morgenstern told the larger story in between the second story. The alternating chapters were different "books" which helped the reader understand The Starless Sea slowly as they read.

Monday, December 21, 2020

The House of Kennedy: James Patterson

 This was a pretty good read! Patterson continues to write well, even in the nonfiction sector. 

I was pretty skeptical throughout the beginning of the book because Patterson didn't seem to have anything to add to the sources he was quoting. He had no first hand quotes or research; he compiled information from already written books. However, I found that got better as the book went on. Although Patterson hadn't interviewed any Kennedy, he added more thought or insight into later portions of the book.

The premise of this book is not just one Kennedy character or even the Kennedy dynasty. Rather, Patterson focuses on "The Kennedy Curse," so this book is solely about the tragedies and misfortunes in the Kennedy clan. Thus, it is a rather depressing book. There are no happy endings, and there is no joy. Granted, this is truly what the Kennedy family experienced. 

Anyway, this helped this Kennedy biography feel different from other books that focus on the success and legacy of the family on a positive note. This takes all the bad. Patterson doesn't try to explain it, he just lays it out for his readers in a succinct and logical way. 

I enjoyed reading this. It took me a while, 10 days, I think, because I needed to take breaks to read happier books.