This was so bad. The whole thing was disjointed, the timeline felt all mixed up, and I completely hated Travis' random personality. I read 80 pages beThis was so bad. The whole thing was disjointed, the timeline felt all mixed up, and I completely hated Travis' random personality. I read 80 pages before I had to give up and just read the scenes I was hoping for more insight on. Most of those scenes though were glossed over so no luck there. I don't think I'll rate this book seeing as I didn't even read most of it but I just had to say something....more
The Hand of Fate is a cute little romance that takes place aboard a cruise ship. Dylan, the main character in the story and her best friend Elizabeth,The Hand of Fate is a cute little romance that takes place aboard a cruise ship. Dylan, the main character in the story and her best friend Elizabeth, or Em, as she sometimes goes by, meet and fall in love with two guys who happen to be rock stars. Of course they don't know this when the story starts and both struggle with the idea of a rock star for a boyfriend and the kind of lifestyle that goes along with that.
I would call this one a 'slice of life' because there is really nothing too dramatic going on in the story. There are a couple dares and a little consequence to that, but mainly, the group becomes great friends, has fun together on the ship, and gets to know each other a little bit.
I think anyone who has been on a cruise ship or a vacation away from home could appreciate the intense relationships that happen when a group of people are 'stuck' together for a period of time. My only problem was that I found Dylan a bit bland really. I had trouble connecting with her on a personal level. I did like Brian and I found the relationship between the two interesting, but I don't think this one will stick out in my mind in the long term. Otherwise, a quick, engaging read with a nice summer beachy feel.
At the back of this book, Margot Livesey explains some of her inspiration for her story. Coupled with a love of Jane Eyre at an early age and a life tAt the back of this book, Margot Livesey explains some of her inspiration for her story. Coupled with a love of Jane Eyre at an early age and a life that she couldn't help but compare to Jane herself, she set out to pay homage to not only the master herself - Charlotte Bronte - but her own life as well. If I had known this before I started reading I may have read the story with a much different perspective. As it was I couldn't help but to see the resemblace of Gemma's life to Jane's during every step of her journey.
I'm a huge fan of Jane Eyre and have tried to read retellings in the past without success but I found 1960s Scotland to be the perfect setting and Gemma to be the perfect character for this one. Scotland made the story fresh and exciting. There are enough cultural differences to make the story interesting and yet the setting (rolling hills, old buildings, small towns) kept the difference from feeling jarring as these things too are in Jane's story.
Now, the story wasn't too much like Jane's. Things are changed here and there and if you think you know the ending, think again. My favourite part of this story was actually the ending, which I don't say too often. Gemma herself has a fascinating backgroung, one with a bit of mystery to it that kept me reading to find out more about her.
The writing was beautiful and every sentence was filled with so much meaning that I had no trouble dragging this read out for weeks and dwelling on the story. I haven't been able to really immerse myself in a story like that in a long time, which felt very satisfying to me. I'm glad I had the chance to read it and would recommend to not only Jane Eyre fans but to anyone who likes a book with a lot of substance to it.
The Sausage Maker's Daughters is at first everything I was hoping for and then, more than I expected. It follows the murder trial of Kip Czermanski, tThe Sausage Maker's Daughters is at first everything I was hoping for and then, more than I expected. It follows the murder trial of Kip Czermanski, the youngest daughter of the sausage king in small town Wisconsin. Everyone seems to know everyone else and so the murder trial is a huge event. Kip is well known for her rebellious ways in her youth and the activism in the anti-war movement during her college days. To top it off, she is also feminist and works for a woman's assertiveness group in California. In 1970's conservative Wisconsin, she has the odds stacked against her. Only, she is having a hard time defending herself because she can't remember what happened that night her brother-in-law was found naked in her bed, and dead. What follows is a series of flashbacks to several defining moments in Kip's life as her lawyer team attempt to understand her character and find an explanation for what has happened.
I found the story very riveteting and even though some of the subjects in the flashback stories only slightly interested me, I knew they were really important and would come back later to make sense of everything. This made me really pay attention in ways I may not have otherwise. I really enjoyed the stories involving Kip's sisters Sarah and Sybel. Most of all, I enjoyed the stories about Kip's childhood. They really came out in interesting ways during the "present day" scenes because the people she mentioned in them gave testimony or were officials during her trial. Even one of her lawyers was her childhood crush.
The writing is exactly what I needed at the moment, giving away that small-town vibe yet keeping a fast pace in storytelling that made me want to keep on reading to find out more. A.G.S. Johnson is a very talented writer. At no point did I think the story was predictable. I kept guessing what really happened but had to keep leaving it up to Johnson to take me to the reveal because I couldn't picture any of the outcomes I had in mind actually happening.
Definitely recommended reading, especially to those who love a good literary mystery.
I very much enjoyed John Green's take on boarding school, childhood friendships, family, tragedy, taking great leaps of faith, and teenage responsibilI very much enjoyed John Green's take on boarding school, childhood friendships, family, tragedy, taking great leaps of faith, and teenage responsibility in his book Looking for Alaska. Miles was an incredible narrator with an interesting hobby - that of memorizing famous people's dying last words - which added a depth to the story that was just marvelous. The characters in this book all felt very realistic. In fact, when I started reading Looking for Alaska there was something that really bothered me about the characters until I realised what it was - these teens are so rough around the edges - but I knew more people in high school that represented John Green's "controversial" depiction of the teenage lifestyle than possibly any other book I've read. And that's why it bothered me. It was maybe too realistic for me at first. I got to used it. And then I kind of dug it.
This is the kind of book that you can't say much about in a review without spoiling it for others. Let's just say, you have to experience this book for yourselves. I had expected something much more quirkier or fun since my previous experience with John Green had been limited to Paper Towns (a thoughtful and yet still upbeat story), This one was not that. Instead of being the kind of book you read to be entertained, Looking for Alaska is the kind of book you read to get a dose of this is life, sometimes it sucks, sometimes we learn a thing or too, and the passion we attempt to emerse ourselves in is worthy of itself. I recommend this book wholeheartly to anyone with an open mind and an open heart. Everyone should read this book at least once in their life!
I give this book a 3/5 which is kind of low for everything I just said above (I know!). When I read this book I was just in really weird mood so I know I will get more out of this another day. It needs a reread and then it needs a re-rating. I just know this book is brilliant. (Sorry if the rating part is confusing to you ;/) I don't think I personally enjoyed it quite as much as Paper Towns (which is the more fun story) but I felt that it was the book more worthy of attention by the general public for the chances it takes and in the way it tries to explain a thing or two about life....more
Do you want to laugh? Have a blast? Meet some great people? Take a stroll through a wacky, wild, and sometimes heartwarming adventure? Then may I suggDo you want to laugh? Have a blast? Meet some great people? Take a stroll through a wacky, wild, and sometimes heartwarming adventure? Then may I suggest you take a look at Textual Healing?
Textual Healing had me from page one. Here we find the protaganist Andrew, who we'll come to know as "Ace", a former bestselling author with a movie deal to show for it being dumped by his long-term girlfriend who is fed up with his lack of motivation to write anything else. If this wasn't bad enough, Ace is also hit with the realization that she's already seeing someone, he's being roped into showing a back-packing girl around town (who he immediately falls in love with), has to deal with his crazy and OCD employee, a ninja for his book-store neighbor, and to top it all off there are people who keep proclaiming "I thought you were dead!" and his book is now on clearance in the bargain section of the same store he once gave a packed reading for.
Sounds like a lot happening right? Well, think of it this way. This book reminded me a lot of the tv show Seinfeld. Seinfeld was always marketed as a show about nothing. And yet it was about everything - work, friends, love gained, love lost, all the crazy people you meet in life's encounters, all the insane situations that develop out of what would normally be the most forgettable moments, and then, just trying to make it in the world. And in the end of an episode, the thing you get out of it is...of course all the laughs...but also, that life isn't really about "nothing" even though it seems that way sometimes. There are themes running through life trying to make themselves stick. Sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. Well, this book is like that. It's a book about everything, about nothing, and yet it's a book about one guy named Ace trying to make it in the world, trying to find love, and everything else in between.
And it's a book that is absolutely hilarious. It had me laughing at every turn of the page. I really can not explain how happy that makes me. It was unexpected and greatly appreciated. Although I did acquire a few strange looks from certain unnamed family members while reading. The only thing I would I would fault it for is feeling a bit too crude at times. Probably one of the funniest laugh-out-loud novels I'll read for a long time to come....more
Mystical Circles is filled with a cast of characters that are at times both very large and very strange. And if nothing else, this novel is definitelyMystical Circles is filled with a cast of characters that are at times both very large and very strange. And if nothing else, this novel is definitely a character study of those that live on the fringe. Being a New Age group, you can imagine there are a mix of different ideas and different people that come from all walks of life. But Mystical Circles is not just a character study. It is also a thriller with a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, career, and sisterly love.
I really enjoyed this book. It felt like it took no time at all to read. The tone of writing was very dark and mysterious. Yet, the happiness of some characters and way they enjoyed staying cut off from the world, attending strange classes that had them all acting out their internal struggles or desires - it was such a stark contrast that the darkness to it never took over too much and overwhelmed the story. Instead, everything worked so well together. My only complaint is that the plot seemed a little weak. I had wished that the author would have gone for something quite big and dramatic. Instead we have a mix of things that just sort of happen, and eventually through all of those happenings, Juliet gets her answers. There are also times when I wanted the plot to move faster - especially those times Juliet is trying to get an answer out of Craig or Don or really any of the other characters - and she is completely sidetracked and lets them sweep the question under the rug, so to speak. It was really frustrating!
As for the romance between Juliet and Craig, I just didn't get it. Hypothetically, I could see the two of them falling in love, but something seemed missing on Juliet's side. This probably has to do with the fact that she herself struggles with wanting to be with him. But her closeness to Craig, and his father, was really quite chilling. Again, that darkness and thriller aspect of the book really shone.
I enjoyed Mystical Circles and would recommend it to those who love a bit of mystery and romance but also to those who love to explore different point of view and thought. This New Age place that Juliet goes to is really fascinating and the characters are really worth reading about, in my opinion.
What a crazy book. Elizabeth Stuckey-French has created a hodge-podge so rich that I barely know where to start. I’m having trouble even coming up witWhat a crazy book. Elizabeth Stuckey-French has created a hodge-podge so rich that I barely know where to start. I’m having trouble even coming up with ways to explain what it’s about that the unread (ie. those who haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet) might understand fully. But I think it might be fitting to call this an “onion book”. There are layers upon layers upon layers and you just have keep reading until the very end to see how exactly everything fits together.
So here’s a taste of what you get when you read The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady: There’s 7 different points of view. Or is it 8? There were so many I may have lost count! There were people dealing with Asperger’s syndrome, issues of pedophile, a middle aged man contemplating an affair, a senile old man (or is he?), a kid playing around with radiation, a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, hurricanes, beaches, kids in love, photo shoots, secret government projects, aliases, churches and church groups, and to top it all off, a 77 year old woman who is determined to get closure by getting revenge.
I didn’t know this book would have multiple points of view before I started reading. I do happen to love multiple points of view but there were so many people while beginning that it was a bit overwhelming learning about a new person every time I started a new chapter. But as the seasons changed I got to know each character a little bit more and get a better feel on where Stuckey-French was going with this. And this is one of the reasons that I do adore books with multiple points of view. Because as readers we have no idea what all these different things have to do with one another but when done right the ending is usually one big convergence of brilliance. And it was. I was impressed by all the ways Elizabeth Stuckey-French handled all these different points of view but even more so I was impressed with the way she handled all the various issues the characters had to deal with in the story. The story is told very much in the style of Carl Hiaasen – with quirky characters and that weird sense of humour that actually makes you laugh at things that don’t always seem appriopriate to laugh at in real life. Because it’s just the way the characters are and the situations they find themselves in and you just have to laugh at the oddity of it all.
Overall a good solid book that I enjoyed very much. I will definitely be on the look out for more books like this from Elizabeth Stuckey-French in the future. ...more
I never knew what people meant by the term "raw" when describing books until now. This book is unequivocally raw. It's a powerful description of4.75/5
I never knew what people meant by the term "raw" when describing books until now. This book is unequivocally raw. It's a powerful description of one girl's emotional turmoil, one of history's saddest moments, and the smallest victories of an 18th century girl who learns more lessons about life and politics than one should ever hope to.
On top of the overall plot that dealt with grief in many ways, I learned a lot about music, music history, and of course, the French Revolution. I kind of have this thing for French history for some reason. Any fiction with a dab of it gets my attention and wont let go. Revolution was no exception. At nearly 500 pages, I managed to finish the bulk of it in only 2 days. It was that good.
My only qualms with the story is in the second part called "Purgatory". I enjoyed what was done with this sort of story within a story within a story. I just don't know about the way it was wrapped up. I was expecting one thing to happen at the end and something else did instead and it just didn't make sense to me why.
I haven't read much young adult historical fiction so it wouldn't be right to call this "one of the best". Also, half of it is actually set in the contemporary world, so there's another problem. But I think that this is one of those books in time I will be going back. This book gives me that great feeling that in time, after exploring much more of the genre, I will still want to call it "one of the best". ...more
I received The Naked Gardener at the start of November. It came direct from the author as a giveaway to participate in a book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club. The book came and immediately made me smile with its extra touch of including a package of flower seeds attached to the book with a pretty ribbon. I began to wonder...are these flowers so that I too can garden naked? The thought of it made me giggle. There is no way I am doing THAT. I may have a tall fence but there is also an apartment block towering over my neighbourhood and who knows how far their “peeping Tom” eyes can reach :D I began to read almost immediately, wondering what was in store for me in what seemed on the outside a crazy little book.
Well, the book surprised me in such a great way. Both the writing style combined with the interests and the voice of the book’s main character, Katelyn, spoke to me in a way that seemed incredibly close to life. Within the first few chapters I began to wonder if I was really reading fiction or if I was somehow mistaken and reading non-fiction instead. I even went so far to check the back of the book and online as well. It was indeed fiction and this really impressed me. One of the things I enjoyed most at the beginning of the novel was the description of gardening and Katelyn’s summer home. The gardening scenes reminded me much of both my mother and grandmother in their own gardens (okay, leave out the naked part, and there you go). However, as the book continued and Katelyn’s group of friends went on a weekend-long canoe trip this burst of reality came to life on a whole new level for me. The conversations these women have and their reactions to each other were yet again faithful to the way (I believe) many women actually act in real life.
On yet another level, L.B. Gschwandtner brings up the issues of equality in women’s lives, the importance of being one’s own person, and finding a place in the world (in a woman’s own life, with her own wishes and own circumstances). I’m not sure I quite understood everything she was doing here while I was reading the story or if I necessarily agreed with every detail of it. However, I really enjoyed how this was done. I really started to think about the issues of feminism and the downfalls of being “too preachy” with feministic agendas (the issue of equality really stands out here) in fiction. When I think of feminism I tend to think of a lot of negativity towards men or women trying to act like men to get what they want. I like LB’s gentle approach instead – lifting women up, allowing them to feel great about who they are (rather than trying to change them) and not trying to downplay too much the importance of men in women’s lives. I can’t be sure if this is the reason or if there is another I have not thought of, but I felt a constant air of joy while reading this story. There are some “complaints”, some tough decisions, and a few predicaments the women get themselves into. Somehow throughout all this I managed to have a constant smile on my face while reading – a joyful smile. Periodically – giggles.
But before I get too deep into what I liked most about this book I’d like to point out one small problem I had – and the only thing really holding it back from me considering this a perfect read. I did find it hard to relate to some of the characters. I’m not sure if this is because four of the characters backgrounds and physical descriptions are given to the reader one after the other and my memorizing skills just don’t work that way or for the following reason. L.B. points out in our discussion that she purposefully tries to show women at various stages of their lives. Looking back, it does make sense that the women I connected to most were those closest to my own age. I think this was a very clever way to create difference in her characters as well. I just wish I could have connected to all of them, but perhaps this just goes to show how much I loved the overall story that I actually cared about wanting to connect with the characters at all.
I would highly recommend this book. For anyone reading my review and thinking they would like these things also – I urge you to seek out this book. Then you too may have a smile on your face!...more
Where do I start with this book? The writing is beautiful and it has a very distinct voice. The story is told from the perspective of four very different women during the summers of the 1920s to 1940’s. We know that some sort of tragedy occurred during this time period but we aren’t given the whole picture. In this way we are taken on a journey that allows these four women to come to terms with what has happened and the roles they played. Here is what makes the writing voice so distinct. The story really isn’t told as if it is a series of events that start at point A and end at point B. Instead it’s very psychological in nature. Basically, imagine a story where the events in a person’s life are told exactly as they are thought about. Imagine a story where when you question “what is that person thinking?” or “what’s that person’s side of the story?” or “does he/she ever think about that time?” we get to see exactly that. As said, the writing was beautiful, but this wasn’t just for the lyrical quality of it but the glimpse of raw emotional and psychological peril we are thrown into. The story was captivating and the characters are ones you will love to hate when you get to the core of it.
The problem I have with this book is – who do I recommend it to? I have a very hard time coming up with an answer to this question. I know that I thought the book was great, but will others? The story can be very repetitive at times both within the same person’s perspective and crossing into all four of them. The characters were very hard to get a hold of in terms of who’s who at the beginning of the story (thanks to the writer for including a character list at the beginning of the book!). The writer also does something that I know a lot of readers are not fond of – telling instead of showing. Don’t get me wrong, I want to recommend this book. I want to hand over my copy to family and friends so they can read it too. But I can’t be too sure that repetition and ‘telling’ won’t be bothersome to them.
If you like experimental writing styles, lyrical qualities, and family stories with mysteries to them you may like this book. But just beware of the potential that this book may not be an easy read.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy from the writer in order to participate in a September book discussion over at The Next Best Book Club (Goodreads group)...more