This is one weirdass book. A good kind of weird, but it definitely isn't for everyone.
All the Birds in the Sky transcends genres, refusing to find itsThis is one weirdass book. A good kind of weird, but it definitely isn't for everyone.
All the Birds in the Sky transcends genres, refusing to find its place anywhere - is it sci-fi? Paranormal/fantasy? Dystopian/alternate world? Magical realism? In truth, it's some of all of those. A quirky and strange blend of science and magic.
I can't really liken it to anything else, which makes reviewing hard but is, ultimately, a huge compliment. I love to be able to say "I have never read anything like this" and I have definitely, never ever, read anything quite like this. Damn, I don't even know how much I should say about it.
The story follows two characters - Patricia, who is a witch, and Lawrence who is the epitome of a science genius, building his own two-second time machine in middle school. Strangely, though, the rest of this world feels like contemporary realism, with Patricia's witchiness and Lawrence's genius defining them as outsiders and causing them to be bullied and punished by their parents.
We stay with Patricia and Lawrence through their childhood (which is why this is sometimes being labelled "YA") and into their adult life. Behind it all, there lingers the creepy Mr Rose, a shadow across the novel. His unsettling presence brings a darkness to the story, as we long to know what he wants from our protagonists.
Stylistically, the book feels like magical realism, weaving elements of fantasy and sci-fi into everyday life. I can't quite decide if it's about science vs. nature, or the intrinsic overlapping of the two, so I'll let you be the judge, but it is an interesting tale about the power of both nature and science wrapped up in a surface story of witches and climate change. Like I said - weird.
Patricia, as a witch who can talk to animals, is an embodiment of nature. Lawrence, as a technological genius, is an embodiment of science. These two seem like complete opposites and yet their lives are forced together, often at their reluctance.
For a shortish novel, All the Birds in the Sky is packed full of interesting ideas and symbolism, as well as a nice little nod toward the idea that the fate of the world lies in the hands of the rebels, the outsiders, the nonconformists. It has an almost epic feel to it.
Strange, but compelling, I would recommend this to readers who are looking for something different.
This book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this differenThis book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this different, imaginative, weird romance.
I call it a "romance" out of the human need to categorize, but it truly doesn't sit well in any genre. It has paranormal and sci-fi elements, as well as what feels like touches of magical realism - all blended together around a complex love story with diverse characters.
Let me emphasize that once more - The Love That Split the World is a book rich with diversity, feminism, sex-positivism and just good old beautiful writing. The author chooses her words carefully, painting a gorgeous and vivid picture of both the Kentucky setting and this delicate time in Natalie Cleary's life.
Brimming with Native American stories, culture and mythology, the book whizzes along with a magical energy. It is full of many short stories (and through them - life lessons) told by the mysterious "Grandmother" who sometimes visits Natalie at night.
Who is Grandmother? A Native American messenger? A religious apparition? Or merely a figment of Natalie's imagination? Only time will tell.
Natalie is a particularly likable and wise character; she is quick to point out slut-shaming and refuses to see her ex's new girlfriend as her enemy or, indeed, anything other than a human being. On top of this, her mental state plays a large part in this book, asking a question I have personally always loved - supernatural or psychological?
Fantasy and psychology live side by side here, prompting the reader to constantly wonder just what is real and what is imagined.
Given my 3-star rating, you've probably been waiting for it and here it is - the BUT. Well... this book might be a great many things, but it is first and foremost a romance and relies on your attachment to said romance to effectively tell the story. And it breaks my first two rules of writing romance novels.
1) Instalove. Like wow, bang, whoosh, I just met you and this is crazy, but let me talk about your beautiful eyelashes kind of instalove. Romances where emotions are plucked out of midair and built upon gorgeous looks just leave me feeling so cold.
2) You so pretty. Sentences that become paragraphs that become pages about how Beau is a physical work of art.
"His biceps are roughly the size of my head, and his eyes look like summer incarnate, and he has two little dark freckles on the side of his nose, and a mouth that somehow manages to look like a shy kid’s one minute and a virile Greek god’s the next.”
*snores* I just don't care that much about beautiful people. And I especially don't need to be reminded over and over again how good-looking they are.
If you can look past the instalove and eye roll-worthy romance moments, then this really is a beautiful book. Unfortunately, so much rests on the romance that it's quite hard to do.
I've been seeing a lot of hype for Bohjalian's new thriller - The Guest Room - and it even made it into Goodr
Everything, it seemed, was unraveling.
I've been seeing a lot of hype for Bohjalian's new thriller - The Guest Room - and it even made it into Goodreads' most read books of the week. The author was unfamiliar to me, but I decided to pick this up because I personally can't resist the call of the latest juicy thriller.
And that's just what this book is. It wouldn't be fair to sell this as something life-changing, or genre-defining; it's just really not that kind of book. What The Guest Room is, however, is a fast-paced, utterly gripping story of family, sex slavery, and the disgusting levels that some people will sink to. I couldn't put it down.
This is the kind of book that opens with thrills and an enticing narrative voice, then continues to pack punch after punch. From gory action, to some well-crafted emotional scenes, it's one of those stories that makes you furious. And fury is my Achilles heel with books. If you can make me angry at the events, and/or the despicable people, then I'm invested until the end.
The story starts with a bachelor party gone horribly wrong. Firstly, the erotic "dancers" quickly turn into something far less legal; a fact which will haunt Richard Chapman and his family for a long time after. But that's not all. Because, in a bizarre twist, the dancers suddenly turn on their bodyguards, racing out of there and leaving two bloody corpses behind.
From then on, the narrative is split between Richard and Alexandra (one of the dancers). Richard's tale is of the aftermath of the party and how his possible infidelity affects his marriage. Richard, his wife, and their daughter must all adjust and try to continue with their lives while the investigation into these "dancers" reveals ever more shocking truths.
Alexandra's perspective tells of her life up until that moment. Young, screwed up and afraid, Alexandra's life story is a horrifying tale of naivete, false hope and lies. It's hard not to get caught up in it.
If you enjoy engrossing, gritty thrillers about some of the most despicable, selfish people (not all of them who you'd expect), then The Guest Room should be a new favourite.
You know, I pride myself on not being what some would call a "book snob". Sure, I like my classics and literary fiction as much as anyone else, but IYou know, I pride myself on not being what some would call a "book snob". Sure, I like my classics and literary fiction as much as anyone else, but I also take a great deal of enjoyment from fast-paced, entertaining and light books. Sometimes I just want some YA fantasy or fluffy chick-lit; you know what I'm saying?
So I looked past this book's appearance (as an obvious William & Kate fanfic) to the positive reviews and all the good things this could possibly be - hilarious, silly, enjoyable, Bridget Jones/Lou Clark-style fun. I think I'd already shelved this under "guilty pleasure" when I picked it up and imagined the faux-embarrassed positive review I would write.
Well, I got it so wrong.
I'm not going to judge this book for basically being a retelling of the William/Kate romance with Rebecca instead being an American student at Oxford. Nor will I judge it for not being deep and offering new perspective - honestly, no one should be going into this book expecting that. And I'll totally ignore the rather comical British stereotyping.
But I can't ignore that this was just a boring, flat romance. Literally the only selling point this book as is that it offers lighthearted entertainment and cute romancing, but damn, these characters are so bland. The book isn't funny or even a "hide it under your pillow" kind of guilty pleasure. Here's a horrifying thought for you: Fifty Shades of Grey was more entertaining than this book.
Both Bex and Nick are one-dimensional and have no personality. At all. They're two beautiful, white people, who are so nice, polite and dull that I'm genuinely very surprised to see they have so many fans. The "angst" of their relationship is centred around the fact that Nick is heir to the throne, but the actual romantic tension and/or angst between them is non-existent.
Most surprisingly, the plot moves very slow. This is an almost 500-page novel and a lot of that features drunken college nights (pretty tame ones at the local pub, I might add) and platonic TV-watching in Bex or Nick's rooms.
I wanted to giggle and swoon. Instead, I was yawning and skimming towards the end....more
I may write a full review at a later date, but this book just didn't contain the magic that A Man Called Ove had.
It is narrated from the perspectiveI may write a full review at a later date, but this book just didn't contain the magic that A Man Called Ove had.
It is narrated from the perspective of a seven year-old girl who is precocious to the point of being unbelievable. Backman's talent lies in creating witty, cynical, elderly characters, which he should stick to because there really are so few books centred around older men and women. However, after Elsa's grandmother dies (near the beginning), the book quickly lost its sparkle....more
Okay, let's do this. I actually thought 2015 was a pretty good year for books and I'm surprised my average rating was right down the middle. I had lot
Okay, let's do this. I actually thought 2015 was a pretty good year for books and I'm surprised my average rating was right down the middle. I had lots of pleasant surprises with Contemporary YA and I kicked off the year by helping to over-hype An Ember in the Ashes (I regret NOTHING).
I also started vlogging (and will return very soon), so I mentioned a lot of my favourite books over on youtube. "Favourite" books are hard to pick and I always find myself wondering whether it's really right to include that fantasy that was not even amazing but seriously addictive...
Between his skin and hers, there was the smallest of spaces, barely enough for air, for this slick of sweat now chilling. Even still, a third person,
Between his skin and hers, there was the smallest of spaces, barely enough for air, for this slick of sweat now chilling. Even still, a third person, their marriage, had slid in.
This book is beautifully-written. I can't deny that and I won't try, which is why it gets an extra star. Fates and Furies is everyday poetry for those looking to turn the mundane into a meditation on the beauty of words and the power of metaphor. But when it comes to plot, characters and emotion, it leaves something to be desired.
Peeling back the layers of poetry, I found... nothing. This truly is a book of poetic words masking uninteresting characters and a boring plot. Both of which are viewed through a distant, purple-tinted lens, delivering no warmth or connection to the story.
Personally, I do not think this is like Gone Girl at all, story-wise or stylistically. Especially not stylistically. The comparisons emerge from a marriage being told with changing perspectives (and how this changes our view of it), plus the upper middle class wealth of the characters.
Gone Girl, for all its faults, uses words to tell a *mostly* compelling story with fascinating characters. Fates and Furies uses a weak story as a means to explore language, word usage and metaphor. The basic, fundamental goals of each book feel different.
Plus, I think - and this might get some raised eyebrows - that the characters of Gone Girl are saved from being completely unlikable. Or perhaps, at least, elicit a powerful enough response from us that we care about them, remember them, and love to hate them. Amy might be (view spoiler)[a crazy bitch (hide spoiler)] but she's also smart, charming and insightful. There is none of that "love to hate" here. Lotto and Mathilde are merely obnoxious and irritating.
The plot is revealed, almost in its entirety, by the book description. This is about a marriage, told from the two different sides and, clearly, we are going to get a very different view from each side. There is no "twist" really, just a changing view of events and characters. There is also a running metaphor tied in with Greek mythology, which some might perceive as feminist.
To be honest, I liked the idea of the feminist symbolism more than the heavy-handed execution. The idea is that women are always more than they seem, today and historically, smart and cunning behind the scenes, manipulating events like the Greek Fates and Furies themselves. But the author kind of bashes us over the head with the cleverness of her own metaphor. Lotto even makes some dumbass speeches about wives and gender roles, and when the truth is revealed via Mathilde’s POV, it is clearly supposed to drill the author's point home.
In fact, many things were done wrong. Lotto is a playwright and the book contained long extracts from his plays, which was incredibly tedious. I also didn't want to use the P-word in a book with a word mission like this, but damn, it is pretentious. Sorry, but...
He would have liked to go deeper into her, to seat himself on the seat of her lacrimal bone and ride there, tiny homunculus like a rodeo cowboy, understand what it was she thought.
Also, the repetitive and gross descriptions of sex and sexual desire felt unnecessary. I don't mean to be prudish, but everyone in this book is experiencing some kind of weird sexual inclination toward other people. It seems to be the "thing" these days to deconstruct sex into something political, harsh and unpleasant - Gone Girl did that too - but it was just tiring here. Not exciting, not interesting, not shocking.
He imagined a lifetime of screwing on the beach until they were one of those ancient pairs speed-walking in the morning, skin like lacquered walnut meat. Even old, he would waltz her into the dunes and have his way with her sexy frail bird bones, the plastic hips, the bionic knee.
Fates and Furies feels like a book for readers who genuinely enjoy the exploration of language and metaphor, and do not require some kind of emotional connection with the characters or story.
Have you ever read a book and not realised you were expecting it to be bad until it’s actually pretty good and you’re surprised? That’s how I felt aboHave you ever read a book and not realised you were expecting it to be bad until it’s actually pretty good and you’re surprised? That’s how I felt about this.
There's been a lot of hype and starred reviews for Not If I See You First, but I think I had it in the back of my mind that it would be yet another The Fault in Our Stars-style book. I was subconsciously predicting that this would be to blindness what TFiOS was to cancer and All the Bright Places was to suicide. A contrived, forcefully-philosophical novel with characters that feel like incarnations of John Green.
But it was actually pretty damn good.
I'm seeing two main criticisms of this book floating around - one being that the romance is not that good, the other being that the main character is unlikable. Strangely, though, these are the two things I liked most about it.
I honestly really liked that Parker was quite unlikable, outspoken and selfish at times, in a way that I personally thought was realistic and relatable. How annoying it would have been if she had simply been portrayed as a one-dimensional blind girl who can do no wrong. Instead, she is given a layered personality, flaws, and a sharp tongue that made for some funny moments.
And most romance fans won't like this romance because it's just not that much of a romance. In The Fault in Our Stars, it is easy to distinguish the two main characters as Hazel and Gus. But this book's main characters are not simply a guy and a girl. In fact, Parker's girlfriends play a much bigger part in this story. For me, it was more about friendship than romance.
The romantic side is less about getting the two teens together, and more a lesson on growing up, changing and learning to listen. Or it was to me. Which is why I am one of the few people who liked the atypical ending.
Lots of diverse female friendship, low on the melodrama and philosophical messages, and nowhere near as neat and cute as I'd imagined it would be. If I were to issue one warning, it's that the book is a little quieter than many readers might like. But it was fun and insightful to read a book from such a different perspective, whilst also having the author treat Parker like a human being.