‘Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might‘Synchronization. Systems operating with all their parts in synchrony, said to be synchronous, or in sync. The interrelationship of things that might normally exist separately.
In physics: It’s called simultaneity. In music: rhythm.
In your life: epic failure.’
A mere week before Georgia is set to marry, when she’s in the middle of her final dress-fitting, she sees something on the street that leaves her questioning everything about life and relationship. Incapable of any rational thinking, she gets in her car still clad in her wedding gown and drives to her childhood home seeking solace. Unfortunately, her arrival is unexpected and she discovers things at home are also complicated making her feel yet again that she has no idea what has been going on around her and she has no idea how to even begin to handle it all.
Eight Hundred Grapes takes you straight into the heart of wine country: Sebastopol, CA in Sonoma County. Dave impeccably describes the rolling green hills, the winding roads and the foggy mornings before the sun breaks through. If you’ve ever been there personally, her detailed descriptions will successfully dredge up all of your memories of this beautiful place.
The detailed descriptions also extend to the multi-faceted characters that grace these pages. Georgia was an incredible character that had an admirable relationship with her parents, especially her father, that was really quite touching. The way she managed to face a whole slew of personal drama was done in a way that can not only be understood but appreciated. Grapes might at first seem like your typical family drama but it has a definite quality and character to it that was most appealing with writing that did an incredible job in perfectly describing feelings that can so often be difficult to convey in words. This story really snuck up on me in terms of feeling and emotion; I wasn’t expecting to become as involved in the outcome of the characters as much as I did but Dave’s writing and sense of normalcy really pulls you into the story.
‘Wasn’t that the gift of a home? You looked at it the same way, but then when you needed it to, it showed you all over again the many ways you’d been during the time that you had been living there. The many ways it had brought you back to yourself. The many ways it still brought you back to yourself.’
Eight Hundred Grapes is a poignant tale of learning to deal with the imperfections of life, about listening to your heart and the significance of having somewhere you can truly call home.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘We loved one another purely, without the complications teenage girls so often bring to everything. But I wouldn’t be telling it right if I didn’t al‘We loved one another purely, without the complications teenage girls so often bring to everything. But I wouldn’t be telling it right if I didn’t also tell you that it felt, by that night, that a sense of uneasy anticipation filled any room the three of us were in.’
Local Girls centers around the lives of three girls that have become reluctantly resigned to a monotonous life in their small hometown that sits on the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. Their jobs are ultimately unsatisfying and are only kept as a necessity since the majority of their time is spent at the local bar named The Shamrock. When they walked into the bar Saturday night, a bar that smelled of cheap beer and salt ocean air, the last person they ever would have expected to see sitting at the bar was an actual celebrity by the name of Sam Decker. Sam Decker, a celebrity the trio knew everything about him there was to know from celebrity magazines, changed their perception of everything and they saw the life they had already resigned themselves to from a fresh set of eyes. His presence changed everything.
Zancan creates an impressive analysis of multiple characters, the intricacies of friendship and ultimately the void left when those friendships unravel. Maggie, Lindsey and Nina have been best friends for as long as they can remember. They weren’t always just a trio; their group used to number five. The presence of celebrity Sam Decker and his awareness of the animosity between the trio and a new girl that arrived at the bar that Saturday night stirred up questions of the past and what ultimately caused the rift. As the girls begin to share bits and pieces of their story with him, they begin to reevaluate how the simplest of actions caused them to get to where they are now and as the story progresses they begin to realize that maybe they aren’t quite as resigned to how their lives ended up as they once thought they were.
‘Maybe I had reached the point of drunkenness where you talk just to hear yourself and reckless ideas take shape, but it suddenly occurred to me that if even a movie star joining our table couldn’t change the routines and settings of our Saturday night, maybe we were doomed to a life where nothing ever changes.’
The addition of the celebrity character, which ultimately caused them to dredge up their full story initially, still managed to feel like an irrelevant inclusion since I felt these characters were already on the path of self-reflection. And while I loved how crass and unrepentant the trio was, the story coalesced into something much less intense than I had foreseen. I hoped for more for these characters; that they would overcome their small-town mentality and their complete acceptance of what they saw as their fate. This story will leave you only a twinkle of hope for these girls but it seems as if that’s the best we can hope for.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
This is a very unhappy, very long review, full of my eye-twitching adventures through the pages of Sunlit Night. Oh, and just a warning for those of yThis is a very unhappy, very long review, full of my eye-twitching adventures through the pages of Sunlit Night. Oh, and just a warning for those of you that frown upon gif-filled reviews? Run. Run while you still can.
I don’t derive any sort of pleasure from reading a book I hate. I don’t like hating books in general, but alas, it does happen. My 11-year-old asked me just last night, “Do you ever read a book and really don’t like it?” I laughed and told him, “Of course, you can’t expect to like every single book you read. Sometimes it can be poorly written, sometimes it can have characters that you just can’t understand, but yes, there are books I’ve read that I have not liked and some I’ve even hated.” The book that flashed through my head when he mentioned hating a book? This book. What’s funny is for the longest time, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls took the cake for book I hated the most. That book, which I renamed in seething tones ‘Horsey Camp’, became my reference point for one star ratings. “I didn’t like this at all, BUT… is it Horsey Camp bad?” Well, now I have a new reference point. I haven’t come up with a nickname yet. I’m taking suggestions.
So what is this strange little ridiculous book even about? We have two main characters, Frances and Yasha, and the story switches between both of their points-of-view. Frances is in her early twenties and she’s just been dumped by her college boyfriend. She returns to her childhood home where the house is in turmoil because her sister just got engaged and her parents basically hate the guy. There is talk of disowning her. Of not attending her wedding. Soap opera stuff. Frances decides to accept an apprenticeship at a Viking Museum in Lofoten, Norway. Her parents tell her good, because they’re also breaking up so she won’t have a home to live in. It’s all very dramatic. Frances also has thoughts of whether her parents are good kissers, but I’m getting ahead of myself. So Frances leaves to go find herself and to paint with some Vikings.
Nope. The Vikings weren’t badass like Ragnar or anything unfortunately.
Yasha is a seventeen-year-old kid that has a lot of angst. Him and his father immigrated from Russia, leaving his mother behind, and have been running a bakery in Brooklyn for the last decade. His mother shows up randomly one day telling Yasha that he needs to tell his father that she wants a divorce. You know, like an adult. Yasha’s father isn't well and doesn't think he’ll be able to handle the news so he refuses to be the one to tell him. His father announces a glorious adventure he has planned that involves them going back to Russia because he’s determined to get his wife back. Yeah, awkward. Yasha still doesn't tell him and the two travel all the way to Russia with his father in denial about the fact that she isn't even there anymore. His father finds out about the divorce anyways. As was expected, he doesn’t take it well… at all. Yasha becomes intent to honor his last wishes, to be buried “at the top of the world.” So Yasha travels to the land of the Vikings where our two main characters meet.
Yasha also has many, many inappropriate comments about his parents. Yes, I sense a theme as well. “What do you even consider ‘inappropriate’? You’re probably overreacting.” Well, since you asked.
‘I wanted to know if my father had been a good kisser. I wanted to know how many men had kissed my mother, and how well. I wanted to know if she planned on kissing new men now. I wanted to know if my mother was a good kisser.’
That lovely line was the first inappropriate comment (from Frances) of MANY you can expect. This was after her parents announced they’re splitting up. Because yes, my parents are divorcing, I shall sit here and contemplate whether it was their kissing skills that ultimately destroyed their love. Frances was the least inappropriate, thankfully, although there was a lot of thought given to her Viking roommate and his pooping habits (no, not kidding) but that wasn’t terribly inappropriate. Just weird. Very, very weird.
Brace yourself. Here comes the super awkward stuff.
‘Yasha imagined his mother’s panties. He imagined his mother wearing different panties for every day of the week. It’s Friday. It’s Saturday.’
“His mother, reclining on her rock, with her body unfurled, looked unquestionably like a woman. Yasha had in some sense never understood her this way – he didn’t know if she shaved her armpits or legs, what creams she kept by the mirror, whether she slept naked or in shorts […]”
‘He entertained the gross, exhilarating idea of his mother being a talented lover. Physically. He wanted to inherit some of her talent.’
I know. I’m terribly sorry to have to do that to you but I needed you to understand! Sunlit Night is the authors debut novel, however, she wrote poetry before and it is evident in a few small sections that I really enjoyed. The area in Norway that the novel is based in is where the sun never sets. Frances and her Viking roommate will often get in the car late at night and just drive and the descriptions of their car trips when the light was dimmest were lush and inviting.
‘These hours were characterized by a wildness of colors, the combined power of a sunset and sunrise. It was easy to watch the horizon for hours straight, the sun in perpetual motion, the sky turning orange and cranberry until at three it returned to blue, and I felt ready for bed.’
‘In every meadow grew white and yellow grasses. Waterfall veins streaked the mountains, and a little rain in the air prepared the sky for rainbows. We drove through a passing wink of colors, a natural hologram.’
Honestly, those lines did nothing but make me angry because those were literally the only lines that I enjoyed reading. Those lines show a potential this novel might have had but never came close to achieving. But who knows, I could be completely wrong. Publisher’s Weekly calls this novel captivating. They also called this novel a rich reading experience with lyrical and silky prose. Did I also mention they gave this a starred review? Kirkus called this a “deliciously melancholy debut”.
Not only was this an extraordinarily painful read, it was incredibly boring. Dinerstein might have her descriptive detail of landscapes down pat, but her characters are flat and one-dimensional. Their actions lack any sort of clarity and their emotions (if they even have any) are kept completely in the dark. Even when the requisite romance is introduced between our two characters, it comes completely out of nowhere.
‘I will not lose Yasha. Maybe his mother had lost him, maybe his father had lost him, Brooklyn had lost him – not me. It wasn’t a matter of somebody keeping him. It was a matter of my wanting him, wanting his face near my face.’
This is clearly a moment that was meant to be profound, however, because of the complete lack of chemistry between Frances and Yasha it lacks any sort of passion. When the two part ways they contemplate what could be between the two, yet there’s no evidence of where these thoughts even came from. The whole idea of both of them being lost and finding each other would work a whole lot better as to explaining their affections for one another if we actually witnessed said affection. It wasn’t even instalove, because while the love was instant, the author could describe it all she wanted but I never saw it. Less telling, more showing.
Reputable magazines can shout loudly from the rooftops about how amazing this one is, but I just didn’t see it. At all. I’ll leave you all with my favorite line of the bunch.
‘To Yasha, the word business meant bread or sex.’
Whatever the fuck that’s supposed to mean.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All quotes taken are from an uncorrected proof....more
Gabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different poGabe and Lea are the only ones that don’t see that they belong together. A Little Something Different is interestingly told from fourteen different points of view of everyone around them, including a squirrel and a bench. Yes, you read that right. Gabe is terribly shy despite the fact that he does in fact like Lea and Lea, try as she might, she can’t seem to get through to him. Does he just not like her? Does he have a girlfriend? Is he gay? Oh the mental drama we subject ourselves to when trying to determine if a crush likes us back.
The most unique aspect about this book is the style of writing. While it wasn’t my favorite at first and the quirky few (namely the squirrel and bench) did seem rather odd, it definitely grew on me. I don’t know about you, but I’m a total people watcher, and it was pretty adorable how so many people took an interest in Gabe and Lea and their seemingly inevitable relationship. Even Victor, the moody kid in their Creative Writing class, couldn’t resist taking an interest in their shenanigans:
“...you two assholes are the most annoyingly cute thing I’ve ever seen. I’m annoyed at myself for even using the word ‘cute’. I feel sick to my stomach over using that word.”
If you were wondering, I’m a total Victor.
So while it was all cute and fluffy fun, there were some downsides that I can’t help but mention. I did wish that Gabe and Lea’s points of view were also included in the mix because while we do get a feel for their thoughts via their friends, it would have been better to have it firsthand. Another thing is I honestly couldn’t see why everyone thought Lea and Gabe were perfect for each other, especially with all the one-sided conversations Lea had with him where he literally said nothing. This happened for MONTHS. There’s shy (and yes, I get it that he was dealing with other issues as well) but after a point I wondered why Lea seriously even bothered. Their interactions with one another gave the story a very adolescent feel and when suddenly they’re at a party getting drunk it kind of threw me for a bit. And then there was the unnecessary lady-bashing when everyone thought Gabe liked this other girl in their Creative Writing class:
“There really is no point,” Lea says. “Even if he does like girls, he’s totally into this girl Hillary in creative writing.” “Sounds like Hillary is a skank queen of Cockblock-ville.”
But despite Victor and I’s shared moodiness, I still found myself charmed by this simple and sweet tale. It’s definitely one to save for when you’re in need of some serious fluff....more
‘In my mind it’s almost like there was actually a third twin with us. Even when we were kids, Alicia was fun and daring and not afraid to get into tr‘In my mind it’s almost like there was actually a third twin with us. Even when we were kids, Alicia was fun and daring and not afraid to get into trouble now and ask for forgiveness later. “Even though she was imaginary, Alicia seemed to real then."'
Lexi and Ava are twin sisters and when they were younger, they both had an imaginary sister named Alicia. Problem is, they’re all grown up and still pretend like Alicia exists but they’ve just changed the rules a bit. Now the girls alternate being Alicia and they dress up and wear makeup far more scandalous than they would normally to go out on dates with boys they wouldn’t normally. It was all fun and games until one of “Alicia’s” dates turns up dead.
The Third Twin is told from the point of view of Lexi who begins to suspect her sister Ava as the mystery continues and more people keep turning up dead. The coincidences become too much and Ava quickly becomes a stranger to her. But could her twin sister, the person she is closer than anyone else in the world, truly be capable of murder? The focus on the mystery took up the majority of the novel with the character development being pushed to the back burner. Lexi and Ava were both of the snobbish, self-abosrbed variety and didn’t manage to garner much interest in me especially when some of the things they would do were just so illogical. With that said, the possibilities of the mystery were what kept the pages turning for me. But mysteries rarely surprise me anymore. It’s usually one or the other: either the outcome is evident from early on or the resolution comes out of left field. Neither one is satisfying, but I would much rather be kept guessing and The Third Twin certainly did that.
The mystery surrounding Alicia became stretched at the seams and took a while to actually get anywhere while the same pattern kept repeating itself regarding more people turning up dead with ‘Alicia’ being the only culprit. While I didn’t predict the ending, once revealed it did seem like the only reasonable possibility and I really should have seen it coming. All in all, even if the ending wasn’t one you would normally see in reality, this was still a pleasurable thrill of a mystery that YA mystery fans will no doubt enjoy.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more